Volunteer Interview – Trish Graham

Volunteer Interview – Trish Graham


As a charitable non-profit organization, we rely on the valuable help of our volunteers! Meet Trish, who volunteers at the CCBC Shop & Gallery on Wednesdays!

Tell us a little bit about yourself; who you are and how long you have been volunteering with CCBC.

I’m Trish Graham, and I have been volunteering here at CCBC for about 4 years, ever since I graduated from the Capilano University Textile arts program. I was lucky to come back to Canada just in time to attend the last cohort at Cap. I am sad to say they canceled an excellent 40-year program, but I don’t think it was my fault. ;-).  Before coming back, I had lived in Nigeria and Ghana for 20 years. First working with CUSO doing Micro Finance in Nigeria, then, when we got expelled due to political issues there in the mid-’90s, I ended up in Ghana. There I worked mostly in handicrafts including helping to set up one of the earliest online marketing portals, eshopafrica.com. I also worked with the Ghanaian bead makers and created a business designing bead jewelry. I am happy to say when I left, my assistant took over the business and it is still going strong, supporting her family of four.

What is your favourite part of working in the shop and gallery? Your favourite task?

My favorite part of working here is the people. I am an introvert; I could sit at home all day and weave. When I come into the shop, I get to talk to all sorts of interesting people from all over about craft and making. Often, I learn new things about techniques and pieces.

Why do you think craft is important? What role does craft play in your own life?

I am a maker. I have been all my life, ever since my grandmother taught me lazy daisy stitch when I was about eight. Today, I am a textile artist, mostly a tapestry weaver. If I get to weave for a few hours a day, all is right with the world. I am convinced that if everyone managed to spend time making or appreciating art or craft, the world would be a better place.

Textile piece by Trish

Any tips for someone interested in buying contemporary craft or giving it as a gift?

I would say trust yourself. If you love something, if it speaks to you with its beauty, shape, colour or texture there is an excellent chance it will continue to do so when you take it home, or when you give it as a gift. There are few things more satisfying than having your morning tea in a beautiful handcrafted mug or wearing a finely crafted pair of earrings.

Favourite artist that the CCBC carries? Why?

This is a very difficult question for me. I love the delicacy of Louise Smith’s finely embroidered and painted scenes, but the Bettina Matzkuhn’ s more robust embroidery of nature scenes also excites me every time a new piece comes to the shop.

You’ve had a long and interesting career around the world; do you have any life philosophies you’ve gained from your adventures?

Yes, you are never too old for adventures, and you are much stronger and more flexible than you realize. I learned that when I was stuck overnight at the Gambia/Senegalese border. No electricity, no hotel, and no restaurants, but lovely people who fed me, gave me a lot and got me back on my way. If I can do that at 68, anyone can.

As a textile artist selling in the shop, what kind of questions do you like getting from customers?

I love to talk about technique with people, whether it is how woven tapestry is created, my own favorite medium, or about other people’s techniques.