Fancy

Date: Mar 9 - Jun 2, 1996
Artist: Susie Brandt, Anna Torma, Rummy Gill, Rhonda Weppler
Curated by: Sarah Quinton, John Armstrong

The 1996 exhibition Fancy explores textile patterning and embellishment in a contemporary fine art context. The four artists in this exhibition have altered or depicted their fabric sources using a remarkable range of conventional and improvisational techniques based on sewing, embroidery, cake decorating, collage, and “alla prima” or glazed oil painting. These elaborate reinventions of familiar textiles range between pointed, even humorous, critique and caring acknowledgement of the significance of textiles in our daily lives.
 

The artists and their work

Susie Brandt's quilts are made up of radically sewn and pieced scraps of fabric, bits of lace, silk flowers and doilies. The quilt, often considered a quintessential North American textile expression, offers layer upon layer of historical, material and social information. Brandt commandeers some of quilt-making's virtuous characteristics - thrift, precision, hard work and beauty - and refashions them into fabrics that are relentless in their questions of comfort and well-being.

Rummy Gill has lived in India, Britain and Canada. Her small-scaled paintings refer to traditional Indian printed fabric and William Morris's textiles. She builds her indigo blue-drenched paintings upon grounds of Indian silk saris or paper photocopies of textiles, which remain partially visible beneath the layers of paint - metaphorically recalling purdah, the custom of veiling women in India. The repetitive quality of the printed textile is fastidiously rendered here as she builds layer upon layer of rhythmic patterning that reflects the accumulated, overlapping filters of her cultural experiences.

Anna Torma immigrated to Canada from Hungary. Her large, stitched assemblages contain images of embroidered emblems found in traditional Hungarian textiles. Tenuously pieced together webs of “shredded and roughed up” white sheets, pillowcases, cheesecloth and cast-off clothing, freely draw upon the structure of North American quilts - an art form she was introduced to upon her arrival in this country. The poetic blending of these fragile constructions, embellished with primary red stitching, alludes to a post-Soviet Hungarian diaspora.

Rhonda Weppler draws upon domestic textiles as well as other objects (Ukrainian pastries, Easter eggs and embroideries) made by members of her Ukrainian-Canadian family. Weppler creates a trompe l'oeileffect with paint on shaped canvases in order to imitate the texture, colour and scale of crocheted potholders. With a confectioner's touch and a nod towards 20th-century abstract painting, she conceives the potholder as an object of prominence and wit.


ESSAY

Fancy, By John Armstrong and Sarah Quinton, 1996