Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Light (detail) by Dina Barzel. See more at the Francine Seders Gallery, here.

As far back as I can remember I've been intrigued by texture. In fact one of my earliest memories is of running my hands over newly sawn logs, feeling the rough bark under my finger tips and watching wide eyed as the wood cutter chopped the logs into smaller pieces for kindling. So intrigued was I that I got too close and the inevitable happened. A flying splinter went into my eye and all hell broke loose.

I have another memory of thrusting my hands blindly into the mealie crib, savouring the cool knobbliness of the dried corn on the cobs ..... and the warm fur of an unsuspecting field mouse. All hell broke loose yet again.

My mother's voice still rings in my ears .... RobynnnnnDear, will you please keep your hands out of trouble!

There were so many wonderful things to touch and feel on the farm. Nests of downy feathers, warm smooth hen's eggs, baby animals, wriggly frogs, sacks filled with coarse mealie meal, orchards of good climbing trees and sun baked fruit, rusty wagon wheels, squishy clay moulded into oxen, warm prickly haystacks, cool stone walls ..... In fact the farm was one long tactile adventure.

No surprise that I love the tactile qualities of art. Delicious textures in many forms.

En masse. Recycled Book Sculpture by Yvette Hawkins. Website here. Etsy shop here.

Yvette Hawkins, creates tactile sculptures and installations from folded paper.

Carved vintage bricks by Chris Berti. See more of Berti's work at the Tory Folliard Gallery, here.

Danza Vessel. Handbuilt stoneware by Alexis Strong. See more here.

"I’m drawn to ancient vessels and containers because they hold a secret and mysterious history. The exquisite "art" that emerges from their utilitarian purpose is what inspires me." - Alexis Strong

Plate 21. Oils and mixed media on constructed board by Sam Lock. Website here.

30h3. Oils and mixed media on constructed board by Sam Lock. Website here.

Earth - Repition of an act of mourning (detail) by Barbara Wisnoski. Website here.

"I am interested in the relationship between texture and time. The process of building a piece, whereby a fabric loses its singular quality and becomes part of the whole, reminds me of how time washes a harmonious patina over objects and memories. The prospect of decay is key to the work: seeing how pieces done long ago have changed over time reminds me that they were made from living fibres and, like us, evolve and deteriorate. Also like us, these pieces become more themselves, therefore more beautiful, with age." - Barbara Wisnoski

Sharman's Dress by Mar Goman. See closer details here at the Francine Seders Gallery.

Lyle introduced me to Mar Goman's work. These pieces remind me of my own Hunter totems, here.

Installation by Fred Birchman. See the rest of the installation photographs at the Francine Seders Gallery, here.

This installation made me yearn for a studio where I can spread all my tools and wood about so that I can always feel the creative buzz ..... instead of having to set up and pack away.... set up and pack away on a daily basis.

"Although I am not interested in the nostalgia of these places, as most do not prompt memories of dramatic or trivial events, the alchemy of sawdust and grease, the haphazard organization of wood and metal objects and their mysterious functions attract in me a primal way." - Fred Birchman

Installation by Fred Birchman

Hollow Notes by Marc Wenet. See more of Marc's work here.

Carved Totem by Robyn Gordon :-)


  1. Lovely post, Robyn. I'm a big fan of texture, too, and the examples you chose, both in words and in pictures, are wonderful. I will come back again and again especially to check out all the links to the amazing artists. Thanks.

  2. More wonderful textures...I love seeing certain objects laid out and getting to leave it in place and contemplate them. I hope you manage to get more space to do that. Thanks again for sharing these wonderful pieces...

  3. Oh, the love of texture...I had to laugh out loud as I heard your Mom's voice...there goes Robyn again! And your new totem! I'm loving the gesture of the head and is the rusty frame part of the work? Brilliant!
    My life is richer because of your posts. I thank you for all the work you do for us. You are so appreciated!

  4. ahhh
    your posts are always so dense and thoughtful. i usually dont even want to say anything, just sitting here enjoying all you have found to share with us both of your work and others...its all a little overwhelming but always intriguing.

  5. The sense of touch is so amazing and combined with any other sense is so powerful.Great post Robyn.

  6. I'm there with you-in my mind- running my hands over all the textures. you have featured some wonderful textured art works here, the reading the words was so poetic.
    a very layered, textured post.

  7. another gorgeous post Robyn, and I love the quote, " I am interested in the relationship between texture and time... Yes! i couldn't begin to single out a piece, it is all so beautiful! and I love your tactile story...

  8. How unusual and beautiful these works...Sharman's dress and the textures by Sam Locke...carved totem by Robyn Gordon...are memorable. But what is equally enchanting is your writing and especially so when you write about your childhood memories. I still remember the drunken bird from an earlier post :)

  9. I loved the Wisnoski quote. I'd never thought of "evolve and deteriorate" in quite that way before. Quite beautiful.

    Your childhood memories also left me with a warm fuzzy. I'll chime in with the rest of the comments and thank you very much for your post.

  10. all of the above
    and thinking about your hand-in-mouse moment
    reminded me of the accidental finding of
    whilst wiggling toes in lovely slippery mud...

  11. A feast to imagine I can reach out and touch, piece by pice.

  12. Another great collection, I always try to pick out my favourite image from your fabulous selection but you make it very difficult, they're all so interesting. Your totem and the patchwork fabric are the winners this time.

  13. Mary, Sam Lock's website will probably please you for a start :-)

    Lrc, I'm working on the extra space.

    Leslie, the rusty frame is not a part of the totem unfortunately. I did ponder over it for a while but its a very old pot stand which my step grandfather bought over from Scotland. My mother would turn in her grave if I chopped it up.

    Paula, just ponder on the pieces that really call out to you. I know that feeling of overwhelment!

    Maya, I keep wanting to put my hand out and touch these pieces.

    Thanks Donna.

    Cat, texture and time .... weathered and wonderful.

    Priya, I'm remembering the drunken parrot and giggling.

    Thanks Vincent, the Wisnoski quote also got me pondering.

    India, ooo yes .... and toes squelching in cow dung.

    Annie, I've been resisting from reaching out myself.

    Thanks Ro.

  14. Too much for one late night viewing Robyn... exquisite! Ill be back! particularly loved the call from your mother to keep those hands out of trouble.... loved what your wrote there...childhood seems to contain all the pointers for later life preoccupations... perhaps not for all... but very very often... and certainly for you!
    enjoy your weekend,

  15. Robyn I would love to run my hands over all these pieces of art. Beautiful work. I love this piece of yours. I have always encouraged those who wanted to touch my paintings to do so, I certainly do. So sensual!

  16. Hi Robyn,
    You are really good in making totems, they fascinate and intrigue, and I wish you a lot of beachcombing days together with your husband's fishing days.
    Neverthless I would be a reader of a novel, about the daily life on the farm, written by Robyn ;-)
    I like the natural rust dyeing of "The Robe" made by Mar Goman.

  17. oh Robyn, your descriptions sent me into childhood, touching and smelling feeling; you brought my brother to me. Thank you.

    love the shaman's dress and the tilt, your lady looking up to catch the light.


  18. A post after my own heart! I am a tactile texture touching kind of gal. My mother used to swat my hand in fabric stores afraid I would soil the bolts of fabric as I examined them with my fingers, swishing them through my hands. I adore the dress, thank you for sharing the link!

  19. wow, i want to reach through the screen and touch everything here...

    sending you love...

  20. Great post, wonderful images and great links. Thanks so much for providing all of these.I really enjoy your blog.

  21. oats. For a while we a had a few horses and I used to love to run my hands through the oats, run the oats through my hands.

  22. I love texture too. You have some great examples here. I must say it is nice to have a spot where I can leave a mess and come back to it. Often one thing leads to another. Your totems are magical.

  23. YES - I too love texture, and the layers found within it. THanks for the wonderful post, and for including your beautiful totem!


  24. My Friend, This post is enough to send a person flying into the textural possibilities of our surroundings to caress every tactile offering available in search of creative elements to be included in our next art product....

    And then our mothers are going to fuss at us...Happy with yourself?
    Love Ya, Robyn!

  25. Another "deliciously" wonderful post Robyn....a fabulous group of artists...I adore your Totem!

  26. Sophie, I've lost count of how many times I ended up at the hospital for stitches in my hands from carving accidents. Surprising that my mom didn't forbid me to carve.

    Katherine, not too long ago, at a quilting show I went to, my hands just couldn't stay away from feeling the fabric and a school marmish woman roared across the hall at me. I fully understand why we and a thousand other onlookers shouldn't finger the artwork but I felt so embarrassed and had to sneak out the side entrance.

    Thanks Wim, it certainly is time for another day (or week) at the beach.

    Mansuetude, so glad the post bought back happy memories. Thanda!

    Miss Sandy, fabric stores were the best! I remember huge glass bottles of buttons which were wonderful to put ones hands into.

    Lynne, I know the feeling :-)

    Thanks Eva, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Melanie, hmmmm now I can smell the tack room ....

    Lisa at Greenbow, a spot where I can leave a mess .... that would be great!

    Kim, my pleasure.

    DJ, very happy :-)

  27. Robyn, the carved bricks intrigue me. It never occured to me- great idea.

    Thanks for sharing your personal story. Your love of texture stems back to memories of the farm. Now when I see your textures, I can think about how they relate to your history. Your new totem appears to me to have her face turned to the sun, enjoying the feel of it on her face. She's wonderful. When she has a name, will you let us know?

  28. LOL Robyn I would have been right there with you, both touching the quilt and sneaking out the side door, for me with a red face. My face blushes way too easily. Thank you for my first laugh of the day.

  29. Great ride you have taken us on and ending with one of the best at last...your new totem! I can only repeat what others have written...thank you!

  30. what are those in the first pic robyn? they are lovely.
    lovely post i can but only quote the other comments.

  31. such a lesson in the beauty of those recycled books, opened up all to the world!!
    delicious/texture==two of my favorite words.
    thanks, robyn...your totem, that head, speaks to meeeeeeeeeeee.

  32. you had me at Dena, the first one..

    I am off to see more of her work.

  33. What a great post! As I read, I was mentally touching everything I saw. I think it's natural to like touching things; if you watch a baby, you can see how important those tactile senses are. When it comes to artwork, though, touching is usually not appropriate. We don't run into a museum or gallery and start grabbing things with our hands, for obvious reasons (like those grumpy guards). Ironically, much of the art I like is full of texture! Something to think about, eh?
    Thanks for sharing all these glorious artworks with us, especially your wonderful totem. I love her "expression", and can imagine how the wood would feel under my fingers!

  34. Have just discovered your blog. Wondrous. It's great to see the wide range of art that inspires you. Look forward to seeing more of your work and postings!

  35. Hi Robyn, As always, a wonderful post! I just posted my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award. Go take a peek! :) But please know that as far as I'm concerned, the award is yours to do with as you see fit! Thanks for your amazing work and blog! Gloria

  36. I love art you can touch. Mother nature is ofcourse the master when it comes to providing that. I enjoyed reading of your own experiences.

  37. Thanks, Robyn. Your memories of early texture-loving reminded me of one of my favorite things as a kid...looking in the back of a children's magazine called Highlights. There was always a feature with a little cropped square photograph, a close-up of something and you had to guess from the texture what the big picture was! I have often carried this intimate kind of cropping into my compositions as an adult artist.

  38. What wonderful stories of tactile surprises!! Yes, to touch is irresistible, and I especially enjoy art that is meant to be felt, or held and appreciated with more than the sense of sight. I saw a story on the news this weekend, about an art show put on by a group of children - all the work was full of color and whimsy, but not fully possible to appreciate visually, as it was created by blind budding artists, and it was primarily meant to be experienced tactilely. It made me wonder how I might create if my first priority were touch, and the visual were secondary... Mar Goman's piece is wild - it immediately reminded me of the essence of yours, in a fiber version! love it, and all you've shared. xox K

  39. I am so happy to be home again, to take my time scrolling down your post here, and loving the art you share... especially your new totem. I think she is soaking up the sun... feeling the breeze, remembering her own childhood before you brought her to life. I hope you are well... I wish for you a studio too, that you don't have to tidy up, that would always smell of wood shavings and rust! roxanne

  40. Thanks so much Cynthia!

    Shayla, this piece is a detail of Prayers for our daughters II. The sun was comfortably warm on that particular winters day.

    Katherine, same problem here! An easy blusher.

    Mary Ann, aah texture! :-)

    Megha, the first photo is a detail of a bigger mixed media piece. they look like hatched eggs.

    Neva, who would have thought! Such beauty in recycled paperbacks.

    Grrl, let me know if you find many more Dena Barzel pieces.

    Sharmon, I have been reading about Tactile exhibitions for the blind. So wonderful to be encouraged to feel and touch.

    M. Lefebvre, sometimes I'm overwhelmed with inspiration!

    Gloria, thanks so much for the award. It is so great to be aknowledged!

    Lucky Dip Lisa, walking in the wilderness is another tactile adventure isn't it?

    Laurie, yes I remember something similar... guess what this is closeups. So interesting to hear how these cropped views have shown up in your work.

    Karin, I've just mentioned a tactile exhibition for the blind in an earlier comment. Years ago I actually made carved tiles for a young chap who was newly blind. he was moving into an apartment alone and needed things on the wall to indicate where he was in his new environment. I've been conscious of tactile art for the blind ever since.

    Roxanne, I so enjoyed your latest post about your time away. Its always great to get away but coming home is just as good.

  41. Robyn-so fun to hear about your childhood as a young "hell raiser," the term often used by our parents to describe curiosity about the world! I think you may have uncovered a secret club from childhood. I remember the delight I felt as I squeezed the moist dark mud of our Maine swamp through my fingers, watching it ooze through the space between my fingers. A secret pleasure.

    Particularly like Barbara Wisnoski's work--thank you for the intro. And your totem seems to hold her head high, testifying to the enduring power of the senses.

  42. I came here the other day and got lost in the links before I left a comment!
    It's interesting how we can trace our tendencies back to our earlier must have been quite the adventure growing up on a farm. I would have fully embraced that experience!
    off to explore some more...texture is always a favorite for me.
    love seeind your work again..i like the tilt of the head and the rusty frame.
    looks like we've got a bullie boy pup coming next month..I'm not counting on getting much else done...but the excitement level is pretty high here!

  43. Lisa, At last! You've been so patient up until now so if you're excited just let it all out :-) Speaking of bullies... mine caught a big bull monkey this week. All hell broke loose! Usually the dogs get torn to shreds in these sort of altercations but Ben didn't have a mark on him. Poor monkey was not so lucky.

  44. Thanks for sharing some of your childhood memories. I had to laugh as I heard your Mom's voice...will you please keep your hands out of trouble! Haha, it brings up happy memories of my mother.
    A delicious post, Robyn!
    Your new totem is amazing and I like the "Sharman's Dress" made by Mar Goman.
    I had such a good time reading your post this morning.
    Have a creative week.
    Gaby xo

  45. this is a beautiful inspiring tactile post and it has touched my heart.

    I love Robyn Gordon's carved totem very much ;)

    best wishes for a lifetime filled with beautiful textures

  46. PS... do you know that hours can pass here at your blog... it's filled with great treasures.. thank you

  47. Robyn, it was interesting reading about your texture filled memories of childhood. It's strange but I remember reading about cloth and texture as an adult and realizing that I'd never paid it any attention before that.

  48. j'aime tout.. et le tactile ! m'inspire!

  49. I'm so late this time, but I was quite busy the last weeks! It's so interesting to read again... And to see all these beautiful works of art. And to imagine all the pictures from your childhood and the sensations I've never felt! I'm a city child, but I was lucky enough to live in a house with a little yard till I became 10 years old. And to spend parts of the Summer holidays at my aunt's house in a village - with gardens, flowers, animals, wells... I remember mainly the smells. And "catching" them in my everyday life, I go back immediately to my childhood days amidst the noises and rushing of the city...

  50. Yes, thanks so much Robin. For the smile I'm still wearing thinking of you and your Mom.
    And for all these works and links, most of which I've visited.
    And thanks so much for the peek at your new totem,,,I imagine her feeling the first spring sun shining on her face. She's beautiful. Is her neck all completely carved also? You amaze me!

  51. Hannah, a secret pleasure indeed ....mud oozing between fingers and toes!

    Gaby, I must be getting old ..... so many childhood memories flooding back.

    Robyn, thank you :-)

    Stevie, I'm sure you must have enjoyed feeling the texture of things subconsciously.

    Elfi, looking at your amazing mixed media paintings I can see that you love texture.

    Rossichka, I had the best of both worlds since my stepfather had a business in the city. We went back and forth between the farm and the city..... not to mention boarding school in the city .... not a good memory at all.

    Thanks Babs, my totem's neck is actually beaded with tiny seed beads.

  52. Texture is so wonderful that few can resist a touch here and there. I know I can't. Age and time can produce such wonderful effects on objects too. I was out photographing yesterday and someone wanted to know why I was picturing a old, decrepit door with the paint peeling. I told them it was much nicer than a beautifully painted, pristine door. Far more interesting and textural. I think they thought I was away with the Another great post Robyn. I love those paper sculptures of Yvette Hawkins. Off to have a look at her Etsy shop.

  53. Your stories about your adventures growing up made me laugh. As you already know, I am a lover of texture in art too. There is just something about it that really draws me in. Wide selection of work here. Really excited to learn more about Sam Lock and Barbara Winoski.

  54. Was so excited to see you mention Fred Birchman. Thank you! I have worked with Fred and he is an amazing talent.