Grant Heaps’s Stag revisits a kitschy Canuck image.
DREAMLAND: TEXTILES AND THE CANADIAN LANDSCAPE at the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre), to September 30. $15, srs $10, stu $6; Wednesday 5-8 pm pwyc. 416-599-5321. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Unlike Iran, India or Japan, Canada doesn't immediately jump to mind when we think "rich textile traditions." Nevertheless, the museum's curators deepen our appreciation of our woven, hooked and sewn heritage by juxtaposing the work of 10 contemporary Canadian artists with Canadian clothing and domestic textiles from the collection.
The frugality required to survive in a harsh environment, reflected in rag rugs and quilts that used every precious fabric scrap, resonates in contemporary collage practices, while outdoorsy animal imagery receives strange or whimsical 21st-century reinterpretations.
Both themes are at work in Grant Heaps's quilt-sized deer banner made of tiny un-seamed fabric squares tenuously held together by horizontal and vertical stitching, its technique and scale giving a mass-produced image a fresh spin.
It shares a room with Graeme Patterson's wistful DIY stop-motion animation in which a deer and monkey make the artist's now abandoned Saskatchewan hometown into their playground, and Lydia and Raymond Scott's farm-animal hooked rugs whose backstory (which we learn from the museum's customary scholarly wall tags) about the loss of their New Brunswick farm belies their cuteness.
Aboriginal artist John Henry Fine Day achieves a similar effect by constructing his stuffed-toy-shaped dog and bunny out of pieces of rough sinew-sewn rawhide.
Jérôme Fortin's Self-Portrait, collaged paper strips hanging over a dowel, echoes a ceinture fléchée (the braided red sash worn by Quebec voyageurs), while Jason McLean's travel memento, a laminated map of North America ornamented with transit passes, bounces off a quilt commemorating a family's 19th-century journey from Scotland.
Ruth Schueing mixes diary with domesticity in eight jacquard-woven cotton squares that transform GPS maps and personal data into the world's most conceptually rich dish towels.
Amidst all the warm winter woolens, Michael Snow's video of billowing cabin curtains and Barbara Todd's quilt and prints based on beach pebbles give Dreamland a cottagey feel that makes it a fine summer show.