30 March 2016

Heather Jarmyn interview: From Modern to Art Quilts

Spooling Around by Heather Jarmyn, 2014,
w 56” x h 64”, block exchange with piecers
from Canada and US,
quilted by Krista Zaleski.
Prince Edward Island’s Heather Jarmyn creates for the joy of self-expression. Heather grew up in Southern Ontario, enjoying art classes and dabbling in different media. Her career followed a different path, however, and she now has considerable responsibility as a public servant. In spite of her demanding job, Heather finds time to create both art and modern quilts as well as to provide leadership in her local modern quilt scene. She is currently president of the very new Prince Edward Island Modern Quilt Guild, an organization that she helped launch in January of this year. Heather is also a collector of art and antique quilts.

Tell us about your quilt work.

Currently, my main focus is wall quilts. I make quilts for the joy of creating, both for my home and as gifts for family and friends. I’ve been very involved in the modern quilt movement, as a member of the Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild, as the PEI lead for the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild, and now leading the new guild on the Island. I’m drawn to the bright colours, flexibility and freshness of design in modern quilting. Modern wall quilts can be art quilts. Like art quilts, they can be abstract or representative and can use dense quilting or thread painting to convey movement.  

Descending into Gobblygook by Heather Jarmyn, 2015, w 32” x h 30”

Describe your journey towards becoming an artist who works with textiles. 

I learned to quilt while living in Nova Scotia, when I was in my 20s, and have made several quilts using traditional blocks and patterns. While working in Ottawa I took up modern quilting and was able to take classes from art quilters such as Elaine Quehl and Mary Pal.

I was recently delighted to learn that one of my modern quilts, Urban Pods, was juried into CQA’s National Juried Show. This is my second quilt juried into a CQA show. The first one, My Midnight Garden was an appliqué quilt of my own design.

But I’m not an artist in the sense that I create pieces for sale! I’m currently a full-time public servant with staff in five provinces. While it may evolve into something more than a hobby after I retire, for now, quilting is a creative outlet and means of relaxation. I try to spend at least 15 minutes a day on a quilt-related pursuit, whether it’s sewing, online reading or just fondling fabric!

My Midnight Garden by Heather Jarmyn, 2008, w 87” x h 86”, quilted by Cherry Tree Quilts 

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

I’m most creative in response to challenges, which provide me with freedom to experiment and broaden my horizons as a quilter. Photos or words/phrases often inspire me. The last challenge I completed had the word glitter in the title. It included a silver and gold print fabric that didn’t appeal to me, so I focused on how people are attracted to shiny things in today’s society, and our need to pause and to play. The result: a piece with the colour bars we used to see when the TV signal was down, together with the symbols we now recognize as meaning pause and play.

Pause and Play by Heather Jarmyn, 2015, w 60” x h 57”

Do you have a studio, or do you work wherever you can find a spot? 

I have a small sewing studio that was formerly a bedroom, with tables specifically for sewing and cutting. Not being the neatest of people, I like being able to walk away from a work in progress without having to clean up. Also, because it’s a small space, I can easily wheel my chair from ironing board to sewing machine to cutting table!  

What are you currently working on and why?

I just finished a piece that represents a slice of the earth in winter. I’ve always been fascinated at how pristine the snow is when it first lands, and how different it is after the wind and snow ploughs have acted on it. I wanted to show the transition of colour and structure I would find if I looked at a slice of that frozen ground. Using a gradation of solid fabrics, from white to earth brown, I played with curves, irregular edges and free motion quilting. This quilt was faced to float off the wall. 

Beneath the Snow by Heather Jarmyn, 2016, w 21" x h 35"

What (non-fibre) artists, either historic or contemporary, have inspired you and why?

I have enjoyed both the Group of Seven and the Impressionists, particularly for their use of colour. Also, the lines used by artists during the Art Deco period have inspired some of my modern works. 

What fibre artists are you currently interested in, and why?

I love the works of Mary Pal and Elaine Quehl. Mary Pal does portraits, particularly human faces, with cheesecloth. Elaine Quehl is known for her dyeing and stunning colour compositions. I’ve had the pleasure of taking classes from both these artists and have seen their work in person. I hope someday to add one of their pieces to my SAQA quilt collection. 

Tell us about your quilt collecting.

I have a small collection of art quilts on my wall, including work by artists Julie Haddrick and Martha Wolfe, purchased through SAQA's annual Benefit Auction, and a piece by Marcia Strong Middents, purchased through the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). I also treasure several antique quilts made by my grandmother in the 1930s and 1940s.

I bought my first SAQA auction quilt in 2010 and have since bought two more in support of the organization. There are so many to choose from, it’s been easy to find pieces that speak to me. In the weeks prior to the opening, I admire all the pieces, choose my favourite and set my clock, so I can place my bid the moment the bidding starts. I always have a second choice ready to bid on, in case my first bid is unsuccessful. I find it fascinating to see which pieces are sold first!

What are your goals for the coming year?

I’d like to make several small pieces for my home and to exhibit at local shows. And I’d love to have something ready for the 2017 SAQA Atlantic show, Transitions! Meanwhile, I’ll continue to be inspired by SAQA’s website, journal and travelling shows. In April I’ll be taking the current SAQA trunk show to PEI quilt guilds. One day, I would love to have a modern quilt juried into QuiltCon, the international show and conference for modern quilts

24 March 2016

My Corner of the World Art Quilt Exhibition

Seven SAQA Atlantic members will be showing their work together with SAQA artists from Canada and beyond, at the upcoming My Corner of the World exhibition that will open in Stratford, Ontario. If you can't make it for the event, tell your friends!

Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford ON

May 21 to September 5, 2016

A Fall Day in Westport, Joan Reive, Belleville, Ontario


Saturday May 21, 2016
1-3 pm

Canadian and international artists interpret their “corner of the world” in this colourful exhibition of exquisite art quilts.

This 80-piece show was developed in collaboration with SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). A two-part exhibition, it consists 40 pieces from SAQA Canadian member artists, and 40 pieces from SAQA International member artists.

The artwork includes representational as well as abstract pieces, portraying a wide range of interpretations of the theme – from the geographical to the meta-physical.

The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, May 21, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. We are pleased to welcome Incoming SAQA President Lisa Ellis, as well as other SAQA Representatives, who will offer opening remarks.

Our SAQA Artists who have work in the exhibitions are certainly encouraged to join in on the festivities, as are all of our Canadian SAQA members, family and friends who are able to be with us in Stratford for the Opening event.

Let's make celebrating this remarkable Exhibition a very special time to thank each of you who participated in the Call to Entry, and shared their beautiful work with the Juror and to enjoy the beauty of the art pieces as they begin their journey across Canada and beyond.

Looking forward to seeing many of you in May!

Stratford Perth Museum would like to thank Studio Art Quilt Associates for their collaboration and support in this project.

Originally posted by Bethany Garner, Exhibition Coordinator.

23 March 2016

New Website for Anne Morrell Robinson

Nova Scotia quilt and fibre artist Anne Morrell Robinson is an award-winning quilter who has almost 600 quilts to her credit. Anne also makes hooked rugs, art dolls and jewelry from her fabulous studio in the Margaree Valley of Cape Breton Island. 

If you can't drop by for a visit, have a look at Anne's new website, Kingross Quilts and Fibre Arts.

We asked Anne to tell us about her new website:

Morrell Robinson: This is my first "professional " web site. Customers always ask about a web site and while the first one I had did the job it wasn't really reflecting what I currently need. I selected a local web designer who I have worked with before. Because he's an artist as well as a web designer, I knew he could lend an artist's eye to the project as well as the technical skills. My aim was to keep it simple and use the "one picture is worth a 1000 words" approach.

Read more about Anne Morrell Robinson here.

08 March 2016

Structures Hits Yarmouth!

SAQA Atlantic and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth Branch, invite you to the Structures exhibition opening, 2:00 pm Saturday March 12, 2016.

Yarmouth is the final stop on the year-long tour of SAQA Atlantic's Structures textile art exhibition. If you haven't had an opportunity to see it yet, plan a trip to Yarmouth soon. The exhibition, consisting of 25 amazing art quilts by 19 Atlantic artists, will be on display in Yarmouth NS, until April 30, 2016.

Where: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth Branch, 
             341 Main Street, Yarmouth, NS. 
When: Saturday, March 12 until April 30, 2016.
            Wednesday - Friday: 8:30am - 4:30pm
            Saturday - Sunday: 11:30am - 4:30pm
Opening reception: 2:00 pm, Saturday, March 12, 2016.

Structures launched last June at the Art Gallery of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish NS. It has since travelled to the Gallery at the Guild in Charlottetown, the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, in Inverness NS, and the Saint John Art's Centre in New Brunswick. The show has been well received at every stop on the tour. Don't miss it!