Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Backyard Project: 8 Foot High Deer Fence Essential for Productive Garden

Deer skulls found while walking through the forest.

The unchecked deer population on southern Vancouver Island is exploding. We, humans, have chased away their natural predators.
We live at the foot of Bear Hill but our long-time resident neighbour says she hasn't seen a bear in her yard for 12 years.

The first section of the cedar deer fence is in place.

The Backyard Project is all about outside living amongst different multi-functional garden beds. If we want to harvest food we need to keep the deer away. But the deer population numbers have reached the level where if we want even the plants to survive we need to keep the deer out. There is such a demand for food from the large number of groups tracking across the land that they are often hungry and will eat the whole plant and not just nibble from a number of plants as they used to when their numbers were smaller and there was plenty of food to go around.
As a result, the Backyard Project plan includes the construction of a deer fence. Most of the fence is wire mesh with steel posts but the area which is the entrance to the back yard is a cedar fence.

Josh and Taylor have set up a work bench near where the fence is being constructed.

For the type of deer in this forest the fence needs to be 8 feet high. The deer are small but they can jump high. In the Oak Bay area, the deer are larger and stronger so the fences need to be strong to be effective. However, they don't seem to be able to jump as high because I see a lot of 6 foot high fences in that suburb.

More sections of the deer fence in place with the top beam still to go on.

The deer may be jumpers but they are also small. It is amazing how small a gap they can squeeze through, especially the bambis, hence the ladders lying horizontally against the bottom of the fence to fill the gaps.

The gap between the temporary wire fence and the new cedar fence is filled with a ladder.

We all have to be vigilant about keeping the gate in the temporary fence closed at all times. I have had dreams of a deer getting inside and I spend days trying to shoo it out through one of the 4 gates while more deer stream in through the other open gates. A nightmare!

This gap is for the permanent gate.

The new cedar deer fence connects the house with the studio. I will write a post about how this design fits the Pattern Language, check out wikipedia description
The temporary deer fence will remain in place until all of the gaps have been filled and it is completley deer proof. Then the only remaining problem will be human error - failing to close a gate.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

National Museum of Women in the Arts - No Man's Land

Magdalena Abakanowicz, '4 Seated Figures,' 2002. Burlap, resin and iron rods.

'No Man's Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection' (here for the online exhibition.) was recently shown at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC.

'4 Seated Figures' may have been inspired by Magdalena's memory of witnessing her mother being shot in the hands as soldiers stormed their home in Poland during WWII. What she says about these genderless, race-neutral figures is 'they are naked, exposed, and vulnerable, just as we all are.'

Faith Ringgold, 'Jo Baker's Bananas,' 1997
One of Faith's story quilts commentating on racism and discrimination.

In Faith's signature technique of acrylic painted canvas with a pieced fabric border.

Outside the museum, a sign warned there were nuts in the building. I thought it strange and only on seeing this box of walnuts realised the sign was an allergy alert.

Jennifer Rubell 'Lysa III' 2014
Jennifer was inspired by finding a Hilary Clinton nutcracker for sale online.

She worked with the concept of harnessing female power making, as she says, 'a scary act of female power.' 

Museum visitors were encouraged, with supervision, to operate the nutcracker. The artist cleverly invites the viewer to contemplate female power in a playful way.
The Hilary Clinton nutcrackers were on sale in the museum shop at the same time Hilary was campaigning to become a president.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Visiting Washington DC Museums - Textile Museum, Renwick, National Museum of Women in the Arts

After attending the Textile Society of America Symposium in Savannah Ingrid and I flew up to Washington DC with the intention of checking out the newly relocated Textile Museum now on the George Washington University campus. Unfortunately, our timing was not great. We could only enjoy the shop because the gallery was closed while a new exhibition was being installed.
We visited the Renwick Gallery. I didn't take my camera because I wanted to focus on looking at the work and thinking about it. Sometimes while I am taking pictures/photographs I feel as though I am missing out on the full experience. 
We also visited the outstanding National Museum of Women in the Arts and spent many hours working our way up through the floors of the gleaming marble building.
On the top gallery floor, we thoroughly enjoyed the current contemporary exhibition "No Man's Land - Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection" where the work was often provocative, cheeky and humorous, as its title suggests.

I particularly enjoyed artists whose use of particular materials was intriguingly icky and so full humour.
Karin Upson's 'Kiss 8' is part of her " The Larry Project." There is bit of a weird story about Larry which led her to paint a portrait of Larry and at the same time a self-portrait. While both portraits were still wet she pressed the 2 together creating 'a pair of unsettling hybrid faces.'

The paint was so thick and textured one had to step back quite a distance before the faces emerged.

Analia Saban's 'Acrylic in Canvas' was so tongue-in-cheek. The paint wasn't on the canvas as is 'normal' with fine art, instead, she filled a canvas bag with paint so it was in the canvas. It was kind of icky while at the same time humourous.

Solange Pessoa's 'Hammock' looked from the entrance to the room like the suspended intestines of a huge beast. But it was not what it seemed. On closer inspection, the materials were familiar: fabric earth and sponges. Up close the mass and scale were somehow comforting which was a huge shift my first impression.

Dianna Molzan's 'Untiled' is work toying with the definition of fine art as paint on a stretched canvas mounted to look as though it is floating against a wall. Dianne took each of those elements and played with them. She removed the vertical threads from the canvas while leaving the horizontal threads mounted conventionally to the stretcher bars. Then she applied paint to the remaining draped threads. I enjoyed the way she had cleverly brought together the fine art expectations with the materiality of craft and women's detailed repetitious work.

Rosemarie Trockel's 'Colony' is another play on the definition of what is fine art. From a distance, her work looks to be worked in the Colour Field style where large blocks of flat colour cover the stretched canvas.

Closer inspection reveals it is not what it seems and so questions the definition of fine art.
Rosemarie is quoted as saying, "I tried to take wool, which was viewed as a woman's material, out of that context and to rework it in a neutral process of production."

Lots of food for thought.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Textile Society of America 15th Biennial Symposium

The opening reception was held at the SCAD Museum of Art scad.edu/museum
On a balmy evening, 400 delegates from 23 different countries gathered on the podium between the oldest surviving antebellum railroad depot in the US and the modern building of the art museum.
After a time of nibbling delicious southern canapes, sipping cool drinks, listening to the band, talking with old and new friends, and paying attention during the speeches of welcome and thanks, we moved into the exhibition spaces.

Ebony G. Patterson, 'of 72 project,' digital prints on embellished bandanas, 2012

'What happens when 72 die and no one knows who they are? 
Who were these men and this woman?

Ebony wanted to make people aware of a 2010 massacre of 72 men (and 1 woman) at the Tivoli gardens in Jamaica. It is an event that has received very little attention from the media, has been ignored by Jamacia's usually vocal music scene and has had little acknowledgement governement. By making a mixed media portrait of every victim and hanging them all together on a clothesline the sheer number has great impact and the viewer is forced to realise these silenced people do matter.

Subodh Gupta, 'Known Stranger,' mixed media, 2014

This fabulous installation is an endlessly fascinating collection of well-used cooking pots and containers. The setting sun reaching through blinds to spot illuminate the work only added to its curiosity. People just walked around and around looking up and smiling.

This was just one of many exhibitions available for delegates to enjoy throughout the week. There was a well-organised gallery-hop one evening.
The daytime hours were mostly spent listening to the presentation of research papers on the theme "Crosscurrents: Land, Labor and the Port."
3 or 4 papers were presented in each session  X  5 concurrent sessions at any one time X 8 periods of concurrent sessions over 3 days = 140 papers presented. Phew, no wonder my head felt full towards the last day. The last day was spent attending roundtable discussions, films, videos, a merchants market. poster session, a closing plenary session and finally an awards banquet dinner. Those who still wanted more could join the post-symposium workshops and tours.
All in all an amazing event.
The next symposium will be in Vancouver in 2018. I can hardly wait.

Friday, December 16, 2016

SCAD Fiber Department Tour continues

The Sewing Machine Studio
Students learn to work with electronic, digitised machines...

...and old-school machines for sewing, knitting, embroidery and serging.

The Weaving Studio
I have very limited knowledge on looms but could see the room was filled with many different types - small and large. The largest one in the back is the only such machine in North America - having come from Scandinavia. 

The Surface Design Studio
I have never seen a cleaner surface design room. It was simple and perfectly set up. The above image shows only one side of one of the rooms.

The screen cleaning set up is quite unique. They have worked within the limits of an old building basement to come up with a simple solution.
The SCAD tour was an exciting start to the Textile Society of America's Symposium 2016.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Textile Society of America Symposium 2016

The Textile Society of America 15th biennial symposium was held in Savannah Georgia in 2016.
The co-hosts were the Savannah College of Art and Design and Art Rise Savannah.
Ingrid lincoln and I attended the symposium this year.
We caught one of the pre-symposium tours opting to have a group of enthusiastic, knowledgeable students take us on a tour of their university - Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Savannah campus is spread over 80 buildings most of them restored historic buildings in old downtown Savanah, all within walking distance of each other.
The first stop on the tour was the student centre. The beautiful building was filled with art. See the fireplace above.

Pencil drawings on planks of wood.

Next Stop: The Fibers Department, one of 42 disciplines offered.
The entrance art installation - light shining through fibres trapped between acrylic panels on the walls and ceiling.

The dyeing studio.
It looks small but that is because the class sizes are small and only a few students would work in here at any one time. All of the studios are open 24 hours, 7 days a week so students are free to work as their muse strikes or as close to deadlines as they like to.

Induction heating surfaces, steamers and pressurised vat.

SCAD offers 3 fibers degrees - B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A. link here.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Backyard Project: Cedar Deer Fence

There is a temporary, 8-foot high, wire, deer fence between the house and the Green Shed.

I was excited to see Josh and Taylor with their tape measure out over by the temporary deer fence.

Deer Fence Discussion Time

Taylor has dug the post holes. 
Digging anywhere on the construction site is such a hard job because there are so many buried angular rocks left over from blasting the foundations for the house.
It is getting dark not long after the construction crew has finished for the day. There is no daylight time left for me to go out and garden after they have gone. Winter is coming.

Another delivery - materials for the 8-foot high, permanent, cedar, deer fence.

Josh checks off the items: sono tube to support the wet concrete, cement for the footings, cedar planks for the fence.

Taylor mixed the cement then shovelled it into the sono tubes.
Now to wait for the cement to set.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Backyard Project: Attaching the Propagation Room to the House

How to attach another room to a house.

The stringers with support brackets for the joists.

It was a lot of work to take the old stringers off the side of the house then replace the various barriers and sealers.

The new stringer in place.

I don't know what those sticking out bits of wood are called but the first joist is nailed to them.

And there it is - the ceiling for the propagation room.
The roofing team came while I was away so I missed seeing the torched-on roof being put on. A shame because they work with flames to melt the rolls of bitumen in place. It is the same sort of roof as on the studio.