Most often I work in embroidery, exploring themes of representation, translation, fate, infinity and our relationship with nature—although not always simultaneously! I often use text in my work, which is a logical extension of my early career in graphic design. I stitch by hand, and yes, it takes a long time! I am a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, and the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute, have exhibited widely, and have work in public and private collections in Canada, the United States and Japan.
For the last few years I have been working on a series of large scale embroideries based on the Codex Canadensis, the first natural history of Canada, created by 17th C. French missionary Louis Nicolas. Nicolas drew the flora and fauna he encountered in the New World in a naïve, fantastical style that reflects his awe and subconscious fear of nature. He did not draw from life, and, obviously, there were no cameras. Instead, Nicolas relied on the engravings in reference books such as Conrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium as source material for his depiction of animals he had seen or heard of. Following the principle of analogies, he used quill pen and ink to illustrate creatures that often bore little resemblance to the actual animal.
The gestural quality and limitations of my medium of stitched thread both amplify and simplify the pen and ink lines of Louis Nicolas. I have strived to be true as possible to his original image, just as Nicolas endeavored to accurately copy Gesner’s engravings. Yet, with each generation of the image, change occurs. I see this as an inevitable aspect of the process of translation between art forms.
To this end, I add elements of my own devising, layering systems of framing and classifying the world around us with the more oblique systems of symbol, dream and storytelling.
As translator Norman R. Shapiro writes:
“(The aim of translation) is to create a self-contained, self-standing work, one that has an almost mystical connection with the original, but a work that, ostensibly independent, transmits to whatever degree it can, its music as well as its message.”
From the time of Louis Nicolas and European exploration, Canadian culture has been fraught with the tension between attraction to the wild, dark unknown of nature, and the urge to tame, civilize and profit from it. Cloth and the homey, comforting associations we have with domestic embroidery are well suited to mediating this tension, being both a means of keeping frightening ideas at a safe distance, and, because of the painstaking process of stitching, to enable close examination and ultimately, both wonder and understanding.
HEATHER CAMERON – CURRICULUM VITAE
Kutenai Art Therapy Institute, Graduate Diploma in Art Therapy, 2004.
Ontario College of Art, Experimental Art. Honours A.O.C.A., 1989.
George Brown College, Graphic Design. Honours Diploma, 1982.
ONE PERSON SHOWS:
2004 Remembering, Repeating and Working Through. Grand Forks Art Gallery, BC
2003 Remembering, Repeating and Working Through. Nelson Museum, Nelson, BC
2002 Flight. Handwork Studio, Nelson, BC
2002 In Dreams. Langham Gallery, Kaslo, BC
2000 In Dreams. Nelson Museum, Nelson, BC
1999 Paragons. Nelson Museum, Nelson, BC
1997 Paragons. Mercer Union Project Room, Toronto, Ont.
1997 Consuming Passion. Neutral Ground, Regina, Sask
1994 For Home and Country. Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Sask.
1991 Fair Domain. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ont.
1990 Unsettled Accounts. Grand Theatre, Kingston, Ont.
SELECTED GROUP SHOWS:
2012 Fibreworks 2012, Cambridge Galleries, juried, Cambridge, ON
2011 Gay for Eagles, Haddon Hall Studios, Siler City, NC
2008 Connecting Communities (Artist residency), Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI
2008 Tract House (with Lisa Anne Auerbach), Baltimore Public Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD
2006 Faint Evidence, Oxygen Gallery, Nelson, BC
2005 Chasing Amnesia, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK
2000 The Best of 2000. Glacier Gallery, Nelson, BC
1998 Reading Art. Swift Current National Exhibition Centre, Swift Current, SK
1995 WINDOWS: Storefronts on Art. Organised by Susan Whitney, Regina, SK
1992 The State of Viewing. Gallery 101, Ottawa, ON
1991 Homefront: Contemporary Issues in Interior Decorating. Site specific
installation, StreetCity, Toronto, ON.
1990 Cold City Invitational. Cold City Gallery,Toronto, Ont.
ec: e without the bar is c. Embassy Cultural House, London, ON
1994 – 1995 For Home and Country, 12 Saskatchewan communities (OSAC)
1997 Visual Arts “B” Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board
1996 Visual Arts “B” Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board
1996 Visual Arts Short Term Grant, Canada Council
1995 Visual Arts “B” Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board
1992 Project Grant, Canada Council
1991 Short Term Grant, Ontario Arts Council
Exhibition Assistance Grant, Ontario Arts Council
Travel Grant, Canada Council
Dunlop Art Gallery
Saskatchewan Arts Board
Canada Council Art Bank
Private collections in Canada, the USA, and Japan
Craft: Transforming Traditional Crafts 07, p. 152-153 (2008) O’Reilly Media
Craft: Perceptions and Practise Volume II. (2005)
Paula Gustafson (Ed.), Vancouver: Ronsdale Press
2006- Swap-O-Rama-Rama producer, with Wendy Tremayne.
San Francisco CA, Austin TX, Seattle WA, Vancouver BC, Sheboygan, WI
2004- Professional Art Therapist
2001 Board of Directors, Nelson and District Arts Council
2000-2004 Manager, Retail Art Materials, Nelson
1997 Contract Editor and Workshop Organizer, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Sask.
1997 Advisory Board, North Central Street Culture Project, Regina, Sask.
1995-1997 Board of Directors and Programming Chair, Neutral Ground, Regina, Sask.
1994-1998 Editor, CARFAC SASK Newsletter, Regina, Sask.
1990-1991 Arts Critic and Writer, Between the Lines, Kingston, Ont.
1988-1989 Gallery Assistant, Gallery 76, Toronto, Ont.
Assistant to Artist, Robert Fones, Toronto, Ont.