Missed Call

detail of Missed Call, paper coming though silver mesh fencing; a bar "Call the Office" in the background

We whisper a message and it gets passed along. It’s never the same in the end.

This piece started in a paper stitching class, with picture hanging wire coiled to run through a press to emboss a square of paper. It looks like an old-fashioned telephone cord. Later, I treat green cotton rag paper with konjac paste, and fold and crumple the paper. It is quite sculptural. The feel is of old paper, like matchbooks, kept and folded until they become more than paper. Like memories. once fragile, but oddly more permanent through repeatedly turning them over. I take the coiled wire from the embossing and pierce this paper. A telephone connection is made. I list telephone ideas and choose 2 for a conversation that didn’t quite happen. As I stitch, I ask why not? Why didn’t they connect?

Embroidering on cotton paper treated with konjac
Laura Wythe

I remember this colour of green: Call the Office. The paint trim around the tired old windows of this London establishment matches the paper perfectly. Like the paper, it is crumpled but stands up well despite much abuse. It’s where you might meet someone and promise to call.

The fencing is a chance encounter in a craft store, looking for something else. Shiny aluminium mesh to go with the picture wire. Jagged edges.

Missed Call is phone tag, is the whispers game, but on a visual level. Thanks for starting this round of the game — Jan Taylor and Canadian Embroiderers Guild, London

Missed call, complete photo of multimedia relief, fabric, aluminium mesh, wire and paper on linen
Missed Call by Laura Wythe
12″ x 12″
fabric, wire, aluminium mesh, paper and threads on linen
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The Bones Illustrated

For the next while, I am posting the illustrations for my climate change novel, The Bones. The book is launched and the illustrations have been exhibited. Getting the right format for an illustrated version is my next challenge. In the meantime, enjoy the short excerpts along with the illustrations.

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The Bones Illustrated 6

Caskets on the Loose by Laura Wythe

Dolsen suggested viewing the river from the bridge that remained on Highway 2. They might see a solution by looking downstream. 
“When we got there,” Thomas told Catherine, “there was already a crowd and they were looking upstream. A mass of crate-like objects was bobbing in the water and coming our way.
“‘Munitions on the loose!’ Crudge said.
“‘Caskets,’ a bystander whispered. ‘A sign of the Rapture.’”
“I warned you that they believed in it,” Catherine said. “They keep calling me for advice.”
“Do you believe?”
“Only that if they keep pressing their wool suits, the glare from the shine will blind St. Peter. They must remember to use a cloth between the fabric and the iron.”
“They really have their best clothes out, ready to go?”
“Enough of them.”
“If I stay here much longer, I might hope for the same escape.”
“As long as you brought your best suit.”
“In any case, it was true. The coffins were in amazingly good shape, swollen with the rain, quite buoyant on the river. Frank Dolsen pointed out the masses of drowned earthworms, like small islands, and the air was thick with gulls.”

The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 10
Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 5

Rebecca, the Last Galloway by Laura Wythe

Her back would ache from holding the oar steady as a rudder in the rough waters. Tears streamed down her face and she did not care to wipe them. With her shoulders thrown back, Rebecca opened her soul to the river, shouting out the song that had rolled over her all the long winter.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves
 and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!
 
She was the last one living the frontier life, and it was her duty to carry the past forward as her parents, and theirs, and theirs had.

The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 4

Witness to Purity by Laura Wythe

The land settled out into the flat seabed, about 200 metres above sea level and gradually sloping away. The highway sat just enough above the water to make it seem like she was floating. Houses and barns looked like islands in the distance. A thin umbilical line to follow home, a lifeline between water and sky. The grey orb of the sun, pale and far to the west, was searching for an opening in the clouds, electrifying the edges with light. Would the sun touch the earth again?
It did break through. Catherine gasped at the beauty, and as though embarrassed by her reaction, the sun quickly pulled back. It had not been expecting a witness to such purity. She was the only traveller on the road.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 6
By Laura Wythe

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The Bones Illustrated 3

Safety Net: the Annex Trial by Laura Wythe

By his graduating year, TinTin knew he needed more than theory, more than a backyard experiment to convince people that he had a solution for peace. He set up an impressive demonstration. NASA and NORAD were the first agencies to notice the net around his neighbourhood, Toronto’s Annex. Only North American-made cars could pass through. The traffic tie-up was comical. Cars and trucks literally either passed through or stopped in their tracks. At high speeds, it could have been dangerous, but TinTin anticipated the problem, adding a thickness to the net, making it viscous so that vehicles slowed gradually and came to a standstill. Inertia and drag. The whole thing lasted only for a minute, then he pulled the net.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 5
by Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 2

Tecumseh Fell Here by Laura Wythe

Let all the land be flooded, let everything be drowned, but not this one hope that in her lifetime she would find the hero who’d died in the field beside her farm. Ever since she could remember, the rumours of the whereabouts of his bones floated up and down the settlements along the Thames watershed. She had to be the one to find them.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe
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The Bones Illustrated 1

Stricken City
Stricken City by Laura Wythe

T

On New Year’s Eve, a deluge dropped into the subway line at Union Station, rupturing it along the waterfront. The electric power surged and the deaths were swift. Party goers floated to the surface. Lake Ontario had breached the base of Toronto and muscled its way into the underground maze of concourses that linked high rising towers in the business district. Engineers tried to pump the water out but the lake shoreline, formerly at 76.5 metres above sea level, rose by 15 metres and currently lapped along the length Queen Street West. The city’s core stability was lost. Towers rocked like old frigates abandoned at sea. They crumbled. The city was disrupted beyond repair; the true exodus of power began. Bay Street would rebuild in Winnipeg, of all places, leaving the lower concourses to run like sewers.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe


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Text to Textiles

poster_text to textiles.rev6

I thought I’d be writing a lot more about the process for making this collection of illustrations/fibre artworks. It’s not that I haven’t been documenting the progress. But for now, I’m pleased to have the work hanging all together, and I look forward very much to hearing feedback. The next few months will be a time of closure and reflection on a project that’s taken up a lot of space for the last 3 years. 

Here’s the blurb about the exhibit. The best is last: the artwork is posted below the blurb.

Text to Textile is a exhibition of fibre art illustrations based on the novel, The Bones, by Laura Wythe.

Text to Textile runs from April 3rd to April 28th  in the Sifton Room at the Masonville Branch Library, 30 North Centre Road, London ON, Canada.

The show opens on Saturday April 7th from 1-4 PM with readings from the novel by author and artist Laura Wythe.

Each image in Text to Textile is translated from the text onto silk, table linens or canvas, and carries an aspect of a character in the novel.

The artist infuses various embroidery traditions with a new point of view, highlighting the fragility of cloth and life, borrowing from news stories of local and global flooding to show the precarious hold we have on the land.

The illustrations are mounted as a conservationist might; fragments are carefully stitched onto linen stretched onto acid-free boards. Each illustration is accompanied by a text from the story. The process of creating the illustrations is also highlighted.

Laura is a teacher, artist, writer and long-time environmental activist. Three times her plays about community and the environment were chosen for the Grand Theatre’s Playwright’s Cabaret. She has studied Fashion Design at Ryerson and has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Guelph. She is a member of the Canadian Embroiderers Guild, and lives and works in London Ontario.

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Two Inch Square Book

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Still Life, Pen and ink, 2″ x 2″ Laura Wythe

It was a gift from another student in a drawing class. A tiny hand made book with blank pages of handmade paper, and the cover a Guatemalan weave. What a joy! I knew I’d fill this book from the first page to the last, and I did.

For years, I took the bus. That’s a study in waiting, taking busses in my city. The two inch square book was a perfect fit for any sized purse or pocket. I carried a Staedtler pigment liner, 0.3 which never bled on the rough porous paper, or ran out. While waiting for the bus, a friend, at the doctor’s, or on a lunch break, I’d sketch.

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Waiting at the Market, Pen and ink, 2″ x 2″ Laura Wythe

It took a year to fill the book. I found that the ink bled through the pages, so I used every second page as an opportunity to the connect the dots and get abstract.

And the scenes or objects I sketched quickly took on a stylized look, inspired by wood block prints.

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Deck chairs on Bruce Street, Pen and ink on handmade paper, 2″ x 2″ Laura Wythe

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Sketch diary made in Guatemala, 2 inches square, 2011-2012, Laura Wythe

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