Last year I visited the Textile Museum of Canada courtesy of a library Map Pass. I enjoyed the experience so much that I returned last week just in time to see Dreamland: Textiles and the Canadian Landscape before the exhibit ended.
Fascinating art and artifacts populated Dreamland in every direction, almost overwhelming me with visual delight. I loved the hooked rugs holding memories of the lost farm of a New Brunswick couple (“The Gagetown Hookers”) and the remarkable examples of ordinary nineteenth-century clothing.
The quilts and samplers reminded me of my grandmother Raine, a beautiful textile artist who knitted a pink poncho with pearl buttons for my Barbie and sewed doll clothes for Her Barbiness, too. Grandma’s favorite quilt pattern was log-cabin, a very disciplined form, so I wonder what she would have made of the crazy quilt I saw in permanent exhibit one floor below.
Even before I knew it was the work of a loving Canadian grandmother, I was drawn to a display of a doll’s complete Red River winter outfit. I also learned from the explanatory text that Anna McLeod Gilmor “would make a doll’s dress as a Christmas present for Margaret (her granddaughter).” She did this “each Christmas from 1945-1950.” Decades later, Margaret Johnson donated these doll clothes to the Textile Museum of Canada.
In addition to the poignant textile legacy of an awesome grandmother, the exhibit that affected the most strongly was Michael Snow’s “Solar Breath/Northern Caryatids.” Snow’s cinematic illusion of a window in a house off the coast of Newfoundland was so effective that I thought it was real.
The sound of the wind pulled me into the darkened viewing room and I was hooked. Although chairs were available, I settled down on the carpet to better surrender to the meditative peace of a film in which the star actor was the wind flapping the curtains, offering brief revelatory glimpses of a woodpile, solar panel, trees, and the Atlantic Ocean
TPL and Map Pass, thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience Solar Breath, marvel at quilts, sashes, long underwear, dresses, rawhide stuffed animals, and a camel cover from Turkemenistan!