FACTS is honoured to show fibre artist Kathy White’s latest body of work Flutter by Blyth. Inspired by butterflies, Kathy created the wool paintings from resources found within the Blyth community. The wool yarn is from Steele Wool Farms, located just outside of Blyth, which Kathy hand dyed at the FACTS natural dyeing workshops. The stunning colours were produced from local plants, flowers and food that were made into dyes.
Although Kathy’s notoriety is spreading, she is truly a local artist, inspired by not only the beauty around her, but incorporating local resources and practices into her creativity.
Up close the work reveals detailed studies of butterfly wings but when viewed from a distance the little twists of wool offer an inviting illusion of depth.
Wool painting is a technique developed by Kathy where she uses the tip of a chopstick to push wool into boards coated with beeswax.
Size: 4″ x 4″ x 1″.
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In early January of 2020, Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston, the director of the Fashion Arts & Creative Textile Studio (FACTS) in Blyth, Ontario, mentioned that butterflies were the theme of the gallery’s upcoming spring exhibition. The Flutter By Blyth series was born in that suggestion – a truly unique body of work linked to Blyth and the surrounding area in both history and materials.
Jennifer’s name was first mentioned to me in the summer of 2018 during an exhibition of my work at the Blyth Festival Art Gallery. At that time, she was working to open a professional dye and fibre studio space and raise awareness of natural dyeing just as I was starting to explore fibre art connections in South Western Ontario. Newly returned from my 2018 residency at Kingsbrae Gardens in St. Andrews, NB, I was afire with the idea of being a local artist, connected to and benefiting the greater community.
Two years later, Jennifer and I continue to work together and this series represents our creative partnership and the supportive backdrop of the Blyth community and surrounding countryside.
The wool yarn used in this series comes from sheep raised at Steele Wool Farms near Blyth, Ontario. I hand-dyed it during workshops in the summers of 2018 and 2019, held in the Lion’s park pavilion in Blyth. Jennifer taught a group of participants how to extract dyes from plants grown and responsibly harvested in and around Blyth. Even The Boot got in on the action by saving red onion skins.
Flash forward to 2020 and the big bag of naturally dyed wools seemed perfect for butterflies. I had also been wanting to explore a sort of pointillism with texture and macro images of the scales on butterfly wings provided the inspiration I needed.
When the spring of 2020 also brought the unexpected arrival of the coronavirus to Ontario and the planned exhibition would never be seen as intended, the story of these pieces became richer and even more steeped in the story of the community that birthed them.
I dedicate this series of work to the people of Blyth, Ontario and surrounding community, especially one of my favourites, Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston. Thank you all for your support.
We’ll let you know about our upcoming exhibits, classes and workshops.