“My daughter tells people I teach punching to hookers,” joked artist Sara Judith, “and I sell drugs when I’m not hooking” (she’s also a pharmacist).
Sex? Drugs? Where’s the rock’n’roll? Actually, none of the three were the subject of the most recent show at the Hidden Garden Gallery.
Judith and her co-exhibitor Heather Fox are textile artists whose chosen medium is hooked and punched rugs, a kind of craft that utilizes traditional techniques of pulling or pushing different kinds of material through a grid backing to create beautifully designed rugs.
Hooked rugs are well-known out east, particularly in the Maritime provinces and Newfoundland where the rugs which were initially crafted by poor women from rags and sold to wealthy buyers.
The beauty and innovation of the designs elevated traditional rug-hooking to an art in status, and now the crafty art has made its way out west as well.
Fox was introduced to hooking in Vermont, and immediately fell in love with the technique. Creating her own designs as well as more traditional patterns developed by others, she has taken on a variety of subjects, with her favourite being a marmot-inspired piece.
Creating an original design from a marmot-researcher’s photographs, Fox made the rug as a fund raising donation for the Marmot Recovery Foundation. It didn’t take long for someone to fall in love with it.
But, life is rarely uncomplicated, and the would-be fund raiser soon found himself consumed with a fight against cancer. In a show of generosity, the Foundation raised the money for the rug elsewhere and in turn gave the rug to the man.
Quite the hooking story.
Judith’s discovery of rug hooking was also love at first sight. Initially working in tapestry, she soon found the versatility and spontaneity of the craft immediately appealing.
That joy is apparent in her rugs’ colours, patterns and themes. Combining punching with hooking, the rugs are multi-textured and vary from abstract pieces to landscapes.
It’s unlikely that either artist’s rugs will ever find themselves under foot, when they make such attractive wall coverings.
Not only that, but having the rugs on the wall seemed to have an effect on the sound in the small gallery during the opening, absorbing the din from the crush of people and making it easier to converse.
Now that’s practical art, and much more gentle than sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.