ALL IN THE FAMILY: The National Gallery of Canada Features the Legacy of Charles Edenshaw

Outside the National Gallery with sun shining through the glass and a poster of a bracelet advertising Charles Edenshaw

A family’s remarkable resiliency in spite of the odds.

This weekend at the National Gallery of Canada the exquisite exhibit of Da•axiigang, the Haida name for the the artist Charles Edenshaw, is closing.

Charles, or “Chinni Charlie” as he is known to his family, was born in 1839 but despite the 175 years we are removed from his physical presence on earth his spirit continues to speak through the hands of his great grandchildren.

Silver bracelet with Haida carvings Charles Edenshaw. Sea Bear Bracelet, late 19th century silver. McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Photo: Trevor Mills. Image courtesy The National Gallery of Canada.

The exhibit is housed in the galleries that are usually reserved for the Inuit Collection. This intimate space is well suited for the story of Charles and the family ties that are presented in the exhibit. As you read through the information provided you understand how important family was to him and how important he is today to his descendants that refer to him by the Haida word (Chinni) for grandfather.

When you turn left to enter into the first room of the exhibit you are met with a piece that spiritually roots the work. It is unlike the rest of the collection of platters, hats, walking sticks, and silver spoons that look as pristine as if they have come fresh from the artist’s hands. It is a cradleboard that Charles youngest daughter, Nora, identified as being hers and may have also been used for his other three daughters – Emily, Agnus, and Florence – who came before. It is worn down with the wear of practicality from safely securing babies to backs. Simply carved and embedded with abalone shells, it starts off an exhibit that includes work by the men who are descended through two of these women – James Hart and Robert Davidson.

Just beyond the cradleboard is a fantastic Transformation Mask by James who is also the hereditary Haida Chief. On the other wall Nangkilslas: He Whose Voice is Obeyed is the other Transformation Mask by Robert that bookends a bentwood chest attributed to their great-great-grandfather. A photograph on the wall beside Robert’s mask shows the one by their Chinni which inspired both of them as master carvers. Now too fragile to travel with the exhibition the strength of his descendants skill fills the void left by its absence.

Transformation Mask, circa 1882-1890: wood, bird feathers, animal fur, pigment, leather copper. / VANCOUVER ART GALLERY

In the accompanying book for the show Chief James Hart writes:

“Chinni Charlie “wished he could leave his hands to us” meaning he wanted to leave his talent to his family. In the end he did. The ones who carry on in the family like to say that “we get it from Chinni Charlie and Nonni Isabella – it runs in the family.” 

Nonni Isabella was Charles wife, known also by her Haida name Qwii.aang. A talented artist in her own right, the exhibit showcases the work that she did with Charles, her partner in life and art.

Her skill as a basket and hat weaver using spruce root can been viewed up close and personal. The exhibit includes many examples of her work woven with tedious precision. Charles would paint her pieces infusing them with more layers of meaning to teach the “Haida Way”. These beautiful objects also speak to the relationship between spouses who were creatively inspired by each other’s talent.

A wide brimmed hat woven out of spruce root and painted in Haida designsCharles and Isabella Edenshaw (attr.). Eagle Hat, c. 1890 spruce root, paint. Museum of Anthropology, The University of British Columbia. Photo: Trevor Mills. Image courtesy The National Gallery of Canada.

In this generation the spirit of Nonni Isabella is embodied in her great-great-granddaughter Lisa Hageman Yahgulanaas. Lisa is a talented textile artist who “weaves in the geometric style of weaving known as Yelth Koo or Raven’s Tail” embracing the complexities of the art form as her Nonni did.

Outside the National Gallery with sun shining through the glass and a poster of a bracelet advertising Charles Edenshaw

Charles Edenshaw (attr.) Model Pole, c. 1890–1905. Argillite. Image provided by the National Gallery.

A cultural strand was not severed.

The night of the opening you could witness the thread of Charles’ legacy stitching the past to the present as family members from the temperate West Coast arrived to the chilly winter of Ottawa to be present and pay their respects.

When I ask artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas to tell me what is important about his Chinni’s work when viewed in a contemporary context he replies:

“my great grandfather worked in one the most important traditional styles, the tradition of innovation.”

Long before Picasso happened upon the African masks that inspired him to produce a radical new style of painting, Charles was soaking up what arrived in his world that was ‘exotic’ and foreign to him. Reading the newspapers and books that landed in his lap from faraway lands, he would cut out what interested him to hang like an inspiration board on the walls where he worked. Animals not indigenous to the terrain of Haida Gwaii, like elephants and lions, started to make appearances in his work but with an incorporation that seemed natural when viewed amongst the Haida symbols.

Not only did Charles break new ground with regards to hybridized content but he experimented with materials, like gold and silver, introduced during the Colonial expansion. He incorporated the new with the traditional materials and was able to confidently shift from wood, to metals and then on to argillite as evidenced by the wonderful platters contained in the exhibit. These platters, made of the black slate that was locally quarried yet still labourious to obtain, are transmissions of the oral traditions that still survive in these (post) post modern times.

Outside the National Gallery with sun shining through the glass and a poster of a bracelet advertising Charles EdenshawCharles Edenshaw (attr.). Platter, pre-1894. Argillite The Field Museum, Chicago, 17952 Photo: © The Field Museum. Image courtesy The National Gallery of Canada.

This contemporary legacy goes beyond family to include so many carvers working today. Tlingit artist Nicholas Galanin recalls how his first instructor (Louis Minard) was taught by A.P Johnson, an artist who had some point learned at the hands of Charles. You see the substantiation of Charles in Nicholas’ work. One of his recent creations is a beautifully carved piece titled Indian Children’s Bracelet, a deceptive title for what it really is – child sized handcuffs used to restrain Aboriginal children who were being separated from their families and taken off to schools. (Read more here.)

Outside the National Gallery with sun shining through the glass and a poster of a bracelet advertising Charles EdenshawIndian Children’s Bracelet. Hand Engraved, Iron. Nicholas Galanin. 2014. Image courtesy Nicholas Galanin. 

The Indigenous traditions of the Pacific West Coast, like carving and weaving, have continued to influence the international art scene and the work of Nicholas as well as Charles’ familial successors – Robert, James, Michael and Lisa – are part of collections around the world. But this is nothing new. Even in his time, Charles was recognized widely. In 1902 the ethnographer C.F. Newcombe declared Charles to be “the best carver in wood and stone now living.”

Almost two centuries of international influence! This would be remarkable for any family but the fact we are even able to experience the work is nothing short of miraculous. Charles lived through not one but two small pox epidemics that claimed almost the entire Haida population. The odds were that he should not have survived let alone gone on to thrive as a celebrated artist with an extensive family still practicing in the traditions he learned from his own elders 200 years ago.

Along with the almost complete loss of a people, the traditional ways of being were forced to go underground. The Anglican missionaries condemned the practice of tattooing the Haida clan symbols on skin so bracelets instead of bodies became the place where one could claim their identity. In 1884 the Potlatch was banned and a thriving culture almost came to a halt but was not fully annihilated. Somehow that thinning cultural strand, weakened by ‘progress’ and British expansion, was not entirely severed.The combined four hands of this couple stitched, built, and carved a new path to Sovereignty. They did this all while raising their children – 11 in all.

Today we prosper from the richness they left behind and the talent passed forward.

The Charles Edenshaw exhibit is a love letter to a grandfather, a creative collaborator and a spiritual mentor. This exhibit is a family tale that can inspire us all.

The exhibition ends Sunday May 24 at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. For exhibit hours click here.

More information on the Charles Edenshaw exhibit can be found here.

black stroke

All descended from Charles Edenshaw, artists Michael Nicoll YahgulanaasCorey Bulpitt and Chief James Hart demonstrate that the Haida culture is alive and well in the 21st Century.

Abstracted drawing “Papered Over” (2011.4.25 36″ H X 24″ W) by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. Image courtesy Michael Nicholl Yahgulanaas.

Created with graphites, crayon, watercolour, ink pen and brush, rice paper and canvas support “Papered Over” is a work Michael writes was “inspired by the winter light on clear days in Calgary Alberta will in residence at Mont Royal University.”

Outside the National Gallery with sun shining through the glass and a poster of a bracelet advertising Charles EdenshawWork by Larissa Healey and Corey Bulpitt (great-great-grandson of Charles Edenshaw) at Sakahàn, The National Gallery of Canada. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Along with Larissa, Corey explains his process for the above work commissioned as part of last year’s Sakahàn, the National Gallery’s International Indigenous Art Exhibit.

“James Hart, great-great-grandson of Charles Edenshaw, and exhibition curator Robin Wright, discuss what makes the Charles Edenshaw exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada, so special.” View on Youtube here.

Outside the National Gallery with sun shining through the glass and a poster of a bracelet advertising Charles EdenshawThe Three Watchmen by Chief James Hart on Sussex Drive in front of The National Gallery of Canada. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

WEEKEND PLANS: What’s Happening in Toronto & Ottawa

Advertisement for Cinefranco Film Festival

Non-stop events in Ottawa as well as Cinefranco and the One of a Kind Show in Toronto signal spring is coming!

Ottawa is certainly giving Toronto a run for its money in the event department. On any given day my schedule fills up with one, plus two, then three events! I have yet to find a way to be in two places at once so when my body is Ottawa my spirit is still hovering around in Toronto and when I am in Toronto my spirit hovers here. This weekend (physically at least) it’s Ottawa for me but if you are in Toronto then check out Cinéfranco. This amazing Francophone Film Festival is now in its 17th year! Opening today, Cinéfranco’s programming runs through until next Sunday night – a full 10 days of diverse programming and the best of French cinema!

Logo that says Thunderbird Marketplace

Also the One of a Kind Show is now underway and new this year is The Thunderbird Marketplace.

“The Thunderbird Marketplace features 12 Aboriginal creators chosen to showcase their unique, original designs at the 2014 One of a Kind Spring Show.  Representing a diversity of Aboriginal nations, their individual work is inspired from deep cultural roots expressed in contemporary artistic forms.  The 12 Creators present exceptional designs including visual art, textile, beading, corn husk work, leather work, jewellery, porcupine quill work, basketry, accessories and clothing design.”

Tonight, in a mere few hours, Spacing Magazine launches their Spring 2014 Issue along with the Jane Jacobs Prize Ceremony. If you are into city building and the New Urbanism movement this is your event! More details here…

Cover a magazine that says Spacing and has bike on front

And if you are into dance instead then Saturday night at Koerner Hall you can witness one of Flamenco’s great masters Israel Galván. I missed him in Ottawa (that 2-places-at-1-time problem!) and now I will be missing him in Toronto but it is sure to be a stunning performance.

Now back to Ottawa…

Cover of book with Min Fami in English and Arabic

Tonight at Octopus Books (251 Bank Street location) is Min Fami: Arab Feminist Reflections on Identity, Space & Resistance.

This event, supported by Students Against Israeli Apartheid Carlton U, is a panel discussion with some of the editors and contributors to this book – Ghadeer Malek (Authour & Editor), Ghaida Moussa (Authour & Editor), Yafa Jarrar (Authour) and Maha Zimmo (Authour).


…tomorrow it’s going to be one of those marathon event days!

Poster for Latin American Film Festival in Ottawa

EVENT #1:
¡FIESTA LATINA! ( 1:00 – 7:00 at the Library and Archives FREE)

The Canadian Film Institute’s Latin Film Festival (March 27 – April 13) is hosting a day long event at the Library & Archives (395 Wellington Street). There will be film, food, dance, and more! For the full schedule visit the Latin Film Festival Facebook Page and the CFC website.

Poster for Niigaan Youth Event

EVENT #2:
Niigaan’s Oshkadis Chineekaneech (5:30 – 8:30 at Carleton University $15)

“Niigaan means leader or future in Anishinabemowin. In keeping with that spirit, we are proud to have our next In Conversation event about young people. Oshkadis Chineekaneech means that the youth will lead/are leading. This talk show style event will have our expert guests discuss what we can do today to make sure the next generation is set up for success.”

And speaking of youth who lead, local talent, hoop dancer Theland Kicknosway will be performing. More information on the Facebook Event Page.

Poster for Art Battle Ottawa with the back of a young man painting an image on an easel

EVENT #3:
Art Battle 111 (7:00 – 10:30 at Arts Court $15 | $10 Students)

“WHAT IS ART BATTLE? Art Battle is live competitive painting. Painters create the best work they can in 20 minutes. As they work, patrons move around the easels, closely watching the creative process. The medium is acrylic paint and the tools allowed are brushes, palette knives or any non-mechanical implements. At the end of the round, the audience votes democratically for their favourite painting and bids in silent auction to take the work home. This is Art Battle Canada’s 5th season and first full season in Ottawa.”

Join the event on their Facebook Page or find out more info on the Art Battle Website.

EVENT #4:
GuerillaLIVE 10th Anniversary (10:00 pm – Late @ Gallery 101’s New Location! $10 cover)


“To cap off the GuerllaCRAWL and mark Guerilla’s first decade (2004 to 2014), we are joining forces with Gallery 101 to launch our special 10-year print edition (co-published by CHUO 89.1 FM) and let our hair down with a night of live music, performance, and celebration.”

More info the Facebook Event Page.

Alright, let the weekend begin!

CROSSING THE LINE: Also Collective & Mason Studio Team Up To Explore Hybridity in Design Practice

Ad for Perimeter Series talk on hybridity in design practice

Two (or more) interdisciplinary heads are better then one!

A0 (ALSO Collective + Mason Studio) invites you to The Perimeter Series, the first of a series of panel discussions on issues related to contemporary design practices.

Hybrid Design: Collaboration in Practice is the topic of the first discussion and investigates the value of working in cross-disciplinary formats. The panelists will explain how collaborative efforts in their professional practices have informed their current work, their forecasts for the development of these processes, and the risks and issues in collaboration. The ideas expressed by the panelists will begin to explore if and how adaptive modifications are required in a Canadian context to facilitate collaboration in practice.”

The first event is hosted by the School of Interior Design at Ryerson University, and moderated by the Interior Design program ChairLois Weinthal. The panelist are:

Mark Argo (Aesthetec Studio)
Mike Lovas (PUSH Strength)
Marc De Pape (OCAD University)
Laura Fyles (Academy of Design)
Zaiba Mian (Humber College)

“The Perimeter Series was developed by AZero, the joint efforts of ALSO Collective and Mason Studio. The studios share philosophies of design, but originate from two distinct practices. ALSO occupies a space in digital media and graphic design, while Mason inhabits the domain of physical interior space. The Perimeter Series was developed as an opportunity to share in the conversation between the studios to explore a shift in the boundaries of design. Come take part in our discussions!”

This event is free, but registration is required. Please register by clicking here.

TO DO IT ALL AGAIN: Toronto Design Offsite Festival Closes Another Successful Year!

Yesterday I was suffering from a Design Week hangover. So many openings, so many events! How to cure a hangover? Well, I know there are some people out there that would advise to just have another drink.  ‘Drink’ I did. And it worked. The final few hours of Design Week and TO DO were some of the best and included Kaleido’cadu, Imm Living’s annual “Not ForkChops” show, MADE Design on Dundas St. West as part of DO Design, “Light It Up” at Cooper Cole Gallery and the perfect night cap – String Theory‘s PatternPattern show at Graven Feather. Wow!

There was a biting wind and messy slush but my day closed on a happy note and I share with you here TO DO‘s Finale.

Looking forward to doing it all again in 2015!












All images by Leah Snyder for MIXED BAG MAG.

LIST OF VENUES:

  1. “Redesigned Medalta” at Made Design
  2. “Redesigned Medalta” at Made Design
  3. “Not ForkChops” at Hashtag Gallery
  4. “Come Up To My Room” at The Gladstone Hotel
  5. “Come Up To My Room” at The Gladstone Hotel
  6. “Come Up To My Room” at The Gladstone Hotel
  7. PatternPattern by String Theory at Graven Feather 
  8. PatternPattern by String Theory at Graven Feather
  9. “Patchworked in Canada” by Dear Human at TO DO Festival Hub at Bosley Real Estate 
  10. “Light It Up” at Cooper Cole Gallery
  11. “Light It Up” at Cooper Cole Gallery
  12. “Hand & Machine” at Ontario Crafts Council
  13. BEFORE shot of the Clint Roenisch Gallery and “Dossier: Sheridan Grad Furniture”
  14. AFTER shot of the Clint Roenisch Gallery

WARMING UP AT THE INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW: Nothing Neutral about Patrizia Moroso at IDS ’14

succulents and cacti in the foreground with furniture and paintings in the background

A fresh colour mix from Moroso at The Interior Design Show Toronto.

Toronto design events are notorious for a certain palette – black, beige, bone and a about 50 plus shades of (not-so-sexy) gray. And truth be told I find something oddly soothing about the natural tones, it suits the Canadian disposition of neutrality and our desire to diplomatically blend into the background.

But when you turn the corner and are washed over with waves of colour you realize just how thirsty you are for juicy! And leave it to an Italian to quench that thirst by rocking hues of blood orange and citron.


For the Interior Design Show lounge area Patrizia Moroso, IDS ’14’s International Guest of Honour, explained to me that she didn’t want it to feel like a showroom but a comfortable artist studio where life is informal, creative and intimate as you get to see what is close to the artist’s heart.

Patrizia was able to translate this perfectly because she embodies all of this in the way that she fluidly moves through her world. She acknowledges that for her, there isn’t a clear separation between work and her personal life. Her way of living seems to be an improvisational dance, her steps guided by a strong sense of intuition and a desire to truly love what enters into her mix. For the lounge area she pairs her most adored pieces from the Moroso Collection with tiny arrangements of succulents and cacti just because she finds them beautiful. These small clusters of sweet but unassuming plants are balanced in the extreme by grand abstract canvases. These stunning paintings are eproductions of her husband’s pulsating art. The love-of-her-life has come along for the ride even if only in spirit.

And she also brings along the spirit of her mother and father. A second generation family owned and operated business, Patrizia’s parents started the furniture company after their town in Italy was devastated by The Second World War. While many left for greener pastures, like Canada, her parents stayed. From almost nothing they pieced back together their broken community by working hard and playing passionately in order to restore the vibrancy of the Dolce Vita.

With siblings and cousins brought into the business where those who worked together also played together, Patrizia grew up with an ethos of blurred lines and soften boundaries that allowed her free spirit the encouragement to explore life fully.

After attending art school and believing she was moving in the direction of an art critic or gallery owner her path shifted when her family called her back to work her magic on Moroso. What she did was infuse the furniture company with an artist’s touch and the invigoration of an avant-garde approach to design. Immediately she gravitated towards collaborations with artists (her first collaboration being with one of her closest friend’s from her art school days) and it has become a regular endeavour for Moroso to curate exciting exhibits (like M’afrique in 2009) around a multi-discplinary meeting of minds – artists, furniture designers and architects. The process that results from these collaborations has not only lead to Moroso being a leader in their industry but to Patrizia growing her intimate circle and extended ‘family’. In her Q & A with Azure Magazine’s Executive Editor Nelda Rodger as she took us through the company timeline she narrated a story of Moroso that sounded more like the history of a family tree. She spoke fondly of each Moroso collaborator and when speaking about Moroso‘s work with designer Patricia Urquiola you could tell she was not only speaking of a strong professional relationship but of a person who has become for her a close creative sister.


Perhaps that is why, when photographing Moroso‘s furniture, they feel more like people who were invited to the table, with their own personalities and something to say and contribute. The joy of the marriage between Moroso and the creative geniuses they have worked (played) with busts through the seams!

As I watched the crowds mingle in and around the lounge on the coldest of winter days it was clear that the informal invitation to hang out in Patrizia’s space for awhile was accepted.

Thanks to IDS and Azure Magazine for another round of great Trade Talks!







All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

RETROACTIVE: A Look Back at Derek McLeod at the Toronto Design Offsite Festival

Iconographic design right here at home. 

As beautiful as an Eames or van der Rohe chair is right now in Toronto we have what could easily be the next new wave of iconic designers working amongst us. Derek McLeod is one such designer. His work is flawless but without that precious and inaccessible feeling that design can sometimes leave you with.

Not only a furniture designer, Derek also creates beautiful objects – tables and lighting –  which all blend in seamlessly with his furniture.

With such great designers milling around the city it’s necessary to continue to build a community of support to foster what is a growing design movement, not just in Toronto, but across Canada.

In Mason Studio’s interview last year with Derek they ask him “how can Canada develop a design identity on an international stage?” Derek replies:

“There is a funding model in place for various arts and craft based practices in Ontario and Canada, though they are specific about the works not being commercial, i.e. design. It would be fantastic to have the municipal government try to push local manufacturing and design or have the provincial or federal government aim to create more value out of some of the resources available here, i.e. wood that can be turned into furniture instead of being shipped away as planks.”

Close up of a dark wood chair, people standing behing it talking“Sum Chair” by Derek McLeod, Prototype Section of IDS ’12. Image by Leah Snyder.

Ditch Home Sense. Shop on Dundas!

Another way to support Toronto designers is to shop local for all the things you require for your home. Queen West and King East are the more established design hubs but you can also find amazing design in Parkdale, along Queen East or Dundas West, Ossington (between Dundas / Queen) and in The Junction.

This weekend at the Interior Design Show (IDS) you can head to the Studio North / Prototype and the DesignBoom Mart sections to not only see the latest designs by this city’s creative geniuses but also talk to the makers! To know the person you purchase your piece from is an extra bonus that the Big Box stores will never be able to offer. Also check out the Creative Class section to see what student designers are dreaming up and prototyping.

In the background “Frill Table” by Derek McLeod at Shiny Pretty Things show, Cooper Cole Gallery, TO DO ’13. Image by Leah Snyder.

The Toronto Design Offsite Festival plays a huge role in promoting local talent. Derek’s work has been featured each year in shows like 2013’s Shiny Pretty Things, 2012’s The Associates, 2011’s Tools and 2010’s Heavy Metal. These shows have been beautifully organized by architect / designer Joy Charbonneau another amazing contributor to the design scene here in Toronto as well as one of the co-founders of TO DO.



Sometimes Joy and Derek team up always resulting in something stunning, like their Tufted Bench which can be seen during TO DO at the Ontario Crafts Council.

“This wooden bench makes use of the shaping capabilities of a CNC machining centre to create a surface that emulates tufted upholstery. The top started as a simple slab laminated together with planks cut to match the width of the tufts. The shallow concave ‘pillows’ would present a significant challenge to fabricate with typical woodworking techniques, thus the CNC was employed to sculpt the wood surface. The legs were also fabricated in the same machine by cutting half of the profile, flipping it over into a custom fixture and cutting the other half.  Hand sanding and an oil finish complete the bench.”  See more about the chair here…

Tufted Wood
Dark wood bench with the top part resembling tufted cushion

If you haven’t already checked out TO DO in past years then this is the year to get out and find out how truly talented Toronto is.

Derek will be showing as part of the Light It Up Show at Cooper Cole Gallery. Opening reception is tonight from 6 – 10 pm and will continue through to Sunday.

Be prepared to see something brilliant!

See more work at www.derekmcleod.com


All images of Derek McLeod’s work, unless otherwise noted, provided by Joy Charbonneau.

 

MATERIAL GIRLS: Quebec Designers Basma Osama & Marie-Jose Gustave Romance Their Media

Large grouping of white bowls and plates

When one of my favourite Quebec Designers, Tat Chao, introduced me to the work of Basma Osama (Ceramik B.) and Marie-José Gustave I was struck by how loyal they both were to their material of choice. These women are faithful to their muse!

Basma’s silky white work is easy on the eyes. Her bowls,cups and dishes evoke a handsome elegance which I am sure makes the food caressed inside look all the more tantalizing. But the real stunner is her piece The Letter No. 1. Assembled with over 1000 pieces of hand-thrown porcelain it is without comparison!

Small organically shaped white porcelain shapes placed into 3 panels of wood hanging on a wall

“Inspired from a handwritten personal letter, Letter No. 1 carries a language that goes beyond visual perception. The elements of this language aim to reach, to call out to the reader and invite interaction. Emotions and thoughts come through two simultaneous rhythms: a linear rhythm, punctuated by spaces that allow the content of this letter to physically place itself. And the rhythm of curves, unique to each element, give each sign its meaning, as words often do. The shapes of these organic elements, coming out of the wooden support, act as the conveyors of meaning. The support, made of local walnut wood, supports the text and underlines it as a language sign.”

Close up of small white porcelain shapes placed into holes in wood like pegs
Small organically shaped white porcelain shapes placed into 3 panels of wood hanging on a wall

Basma was lead to  porcelain because of a need to “work with a refined type of clay” as well as desire to “submit to its whimsical character.” Her loyalty to porcelain? “Because I love it! I meticulously craft it and work on its texture, and it gives it back, every time!” Her muse is as faithful to her as she is to it!

When asked what is special about this material as opposed to other materials she has worked with she replies “I like its texture, its density, its colour, the way it behaves in the kiln…and the way it reasserts how humble I have to remain when I use it.”

And when I inquire if there is a romance she has with the material she emphatically answers “Yes, a huge one! One of many years, many events, many stories and I would not exchange it for any other clay!”

White plates, bowls and saucers
Upclose image of corrogated cardboard wrapped and stitched together in a pillar form

Beautifully blurring craft and design.

Marie-José Gustave’s objects and furniture merge design with craft. She says that she has always been inspired by and has a passion for craft. This led her to master in clothing production as well as to develop a skill set that includes sewing, knitting, and weaving along with paper molding. But her love affair with cardboard came from a more practical encounter. Upon moving to Quebec from France and wondering what to do with all the boxes that remained as evidence of her transition she began to experiment with the material that had now taken up residency in her new home. The boxes never left and instead motivated her to create what is now a strong body of work that shows the beauty of this humble material.

Pillars of cardboard sticted together and hanging in store window

I have always adored the textural richness of cardboard. I have used it in my own art practice so it makes sense that I would gravitate to Marie-José‘s work but what I found fresh was the way she manipulated the cardboard. That is what ultimately seduced me. She has taken this material to another level and has prototyped a new way of thinking about cardboard as a valid choice of material for decor and design. “I love the challenge of diverting the material to make it soft and flexible, find its transparency, shape it the way I want.” She definitely has a lover’s touch!


Above images provided by artists Basma Osama and Marie-José Gustave. Image of Marie-José by Stéphanie Lamy.

See Basma and Marie-José‘s work Thursday through until Sunday at Toronto’s Interior Design Show. They are located in the Studio North Section (Booth SN20) and are featured as part of a collective of Quebec Designers QC DESIGN.




Images of QC Design at IDS’ Studio North by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

RETROACTIVE: A Look Back at Christopher Solar at the Interior Design Show, Toronto

Dark wood, square framed rocker with green cushioning

Sourcing out the newest work by Canadian Designers at IDS’s Studio North.

My introduction to Christopher Solar was at IDS 2012. Not surprisingly his Plantation Redux chair was tagged by a DESIGN LINE’s Love Tag because how could you not want to lie back and snuggle up close to this one!

Each year it seems the Christopher doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to stunning us with what is just good old craftsmanship and quality!

2013 it was his Tilde chairs, one with the edgy twist (or weave) of seatbelt-like webbing, the other with classic Danish cord.

“This low-back dining chair features crisp lines and subtle curves in the back and the hand-woven seat. The chair has been meticulously designed for comfort and solidly-constructed from carefully selected hardwoods. Many different combinations of frame materials and webbing colours are available.”

This year Christopher is unveiling the Number 7 Lounge and Rocker for #IDS14.

Come see them in the “flesh” Thursday night, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at this year’s Interior Design Show in the Studio North sectionThe Best in Canadian Design!

Square framed seat with light wood and gray cushioning
Light wood dining room chairs
Dark wood lounge chair and foot stool with light coloured cording
Above images provided by Christopher Solar.

TORONTO DESIGN OFFSITE FESTIVAL: Kicks Off Starting Now!

Two women standing in front of wall, sunglasses and dresses onTO DO’s Gelareh Saadatpajouh & Sanam Samanian with Canvas Bag by Jay Wall for Toronto Design Offsite Festival.

The Best of Independent Design in Toronto!

Fresh off the #MashUPStyle shoot with the women of Jack Your Body and inspired after weekend of the best from the Toronto Dance community at DanceWeekend’14 I was ready first thing this morning to capture some of the creative team behind Toronto Design Offsite Festival despite another cold snap.

The chill was chased away though by the warm personalities of TO DO’s Executive Director Sanam Samanian, R & D Director Gelareh Saadatpajouh and Communications Coordinator Michael R. Madjus all rocking their own personal style.

Each year I look forward to this event so I can discover little gems of design located around the festival route in Toronto’s core. This year I am excited to see the Wishbone Table by Alan Hindle of Stacklab and OCAD U’s 3rd edition of  Tables, Chairs and Other Unrelated Objects. Also over OCAD U at their Onsite Gallery is Terreform ONE (Open Network Ecology) and the show Biological Urbanism: An Opera of Disciplines from Architecture, Landscape, Urban Design, Biology, Engineering and Art. Running until February 22 Terreform ONE is a

“New York-based design group that promotes environmentally conscious urban planning. Its projects are an exciting mixture of architecture, landscape, urban design, biology, engineering and art and it is dedicated to finding innovative solutions for sustainability in energy, transportation, city infrastructure and waste management. The works featured in this exhibition at Onsite [at] OCAD U highlight Terreform ONE’s interest in incorporating living organisms in design, and advancing the notion of sustainability beyond a popularized mainstream rhetoric.”

And of course there is the Gladstone Hotel’s Come Up To My Room show  (#CUTMR) – one of the most celebrated mashup design-craft-art shows of the year in this city!

The official #TODO14 kick off party is Wednesday at SMASH – join the Facebook event page here but every day, starting today, there is something to see.

Get the:

FULL SCHEDULE

MAP

APP

For this MIXED BAG MAG edition of #MashUPStyle for #TODO14 Sanam, Michael and Gelareh showcased second hand finds from mothers’ closets, far-away and nearby vintage stores as well as some local designers like North Standard, jewellery designer Yasaman Pishvai (Void Jeweler) glasses by festival Sponsor iconic eye-wear designers Cutler and Gross.

Woman with cape on swinging around with back to viewer
Woman with skirt, cape and hat on standing against wall
Upclose shot of woman wearing sunglasses and hat
Woman holding hat in hand
Man standing in front of a wall laughing





All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

DESIGN & DANCE: Let the weekend begin!

wood table with metal bases shaped like wishbonesWishbone Table by Alan Hindle of Stacklab.

DANCE WEEKEND & DESIGN WEEK!

DanceWeekend’14 by Dance Ontario is here! Starting tonight at  7pm at Fleck Dance Theatre some of the best dancers and choreographers in Toronto will be showcasing their work through until Sunday evening. For the price of $10 per day you can drop in and see the talent.

And the work week begins with Toronto Design Offsite Festival kicking off and carrying us through to next Sunday.

All the best every day for the next 10 days!

Get all the info here!

woman with antlers held up framing her face
Santee Smith of Kaha:wi Dance