"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

From Pen to Hook: a must-see exhibit in Halifax

At the EBSNS AGM on 22 June 2019, Truro fabric artist Penny Lighthall opened an exhibit of eight delightful hooked rugs inspired by Bishop poems, designs that Lighthall calls her “interpretations.” This exhibit hung in the Echoes of EB gallery in St. James Church until late August. Now, these eight, along with a dozen others, are part of her “From Pen to Hook” exhibit at the Halifax Central Library, in Pavia on the top floor. Lighthall was supposed to have a launch, but Hurricane Dorian interfered with this plan. The rugs will remain, however, on exhibit until 28 October. I urge anyone who lives in the city (or who is visiting) and is a Bishop fan or a fan of hooked rugs to go have a look. These rugs are charming, whimsical, colourful, uplifting. EBSNS member and friend Susan Kerslake took photos of the rugs and I am going to post these images over the next month and a half – one at a time – with a comment or two. For now, I offer these images of the context of the spatial and artistic context of this exhibit.
(Some of the rugs in situ at Pavia, Halifax Central Library.
Photo by Susan Kerslake.)
(Penny’s artist statement. Photo above and
below by Susan Kerslake.)

Of the eight exhibited in GV, this is my favourite, though it is hard to pick a favourite. This rug was inspired by Bishop's poem "Sestina," set in the kitchen of the EB House. this poem begins, "September rain falls on the house." An appropriate way to begin this September/October exhibit and my brief commentaries. Note the wonderful hooked rug on the floor -- a hooked rug inside a hooked rug: "It was to be, says the Marvel Stove..." Bishop's grandmother and aunts all hooked rugs and Bishop vividly remembered "hooking bees" that happened at the house. Lighthall's inspired exhibit makes total organic sense in terms of the kinds of artisanal creativity Bishop experienced as a child. I must add that these rugs are also for sale. Lighthall tells me that she's already sold several of them.

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