Spring 2007 Vol 33 No 1

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F e a t u r e   A r t i c l e      

The actions of spinning thread and weaving cloth by hand are historically and cross-culturally connected to both the world of women and, symbolically, to the creation of life. The twisting, organic imagery present in some of my tapestries relates to these elements, but it has also evolved from a deep-rooted awareness of cyclical patterning in the natural world. In particular, I am fascinated by the passages of birth and death.

(below left) 4. "Margaret of Austria: Without Issue" 1999 122 x 87 cm
(below right) 5. "Margaret of Austria: Without Issue" (detail) 1999

I began my professional career working as a registered nurse. Nursing had appealed to my 18 year old self. I grew up in a different era from young women today. Many women of my generation had the courage to stand up to the patriarchal world around them and to demand entry to the world of academia. I wasn't one of them. I bought into the 1950's dreams of marriage, children and living happily ever after. After graduating from high school, I furthered my education "just in case" disaster might strike and I might have to support my family. For me, that education choice was limited to nursing, teaching or secretarial work. I loved science and was fascinated by the workings of the human body so I chose nursing. No wonder, that as time went by, I became a feminist.

(below left) 6. "Conceptual Drawing for Conundrum" 2001 33 x 33cm
(below right) 8. Small design drawing for the cartoon for "Conundrum" ready for enlarging 2001

(below second left) 9. "Conundrum" 2001 199 x 93cm
(below second right) 10. "Conundrum" (detail) 2001

Despite the challenges it presented, the nursing profession was not one that fulfilled my personal need to learn, understand and correlate information and concepts. The one role I embraced and at which I excelled was that of patient advocate. My belief in myself as a spokesperson came from the years I spent on the front lines of health care. I still feel it is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of the nursing profession. I frequently attempted to break away from nursing and spent those times either traveling or in business. My passion for researching ideas and scientific concepts followed me through all these endeavors. The need to make a living continued to draw me back to the nursing profession.

Dissatisfied, the re/forming woman I had become entered the Alberta College of Art at the age of 44. When I left the medical world for the art world, I took with me my curiosity, my fascination with science, medicine and issues of women's healthcare and my sense of myself as "mediator." My feminist beliefs became grounded in learning, as well as instinct, adding yet another layer to my work.

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