Tucked away in Medicine Hat’s Cultural Centre, overlooking an idyllic pond is a room furnished with tables and looms, packed with fibres and fabrics, yarn and thread, and, if you peer in at the right time, perhaps an artist at working away at a weaving. This is the home of the Medicine Hat Fibre Arts Society (FAS).
Incorporated in 1977, the group provides a venue for the creation of fibre arts projects and related education opportunities. The exhibition All Things Fibre presents a collection of work by 11 current members of the FAS: Barbara Cameron, Nora Chan, Patty Doonan, Melissa Eresman, Michele Mayer, Peggy Moore, Phyllis Netolitzky, Jane Palmer, Violet Pergel, Susan Pidlisny and Donna Sheppard.
Fibre objects are ubiquitous. We interact with these items daily in the form of garments we wear, cloths we touch and mats we set our tables with. Because of this familiarity, it can be easy to overlook the craftsmanship and design of these articles. By removing them from their traditional utilitarian contexts and displaying them here together as a textile mosaic of sorts, the everyday functions of these objects recede and the beauty of their form is given presence. Here, tea towels can be appreciated for their varying textures, colours and pattens without the burden of having to wipe up spills and “mug rugs” take centre stage with nothing placed on top of them.
Of course, the artists craft these works with the intention of being used. Aside from a few purely aesthetic pieces, most of the items in this exhibition were created to serve specific functions. It is my hope that this display helps to support the credence that functional items can simultaneously be considered as works of fine art and craft. And in turn, that this might influence the decisions we make about the objects we surround themselves with. For example, favouring practices of slow-making; items that have a story to tell and a maker that lives in our community.
With the seasons turning and the long winter months ahead of us, All Things Fibre emanates a visual warmth and coziness, a small gesture to help us through those extra cold and windy days. The artworks succeed in softening, padding and insulating these walls, ultimately providing a sense of comfort to those passing by.
For information about how to join the Fibre Arts Society and upcoming offerings of the group, visit them on Facebook at Medicine Hat Fibre Arts Society.
About the Society
The Fibre Arts Society in Medicine Hat was incorporated in 1977 to provide a venue for the creation of fibre arts projects and related education opportunities. Over the decades, the group has helped to preserve the tradition and uniqueness of the artistic use and manipulation of natural and synthetic fibres in a creative process. Current members continue to celebrate and champion all things fibre.