Thames Art Gallery to feature 150 years of Canadian hooked rugs

Image credit: Grenfell Mission, Newfoundland and Labrador 1935-1945 Silk or rayon, cotton, burlap, hooked 33 x 45 cm Gift of Heather Bryan. T00.49.1

Two new exhibitions at the Thames Art Gallery will explore the unique stories and histories that have informed hooked rugs in Canada over two centuries.

A form of personal artistic expression, re-use and recycling, as well as a means of earning a livelihood, hooked rugs are widely recognizable expressions of community and regional identity in Canada. Home Economics: 150 Years of Canadian Hooked Rugs features over 100 hooked rugs drawn from the Textile Museum of Canada’s rich archive coupled with public and private collections. Curated by Shauna McCabe, Natalia Nekrassova, Sarah Quinton and Roxane Shaughnessy, this exhibition shows how craft and commerce has been an intimate part of the lives of many Canadians, represented by generations of artisanal entrepreneurship, women’s domestic and collective work, and rural development.
While the exhibition includes many historic examples, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it also examines the active revival of rug hooking by contemporary national guilds and independent artists. Among the significant works featured are seldom-seen historic pieces, including those by the “Gagetown Hookers” – Lydia and Raymond Scott – as well as contemporary rugs by Maritime artists Nancy Edell, Deanne Fitzpatrick, Hannah Epstein and Joanna Close, with Toronto’s Barbara Klunder and Heather Goodchild, and Yvonne Mullock from Calgary

Adding to the mix is Chatham artist and second-generation rug hooker, Karen Dysarz who uses reclaimed wool that she washes, cuts, and dyes herself. In her exhibition, Painting with Wool, Dysarz’s pieces show how she works intuitively with design and colour, creating beautifully intricate mats that are often biographical in nature and are a unique expression of historical and contemporary narratives.

An opening reception for Home Economics: 150 Years of Canadian Hooked Rugs and Karen Dysarz: Painting with Wool will take place on Thursday, May 16th, 7-9 p.m. at the Thames Art Gallery. Cash bar and refreshments served. All are welcome to attend.

Home Economics: 150 Years of Canadian Hooked Rugs is organized and circulated by the Textile Museum of Canada with the support of Canadian Heritage and the William R. and Shirley Beatty Charitable Foundation. Please visit www.textilemuseum.ca for more information about all of their exhibitions and programs

Exhibition is open to view May 15th to June 30th. The Thames Art Gallery is located at the Chatham Cultural Centre, 75 William St. N. Chatham. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 1-7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. -4 p.m.

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