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This exhibition is the culmination of five years research and practice documenting regional plant dyes through foraging, dyeing, and record-keeping, then displaying via the traditional Finnish weaving method known as Raanu. The series begins in Finland using regional plants to connect with family history; followed by exploring Ontario plant colours during the pandemic; to translating Finnish Raanu weaving patterns while documenting Icelandic plant colours; and finishing with recent works created on a digital Jacquard loom: juxtaposing plant colours grown and dyed during community-engaged art projects and residencies in Toronto and rural Ontario.
Raanu: Pohjanmaa, was created during time spent researching my family history pre-migration to Canada. In June 2019, working in Kristiinankaupunkki, Finland, nearby my grandfather’s birthplace, I foraged regional plants for colour, dyed wool yarn, then wove the colours together on a floor loom inspired by Raanu: a Finnish, weft-faced weaving method that translates the land, sea and sky into bands of colour.
Raanu Pohjanmaa / Mapping Via Plant Dyes Ostrobothnia, Finland, 2019
My initial exploration into Raanu weaving spurred me onto further iterations including two pieces handwoven in 2020 during a time of pandemic restrictions. I connected with communities virtually, sharing my research and practice regarding regional plants for dyes via how-tos on zoom and social media, and culminating in hand-weavings that reference the Raanu method while displaying plant colours from rural Thunder Bay, and the Algoma region respectively, including colours from the Algomatrad Centre Community Colours dye garden.
Raanu Northeastern Ontario , 2020
Raanu Northwestern Ontario , 2020
In 2021 I continued exploring plant colours, and documented an intensive plant-dyeing exploration in Northwestern Iceland via translated, Finnish weaving manuals, including five handwoven Raanu samples featuring individual plant colours, and one large weaving: Mapping Via Plant Dyes: River Blanda, Northwestern Iceland featuring all fifty-two shades of plant colours created over six weeks, woven into a calendar of colour.
Raanu River Blanda / Mapping Via Plant Dyes Northwestern Iceland, 2021
Following this intensive research and practice, I determined the need to hybridize my method, learning digital Jacquard weaving and file design in 2022, and, beginning to hand weave plant-dye records that reference Raanu while incorporating plant imagery and QR codes into the weavings, on a digital TC2 loom.
Mapping Via Plant Dyes: Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2019, 2019/2023. Photo Credit: Chad Kirvan
This body of work shows my innovation in handweaving and documentary dyeing, and indicates the direction of my digital/analog craft practice and continued body of work into the future.
Old Roots New Seeds Community Dye Garden 2021, 2021-2023. Photo Credit: Chad Kirvan.
I would like to thank and acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, Jumblies Theatre & Arts, Thinking Rock Community Arts, Algomatrad Centre, Willow Springs Creative Centre, and all of the communities that have participated and supported myself and this incredible journey!