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Pat Burns-Wendland: textile artist weaves Seasons of her own Life

March 31, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Once again the Dufferin County Museum and Archives (DCMA) is hosting a fine and quite different art show in the Lodge that stands within the Museum: a Seasons of a Life exhibit by Pat Burns-Wendland, who does her own hand weaving in silk. For this exhibition, Ms Burns created silk organza.

Ms. Burns was the recipient of the Reed Cooper Bursary in Visual Arts, established under the auspices of the Dufferin Arts Council (DAC) Artist Support Program.

This is in honour of Reed T. Cooper, his art work and his many contributions to the local arts community.

The Bursary is awarded annually to a mid-career visual artist who has been working professionally for a minimum of five years; and  who shows “an unique talent and a potential for excellence.” Applications are open to all artists living in Dufferin.

At one time, Ms. Burns created clothing with her hand weaving but, as she told us in a telephone interview this week, “Clothing is hard to perceive as art.”

“We had a group, Stitches Across Time” she said, “and we did an actual juried show in 2011 at the Museum.  We did the show every three years. The museum has taken that over.”

When she decided to enter the juried event with Headwaters Arts, she committed to fashion a kimono.

“Kimonos make a wonderful canvas for the work that I do,” she explained. “I usually tried to enter a juried show since I’ve lived here to try to [help] the local community understand this is an art form.

I wanted to bring awareness of textile art.”

For the Seasons of a Life  exhibition at the DCMA, Ms. Burns wanted to use lamination as part of the work. So, she took a course in lamination.

She explains how this works: “Lamination is simply the process of using permanent adhesive to attach paper to a fabric surface. Once the permanent adhesive and paper lamination dry, the fabric is soaked in water so the paper can dissolve, which makes its removal possible.

The printing on the paper is captured in the permanent adhesive and remains on the fabric.”

That which Ms. Burns was infusing into her fabric were photos from her own 70 years of life – her birthday is Friday – pictures of family and friends, report cards, music certificates – everything that mattered during her life.

Not surprisingly, “it was quite emotional,” she remarked. “Some of the people are no longer around and just remembering all those times.”

Then, she wove the silk and laminated the photocopies of all the pictures she had chosen so they were all black and white. She laminated them onto her silk organza, which is a very light material. She did three  kimonos of laminated photos, which became the stencils for all the backgrounds on the kimonos for the theme of the Seasons of a Life.

“Seasons of a life; seasons of my life,” she confirmed. “The organza is so fine, I can screen through that. I can screen colour through it for the first layer of colour. After that layer, a layer of drawings I’ve made of the leaves and flowers. With a stencil brush, I painted all the little blossoms in the trees and the flowers.”

Next, “there are several layers of dyes and paints on each kimono and while the designs are the same, the colours and textures represent the seasons of the year.” Ms. Burns told us.

It took a year to complete the collection.

In addition to the Reed Cooper Bursary, Ms. Burns also received a Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Grant which helped cover the cost of set up and hanging equipment.

When she had taken all she could from the three kimonos that were her laminated stencils and used them as well to create more of the themed pieces. The last kimono she  produced, she did so from weaving paper yarn. In all, there are seven kimonos within the Lodge inside the Museum and two hanging outside it.

This exhibition, which confirms for all time a place of respect for textile art within the arts community, runs from April 2 to June 5 at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives, Airport Road and Highway 89.

For full information you can check out www.dufferinmuseum.com

By Constance Scrafield

         

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