Artists: Jane Kenyon, Eleanor Hannan, Jude Neale, Elizabeth Dancoes
Two textile artists and two poets come together in an exhibition based on friendship and mutual appreciation…one medium sparks the other in a confluence of ideas and inspiration.
These artists find themselves revisiting themes of femaleness and autonomy through mythology, narrative, figurative exploration, or abstract expression. Decades of friendship and artistic expression have allowed them to persevere in the face of heartbreak, hopelessness, and rage.
Eleanor and Elizabeth’s new work is the latest installment of an ongoing collaborative journey based on the ancient and intriguing gesture Anasyrma: to raise the skirt. The spiritual implications of Anasyrma are profound. While inciting transformation, it encourages laughter as a conduit to renewal. It resonates in art through time, from the mysterious things concealed beneath skirts in fables and fairytales to the compelling image of Marilyn Monroe’s skirts billowing over a subway grate.
Jane has been making, destroying, and remaking her artworks for decades. Recent work with recycled clothing feels like a further exploration of the permanence/impermanence of materials, perhaps an attempt to salvage their usefulness for her. Our domestic cloth, be it clothing, or other household fabrics, eventually makes its way to the landfills, where it slowly disintegrates and returns to the earth or not. Working with these frail, worn-out textiles, Jane, feels like a tender gift, an opportunity to rediscover their marks, shapes, and stories, perhaps creating new histories and future possibilities.
The Skin Series was begun early in the pandemic during a year of uncertainty when physical vulnerability and human resilience went hand-in-hand. Jude Neale’s stream-of-consciousness poem, Where We Stood, provided the impetus for this ongoing body of Jane’s work about our journeys – those hundreds of conversations that have occurred over the years between two women, mothers, poets and artists.
Through this exhibition, these four artists aim to share the methods and means of artist and writer working together, both sustaining work over a long period in productive collaboration and coming together to focus the working collaboration for exhibition; in other words, to speak the language of that communication fluently.
Bio – Jane Kenyon
Jane Kenyon was born in Canada in 1953 and currently works out of her home studio in North Vancouver BC. She began her working life as a medical doctor but had always been drawn to a career in visual art. In 1993, Kenyon began to study and work as an artist full-time.
Her early artistic life was as a fibre artist, with most of her art career spent in contemporary embroidery. Searching for a more intuitive and immediate form of personal expression, Kenyon turned to non-objective painting about 10 years ago. Recently, she has returned to her beloved fibre and is exploring mark-making and contemporary stitch on recycled t-shirts and other found fabrics.
Kenyon’s art, including fibreart and works on canvas and paper, has been widely shown and collected. She has exhibited and won awards in Canada, USA, Europe and South Korea.
Bio – Eleanor Hannan
Eleanor Hannan received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and has exhibited her artwork in group and solo shows across Canada, the UK and Europe for over thirty years.
Her visual art practice has included drawing, painting, traditional fresco painting, sculptural figurative and portrait work, work in paper and paper mache, costume design for theatre and dance, fiber arts and embroidery. This new work opens creative doors on new interlacing’s of many of the above plus a very insistent graphic style that comes back to complex composition. It is deliberately unspecified in terms of art categories, it is humorous, playful, poignant, experimental.
Her long-time collaboration with the writer Elizabeth Dancoes includes many ways of exhibiting story/ art combinations on mythologies of the skirt. The overarching title of this project is 1001 Funny Things You Can Do With a Skirt. Even if not exhibiting Eleanor and Elizabeth are continuously making/creating and responding to new research on their favourite theme. Their Skirt Power Stories site is dedicated exclusively to this body of work. This 2023 Skirts and Skins exhibit with artist / writer collaborators Jane Kenyon and Jude Neale continues the evolution.
For many years Eleanor taught workshops for artists in Photoshop. Eleanor has worked with inmates in BC prisons, in her early years she has taught art appreciation at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Toronto School of Art. In BC She has taught at Capilano University, Emily Carr University, and University of the Fraser Valley and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She has taught for Shadbolt Center for the Arts since the early 90’s.
Eleanor’s artwork has been featured in numerous publications, she has received grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and BC Arts Councils, has received a best-in-show award and a nomination for a Jessie award. She has led hundreds of workshops in drawing, painting, textile arts and mixed media for schools, colleges, and universities and delivered many talks about art, textile art and women’s work.
Bio – Elizabeth Dancoes
Elizabeth Dancoes is a poet, playwright, dramaturg, script editor and actor. Her poems and stories have been published in many periodicals and she maintains long term collaborations with local artists Eleanor Hannan and Susan Madsen. Produced work includes the plays Paradise& The Wasteland and Criminal, as well as performance pieces created for Kokoro Dance: Esse, The Betrothal, Sade, F and A Simple Way. She was the story editor on the award-winning TV movies Terry, Torso, Society’s Child, and the feature films Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity and Life, Above All.
Bio – Jude Neale
Jude Neale is a Canadian classically trained opera singer, educator, mentor, and prolific poet. She is a mezzo soprano who specializes in Puccini. Much of her poetry reflects her background in its musical cadence and timbre.
She was nominated for the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence based on her use of poetry as the lynchpin of her curriculum. Many of her ex-students have also followed the writing path and attributed her influence as a key to their own journey. Furthermore, Jude was mentored by the acclaimed poet and novelist, Elisabeth Harvor, through Humber College in Toronto. During this two year process she wrote over 500 poems and produced her first book, The Perfect Word Collapses. She also attended The Writer’s Workshop at Simon Fraser University, a programme run by Betsy Warland, and was mentored by Rachel Rose, Poet Laureate of Vancouver. She published A Quiet Coming of Light from this experience. It went on to be finalist for The Pat Lowther Award out of the League of Canadian Poets.
Her book Splendid in its Silence won publication in the UK. One of its poems was chosen to ride on buses on the Channel Islands by the Poet Laureate of Britain, Sir Andrew Motion. She was also the feature reader at the Guernsey International Literary Festival in the UK. Jude collaborated with Bonnie Nish to produce, Cantata in Two Voices which was published by Ekstasis Editions. This book was written in 50 days!
Her poem, Blue Bowl, was shortlisted in the prestigious Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry prize out of Ireland. And she has been widely published nationally and internationally. Jude has written eight books, with Impromptu, Ekstasis Editions, just being released. This book was based on International Poetry Prompts for Poetry month.