Fran Solar and Sayward Johnson are weavers. But their primary medium is not cotton, wool, or silk—it’s metal. Both artists combine textile techniques to create unique woven canvasses and sculptures.
Currently living in Squamish, British Columbia, Fran studied interior design at the University of Manitoba, and her interest in textiles and design soon found its expression in weaving. For many years, she used traditional techniques and fibres to produce clothing and textiles. In the nineties, she began experimenting with basketry, and through workshops at Basket Focus conferences delved into working with metals. Today, she combines metal with such textile techniques as loom weaving, basketry and quilting to produce unique woven sculptures and wall hangings. Copper, brass and stainless steel wires and sheets, along with any interesting bits and pieces of hardware and industrial surplus, are altered with heat and chemicals to produce various patinas and then “woven” into what Fran calls “vessels” and “wall art.”
Fran Solar’s work is held in numerous public and private collections, and she is represented by galleries in British Columbia and Alberta.
Sayward Johnson has been weaving for about fifteen years and discovered weaving with wire when she was studying at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She considers herself first and foremost a textile artist and uses wire to explore various techniques. She too uses patina processes to alter the colour and texture of the wire, and this is often her favourite part of the process. It can take weeks, and the outcome is often surprising, which can completely change her vision. Her 12-harness Leclerc loom takes up most of the space in her Ottawa studio, which is in an old bread factory converted into the art collective Enriched Bread Artists. After weaving a piece, she embellishes with embroidery or further chemical solutions. A former forestry worker, Sayward draws much of her inspiration from natural forms, lichens, stone and the Canadian boreal forest. For example, her Defense Mechanism series started as studies of tree bark.
You won’t want to miss the work of these outstanding textile artists. The exhibition opens on May 3 and runs until July 16. Come to the official opening event on May 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. where you’ll have a chance to meet them both and learn more about their work.