The Textiles Program at Selkirk College gives students a chance to thoroughly experiment with many different processes and techniques... I loved the atmosphere of dozens of busy artists working together in a small building.
Eyes Wide Open to the Possibilities
I was born in Lesotho, Southern Africa where my parents were volunteering. At two and a half, my family moved back to Canada to Boissevain Manitoba, where I completed grade 12.
My interest in textiles began at the sewing machine. As a teenager keen on expressing myself, I found making clothes to be an outlet for my creativity.
I chose to study at Kootenay Studio Arts because of the small class sizes. I received great one-on-one instruction from working artists with great hands-on experience who became my mentors. Also, the size of Nelson as a city was attractive to me. Moving there as a country farm girl, Nelson was the perfect step up into an urban centre that has live music, nightlife and multiple thrift stores without being overwhelming.
A Life Changed by Learning to Weave
It's not an exaggeration. It changed my identity: I am a weaver. I wasn’t one before KSA. Weaving is also the reason I’m in Lesotho, doing what I’m doing. My goals in life altered after KSA, though. Now I must weave. Whatever else I’m doing in life, I must weave.
Since graduating at KSA, all of my work has centred around clothing and/or weaving. For several years I stayed in Nelson, making a living by a combination of things: sewing alterations, costume and clothing design (everything from grad and wedding dresses, to leather kilts), weaving for a local hand-woven hat company, sewing production lines and working in retail.
I augmented this with the occasional travelling adventure. After KSA it was important for me to put my textile education into the context of the wider world. I travelled to centres across Canada to learn what was happening in my own Country. I travelled to Europe to take workshops and visit every museum, factory and private studio I could. I spent a month at a textile residency in Iceland (which was pretty much the best thing I’ve ever done).
Currently, I’m living in Lesotho. I first returned here in 2016, where I apprenticed myself to a hand-weaving tapestry company. I found they had floor looms they didn’t know how to use and was soon teaching. Since then, I’ve felt at home in Lesotho, and I’m keen to encourage a new generation to learn how to weave (it’s mostly women over 60 doing the hand-weaving currently). I live in a town called Morija, where I am the Coordinator for the Morija Arts Centre.
At present we have Ceramic, Jewellery, Animation and Textile studios and a gallery/shop where we sell local artists’ work. I work with artists and encourage and teach potential or blossoming artists. I love the challenge of living and working in Lesotho – materials are limited and looms cannot be bought, they must be built.
Selkirk College (and specifically my instructors) gave me a can-do attitude towards making a living as an artist while remaining honest about the joys and stresses of being a creator. I developed friendships with my instructors and they have been mentors to me long past graduation.
I would definitely recommend KSA to others. I am honest about the program and what it offers: A chance to thoroughly experiment with many different processes and techniques. You don’t come out of it as master at your craft; you come out with eyes wide open to the possibilities and a very real place to start. I have a toolbox full of tricks and techniques and the rest of my life to apply them.
Learn more about The Arts at Selkirk College...