A Nakusp Narrative

September 4, 2008

By Stacey Ho

A delicate fabric-based works documenting Wendy Toogood's new life.

Nakusp is a place that you get to by ferry. A busy day means that three cars are backed up behind the village’s one traffic light. When Wendy Toogood bought a village inn in this lushly vegetated area, retiring from her position at Calgary’s Alberta College of Art and Design, her life was undergoing a series of major changes.

Given a year to complete a body of work for exhibition, she began producing small pieces on canvas and linen, employing techniques such as hand-stitching, machine sewing, embroidery, and appliqué. These one hundred delicate, brightly-coloured pieces reflect Toogood’s changing experiences in Nakusp, with a playfully exaggerated character figuring as herself.

“Contemporary artists deal with big issues,” says Toogood. “I don’t like to focus on that. I find myself engaged in the things around me.”

A Nakusp Narrative often focuses instead upon events in Toogood’s life such as gardening, setting up a studio, volunteering at a thrift shop, or receiving a quilt from her mother. It is a journal that pieces together everyday things that people can relate to, one that draws upon a practice engaged in textiles for over thirty years.

Awareness of the everyday ties into Toogood’s experience as an artist who began her practice in a predominantly male art context. She recalls a professor telling her in university that women couldn’t become great artists because they lacked souls.

“I don’t want to imitate men,” says Toogood, “Rather, I celebrate women’s perspectives.”

For Toogood, soulfulness is found not in grand abstractions, but rather in the pleasures, frustrations and excitements of living. A Nakusp Narrative emphasizes this by placing importance upon the small details of life, transforming the quiet and the personal into art.

A Nakusp Narrative will be on display from Fri September 5th – Sat October 4th at Calgary’s Stride Gallery.

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