I have lived in dozens of neighbourhoods but I call the Kootenays home. In fact, I list Nelson as my hometown on my Facebook page even though I have only been in the area for eleven years. Nelson is like that - I feel as though I fit here, and always have.
This story is about how I have found ways to connect to the people here, their pasts and hopefully, their futures. It starts with garage sales, I love going to them. You can find out so quickly about a neighbourhood, you get to snoop, ask questions, listen in on good conversations and look through people’s pasts. But, you need a hook, something odd you are looking for or else you’ll end up with a whole lotta junk!
I started noticing that there were piles of crocheted doilies and bits of lace being discarded and ending up on a sale’s free table or sold for pennies at the local Sally Ann. Beautiful handmade pieces, no longer wanted or cared for. It seemed a metaphor for the way this society was treating its old people and it made me sad. So, I started collecting the hankies, doilies and worn out tablecloths. As a mixed media artist, I thought I would someday figure out a use for these things. Better my studio than the local dump!
I made my first art piece a few years ago and showed it to a local women’s group. Soon, Rose, a former teacher brought me a bag of handkerchieves she had been given by students over the years. Even though it has been a while since she taught, she kept the gifts - unused in a drawer. She kept the memories of each child with each lace-edged embroidered square. And so it started! Rita’s mother went to a Swiss finishing school in the 1920s and “here is her piecework, dear”. Nell, a Doukhobor, handed over a shoe box of sample pieces girls had to make as they learned to crochet. Alice’s mother Minnie made collars and cuffs for her to wear when she played at piano concerts - they had laid hidden under the stairs in a little house in Kootenay Bay for over 50 years. Each piece comes with a story, whether it’s about a left-handed girl’s struggle to learn knitting in a right-handed world or an immigrant’s treasure shunned by the newer generation. People seem to want to honour these precious objects, they just don’t know how.
So I create collages from the lace, add text, embroidery, found objects and paper. I celebrate the past in a way that others can enjoy. And I have noticed, as I listen in on the conversations people have as they look at my art, that they are talking about their Oma or Baba, remembering when they watched her sitting quietly in the corner and did her needlework. They are remembering - together and looking at the past differently. It makes me happy.
by Wayne Chan | May 3rd 11:55 am
My daily commute is like a small gear of mechanical time, of epicycles upon epicycles, where days turn to months and to years, and the seasons cycle through. The rhythms of time are constant, but the changes they bring are not.
by Brendan Harrison | Apr 12th 12:54 pm
When white supremacists moved into my neighbourhood, I was forced to reconsider what community meant to me.
by george ilsley | May 3rd 1:44 pm
The neighborhood of Broma in Vancouver (around Broadway and Main) used to have salmon streams and a temperate rainforest. Now it has hipsters.
by Monica Meneghetti | May 2nd 11:45 pm
Queer Banffites come in every stripe but, like other wildlife, most of us are well-camouflaged.
by Christin Geall | May 3rd 10:16 pm
In my neighborhood, houses float out to sea. They’re jacked up from their foundations, lifted onto trucks, and barged away.