The fabric of the past

J. Franklin Wright Gallery to host weaving exhibit

PORT HAWKESBURY: The fabric from our past has been woven time and time again.

For the next six weeks, the J. Franklin Wright Art Gallery at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre will be home to an eclectic display of weaving by several local artisans in the “Over and Under: The Journey of Weaving” exhibit.

Weaving is a method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling. Cloth is usually woven on a loom, a device that holds the wrap threads in place while filling threads are woven through them. The way the warp and filling threads interlace with each other is called the weave; the majority of woven products are created with one of three basic weaves: plain weave, satin weave or twill.

Featuring the works of Emily MacDonald, Marie MacDonald, Eileen MacNeil, Dianna Quimby, Janet MacIsaac, Claire Drinnan, and Peggy Burke, the art gallery will be bolstered with everything from beautiful throws to colourful tartan runners.

Paula Davis, director of marketing, recreation, tourism and culture for the Town of Port Hawkesbury told The Reporter the exhibit is part of the regular, ongoing exhibits that grace the walls of the gallery.

“We’re really excited to be able to feature some work of local artists, and Peggy Burke is taking on the role of curating this for us,” she said. “We try and do a mix of Nova Scotian artists; we like to feature local work, as well as provincial and Atlantic Canadian work.”

Burke, who is a member of the Artisans Collective – a Strait area group comprised of quilters, knitters, woodworkers and weavers – remembers the first time she picked up a loom to weave and describes it as something she never thought she’d have the opportunity to do in Glendale.

She said she never thought when she first picked up a loom 12-years ago, that she would be curating an exhibit that features some of her personal pieces. Burke’s motto over the years, when it comes to weaving is “busy hands make for a quiet mind.”

Weaving is a very old traditional art form that continues to do quite well in Cape Breton, something Davis said they wanted to highlight.

“We wanted to showcase the work accomplished by our local weavers,” Davis said. “In the past, we’ve hosted quilting, rug hooking, fiber arts, and this is one that we’re happy to add to our rotation.”

The “Over and Under: The Journey of Weaving” exhibit will open to the public on April 4 at 6:30 p.m., and will feature dozens of the one-of-a-kind hand-woven pieces that were created locally.

To Burke, these pieces of art are items that truly connect yesterday with today, and it’s the seasoned weaving instructors like Quimby, from the Gaelic College and MacNeil from the Scottsville School of Weaving, whose expertise will really be the depth of the entire exhibit.

The exhibit contains local pieces, from in and around Cape Breton, lent to the museum from the seven artisans. More than a show of quilts, the exhibition profiles the skills used in the processes of weaving, quilting and sewing.

“The culture of Cape Breton is paramountly important, and I believe it’s reflected quite well with this particular exhibit,” Davis explained. “Culture resonates with everyone, you may be a visual artist, a photographer, you might be a potter, but there’s something there that will hold true to your interests.”