I am a craftsperson and textile designer, born in a little village on Cape Breton Island's rugged west coast, clutching a set of knitting needles in one hand and a sturdy pair of fabric scissors in the other. Needless to say, it was a painful and arduous delivery. I grew up surrounded by mountains, fields, vegetable and flower gardens, animals, a single television channel, piles of craft supplies and homemade granola, all of which continue to influence my thinking and art practice.
Textiles are in my blood; my family tree is laden with knitters, weavers, lace-makers, leatherworkers and hookers (of the rug-making variety). After taking weaving classes at the Scotsville School of Crafts for several years, I studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles and Fashion in 2011. After completing a design internship in Guatemala, I returned to school and graduated from the MA Textile Design programme at the Winchester School of Art, I now call Winchester home, where I run a small design studio called O What A Feeling: Textile & Paper Goods Co. at Yard Studios. My work is held in private collections across North America and has been exhibited in various galleries throughout Canada.
My practice involves all stages of fibre and fabric manipulation, including hand-spinning, dyeing, knitting, screenprinting, sewing, felting, beading, embroidery, handweaving and digital design. There is a certain alchemy in the process of transforming a humble piece of string into a tangible object of autonomous or utilitarian value, which I find almost magical.
I strive for mastery over my materials. While the vast, expansive of nature of the textiles discipline is sometimes an obstacle to this goal, it also provides unlimited avenues of exploration and exploitation of a particular fibre or technique, whether as an investigation of its physical design potential or symbolic potential, to create a new dialogue of discovery. Textiles are a sensory medium - I delight n the spicy aroma of naturally-dyed yarn, the nubbly texture of a hand-woven cloth, the clacking of a handloom and the whirring of a knitting machine, and tie-dyed fabrics so garish you can almost taste them. Environmental sustainability and self-sufficiency are concerns that I confront through the use of natural fibres and dye and I often use re-purposed or locally-sourced materials in my work.
Researching and experiencing traditional and indigenous craft traditions is an important part of my practice. Textiles carry a metaphorical weight of material histories, political ideologies and cultural conditions that I find fascinating and inspirational. In my work I often use fibre as an intermediary to challenge the binaries we construct between ourselves and “The Other.” Historical craft issues, such as the individuality and intimacy of the handmade versus the design potential and efficiency of the machine-made are a constant source of conflict in my practice. By employing both traditional and contemporary techniques and challenging the possible relationships between form, function, material and textile process, I create work that allows me to explore my ideas about self-identity and take a critical and often humorous view of social and cultural issues. I strive to create work that is environmentally-minded, personally relevant and rooted in an ethos of process, dialogue and whimsy.