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01 eleanor embroidering

About you:

I have always been an artist. There is a way an artist has of ‘letting things be seen by you’ as opposed to simply ‘seeing’ things. It reduces assumptions. It makes you search and it keeps you forever curious not to mention humble.

As a child I drew, painted, made sculpted objects, embroidered and made tons of clothes, always making. I was supported in my work and thoughts on art making. There is a story in my family that my mother compromised on the family dinner one night in order to buy me a much-needed chisel for a sculpture class I was taking as a young teen.

I was primarily a drawer for many years, in pencil on large, beautiful paper. I also stitched large paper pieces with crochet and other textile effects added.

I have worked in textiles as a medium, (especially embroidery) since about 1995 when I took a class with Lesley Richmond and was inspired by the idea of the sewing machine as another drawing tool. I took to it instantly and began exhibiting ‘free motion’ or sewing machine embroidery pieces very soon after.

I draw every day and think in drawing or ‘movements of line’; often coordinating with movements of the body.

Inspiration for becoming an artist:

I have been an artist since early childhood as mentioned above. It was a way for me to see the world both differently than others and through my own eyes, my own senses. It was my confidence. I was compelled to express that unique view through visual media; painting, drawing, embroidery and sculptural materials. I was supported in this desire with art materials, space to work and time to create. When it came time to go to University I knew what I wanted to do. The skills were so inherent by then I took them for granted. That had its consequences.

What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?

I have heard it said that people are moved by my work; the gallery owner at one of my art exhibits, (an exhibition with my collaborator writer Elizabeth Dancoes) said that a visitor had been was ‘moved to tears’ by our work, she told us she had never seen that before. Viewers of my work admire the skill it takes especially the embroidery work. Often there are comments that it is unlike anything they have seen before. Or that I handle materials differently than they have seen before. I had someone write an academic paper for an Emily Carr course on a body of work I did a few years ago. As she said in the introduction to her paper about my work; “I just came out to a usual Thursday evening gallery opening, I was not expecting to have my life changed. But that is what happened”

Sharon Reay says of Eleanor work:

“I am always in complete awe of the thoughtful insight evident toward whatever subject you are tackling and amazed by the honesty with which you delve into the creative process itself.” 

Other work activities you are involved with:

As well as being a visual artist I am a teacher of art and design and textile design. I also teach Yoga and have done for many years, Recently I graduated from the Advanced Integrative Energy Healing (AIEH) program at Langara College. This energy work and the long learning and self-healing process it involved has deeply influenced my life and art making. It is in part through the study, teaching of and exploration of higher states of consciousness. I practice these new skills through drawing my experiences. I have included some self-portraits called Energy Portraits.

Photo: Eleanor embroidering in her studio: Photo by Bengül Kurtar