Friday, July 25, 2014

Meditation panels installed and dedicated in Little Current United Church July 20, 2014

This article appeared in The Manitoulin Expositor, July 23.  It was written by the editor of the paper, Alicia McCutcheon

"Come and find a quiet centre in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed"  the congregation and choir of the Little Current United Church sang during the dedication service of four richly textured, large pieces of community-made textile art that have come to be known as meditation panels at last sunday morning's church service.

In 2009, when textile artist Judy Martin first met with the group of church women who would advise her abut a community artwork project she proposed (Barbara cranston, Marion Henry, Mary Marg Walsh, Julia McCutcheon and Rev. Faye Stevens) they told her about the mandate of the United Church of Canada, the ideas behind Manitou Conference and the mission statement of the Little Current United church.  Ms. martin was getting background about the place that would house her proposed Circle Project for the next four years, hosting weekly stitching groups that became so much more and would eventually become the final home for the four works of art created.  Oh, they added, "We like to sing."

"Yes, you do love to sing, Little Current United church," Ms Martin said during the dedication service, following the hymn.  "Your singing is joyous and full of life.  You sing in so many ways - pie backing, yard sale minding, plant selling, fish dinner preparing, attending church regularly, caring deeply."

Ms Martin shared that the project had its origins as a theoretical exercise for a course she was taking at the time in liturgical art.  It was ideological in its origins, but her vision was to make it a reality.  "When the Manitoulin Circle Project morphed from being something that only had to be an idea on paper (for the university) into something that this church would actually carry out, I can't recall," she said.  "My liturgical course was finished in october 2009 when we started stitching.  I went on to study other courses for that degree and graduated from it in London, England in June 2012."

"This particular project was all theoretical for the university."  Ms Martin continued.  "It did not have to actually go ahead for me to receive a mark --- but it did go ahead.  It went ahead from September 2009 and continued on.  That was not me.  That was you.  The many people who supported the idea of a wider community coming into this building to work together and create contemporary art using materials rich with past domestic ritual.  That was you, little Current United Church.  That was you, dear women and men who placed their hands on this work every week for four years."

Ms Martin's proposal, made in August 2009, stated that the project would take two years with the installation planned for 2011.  The panels were finally finished in 2013, four years later,  (taking two additional years of steady stitching by many hands) in time to meet a deadline for the Thunder Bay ARt Gallery where the four panels went on display last September and then on to the  Art Gallery of Sudbury in the winter.  After a brief stop at their home at the church, the panels will again be on the move with at least four more tours, but this church, Ms Martin said, is their home.  Over the weekend, the church and the panels were also a stop on the Manitoulin Art Tour.

She explained that the panels were made for this particular church, and for those particular walls in the sanctuary.  They are meditation panels, she said.  "Perhaps they work best if you are alone with them, seatedin one of the pews, feeling their accumulated touch.  They are also intended to work when you are together as a congregation, helping each to listen to and meditate on the ideas presented during the service."

The wall behind the choir, which houses the cross, is a bright blue and this colour appears in all of the panels.

"The design element of the circle that is in every panel is one of the simple shapes that Carl Jung identified as being within the collective unconscious" Ms Martin shared.   "Every one.  Every. One.  Around the world, from all periods of time, understands this shape.   She explained that the circle represents wholeness and completion.  "The circle is the most natural shape.  It is perfect.  Because there is no beginning or end of a circle, it represents eternity.  The circle also refers to the circle of women who participated in the construction of these pieces every Thursday.  Manitoulin Island is  a circle.  The earth is a circle."

The square, the shape of the panel, represents solidity, boundaries.   "If the cirlce is heaven, the square is earth."

The panels all contain a message of environmental appreciation, Ms Maritn continued, as they were made with donated and thrift shop damask tablecloths and domestic textiles such as lace doilies, women's handkerchiefs, and wool blankets.  Their titles are intended to raise awareness about caring for the earth.  "Earth Ark.  Mended World.  Precious WAter.  Layers of Time."

"One thing that handmade items do is hold time.  They catch it."  she continued.  "Those four years of time are caught in these panels and saved for future generations to appreciate.  The people who touched and worked on these pieces, who even just walked by the quilt while it was in the frame in the church hall, will look at these panels and remember something about this particular present time in our lives and in the church's life."  This is life affirming work.  To slowly make things by hand shows faith that there will be a place for these things in the future."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Manitoulin Circle Project is part of the 20th Manitoulin Art Tour

the regulars with the meditation panel, Precious Water in 2012
The four meditation panels (2009 - 2013) that were made with assistance from the community are now installed in the Little Current United Church, Manitoulin Island.

The church sanctuary will be open to the public during the art tour.  Friday July 18, Saturday July 19, 10 am - 5 pm as well as on Sunday afternoon - noon until 5 pm July 20.

Judy Martin will be with the panels during the entire time.  Some of the 144 participants will also be present and available to answer questions about the panels.

These panels are being formally dedicated to the United Church during the 10 am church service, Sunday July 20.  All welcome.

Little Current United Church, Robinson Street, Little Current, Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Perivale Gallery opens for the Season

The Perivale Gallery opens on Sunday May 18.

The gallery will be open on weekends only during May and June.
During July and August it is open every day, 10 - 5 pm.
The gallery closes just after Labour day.
alderbushes 1 and 2, watercolour 1983, Judy Martin
Judy Martin is exhibiting seven pieces in the gallery this year.
The small watercolours above are from her mother's estate.
Time, Dream, Memory series, 2014, vintage materials, stitched collage, Judy Martin
New are stitched collages made with vintage materials and frames.
Four pieces from the Time, Dream, Memory series are presented in shadow boxes made by Omega Picture Framing, Mindemoya.
 Time, Dream, Memory: Dream (detail) above. 
The seventh piece is Night Meditation I, indigo dyeing and stitching, 2014. 
This stitched artwork is also presented in a shadowbox frame.
The Perivale Gallery is Judy Martin's only commercial outlet.  If interested in purchasing something of Judy's, please contact the gallery.  705 377 4847

Owner Shannon McMullan is proud that the gallery ranks #3 on trip ad-visor.  Click here to read reviews and to find directions about how to drive to the gallery when you are on Manitoulin Island.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

stitches across time

medallion quilt, anonymous 1880, wool, cotton, with embroidery
Judy Martin is one of the jurors of this exhibition.  Other jurors are Judith Tinkl and Dorie Millerson
The show will be juried from digital images on May 5, 2014.

cape, 1919, wool, metallic thread embroidery

Stitches Across Time  will show at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives from September 12 till November 9 , 2014.  

evening bag, 1920, silk, silk
A national exhibition, participants were given photos of six historical textile works from the museum's collection to use as inspiration for a new piece.  All photos are posted in a PDF that is available here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Art and Ambiance

dyed and felted hand woven wool, couched with velvets and other fabrics, then hand quilted
About 18" wide, 45" high
the wool was originally woven by Thunder Bay artist, Jan Korteweg.  Judy taught piano lesson's to Jan's daughter, Lisa, and the wool blanket was a baby gift for Judy's first child, Oona.   

Part of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery fundraising auction
Art and Ambiance
Live and silent auction
Tickets to attend are $40
Music and refreshments
April 11, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014


Paradise Meditation I     2012    linen damask, acrylic paint, thread.
Part of the Tom Thomson gallery's 50th annual juried exhibition, Convergence.
(One of eighteen)
Located in Owen Sound Ontario, the exhibition opened March 30 and continues until May 25 2014.  This gallery is open seven days a week, click here for gallery hours  
Paradise Meditation was hung on a small corner wall.  (large photo collage on the right is Sky Edge by Becky Conber, apologies that I have no information about the central piece shown above)
Paradise I's beautiful subtle damask pattern went unnoticed I feel.    
Actually, both the experience of being involved with this juried exhibition and my attendance at the opening reception were disappointing. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014


February 14 - March 25, 2014
Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Public Library
50 Meredith Street, Little Current
705 368 2444
Read about this exhibition here

February 15 10 am - 3 pm. OPEN HOUSE
Come and meet the artist and have some Finnish coffee bread.

The paintings and prints in this exhibit date between 1981 and 2005 and give context to Judy's long career.
Judy Martin and her husband live on Manitoulin Island.