August 31 - September 21
Public Reception: Saturday, August 31, 1pm-4pm

The dictionary defines repository as a place in which something, especially a natural resource, has accumulated or where it is found in significant quantities. Marni Martin has created work relating to the idea that our memories, individual and collective, are a resource. “We can choose to store these memories, or we can use them for transformation in the present. Hence the title for this exhibition, Repository of Memory,” says Marni.  

One of the ideas that Marni explores in her exhibition is how the area in which we live has a lasting impact on us. “I wanted to use a visual representation to explore this idea and as I dyed yarn in my studio on regular basis, it occurred to me that I could use the actual plants that are growing on the land where I live to dye fibres creating a visual memory on the yarn…like fibres of our being changing with experience.  

The central piece for the exhibition is a hand dyed and woven tapestry title, Repository of Memory. The inspiration for the tapestry came from time spent exploring Brooks Falls in Emsdale. “In this tapestry, the water is swirling around the rock, light dancing upon the water and onto the autumn leaves on the far side of the water,” Marni describes. “For me, it is a perfect image to represent how our experiences and the memories we take from them, continually shape our present, as the water is constantly sculpting the rock.”  

Two of the pieces in the exhibition are linked by motherhood and memories. One of the weavings, Boy Inside the Man, is created with jeans that her son outgrew. “The weft that I’ve woven with are strips that I’ve torn from jeans that our son has outgrown or worn ragged,” says Marni. “When I went through his closet at the end of the summer in 2017, I was filled with so many emotions. Conflicting emotions. On one hand, we want our kids to grow up and become independent; at the same time, we want them to need us. As he was preparing to enter high school, I created this piece so that I could weave in all my uneasy feelings that this transition represented. For me, weaving helps synthesize my mixed emotions and the piece becomes the vessel to carry them, freeing me to move forward. I’ve stitched on a few buttons and pockets as they present a myriad of memories. The perfect finish for the piece was the tag, life well made, that was in his favourite pair of jeans,” explains Marni.     

The other piece, Avalon, is a celebration of Marni’s twelve-year-old daughter and holds memories of her childhood that Marni keeps close to her heart. “For the past year and a half, I have been collecting strands of her hair, quietly stashing them away, waiting until I had enough to make a piece,” explains Marni. “Over her childhood, there have been many battles over brushing out her long curly hair but also those intimate moments shared as I braided her hair or worked to get out a tangle instead of taking scissors to it. Her hair is just like mine and I know how empowering hair can be and how much work it can be, particularly for a child. For me, there is a great responsibility in naming a child and I feel we were successful as Avalon finds strength in her name. It seemed like a perfect way to embody my memories by weaving her name with her hair. I used her hair as a supplemental weft with a base of cloth woven of silk and cotton.”       

The work in this one-woman exhibition displays Marni’s explorations with a gentle, passive approach to natural dyeing called solar dyeing. “I view it as a visual metaphor of how memories imprint on us just as the colour from the flora binds to the fibres through the sun’s heat and time,” explains Marni who limited herself to using the plants and flowers that grow on the land where she lives. She collects the flowers or berries and puts them in a large mason jars with water and alum – a mordant that binds the colour to the fibres. The jars are then set out in the sun to heat the water and release the colours into the water that is then absorbed into the fibres. “I’ve been experimenting with silk, wool and a swatch of cotton fabric. The results have been amazing and unpredictable,” Marni remarks.  

Marni attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, graduating in 1997. She went with the intention of painting, but was introduced to the fibre department. “When I discovered tapestry weaving, it was similar to the feeling of returning home. Through tapestry weaving, I can bring together art and craft, painting and weaving,” states Marni. “It has been a journey of self discovery and finding my voice as an artist. Tapestry weaving has given me a way to share my vision. As I have been working at my craft of tapestry for more than twenty years, I finally feel that I’ve reached a point where I can have confidence in my abilities.”  

For over a year, Marni has been visualizing this show. “I want to create a welcoming space within the Chapel Gallery for the sharing of ideas. I hope to offer a space for reflection and work that inspires insight,” says Marni. “For me, this show is a culmination of a journey. This is my first solo show and it has been an enriching experience to create a body of work around a central theme.”

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