What does it mean to mend?
If you were to ask the six artists whose work is displayed as part of The Mending Circle Project, a new exhibit hosted by Huntsville Festival of the Arts (HfA), you’d likely receive a different answer from each.
As noted on the HfA website, “Mending can mean many things and its definition offers layers of interpretation–to mend can mean to restore, repair, renew, amend, heal, recover, to grow back together, to rebuild.”
The free exhibit features works from Beverley Hawksley, Vera Samarkina, Marilyn Daniels, Beth Ward, Elspeth Wood, and Vicky Mathies, and revolves around the theme of mending.
Hawksley’s inspiration for the project stemmed from discussions on stitching and wanting to honour the history of women’s sewing circles. This led to her desire to explore the depth of the meaning of mending, both literally and metaphorically. She came up with the idea of the mending circle pre-pandemic and reached out to a group of artists to join her in the project.
Hawksley set the plan into motion in June of 2020 and the artists began meeting online over Zoom in September 2020 for bi-weekly sessions. “The sessions were supportive meetings and creative talks,” Hawksley says.
Hawksley connected with Claire Senko, the artistic director at Waterford Old Town Hall to launch the project. The show made its premiere in Waterford on June 15th, 2021 and ran until August 15th, 2021.
The exhibit is now on display in Huntsville at the HFA Studio until October 3, and Hawksley hopes to travel the exhibit to some of the artists’ homes and places of origin, including Bracebidge, Ancaster, and Toronto.
Viewers of the exhibit will find many different meanings within the art, through cultural, personal, and environmental themes. Each piece is accompanied by a description that includes brief backstory on the artist’s inspiration, allowing the viewer to both understand the piece through the artist’s eyes and to form their own interpretation of the art.
“The pieces touch on the environmental relationship with the world,” Hawksley says, “both through the human realm and the natural and organic realm.”
The pandemic also became a major theme for the exhibit, as it forced the world to mourn its old normal and mend into a new reality. “During this time on the planet, we need mending now more than ever,” Hawksley says.
A page from a handmade book by Beverley Hawksley, on display as part of The Mending Circle Project (Dawn Huddlestone)
For Hawksley, the main catalyst for the exhibit came from thinking about women’s circles and the idea that these circles were a way for “women to bond and support each other,” she says, “especially during eras when women didn’t have much power. I like the idea of women supporting women.”
Hawksley hopes this exhibit will be an invitation to the community and platform to discover their own meaning of mending.
The artists have asked the community to create 4X6-inch art pieces to be compiled into a book to travel with the exhibit.
Anyone can submit a piece, in any artistic medium, such as a drawing, painting, piece of writing, etc.
The exhibit will also be hosting two workshops in River Mill Park, one on September 25 from 1- 3 p.m. hosted by Jessica Vellenga and the other on October 2 from 1-3 p.m. hosted by Joyce Jonathan Crone.
Admission to the exhibit is free. It can be viewed at the HfA Studio, located behind 58 Main Street E. across from River Mill Park, on Thursdays and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until October 3.
For more information, visit huntsvillefestival.ca/event/the-mending-circle-project/.
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