Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Today we begin our spotlight on New Brunswick. We are excited to have an opportunity to look at the feltmaking and fibre in this beautiful region. New Brunswick has a rich cross-cultural heritage. The Mi’kmaq, the Acadian and the Irish all have influenced the arts in this province.
It is also a province with a very distinctive beauty dominated by the Atlantic, the Appalachian Mountains and the many riverways that weave themselves across the landscape.
Our first New Brunswick artist, Anna Mathis is an international award winning textile artist as well as a graduate of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Recently she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Adult Education at the University of New Brunswick. Anna is passionate about sharing her craft through teaching workshops and selling fiber arts kits and supplies. She has recently been exploring wearable art, creating unique felted necklaces, scarves, skirts and vests.
Anna shares with us her experience as a fibre artist living in New Brunswick.
I feel so fortunate to be a working fiber artist, teacher and entrepreneur here in New Brunswick. We have a thriving art community, an inspiring College of Craft and Design, and we are small, so it is easy to make connections and get your name out there. As part of my job I do a lot of traveling, driving on the weekends to the various festivals, fiber shops to deliver workshops, or to attend craft sales. There are always pockets of fiber community everywhere I go, knitters converting to needlefelters, or those that want to connect with our historic past and learn to spin yarn on an antique wheel they found in their grandmother’s attic. This fiber frenzy is contagious and I see it growing all the time.
In New Brunswick, we work together with Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to organize Maritime wide events and festivals. Some of these festivals rotate annually so they can be in any one of the 3 maritime provinces the following year. Recently we had the Winter Wool Gathering in Woodstock, NB, and this spring there will be the Maritime Fiber Arts Retreat in Chester Bay, NS. In the fall, we will have the Knit East in Saint Andrews, NB, the Nova Scotia Fiber Arts Retreat in Amherst, NS, and the Maritime Spinners Retreat in Halifax, NS.
There are tons of opportunities to get together to share knowledge and buy fiber goodies! I tend to stock up at festivals for my fiber, as you can often find raw fleece or mohair locks right from the farmers, or vendors like me selling hand dyed yarns or wool and silk top.
In my practice I can’t help but be inspired by New Brunswick’s richness in colour. We have the roaring blues and greens of the ocean beside us, and an overabundance of blooming wild flowers; lupines, crab apple trees and lilacs bushes. From our cities, it is just a skip and a hop and you can be in the middle of the woods hiking to a waterfall, or laying on a completely isolated beach for the day, just to be inspired. The changing leaves in fall in red, orange, brown and green. They make a couple hour drive seem oh so easy.
But I am not a fool! I know it will get cold and we will need wool to keep us warm so I have turned to felting wearable art. Why not be stylish and stand out with a one of a kind, felted vest reminding you of the flourishing flowers to come. Wrap up in ruffles embellished with local sheep locks, or silk dyed by the droops of a sumac tree, paired with flirty vintage fabrics.
Living in New Brunswick has not only influence my art, but it is the perfect place to start a business. I feel empowered, ready to take a chance, to ask for something just out of my reach and go for it. Our cost of living is relatively low so I was able to jump in to this head first and know that I would float. Our community is inclusive so it is easy to sit down for coffee with the big players and ask for advice.
Although I have been training for this for years, attending the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design pursuing a diploma in Fine Craft: Fiber Arts, then graduating with a Bachelors of Adult Education from UNB, I am really still just right out of the gates. I have been a full time artist for only the past 9 months since 2016 but already I feel like I am standing on solid ground. I have so many people behind me rooting for me, helping me on my journey and there is nowhere to go but up.
To learn more about Anna Mathis and her work visit:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnnaMathisFiberArtist/