Back in June 2006, a group of us in the Hillcrest and Wychwood neighbourhoods, who pursued art through textiles and fibre, got together to create a show of work at St. Matthew’s United Church Musicraft Festival. We sought others who worked in textiles and mounted a show representing approximately 16 artists. Through the weekend-long event, we hoped to showcase creative work in fibre and textiles being done by neighbourhood artists, provide a way of networking among these artists and inspire creative effort within the community. We repeated the show in May 2007, again in cooperation with St. Matthew’s Musicraft Festival. This time we expanded to 22 participants and showed 39 pieces of work.
In 2008, we began a new annual tradition when we showed our work at SideSpace Gallery at Lauder Ave. and St. Clair Ave. West. The nature of SideSpace enabled us to keep our work on display for a month and to have exposure to a much larger audience. The gallery was a cost-free exhibit space, displaying work in a windowed area that allowed it to be seen at all hours of the day by passersby. We held shows there annually until 2011. You may explore images from those SideSpace shows here.
Click on any image to enlarge
Throughout this time, we attracted interest from many people we would otherwise not have met and also connected with local artists working in other forms. We like to think that we added vitality to the streetscape of St. Clair Avenue West. But as all good things come to an end, sadly Sidespace Gallery closed at the end of 2011 and we began our search for other affordable venues.
We thought, “Why not approach a café owner, one with walls begging to be adorned?” A brief search landed us at Ellington’s Music and Café, where the proprietor welcomed our ideas and even put a fresh coat of white paint on the large wall that would showcase our art. This month-long show in November 2012 earned us comments such as these:
“What a visual feast! The lovely smell of coffee in the air was a bonus to this wonderful experience of the senses!”
“Unbelievably wonderful. What beautiful gifts you all put out into the world. Thank you so much!”
In November 2013, we were welcomed by the Studio for Movement on Bathurst Street, a brightly lit space with a contemplative ambience – quite a contrast from the bustling café. Our work was available for viewing by the public on the weekends, during the times when there were no classes. Participants in the yoga and Pilates classes were delighted with the meditative atmosphere inspired by the work. Art rendered in textiles can create a quiet warmth in a space.
This November (2014) we will be assembling a small show at Ellingtons Music and Café from November 1 to 30. On Sunday, November 2, artists will be in attendance from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. The committee of eight organizers will be showing some new pieces based on a loose interpretation of the theme: “Seven Sisters”. We invite you to join us and chat about creating with textiles and fibre. The artists showing their work are: Laura Brocklebank, Carolyn Flood, Shelly Fowler, Stephanie Lever, Janet Patterson, Anna Payne-Krzyzanowski, Mical Pearlman and Pamela Woodward.
Coming up in 2015, on the weekend of May 30 and 31, we will be holding a show at the Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. This show will include work from many artists from past shows as well as some new acquaintances.
We are still seeking an affordable venue in which to show our work. Our intention is not to make sales, but simply to share our creativity and inspire others to engage in making art.
– Stephanie Lever
Photos courtesy Stephanie Lever and SideSpace Gallery
Poster by Anna Payne-Krzyzanowski
See the 2015 exhibition at Gallery 814 at 814 St. Clair W, which runs from June 2-16. Regular Hours: Tues to Fri, 12 – 7 pm; Saturday 12 – 4 pm. Opening reception June 4, 7 – 10 pm.
This article can be found in GOING OUT in the section What We’re Seeing, and also in STAYING IN in the section What We’re Making.