World of Threads Festival

 

“This fall I found myself wandering the halls of Queen Elizabeth Park Community Centre, lost in a magical world of color, texture, and innovation.

As someone who sews, knits and has studied textiles, I thought I knew quite a but about the world of fibers and threads. However I had been missing out on a traditional medium of incredible creativity, referred to as fiber and textile art.

You have till November 27th to visit this amazing exhibit. There are 315 textile artworks by 134 artists, from 24 different countries being displayed for viewing at no cost. The non-for-profit World of Threads Festival began in 1993 as a single exhibit called the Celebration of Craft.

The medium of fiber art goes back to the ancient Egyptians who created elaborate decorative tapestries, which later became fabric designs.

Today we see a variety of materials and techniques being used – from plant to synthetic fibers, and quilting to embroidery. Instead of a strictly practical use for the fibers and textiles these artists find ways to illicit a message. These works of art put more focus on the craft rather than the intellectual meaning

The festival has grown over the years, creating a community for local artists and curators. The addition of a weekly artist interview series has pushed the audience internationally to 90 different countries. I had the chance to briefly speak with a couple of the artists involved.

For instance Gwen Lowery spends up to 2 months developing a single piece. Working mainly with machine and hand embroidery, creating colourful, eye catching, and geometric works. Lowery’s 7 towers and 3 canvases of art can be found in the “Cosmic Geometry” section of the World of Threads exhibit.

But how do these artists get involved in such a specific craft? Lowery explained,

“Since I was a child, I have always made clothes, knitted, and embroidered. Eventually, I got tired of using the specific patterns created by others and started having thoughts about creating my own work.”

Marilyn Clarke another artist from the festival creates with a different technique. She uses free motion stitching, much like drawing with pencil but with a sewing needle. It comes together as an intricate surface of light, depth and motion. From a distance one might think its is an acrylic or oil painting.

When describing her craft she said, “I use the darker threads to emphasize shapes and lighter threads romp across the surface to instill movement and colour.”

It is easy to get lost in the gallery corridors they have curated for the 2016 Festival. The three dimensional surfaces, inventive designs and layers of artwork will change the way you look at this artistic craft forever.”

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