October 18 - 21, 2017

The seventh annual A Handmade Assembly, hosted by the Owens Art Gallery and Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre with support from the Fine Arts Department at Mount Allison University, featured workshops, talks, and projects by Rebecca Blankert (Sackville, NB), Katherine Boyer (Winnipeg, MB), Katie Marie Bruce (Lethbridge, AB), Erik Edson (Sackville, NB), Shauntay Grant & Tyshan Wright (Halifax, NS), Keeley Haftner (Chicago, IL), Deborah Margo (Ottawa, ON), Hazel Meyer (Toronto, ON), Alana Morouney (Sackville, NB), Kelly Ruth (Edmonton, AB), Diana Sherlock (Calgary, AB), Suzie Smith (Winnipeg, MB), Wing-Yee Tong (Toronto, ON), and Karen Trask (Montreal, QC). 

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Opening Night Roundtable Discussion

Wednesday, October 18, 7:30 pm
Sackville Curling Club

The Assembly activities began with an Opening Night Roundtable Discussion moderated by Adriana Kuiper with Katherine Boyer, Katie Marie Bruce, Kelly Ruth, and Wing-Yee Tong. Participants shared short presentations on topics related to the handmade in contemporary culture as it relates to their own research or art practices, followed by questions from the moderator and audience.

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Workshop: LEATHER, WOOD, SWEAT - Hazel Meyer

Thursday, October 19, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, Mount Allison

LEATHER, WOOD, SWEAT is a performative workshop that uses handmade wooden mallets, the technique of leather braiding and ideas about craft, lineage, and the marks that usage leaves behind. The workshop begins with a short presentation of imagery connected to leatherwork, hair-braiding, and leather-braiding, and mallets and hammers in carpentry and sport. Each participant will learn how to braid a handle using mallets and/or a dowel. These mallets will then be taken outside and used on sidewalks, bricks and rocks to make unique impressions into the leather. We will document what we hit, the time, place, and our intentions (if we care to share). These mallets will be used in other workshops with future participants, who will build on the texture/imprints previous participants left.

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Artist Project: Considering Mending - Katie Marie Bruce

Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre

Over the course of A Handmade Assembly, Katie Marie Bruce embossing and embroidering the found and embedded fissures, cracks and other textural abnormalities encountered on surfaces throughout the spaces of A Handmade Assembly. The project branches out from her previous series that focused on tracing individual spaces, now collecting such incidental moments on a single sheet of paper.

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Artist Talk: "Go back and fetch": Cultivating Maroon Tradition in Contemporary Canada  - Shauntay Grant & Tyshan Wright

Friday, October 20, 11:00 am

In this artist talk writer Shauntay Grant and visual artist Tyshan Wright discussed their art, and their work to reconnect Jamaican Maroon narratives and sacred objects to Nova Scotia and Canada. Jamaican Maroons are descendants of Africans who evaded slavery and established independent communities in the island’s mountainous interior. When some 550 Maroons were exiled to Nova Scotia from Jamaica in 1796, they were denied their ceremonial instruments. Grant and Wright discussed their creative processes and the influence of Maroon traditions on their contemporary works.

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Performance: Do Undo and Redo - Karen Trask

Friday, October 20, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mount Allison University Campus

In 2008, Trask transformed several hundred dictionaries of all types to make the work, Where the words goUsing the Japanese technique for spinning paper called ‘shifu’. She spun the dictionary pages into paper threads and slowly wound them into one giant ball. As a sculpture, it has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions. It is now calling her to continue its transformation to another level of engagement. For the performance, Do Undo and Redo, Trask proposes to unravel this ball of dictionary thread. She will push it through the streets of Sackville and up and down the hills of Mount Allison campus, leaving a trail of paper thread behind her. Once completely unwound, she will retrace her footsteps and rewind the thread back into a ball. This action may be repeated. 

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Performance : MANUFACTURING VOICES - Kelly Ruth

Friday, October 20, 9:00 pm
Sackville Curling Club

During this performance, Kelly Ruth is weaving a cloth on a floor loom. This is an act symbolically counter to the drive through pace of contemporary society. As she weaves, she is simultaneously using a contact microphone on the weaving loom, and running the sound through guitar pedals. Through continually changing the looping sounds she is creating live improvised musical compositions. The sounds created by the loom give the object a voice, which echoes the inventions of transportation, the militaristic organization of workers in large-scale industry, and mechanized industrial practises. Metronomically the sounds evoke a pulsing forward without pause towards 'progress.' It is this voice, which serves as a witness of civilization and shares with us its perspective of our place in history.

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Closing Address: Diana Sherlock

Saturday, October 20, 8:00 pm

A Handmade Assembly will come to an end on Saturday evening with a closing address delivered by Diana Sherlock. Diana Sherlock is a Canadian independent curator, writer and educator whose projects create opportunities for contemporary artists to produce new work in response to specific collections, contexts, histories and cultures of display. Recent curatorial projects include: New Maps of Paradise (2016) with Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton (Nickle Galleries, Calgary); In the making (2014–15) (Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary and Kenderdine College Art Galleries, Saskatoon); Folly: Château Mathieu(2009–14) (Mathieu, Normandy, France; Esplanade Art Gallery, Medicine Hat and Nickle Galleries, Calgary). Current projects include tracing the parallel histories of West German ceramics (Ricardo Okaranza: Un Certain Regard, Berlin, 2010) and the Medicine Hat clay industries in southern Alberta, and editing a publication on Canadian artist Rita McKeough’s performances and installations. Sherlock has published over 70 texts in gallery catalogues and contemporary art journals internationally including Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, CMagazine, FUSE, Blackflash, Ceramics Art and Perception, .dpi Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture and The Calgary Herald. An essay, “Capitalizing on Community: The Makerspace Phenomenon,” is included in the anthology Craft on Demand: The New Politics of the Handmade edited by Nicole Burisch and Anthea Black for I.B. Tauris. Sherlock teaches critical theory and professional practice in the School of Critical + Creative Studies at the Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary.

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Artist Talk: RUBBER, LEATHER, WOOD - Hazel Meyer

Thursday, October 19, 9:30 am
Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre

RUBBER, LEATHER, WOOD extends Meyer’s ongoing research about the role of handmade tools, equipment and textiles within queer and sexual subcultures, amateur athletics, and activist actions. Specifically Meyer is interested in world-making: how we use objects to populate, orient and build the world we want to share with others. Meyer draws on archival images, popular imagery, the ideas of José Muñoz and Sara Ahmed, and the artist’s own on-going installation and performance project Muscle Panic (2014) to tease out the radical capacity and resilience of the handmade. The talk is named for three materials that effortlessly bridge the worlds of sport and sexual subcultures. 

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Workshop: The Space Between Threads : A community beading circle - Katherine Boyer

Thursday, October 19, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Royal Canadian Legion

The Space Between Threads is a project for participants to join, sit, learn beading, drink tea and visit. The connecting power of stitching together creates spaces and opportunity for a particular kind of sharing. The silence born between stitches, allows for a natural group breath, that breeds confidence and opportunity to share and tell stories. Occurring around the humble space of a table and chairs, The Space Between Threads allows participants to engage in as much or as little as they are comfortable. The aim of this project is to provide access to community space and to engage in open dialogue about any and all things. As facilitator, Métis artist Katherine Boyer is on site to provide beadwork lessons, from basic to complex stitches, and to generally facilitate discussion for any interested parties. Basic materials will be made available by the facilitator, for participant use, such as: scissors, seed beads, needles and thread, paper, pencils, fabric and interfacing. 

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Workshop: Make a Refillable Leather Notebook - Alana Morouney

Thursday, October 19, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Canadian Legion

Learn how to make a small refillable/re-useable leather notebook that you can keep in your pocket. The notebook is bound with a very simple stitch and knot, and the little booklet slips out of a soft wrap-around leather cover.

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Workshop: 3D Drawing With Strings, Knots, and Nets - Wing-Yee Tong

Friday, October 20, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Royal Canadian Legion

In this workshop participants explored a variety of knot-making techniques including fishnet weaving, crochet, and other lace making techniques, as modular building blocks for constructing and drawing lines and shapes in the air.

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Opening Reception : Tesselescence (Struts) - Keeley Haftner

Friday, October 20, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre

For her exhibition, Tesselescence (Struts), Haftner will create an immersive installation using a tessellation pattern called “rhombille”, or “tumbling blocks.” Within the context the pattern provides, Haftner will convert a range of objects from her previous home of Chicago and donated from residents of Sackville that – for the artist – act as stand-ins for obsolescence, both planned and archaeological. These objects include broken umbrellas, broken ceramics, and cheap décor (prints of paintings, and the like) which act as substitutions for “fine art” in the home. Processes for transforming these objects will include quilting, rock grinding and tumbling, and silkscreen printing.

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Artist Talk: Waste Patterns: Transforming Trash, Obsolescing, Tessellating, and Other Related Complexities - Keeley Haftner

Saturday, October 21, 11:00 am
Royal Canadian Legion

In her artist talk, Haftner will discuss her obsession with “rhombille”, or “tumbling block” pattern, and how it relates to her parallel obsession with transforming garbage into art objects. Haftner has an ongoing blog where she documents found instances of the pattern (www.rhombillion.tumblr.com), and engages processes ranging from 3D printing disposable cups to blowing glass from shards found on the street in her efforts to completely transform waste materials.

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Artist Talk: Thinking Through Making - Suzie Smith

Thursday, October 19, 11:00 am
Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre

Suzie Smith presented an artist talk about her multi faceted practice. Routed in printmaking Smith’s work plays with both traditional and experimental processes that expand off the flat surface into installation, sculpture and video. The handmade is central to her work. In particular she is interested in how craft process can inform conceptual ideas. In addition to talking about her own practice Smith also spoke about the work she does collaboratively with Parameter Press, a Risograph collective that produces limited edition artworks that are disseminated quarterly by mail.

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The Work Room

Thursday & Friday, October 19 & 20, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre

The Work Room is an open workshop space with refreshments, music, and a few extra bits and bobs to help your projects or to get you started on something new. This year, artist Katie Marie Bruce was in The Work Room developing an artist project over the course of A Handmade Assembly

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Artist Talk : Making Colour - Deborah Margo

Friday, October 20, 9:30 am
Owens Arts Gallery

Deborah Margo’s talk focused on the making of a new project, Making Colour, which explores the connections between gardeners, natural dye artisans and teachers, naturalists, ecologists, and visual artists. Topics included the making of her first dye garden, in Ottawa, in May 2017. In addition, she spoke about the harvesting and making of colour dyes from a variety of collected and foraged plant matter in preparation for the making of an indoor installation out of dyed silk and paper. Margo is focusing on the search and manifestation of colour found in nature as idea, material, and practice. By conceptually, poetically, and physically connecting different parts of her practice, Margo aims to have one become the outcome of the other: by growing and finding the necessary plants, then making the dyes, she has access to colour that comes from nature.  The making of an installation becomes the distillation of seed to plant to dye, where colour is impregnated into a textile’s very fibres.  It is an exploration and synthesis of ideas where each step leads to the next consequence.

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Workshop : Casting the Macabre - Rebecca Blankert

Friday, October 20, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Royal Canadian Legion

This workshop is an introduction to resin mold making. Bring a small object (the stranger, the better) that can be cast into a resin trinket. This two-part process will begin with a mold created from your object. The resin will be poured during the first night of the workshop, then come to the Heart & Pocket sale to un-mold your object, and attach it to a necklace, keychain or other functional doodad. Objects that would make a great casted bauble: small bones and skulls, weird looking rocks, old-timey keys, small figurines, doll parts, mechanical parts, lego, stiff mummified candy from your pocket, crystal shards from Thra or meteorites.

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Opening Reception: Other Stories - Erik Edson

Friday, October 20, 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Owens Art Gallery

This exhibition presents Sackville-based Erik Edson’s latest large-scale installation ruins(2017), alongside a selection of work that spans almost two decades of the artist’s career. Initially known as a printmaker, Edson’s practice expanded into sculpture and installation informed by the qualities of his original medium, in particular the way printmaking produces images by means of a process of translation. For Edson, neither looking at nor making pictures are neutral (let alone natural) experiences, and through use of found images, stage-set like formats, and other tactics that draw attention to the act of viewing, he demonstrates how our visual experiences are embedded both in the habits of the body, and in a circulating web of imagery. ruins exemplifies Edson’s longstanding interest in the natural world, so often the site of human fantasies of pure experience, and yet the subject of perhaps the most richly-developed visual cultural archive of all.

The exhibition is curated by Pan Wendt, and co-produced by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and the Owens Art Gallery.

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Workshop: Locating Colour - Deborah Margo

Saturday, October 21, 12:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, Mount Allison

An introduction to the possibilities of local plants being made into plant dyes and their applications to different kinds of textiles. The gathering and storing of plant matter will be covered as well as recipes for making plant dyes. Finally, selected textiles will be dyed. From beginning to end, this is a hands-on workshop, with all materials provided.