30 September 2016

Kate Madeloso interview: Fibre art that’s eclectic, universal, exploratory

Rooted by K. Madeloso, w20" x h40".
Calgary-born artist Kate Madeloso arrived in Nova Scotia in 2007, after living five years in Europe. Kate is an insatiable artisan and self-professed technique junkie. Her art quilts demonstrate strength in design, love of colour and texture, and fine needlework skills.

In addition to art quilts, Kate has worked (and sometimes taught or exhibited) in numerous media, including stained glass, mosaics, ceramics, stone carving, macramé and rug hooking.

Kate has had one solo show and participated in numerous group shows across Canada, in Japan and in Italy. She contributes to the Nova Scotia fibre arts community through various volunteer activities. Most notably, Kate co-coordinated Art Hits the Wall for a four-year period and co-founded the NS Fibre Arts Bee (FAB), in which she continues to play a leadership role. 

We are delighted to introduce Kate as our first featured artist of the new season.

Kate, please describe your work for our readers.

The words that come to mind are eclectic, universal, exploratory.
I am inspired by traditional craftwork in any medium. I like to reinterpret traditional motifs with contemporary colours and styles, creating unique and original work. 

Most of my work has been representational but with a spontaneous approach to the design aspect, which is consistent with my graphic design background. My current focus is on wall art for home décor. I play with texture and colour and layering, adding unexpected glimpses of detail for an element of surprise. 

Play it Again Sam by K. Madeloso, w20" x h20".

More recently, I have been striving to make my work more socially relevant. Two themes, my Slavic heritage and climate change, have been appearing in my latest works.

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

My mother was an extraordinary seamstress and craftsperson. She taught me to sew, knit, crochet and embroider as a young child, so I’ve been creating with textiles all my life. My formal education led to a 20-year career in graphic design. Throughout that time, I continued doing handwork as a hobby and as an escape from a hectic career.

I discovered the exciting world of textile art in 2003, while living in the UK and earning a Masters Certificate in Surface Design. The experience introduced me to the flourishing European textile art scene, confirming my long love affair with all things textile. 

Life then took me to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where I continued for three years to experiment and ask ‘what if?’ I took classes in bookmaking, beaded jewellery and the ancient Japanese art of temari (thread balls). I spent my Sundays learning to carve stone with a Cypriot family. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to twice visit the markets of Damascus (Syria). The abundant and high quality materials, traditional textiles and handcrafts I discovered there have been an endless source of inspiration. 

Then, shortly after the move to Nova Scotia, a call for art quilts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables caught my eye. I submitted two pieces. “The Joy of Anne” placed 2nd in its category and subsequently travelled to Japan for two exhibitions. My other entry “A Lovely Place to Live, in an Apple Blossom” placed 3rd in a separate category. I was delighted to receive a substantial award cheque in the mail, an experience that launched my career as an art quilter.

Since that time, I’ve entered many exhibitions and have won several awards for my art quilts. 

Taliesin Mosaic by K. Madeloso, w30" x h36"
Honourable mention, SAQA Atlantic show, Structures, 2015.

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

My inspiration comes from whatever gives me joy. Sometimes it’s a message or feeling I want to convey, or it may simply be the fabrics, colours, textures, or embellishments I have at hand. Perhaps a stick found on a beach, an Islamic mosaic, a bouquet of flowers, a piece of Russian embroidery, tribal drumming, or sparkling water running down a creek. So many ideas, interests, techniques and styles, I sometimes find it difficult to focus. I particularly enjoy responding to challenges and calls for entry because the criteria help me focus on a specific project and deadline, much as I did as a graphic designer.

I have an obsessive desire to keep learning and growing and challenging myself with new techniques. I like to layer with organza, digital photos, various fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and repurposed textiles. Lots of applique and embroidery, initially done by machine, but lately I’ve embraced the slow cloth movement and have been enjoying working entirely by hand, on appliqué, patchwork and embroidery. 

While I use a variety of materials and techniques in each project, my approach is consistent. I start with research and reading followed by rough thumbnail sketches in pencil. Then I make a paper pattern drawn to size. I tack that onto my design wall and begin auditioning fabrics. Once the fabrics are chosen the construction comes together quickly. I always finish my pieces with hand embroidery, either a little or a lot, to provide balance and fine detail that draws viewers in.

By Hand with Love (detail) by K. Madeloso, w16" x h31".

What are you currently working on and why?

I always have several projects on the go. Having lived in the Yukon for four years, I have a strong respect for wildlife and for northern Canada. My concerns about melting polar ice have sparked a series of pieces taking a light-sided look at the plight of polar bears. This series combines traditional patchwork with non-traditional embroidery and embellishment.
A Vanishing Culture by K. Madeloso, w24” x h72”.

I’ve also started working on a series relating to my ancestral heritage as a second generation Canadian. My grandparents immigrated from Russia and the Ukraine in the late 1890s. I’m continuously inspired by their vibrant colourful traditions and stories of their pioneer struggles.

In response to a FAB member challenge, I’ve been working on a series of small art quilts based on traditional Russian embroidery designs. This series of appliqué compositions incorporates hand and machine embroidery. I’m currently working with a gallery to organize an exhibition of the challenge pieces early in 2017.

What are your goals for the coming year?

I plan to build on both my climate change and my heritage series, with new and larger pieces, perhaps stretched on canvas for framing. I would also like these works to make more explicit statements, for example, by depicting my ancestors burning firearms in Russia, an issue that’s still relevant today.

On the business side, I’d like to redesign my website and re-energize my blog but I’d rather be stitching than sitting in front of a computer.

As for ongoing learning, I have just been matched with a SAQA mentor and I will also continue working on the UK-based Stitchbusiness Master Class.

Where can readers see your work this year? 

I have two pieces in the combined SAQA travelling exhibits:

My Corner of the World (international) and My Corner of the World Canada (juried) 

Currently scheduled:
May 21 - October 20, 2016: Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford ON
November 1, 2016 - January 29, 2017: Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay, ON

More showings to be announced.

To learn more about Kate and her artwork, please visit her website.

26 September 2016

SAQA Atlantic Fall Retreat

October 28 - 30, 2016
Debert, NS

SAQA Atlantic members are getting together for a weekend of camaraderie, learning and inspiration! Join us at the Debert Hospitality Centre for the last weekend of October.


Friday October 28th

4:00 - 6:00 p.m.   
Arrival at Debert Hospitality Centre, room check in and orientation; welcome by Atlantic area SAQA rep Regina Marzlin.

Show and Tell

Saturday October 29th

Hands-on seminar – The Alchemy of the Crayon Box, or, 64 colours are not ALWAYS better than eight  
Led by Linda Mackie Finley

In this session, we will review the simple 'reality' of the colour wheel and how viewing colour in a more painterly fashion can demystify the process of colour mixing and application. Participants will learn to more-reliably predict results and will have an opportunity to generate a full range of colours using only a basic few. 

Presentation and discussion – The Business of Art
Guest Speaker, Stacey Cornelius

Stacey Cornelius is a practising artist with a BFA in Textiles and Art History from NSCAD University. Stacey has 30 years experience in many facets of the retail industry and regularly offers classes on pricing and marketing for visual artists in various media. Her presentation, tailored to the interests of textile artists, will cover brand building, professional pricing and ways to determine the correct market niche. 

Show and Tell

Sunday October 30th

Discussion 1 – Working with Galleries
Led by Regina Marzlin

Participants will explore options for identifying and approaching appropriate venues for exhibition and sale of their work. 

Discussion 2 – Where to from Here?
Aimed at establishing a path forward for our vibrant community of textile artists.

Departure after lunch on Sunday.


Please register for the retreat on or before Friday October 14, 2016For more information or to register, contact our SAQA Atlantic representative Regina Marzlin.    

This event is for SAQA members exclusively. Not a member? You can join SAQA here!

19 September 2016

The Beauty of Imperfection: Lessons from Japan

Maelstrom by Susan Lilley, 2016 w36" x h29"

One night only! If you're in the area, please join me, Susan Lilley, and friends Miyako Ballesteros, Phyllis Price and Susan Robertson for our pop-up art exhibition on Saturday, September 24th, from 6-11pm, 527 King Street, Bridgewater NS, just one of many installations and events at Afterglow, Bridgewater's one-night festival of the arts.

The Beauty of Imperfection:
Lessons from Japan

Four friends have joined forces in an exploration of Japanese culture through its application to contemporary textile art and flower arranging. The Beauty of Imperfection features the Japanese techniques of ikebana (flower arranging), sashiko (stitching) and shibori (dyeing). These diverse methods will expose viewers to two deeply held Japanese values: mottainai (disdain for waste) and wabi sabi (appreciation for old and imperfect items). In North American throw-away society, these lessons have important application for achieving sustainability in the 21st century.

Ikebana by Susan Robertson, 2015

05 September 2016

Laurie Swim in the Spotlight

Nova Scotia artist Laurie Swim has been riding a wave of recognition.

Laurie's quilt Breaking Ground: The Hogg’s Hollow Disaster, 1960 was featured in a Labour Day themed Toronto Star article entitled Once Upon A City: Toronto’s labour pains. The large, collaborative fibre art project commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Hogg's Hollow disaster.

Meanwhile, Laurie just received word of an Art Gallery of Nova Scotia display entitled Nova Scotia Spotlight: Laurie SwimHer piece, Make-and-Breakis in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection by artists contributing to the province’s cultural heritage. It is described as "a Nova Scotian fishing scene that captures history, landscape, and architecture in an intricately quilted image that is strikingly pictorial yet dedicated to an exploration of fibre."  The quilt is on display at the AGNS (Halifax) until September 18th, 2016. 

Make and Break by Laurie Swim, 2010

And just recently, Laurie celebrated her new Wikipedia listing. Read all about Laurie Swim's impressive journey as an art quilter.

Congratulations, Laurie, for all your accomplishments! 

02 September 2016

My Corner of the World - Update

What's next for the two SAQA My Corner of the World exhibits (Canadian and international), currently on display in Stratford, Ontario?

At Anchor by Heather Loney, Dartmouth, NS

The exhibits' stay at the Stratford Perth Museum has recently been extended until October 20, 2016. Next stop on its cross-Canada journey: Thunder Bay! Over 80 pieces of artwork, including eight from Atlantic Canada, are on display. 

My Corner of the World Canada curator, Bethany Garner, recently wrote in her message to contributing artists:

"It is with great pride and thanks to each of you for making this past four months a truly exceptional experience for the many hundreds of visitors to the Stratford Perth Museum... the reactions have been of wonder, joy, excitement and awe... from the students in summer camps travelling in for their field trips, to the many artist groups making plans for a day trip to see the exhibition - to the locals who are amazed and delighted to have the work so close by that they can take all of their summer guests and family to see the marvels on the walls and corridors at SPM!

Your work has inspired and delighted those who love art created with fibre and stitch, and the fascination continues as we have a number of all new SAQA members, inspired by your creativity, beautiful execution and stunning originals designs. Thank you!"

If you expect to be in either Stratford or Thunder Bay (Ontario) in the coming months, or have friends and family there, please suggest they visit!




A Fall Day in Westport by Joan Reive, Belleville ON

November 1, 2016 – January 29, 2017

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 Thunder Bay Museum is located in downtown Thunder Bay South, kitty-corner to City Hall near the intersection of Donald and May Streets. Our street address is 425 Donald St. East.


And if you don't expect to be anywhere near Ontario, you can view all of these fabulous art quilts online:

My Corner of the World (Canada) 

My Corner of the World (international) 

01 September 2016

Call for Entry – Contemporary Canadian Art Quilts

 Moonlight Over Cordova Bay by Joan Hug-Valeriote

Ontario artist and SAQA member Joan Hug-Valeriote is mounting a multi-media exhibit of Canadian art quilts to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017. She invites all Canadian art quilters to be part of this unique presentation of both photographed and actual art quilts:

"Be part of celebrating Canada’s Sesquicentennial Year by submitting photographs of your Contemporary Canadian Art Quilts for inclusion in an exciting multimedia Video and Art Quilt display."

The exhibit will take place in the Berlin Tower Artspace, Kitchener City Hall, during April and May 2017. Entries will be accepted until October 24th, 2016.

For more details, click on Call for Entry or email: cdnartquilts@horizonsquilting.ca