It has been a bit overwhelming, the start of this new year. We have finally made it to Prince George, where we will live for the next twelve months while my partner completes a masters program. We have rented a furnished suite here that is quite cute, however I will have some constraints to adapt to when approaching my creative work.
There is no longer a giant dining table, or large computer desk, or large floor space to spread materials and supplies over comfortably like I am used to back home. I brought only three small file boxes on the move - one with carving supplies, one with paint and drawing supplies, and one with sewing supplies and a bit of fabric.
As a person who has a long history of hanging onto shiny bits of things that I might one day put to use - letting go of the 'stuff' so far feels great!
I am willing to embrace these changes and see what I can create out if it. I have signed up for an art course every Tuesday for the month of January, here at the local gallery, starting next week. Also starting next week is a month long surface design course that I will be participating in online, so between off site and on computer making - this year is starting out just right.
This afternoon I'm also planning to SKETCH my own vision board. There are a few magazines and also some screen clips from the internet that I've saved for this exercise, but thought it would be perfect for the theme of this year - to draw, paint, print & create more - if I made my own images for my vision board. I will definitely post about it once it is done.
The first few days here in PG I've also had fun exploring my neighborhood. We live downtown, and so far it has been lovely. I walked past a quilt shop at random on my way to find a coffee shop, only to realize it was the one I had meant to seek out once we moved here. I will be dropping my monster art project/quilt off to be finished there this week so that also feels like an accomplishment! Again that will be another entire blog post to watch for.
There are art galleries here too. I arrived at the Two Rivers Gallery in time to catch Change - a collaborative exhibition on climate change between UNBC and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
Meandering a gallery is such a meditative experience for me. My brain is just wired for it - to question, contemplate, and wonder about the big ideas. I'm so thankful for the year I spent studying art history before I went into fashion design - I am endlessly curious about the motivations, context, and ambitions of an artist and their work.
Since moving out of the Passive House and away from the Peace Valley the idea that I might separate my issues from my life and my art has been at the front of my mind. It has been on my mind all year actually.
The month long residency was my own immersion into my ancestry, and the compelling or contentious stories of our region currently. In order to make sense of it, or peace with it - yes, I was compelled to make my art. It is not separate from the world it lives in.
Our issues ARE our life ARE our art...
But there is still so much room for exploring (our time/this space) with hope.
So I'd like to close this post with a tribute to a teacher and friend who recently passed after a long battle with cancer. There is a memorial for Heather Hannaford today back home that I wish I could attend.
Since I can't be there, I've spent some time this morning reading through all the wonderful memories shared on this site. I first met Heather when I became involved with the local Arts Council, but grew to know her better as a student attending her pottery classes.
There is much about Heather that I will remember fondly, and much about Heather that has already been said.
But her lasting impression for me will be as a role model - a women, an artist, who demonstrated the strength of her voice.
She was dedicated to her craft, she was dedicated to her students, and she was dedicated to her community and her cause. She was respectful in conversation yet never compromising of her principles.
I remember in class someone asked her opinion (I can't remember what - maybe it was a technique or maybe it was political) and after a thoughtful moment she stated with honesty "I don't know, I'll have to get back to you on that..." and the next week, having informed herself, she did.
Despite a cancer diagnosis Heather continued teaching classes and continued to make work as best she could right up until this fall.
I especially love this memory shared online by Amber, another student of Heather's who returned to the studio after a few years of maternity leave and growing a family. By this point Heather's health affected her ability to attend class or complete her own ceramic work:
I told Heather I had waited 7 years to have her teach me again and I was glad to have her there when she could make it. I remember writing down what she said about her work in the studio at one of the classes she did come to:
“When I wasn’t able to be there, I did it in my dreams. I was always dreaming about it. Then, when I wasn’t dreaming it, I was able to do it so well.”
It is this absolute love and commitment to her art and to her life's work - teaching others how to create, living fully involved in the world around her, and sharing her voice - that I will carry with me.
Thank you for everything you shared with us Heather, may you always be dreaming of what you so loved.
Many hugs and condolences to my dear friend Joss and the rest of the Hannafords.