Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Creativity and beauty are two of the main features of Nova Scotia. With its gorgeous coastal views and highland scenery, this province is a dramatic source of inspiration for its artists. Another source of inspiration, of course, is its rich, traditional, cultural legacy. Here one finds everything from rug hooking to pewter making, as well as fine, fibre based craft and art, well represented by the three feltmakers we profile below.
Virginia Stephen :: Less is Less :: corriedale roving, mohair & found buttons
Virginia considers herself a “water person” having lived on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coast and grown up close to the Great Lakes. She now lives in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia.
For this reason, in her artistic practice she is often concerned with the shoreline and what she finds left behind by nature and humans on the beach and in the banks of rivers. Though she began her artistic career as a printmaker and a potter, over the years her attention has shifted to painting, mixed media work, working with found objects, handmade papers, and fibre work.
She wet felts functional apparel, objects and wall work under the name of Feltlines. In her recent show at The Alberta Craft Council, “What’s A Girl To Do” she created a series of sculptural hats based on the traditional beret form that played with scale, form and surface design to create a visual memoir.
Virginia holds degrees in art history and in visual art education from Queen’s University and the University of British Columbia. She has studied printmaking and painting at St Lawrence College, printmaking at the Banff Centre for the Arts, drawing and fibre at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, painting at Emily Carr College of Art and Design, and felting at various workshops and at Red Deer College ‘Series‘ program. She has had two residencies at the Banff Centre Leighton Studios (2006, 2009).
Virginia is also a graduate of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute and has over 35 years of experience as an arts educator, museum educator and senior arts and museum administrator. She was Deputy Director (Head of Programs – Exhibitions Education and Public Programs) and Curator of Education at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Executive Director of the Edmonton Art Gallery and Executive Director of Liberal Studies (Visual Art, Residential Interiors, Writing, Humanities), Faculty Of Extension at the University of Alberta. She is a creativity facilitator for the Leadership Development Program at The Banff Centre.
Virginia has throughout her artistic practice made a study of creativity and how it connects with both personal/individual action and organization effectiveness. She attends and has presented at creativity conferences in Canada, Europe and the United States. She shares her knowledge and facilitates the creative growth of others through workshops and in her teaching by exploring visual literacy. Virgina’s fibre work is challenging and whimsical. To learn more about it visit: virginiastephenart.com
Rahola Drdul :: Contours II :: 2017 :: 44″w x 48″h
Sanna Rahola and Douglas Drdul
Sanna Rahola and Douglas Drdul have a unique artistic relationship. Originally from Finland, Sanna was already an experienced weaver before she moved to Halifax in the nineties. Here she met Douglas, a talented stringed instrument maker, and formed an extraordinary collaboration. The two create uniquely inspired pieces combining their individual mastery of medium into a singular artistic vision connecting Sanna’s felt paintings and Douglas’ artistic woodwork.
The creations begin with Douglas’s sculptures which Sanna uses as inspiration for her creative work in vivid colours or soft neutrals to compliment the wood panels created in Black Walnut, Limewood and Birch. Together these artists are able to defy the limitations of their own mediums and make art that exudes powerful, evocative images.
Sanna has extensive teaching experience both in Canada and abroad, including the Artist in Residence Program, Central Finland Institute of Arts, Petajavesi, Finland, a Sculptural Felt Making Workshop, Hants Shore Community Health Centre, Nova Scotia, and a Felt Making Course, Kasi Ja Taideteollisuusoppilaitos, Seinajoki, Finland.
Sanna and Douglas live in Walton, Nova Scotia, Canada with their son Olki. To learn more about this beautiful collaboration visit: raholadrdul.com
Wendy M :: Dark Mosaic Vase :: Gotland wool Nuno felted with hand dyed silk
It was knitting that led Wendy M to felt making, but it’s her home in the East Coast which spurs her creativity. The journey into felting began with a casual discussion with a fellow ‘wool gatherer’ that led to a lost weekend of YouTube tutorials on nuno and traditional wet felting. Five years and numerous courses later, she says she has “arrived at a place where she can confidently express herself and her love of wool through her art pieces.”
Wendy finds happiness in the natural, organic, elemental shapes and shades that surround her. As a Nova Scotian, she is drawn to the beautiful shades of the Atlantic and its coastline with the crisp blue sky, white lighthouses, as well as the sand, the rocks and the sea glass. All which speak to her of the strength and resilience of nature. She also finds the fall colours of her province inspiring.
She chooses the material she uses with a very East Coast attitude. Though she does use Italian Merino, the base and foundation of all of her pieces start with Icelandic, Finn, Gotland or Norwegian; breeds known for their strength and warmth. The East Coast is the motivating factor behind all her work. In fact, it’s her wish that when her pieces leave her care and go to their ‘forever homes’, that they evoke the East Coast feeling in whatever corner of the world they land.