Dorothy Caldwell

dorothy caldwell7

dorothy caldwell6

A few lucky students were able to participate in Dorothy Caldwell’s workshop, Human Marks, held at Maiwa Textile Symposium, September 2015, in Vancouver BC. When I visited, there was a air of excitement and productivity as the students were viewing a slide show of Caldwell’s extensive travels and inspirations. Strips of paper, mark making examples done by the students, were hanging from one wall.

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Examples of Kantha embroidery were spread on tables.

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There were beautiful examples of mark making, on paper, using subtractive techniques.

dorothy Caldwell 1

For those not able to take a Caldwell workshop, there is a new book, “Silent Ice/Deep Patience”, that has been published by the Art Gallery of Peterborough. This is a Catalogue for the traveling exhibition, held at the gallery, from March 21 to June 22, 2014, at the Idea Exchange, from January 16 to March 1, 2015 and at St. Mary’s University Gallery, from March 21 to May 17, 2015. This extensive, 62 page catalogue, explores the connections between Caldwell’s mark making and her travels and sense of place. This particular exhibition is the result of her travels to the extreme landscapes of the Australia Outback and the Canadian Arctic. According to the foreword “Dorothy Caldwell continues to be interested in our ways of “marking” our landscape; from the delineation of property to the marks and tracks that develop in the still wild regions. These marks accumulate, building a sense of place and molding the memory of all that has occurred on the land; the natural phenomena and the human interactions. Caldwell has been drawn to textile as the medium that can best translate her observations into an art form”. An example of her work published in the catalogue is called “How We Know when It’s Night? (2010).

caldwell ice

Other than her inclusion in the excellent series “Art Textiles of the World: Canada” and some rare, out of print catalogues, this is the best resource for information on Caldwell’s work.

Slow Stitch


Claire Wellesley-Smith has just published an exciting new book on textiles: Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art. The excitement I feel about this book is partly about presentation and partly about a new philosophy Wellesley-Smith imparts to textile work. The book is about materials and techniques, cross cultural inspirations, and activities to help the reader explore a reflective and mindful stitching practice. The book has beautiful plates with examples of Wellesley-Smith’s work to illustrate key issues around sustainability, reuse of materials, natural dyeing techniques.

Claire wellesley-Smith 1

Also included are artists that exemplify this “slow stitching” movement such as Lotta Helleberg. Helleberg uses local plants to make fabric dyes for natural printing processes. Her concern is with the fragility of the environment. Through her use of natural material and hand stitching, she creates art quilts, textile collages, artists’ books, and other objects.

Lotta Helleberg

Another artist featured in this book is Alice Fox who creates a sense of place in her work. Using printmaking and mark making techniques, she builds up layers of marks. The piece featured in the book has been made with bottle tops found in the street in various locations and is called, appropriately, 25 Beer Bottle Tops.

N Fox Slow Stich 1

Part Four of the book discusses ways to have a contemplative sewing practice by making sewing journals (a regular practice), stitching in community, using nature by walking and mapping.

Stitch journals Slow Stitch

This is a beautiful book in every way; from the cover design, illustrations, text, thoughtful organization and content. It is a book to have on a library shelf, to take down to read and re-read, for philosophic thoughts and ideas as well as textile inspiration.