BY MEGHAN WEATHERALL
On Nov. 3, 22 art pieces with the colours of the rainbow dyed onto silk and sewn-on beads were displayed in Kitchener City Hall.
The Fabric of Life exhibit was held in the Rotunda Gallery. It featured Penny Grace’s art as well as live music. The wall holding the artwork was decked out in blues, shades of green and dashes of red. Most pieces were made of hand-dyed silk, although some were created with cotton and paint. Grace said after using dyed silk the first time, she was captivated. She has been using silk on-and-off for the past 10 years.
“One year I saw this sign for silk painting in Toronto. I went to Toronto and as soon as I applied the dye to the silk I was hooked,” she said. “The silk has a sheen and so it makes the dyes just glow. You can’t get that on a canvas. You can’t get that with paint.”
Her passion for art started when she was young.
“I’ve been drawing since I was a child. I always was drawing something, and then when I became an adult I started to become interested in other things. I tried out different mediums: painting and photography,” Grace said.
Each piece shown during the exhibit took time and patience to get right. The silk pieces themselves had to be done with special care so that the dye applied to them would not run.
“I start by ordering raw silk. It’s white, from a place in Toronto. Then you – it’s got sizing on it – you have to wash it to get the sizing off it or the dye won’t stick to it. And then you stretch it out on a frame, so that it is taunt and there are a number of ways you can work. You can put resist on it to keep the dye from bleeding. What I like to do is just sit down and start applying the dyes, just letting them flow into each other and playing with it. Then you have to let it dry for about 24 hours,” said Grace. “There are also different things you can do with it. You can put salt on it, which spreads the dye. Where you put the salt you get little dark areas which sort of collects the dye.”
When it comes to choosing colours Grace likes to let the dye do the talking. She does not plan out what colours need to go where in a piece; instead she enjoys letting the dye mix and form into what it desires.
Her first-ever silk piece with wording was proudly displayed five frames in from the entrance. The words are lyrics from a Moody Blues song that she believed captured in words what the picture represented.
‘”Brave Helios wake up your steeds, bring the warmth of the sun the country side needs.’ I did the design and then I wanted to use that quote because I really liked it. It’s from the Moody Blues. They have some really neat lyrics. I sort of thought, well, it sort of looks like a sunrise, so I decided to put that in there,” said Grace.
For some art-goers this is their first time seeing an art exhibit like hers.
Attendee Dmytri Pasricha said, “I knew it was a fabric display so that was the extent of my previous knowledge. I didn’t have any expectations, but I think it has already exceeded whatever expectations I feel like I have now. I think it is really awesome.”
Throughout the night lively music played, attendees mingled, and red dots started to appear, being placed under any pieces that had been sold.