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Johnnene Maddison
We have asked some of the artists participating in Spun! to share their thoughts on our featured medium, textiles. Johnnene Maddision, currently showing in Spun!, also took part in SHE, with selections from her haunting series, Losing Dave. Johnnene’s work is display at the gallery until April 29.- CB

Because my work is content based, the choice of materials is very important to me. When I have something to say, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the best way to say it, which means, what materials will best tell this story?

In the past I have used watercolours for landscapes and seascapes. The fluid nature and the lovely happy accidents inherent in watercolours beautifully express skies, water and the movement of trees. Watercolours are clear, crisp and transparent which makes them ideal for painting flowers, waves, clouds and atmospheric changes. The white paper was made for snow scenes. The deep, mysterious grays are perfect for depicting fog and rain. Watercolours have always said “landscapes” to me.

Bright, bold acrylics with their somewhat plastic nature are a joy to use when painting abstracts. Since this subject is more difficult than realism, the fact that acrylics can be worked and reworked takes some of the frustration out of striving to achieve the right colour balance and composition, so important in a successful abstract. If I have a need to express an abstract notion such as my feelings, thoughts and concerns, acrylics are my medium of choice.

When I took 8 years to complete the art work and the book Losing Dave, an artist’s journey through loss, mixed media seemed like the only medium that could possibly work. Some days were filled with hope that was easily dashed with each negative health report. Soon my feelings were lifted again with positive test results. Working with a combination of textiles, paint and photo collage was the best way to tell my story. Therefore, mixed media was open and lose enough that it could deal with the demands of my ever changing moods, concerns and fears.

When I decided to create works and write the book, Over Here; women work and WWII, about Canadian women who worked in unconventional jobs during WWII, the only medium that could possibly tell their story was textiles. The WWII women had to mend, make do, make over and use every little scrap of paper, material and courage that they could muster. I used vintage fabrics cut from old 1940s aprons, pajamas, dresses and worn out quilts that I purchased at flea markets and garage sales. To me they held humanity. These pieces of textiles told the stories of what women did to hold the Canadian economy together and supply our troops during one of Canada’s most difficult and challenging periods in history. Their resourcefulness, bravery and ingenuity could only be expressed using the medium that they had touched, stitched, worn and cared for during the war years. I see textile art as a medium that I will return to again and again when content demands it, especially when telling ‘herstory.’

April 5, 2017

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