We are excited to bring this new series of posts called Interview with a Resident. I am sure you can figure out by the title that this series is going to be made up of interviews with our past residents. We are going to start this new series an interview with Linda Cunningham, a textile artist from Calgary who visited the residency in fall of 2012.
Tell us about yourself and your most recent work.
I’m a long-time knitter who discovered spinning, dyeing, and felting fibres nearly twenty years ago. In trying to incorporate my “art” with my writing, editing, and graphic design vocation, I began to create and bind my own books, and now incorporate all these elements into mixed-media sculptural works.
Above image: Wild at Heart – a Shrine for Salmon, etching done while staying at Spark Box Studio, 2012
What is the best thing that happened this past year with your art? Exhibits? Write ups? Breakthroughs?
In 2013, I curated and participated in a group photography exhibition in February as part of “Exposure: The Banff and Calgary Month of Photography” that gave me a different perspective in putting together a show. The piece that I was building during my residency at Spark Box last fall, titled “Wild at Heart — A Shrine for Salmon” was part of “Boxed In” which had a three-month run at The Rooms in St. John’s, NL, and was also exhibited in September as part of Alberta Arts Days at the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge, AB.
I was very pleased to help organize the yarn-bombing of the Shire Hall Parkette in Picton while at my residency in 2012, and was gratified with the reception it received, both by the Parks Department, the general public, and the media coverage it garnered, including in Stephen magazine’s Winter 2014 issue, published by the EPCOR Centre for Performing Arts here in Calgary. Currently, I have been working on two commissions: one at a very large (1 m x 3 m) sculptural piece of knitting for a new office building in downtown Calgary, and the other, a small (30 cm x 24 cm x 10 cm) diorama that is the “set” for one of the scenes for the play “How iRan,” written by Ken Cameron, part of the High Performance Rodeo Theatre Festival. It contains handspun/handknit cultured silk, some of my handmade papers, and found objects, and was a challenge to create in just 48 hours.
Do you set-up guidelines for yourself as an artist? For example: when you work, where you work, materials you use, sketching/planning before starting, etc.
I often refer to myself as a “string collector”: to create “Wild at Heart,” I had a sheet of red and black Japanese chiyogami, some tanned salmon skin leather, red linen paper yarn, and a fly-tying kit I had built up over several years. When the call for submissions appeared, I was able to use all of them, along with learning copper etching and printing the haiku using letterpress at Spark Box. I like how individual items attract themselves to each other that way.
Model-building is also a big part of my work: I come up with a concept and frequently build one or two models to work the bugs out, find the optimum placement of text (much of my work is inkjet-printed), and experiment with different techniques.
Above image: Wild at Heart – a Shrine for Salmon, mixed-media sculptural installation, 2012
Do you think the city you live in plays a role in your work?
Absolutely! When most people think of Calgary, they think of cowboys, horses, cattle, mountains, and the prairies, and while there is a lot of that sort of art out there, there is also a lot of wonderful experimental work as well. I can’t imagine living pernanently anywhere else, although I love travelling and incorporating new experiences, techniques, and materials into my work.
What are your top three favourites things in the city you live?