Karen Selk is a textile artist, teacher, author and silk merchant. Her passion to learn about everything silk has guided her artist journey. (www.karenselk.com)

Karen Selk is a textile artist, teacher, author and silk merchant. Her passion to learn about everything silk has guided her artist journey. (www.karenselk.com)

Textile conference weaves its way into Duncan arts scene

First of what they hope to be an annual event, oragnizers say

This June, Vancouver Island Surface Design Association are holding an exhibition and conference at the Cowichan Recreation centre. There is a marvellous exhibition of textile work from all over B.C. on show in the CVAC Portals gallery throughout the month, open Mon-Fri 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3p.m.

Supporting this are a series of workshops and lectures. Lectures are open to all. Email: gatheringthethreads@ecwid.com to book or pay at the door.

The first lecture is on Wednesday, June 15, at 6 p.m. in Portals Studio: In Search of Wild Silk: Exploring a Village Industry in the Jungles of India with Karen Selk of Saltspring Island. Tickets are $12.

“Karen is a textile artist, teacher, author and silk merchant. Her passion to learn about everything silk has guided her artist journey,” said organizer Gill Riordan in a press release. “Little did she know it would include a lifetime of journeys — an adventure of research, discovery and caring into the wild silk forests of India for more than 30 years.”

A book based on her travels is due out this fall.

Wild silkworms belong to the forests of central and eastern India. Raising wild silk is part the amazing domain of Indigenous people of India. It is a risky business; full of predators, disease and bad weather.

You’ll be drawn into the captivating world of a unique living culture that has been engaged in a sustainable industry for generations. Photos and anecdotes captured from weavers, spinners, and silkworm farmers transport you into their homes and villages to get an up-close look at the intimate connection to the skill, dedication, and specialized tools and techniques the artisans use to transform cocoons into yarn and luxurious fabrics, the colours of nature.

Thursday, June 16, at 6 p.m. features Ramblings with Catherine Nicholls of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. Tickets are $15.

“Catherine is an artist, teacher and author with wide ranging passions including quilting techniques, sketchbooks and journaling, life drawing and design and the people she meets have guided her artistic journey,” Riordan said. “She has exhibited worldwide.”

Ramblings is a rare opportunity to hear about Catherine’s life and work accompanied with a trunk show of her pieces. She will share her development as a quilt maker, embroiderer, painter, illustrator and writer.

She works on paper and fabric with discharge, dyeing, drawing, painting and printing. Careful planning and exploration of ideas allows her a more liberated and intuitive approach to fabric, paint and mixed media techniques. Textile pieces are densely stitched either by hand or machine and often both. Stories, legends and the history of people, place and culture are part of the creative raw materials of her ramblings, both mental and physical that influence her and her work. An intimate evening with a view into the workings of an artist’s mind is in store.

On Saturday, June 18, at 6 p.m. the presentation will be: An Icelandic Residency with Susan Purney-Mark from Pender Island. Tickets are $12.

“Susan is an artist working in a variety of surface design techniques. Her most recent work focuses on mark making and textile narrative,” Riordan said in the release. “She teaches techniques of dyeing, painting, screen printing and image transfers. Her west coast island and other travels offer much of the inspiration that guides her artistic journey.”

You will have a unique glimpse into Susan’s month long residency in April 2019 at the Icelandic Textile Centre in Blöndúos, a town of 1,000 people four hours north east of Reykjavik, and what it entailed.

“A Textile Narrative” was her chosen exploration of mark making within a book making format. She made prototype forms, experimenting with combining cloth and paper through laminating with mediums and stitch, exploring bindings with strings, nails, branches and found objects.

It was a time of unique growth and challenges both artistically and personally where she could focus most of her time and energy on exploring an art and theme that was still in an infancy stage.

Join Purney-Mark for a tour of the land of “fire and ice”, a unique country that is incredibly supportive of the arts.

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