(This article has been translated from the original in French).
I, Marjolaine Bourgeois, am a visual artist from the Magdalen Islands and I live in Moncton, New Brunswick. In 1980, I graduated in printmaking and photography from the Department of Visual Arts at the Université de Moncton. For many years, I have worked with a number of textile techniques. My workshop is located at the Aberdeen Cultural Center in Moncton and I am a member of the Imago Print Studio.
My recent practice combines the printed image with textile techniques. I am interested in these two techniques as much for their aesthetic qualities as for their symbolism and their familiarity. Using both experimentation and traditional techniques, spontaneity and meditative gesture, I unmake to remake, I use the back as though it were the front, constantly seeking to reinterpret the forms and concepts of these two practices to which we are all intimately linked.
In 2017, I received a Career Development grant from artsnb to attend a one-month artist residency in July of the same year at Textílsetur in Blönduós, a seaside village in the north-west of Iceland… I immediately felt at home among these great landscapes with its thousands of birds, wide open skies, natural phenomena and breathtaking vistas. I was to stay with my peers from Germany, England, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Australia, in a former convent equipped with looms and sewing, dyeing and embroidery workshops. I was in familiar territory, having worked with my mother, grandmother and aunts during my childhood. I was looking for a familiar thread that could have existed between the large island-country that is Iceland and the small island-archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where I was born, the Magdalen Islands.
I planned to create one or two artist’s books made of fabrics, inspired by my past experiences and by the discoveries I was about to make. So, I brought in my suitcase a few items, chosen more or less at random: remnants of clothing from my childhood, pictures of those same remnants and details of works I had created a few years earlier, a decorator’s fabric sample book, as well as a large piece of found linen. In search of a familiar thread, I would of course bring embroidery thread, scissors, a thimble and needles. I immediately became interested in the beautiful project of an Icelandic woman, who has been working for several years already on an Icelandic saga embroidered on a very large format, with the help of resident apprentices. We were thrilled to be able to participate. Right away I gained a taste for embroidery.
I would assemble the remnants of clothing from my childhood to create a garment-work that I would later embroider or “floss” in herringbone stitch, the way my grandmother and my mother did. This garment-work acted as an “open book” on my family’s past, revealing my family memories on the Magdalen Islands through each remnant of fabric. I later created a book-satchel as an accessory to this work. I recycled images of my past works and transferred them to linen, then embroidered them. I also made a binding for these using the cover of the decorator’s sample book and created the handle with embroidery thread. July 19 saw the inauguration of “Soft Stories”, an exhibition of our research, in a gallery near the residency.
Brightness being present all night in July in Iceland, I started reading the book Eccentric Islands, written by the Icelandic American poet Bill Holm. Six days before my return, a colleague gave me some “paper yarn” she did not want anymore. I was fascinated by reading this beautiful book and, at the same time, by this paper that I could knit or weave. I began ironing the paper yarn to enlarge it and to transcribe my reading notes. Next I would knit them… Inspiration was flowing…
Since my return, I remain interested in embroidery. Combining this craft with printmaking, I am experimenting with new imageries and techniques. I realize how much my stay in Blönduós in Iceland has been beneficial to my artistic practice. I would like to thank artsnb for its support and for making this project possible.
Born in the Magdalen Islands, Marjolaine Bourgeois lives in Moncton, New Brunswick. In 1980, she graduated in printmaking and photography from the Department of Visual Arts at the Université de Moncton. She has been practicing textile techniques for many years. Since 2011, her approach mainly combines printmaking and textiles. Her studio is located at the Aberdeen Cultural Center in Moncton and she is a member of the Imago Print Studio. She has participated in several events, as well as solo and group exhibitions: among others, at the International Symposium of Contemporary Art in Baie-Saint-Paul, QC (2013); at the International Triennial of Textile Arts in Outaouais, QC (2016); and at a creative residency in Textílsetur, Blönduós, in Iceland (July 2017). In October 2018, she will participate in a creative residency at CanSerrat in El Bruc, in Spain. Her work is part of several private collections as well as the New Brunswick Art Bank, the MACBSP (Museum of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul) and the Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen.
You can follow Marjolaine’s work on her website.
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