Monday, September 7, 2020

I met Tracy at VALT, a few years ago at Vancouver's VALT 2016 and was delighted to reconnect with her, through Fashion Splash at the beginning of 2020. Dianna and I went to Victoria to follow the steps in creating this show, and shared the initial photography sessions on Clothes Line Finds. Tracy is a creative and unique Designer. I have to thank Marilyn R Wilson for her leadership in the COVID 19 Interviews and highlighting the ongoing accomplishments of our creative community. Thanks to Tracy Yerrell for her wonderful, thoughtful contribution.

1. Please tell us about your art/design/business, length of time, goals...

I’m Tracy Yerrell, founder, owner, and operator of Bat Fish Studio since its beginnings in 2011.

I have been a professional designer for all of my working life, with my first big job working on Expo '86 and designing the visuals for the Vintage car Show in BC Place. I had my own design business in Vancouver where my clients included UBC Alumni and Burnaby Arts Council. Inspiria Design Group was very involved with raising money for the 'Shadbolt Centre for the Arts' designing many of the events and auctions used to raise awareness. I also branded the Vancouver Maritime Museum with the logo that they use to date. Relocating to Vancouver Island for family reasons, I was hired by the Victoria Conservatory of Music to rebrand them and take care of their marketing, I then ended up as the Marketing Specialist at Saanich City Hall overseeing all advertising and marketing for four community centers. But I was frustrated in my efforts to do something that really made a difference. I left my last job seeking something more and when inspired by the birth of my new granddaughter, I created a line of children's clothing called Baby Boss Rules in 2011.

While selling at local markets on and around Vancouver Island, I had repeated requests to create a adult line of clothing using the same edgy, steampunk inspired aesthetics. But now with this new member of the family it seemed all the more important to go on to create a line of clothing and products that would address the way we deal with our textile waste. When I realized that over 85 pounds per person, per year, ends up in a landfill, I was horrified. This sparked a commitment and determination to make a difference.

I knew if individuals nurtured a connection with pieces in their wardrobe, they would be less likely to just cast them aside. I wanted to challenge people's perception of how fabrics can be used and reused. Just because it was created as a pair of curtains doesn't mean it can't be re-envisioned into a beautiful summer dress. Those incredible hand embroidered tablecloths our grandmothers took hours to complete, can now live on as stunning boho gypsy tops. I wanted to think outside the box by creating sustainable products but also by inspiring individuals to think about the clothes they choose to wear. Clothes are an extension of who we are and what we believe. Additionally, I included my original artwork by using the silk screened images as a way of altering existing outfits, creating an emotional connection, resulting in giving the garment a whole new lease on life.

So it has become my goal as an eco designer to create sustainable fashion by working with up-cycled, repurposed and reclaimed textiles. By using innovative design, unconventional materials such as bicycle tires and inner tubes, found objects, upholstery fabrics, seat-belts, and of course reclaimed textiles, the products go on to become wearable art.

Over time, I’ve developed 6 lines using waste as a creative source:

Bat-Fish Originals – These are pieces of clothing that are made from scratch using reclaimed textiles and repurposed fabrics i.e., bed linen, table clothes, curtains, dead stock, tapestry over cuts, fabric used in set design of local theatre productions or movie sets. They are cut from pattern pieces and sewn together to create a finished garment, and they even contain my screened artwork.

The Fused Line – These pieces are made by using already existing garments that have been altered or edited including my silk screened images and/or other forms of embellishment to create a new envisioned piece, giving it a whole new lease on life.

Molly Lee Vintage – Sourced vintage pieces, laundered, repaired, and restored to the original state. Rediscovering and wearing vintage clothing is a great way to keep them from ending up in the landfill. This line is named after my late mother who was a fashion designer in London in the late 1940's and early 1950's

Bat-Fish Accessories – This is a line of pieces that have be made from reclaimed and repurposed textiles and include belts, backpacks, fascinators, small silk screened drawstring bags, toques, and eye masks.

Tube*Bella - (beautiful tube in Italian) – This is a line of jewellery that is made from the inner tubes of bicycles tires and found objects. It includes earrings, pendants and green goddess chokers (statement pieces).

Baby Boss Rules – My first line of clothing for children and babies. I have been focusing on the adult lines over the past years, but I really want to revive this label and have it available from Bat-Fish Studio soon. Stay tuned.

2. How did you reach people before Covid19

Before Covid19, Bat-Fish Studio was a regular fixture at local Vancouver Island markets and events. I was a designer involved in taking part in fashion shows; I presented information sessions on up-cycling and repurposing textiles. I also conducted workshops and instigated and participated in regular pop up shops around Victoria.

3. How has Covid19 affected you and your staff/fellow artists

When Covid 19 first hit home at the beginning of March I stared in disbelief at my Facebook feed and email as all the markets I had booked into throughout 2020 were cancelled. At first, I really thought it was something temporary and we would be back to 'normal' perhaps by July? August? Those are some of my best months for summer markets. But as time passed and it became more and more clear that this was a long term situation that would affect every aspect of how I do business.

My interaction with customers is a fairly personal one with them trying on clothing and jewellery in a fairly small changing room, while I talk to them about fast fashion, textile waste etc, etc. With the cancellation of planned events and the resulting isolation Covid19 created, there were no more public venues to meet and interact with people and form connections. Without these personal relationships, there was not an opportunity to share the concept or products that Bat-Fish Studio produces.

As a result, Covid 19 has caused me to completely rethink about how to communicate and reach my market as well as to further hone in on what I want to achieve.

I’ve had to rely more upon the written word instead of conversations with people in the community. Opportunities have presented themselves to reach more people via the internet as well as the opportunity to provide personal shopping with a very customer oriented approach.

4. What strategies are you using to reach people now? new projects... websites....

I had to dig deep and take the time to rethink and reevaluate how I could keep my business going. I have been busy developing a lot of new strategies. I’m especially excited for my studio redesign. Instead of a working studio, I’m also incorporating space for personal shopping (including a nice changing room) as well as an improved space for hosting small workshops.

It has forced me to focus on having my website as a hub, for all things Bat-Fish. I had been thinking of taking it to a brick and mortar store at one point, after all, the pop up shops had always done well. But this is all about getting everything online in one place and sharing all sides of what Bat-Fish Studio does. By the end of the year, I plan to have a wonderful new website. It’s taking a bit of time, but I want to ensure that it tells the whole story, while profiling the wide variety of sustainable fashion created using reclaimed materials. But it's also important to include the ideology that is Bat-Fish Studio. And further down the road I plan to write a sustainable fashion blog. I’m also using Facebook to create more of a connection with clients by sharing works in progress, last week I demonstrated me silk screening.

So I'm taking this opportunity to really put time and thought into how to connect with my customers but also to educate myself on what is going on throughout the world in the Fashion Industry. I took a 6 week online course, 'Fashions’ Future and the Sustainable Development Goals created by Fashion Revolution. It was a great chance to add to my knowledge; connect with like-minded people, and be inspired.

5. Do you have a favourite quote, book, work of art, mentor, role model that moves you forward.

Hm, I love quotes. I’m always finding quotes that speak to me and inspire me. These are a few of my favourites:

C.S. Lewis - “you are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream”.

I love the simplicity and truth of this.

Scott Belsky - “nothing extraordinary is achieved by ordinary means”.

In order to make change in our society, we have to encourage individuals to think outside the box and to see textiles in a new light. To see the possibilities of a couch cushion as a purse; or a tablecloth as a dress, with fabrics having a sustainable future instead of being a disposable single-use item. Textiles can morph into many creations which are both useful and beautiful instead of ending up in the landfill.

“Magic is that little extra special quality in all of us that comes out when we just challenge ourselves a little more.” - Dan Scanlon

This reminds me that society's behaviour with fast fashion can be changed to create a better world by believing that if everyone takes small actions, together we can effect big change. And, isn’t that magic!

There is a slew of designers I find inspiring: Alexander McQueen, Betsy Johnson, Christian Siriano; environmentalist Greta Thunberg; scientist David Suzuki; ethical fashion designer and co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Orsola de Castro; podcaster of Wardrobe Crisis, and former Vogue sustainability editor, Claire Press; as well as Daniel Silverstein of Zero Waste Daniel, a designer from New York who uses offcuts from the fashion industry.

I find inspiration in so many places: blogs, podcasts, books, architecture, other designers, environmentalists, the textures in nature, and in the wide variety of fabrics and textiles that exist.

My mother, also a designer, has always been a role model, not only as an artist but in following your heart by being true to yourself. In addition she encouraged my creativity as a child as I brought home endless scraps and found objects of so called garbage that I thought were treasure and I would set about to transforming them into new creations! I have always been profoundly inspired by unconventional found objects and the potential to use them in unorthodox ways.

6. Next steps

I think I’ve already mentioned the changes I’m working on. Otherwise, I just hope to inspire more people to rethink how they can reuse textiles in their life and to create a better world through sustainable fashion.



Monday, August 31, 2020

 Jennifer Angers Daerendinger is a Gallery Owner and Artist, previously based in Vancouver, but now based in Sarnia, Ontario. Not only did she have a gallery in Vancouver,  but she took her Art to many charity events including Little Black Dress Gala. I first met Jennifer at ROAM Gallery, in Vancouver and then met her again at the Little Black Dress Gala and Art Vancouver. Jennifer is featured in our 2017 Little Black Dress Gala post here and the last Art Vancouver event here

In addition to her fantastic gallery in Sarnia and contributions to traveling art exhibitions, Jennifer also features new Artists with daily horoscopes as a way to draw intention to Art. I always look forward to these! 

Some of her Artists recently were part of Art Vancouver, Art Downtown, so timing is perfect for an interview! I asked her to tell us more about ROAM and what she is doing to keep her Artists in the spotlight, during COVID 19. She continues to bring Art to us in Vancouver, as well as in Sarnia.

Thanks to Marilyn R. Wilson for the Covid 19 interview idea! 

Jennifer, Colleen, and Keiko

From a 2015 Roam Event in Vancouver

From a 2015 Roam Event in Vancouver

At the recent Art Vancouver event - Roam gallery Artist Roman Rozumnyi

At the recent Art Vancouver event - Roam gallery Artist Iris Mes Low

Please tell us about your business: length of time; audience; main goals?

I opened Roam Gallery in November of 2013 as a brick & mortar gallery in City Square Shopping Centre in Vancouver. At that time I only had a Facebook page and by 2015 I had a website up and running. My audience is everyone who loves art and my clientele includes both artists and art lovers. To be honest, I saw a whole lot of artists who were really very good but who were unable to find a place in galleries alongside the more established artists, so my goal became to bring exposure to these unknown talents by providing a professional environment where they and an art-appreciating public could connect. 

How did you work with people prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?

So because my gallery went online in 2018, when I moved from Vancouver to Sarnia, it’s been pretty much business as usual. The only thing that has been difficult has been the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains and shipping because artists have had challenges getting what they need in order to create. That has slowed sales somewhat but I’m confident that as the country begins to return to a more normal business flow, things will return to the previous more consistent sales model.  Besides which, prior to the pandemic, because Shawn Bergman chose Roam as the official gallery of Canuck the Crow, we had gained a worldwide audience that continues to visit the virtual Canuck exhibition on our site. 

How has social isolation affected your business and you and your staff/artists?

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working remotely from my home office for many years, so isolation is nothing new to me; besides which, technology allows me to be in constant contact with artists and buyers alike and through social media, I have been able to create safe spaces for the artists to show their work. When the world first went into lockdown, I wasn’t going out as much so I had the time to get even more creative with how I promote the artists. That has opened up new avenues for exposing their work to potential buyers, for example, anyone in the Sarnia area can stop-in to Dog Eat Dog in Mitton Village or to Urban Escape Inc. downtown to see original work by some of Roam Gallery’s artists. 

What are some of your strategies to reach your audience at this time?

Maintaining a constant and consistent presence on Instagram and Facebook continues to be integral to keeping the artwork out there for prospective buyers to see. I often get told that FB is passé and Instagram is for the “young and beautiful” so both platforms reach different audiences which alone might not be as affective, but in concert together provides great exposure. Both serve well to direct everyone to our website and because that website is maintained so effectively, there are always new artists and new art to reward the visitors!

Do you have a motto, mantra, role model, mentor, work of art, something that keeps you moving forward during COVID-19?

Life is hard. You have to keep moving through it. I have nothing but empathy for what many people are going through with this pandemic, so the artists and I have worked hard to put something positive out there for others to enjoy and that began with the “Have a Heart” show where all work was priced at $125. The intent was to give others something to smile at that was also more budget-friendly for anyone going through tough times. To coin a phrase - “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

Read more on Jennifer's Facebook page or her website here!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

I first met Laura Noonan and Tara Mary Paget at an exhibit of their photographs of people and places on the Eastside of Vancouver. She and Tara are partners in MeetMeAtTheLamp(p)ost. I share an Irish name, Colleen, and a bit of Irish family heritage and when I see them, I think about a visit, some day. Although I have seen Tara at the Massybooks exhibit, I see Laura more, now, through her work with Art!Vancouver. She has taught me how to take a selfie and how to do more on Instagram, toured me through Art Exhibits, visited me BWSS_MSC, My Sister's Closet Thrift Boutique, to pick up an outfit for the real Kentucky Derby, shared her exhibit Art!Vancouver and has invited me to watch her paint Art!Vancouver at Cathedral Square, Fridays 11-2, throughout the summer. So busy, so energetic and enthusiastic, she took the time to tell us more about MeetMeAtTheLamp(p)ost and how finding magic in the small things, the every day world around us, is so important right now. Thank you Laura Noonan and Tara Mary Paget and, as always, to MarilynR.Wilson, who led the way for the COVID 19 Interviews. See all interviews here.

Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost

1. Tell us more about your business and how long you have been working at it. Goals, audience, events, etc.

Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost is a visual art collaborative established here in Vancouver, in 2016, by Irish-born, Canadian residents Laura Noonan and Tara Mary Paget. The premise of our work is focused on the idea of contentment in self and place. We aim to highlight the beauty in the mundane and splendor of everyday life. Our work is concentrated in the present and committed to challenging the status quo. We are guided by notions of gratitude and questioning as a means of capturing stillness in a world full of transient moments.

The body of work we have presented since 2016 reflects a lens-based exploration of the landscape, people and architecture that make up East Vancouver. East Vancouver breathes creativity and acts as an illuminative backdrop for self expression and contemplation.

Our work is currently on display at Bean Around the World on Granville and 14th and we will be exhibiting at Art Downtown, Lot 19, in association with the Vancouver Visual Art Foundation on August 12, 2020.

2. How did you reach your audience before covid 19? 3.What are you doing now to reach
them during this time of social isolation?

Since the beginning, Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost has endeavored to separate itself from virtual platforms of presentation. Our online presence has always been significantly minimal, and we have tried to steer away from virtual engagements with our audience. Our focus instead has been directed at physical connection and experience. COVID-19 has given birth to a whole new genre and era of social, and by extension, artistic interaction. In many ways we could view this as a negative reckoning so to speak but we don’t. We are accustomed to standing in opposition to ‘e-interaction’ and have always advocated for the attainment of a tangible and quantifiable truth. A truth that can only be found by way of human connection. Fighting against the status quo is something we are very familiar with. As society submerges itself deeper into the depths of the world wide web, Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost can be found swimming in double time towards land. We will never compromise the weight and importance we place on physical connection and until such time that we are in a position to interact with and present to our community again, we will continue to study, continue to self reflect and continue to grow.

4. How has COVID 19 affected you and your colleagues/friends/work group?

It’s interesting because despite the distress COVID-19 dispensed i.e. exhibition cancellations paired with the inability to interact in and with our community, it presented an opportunity to really reflect and root ourselves in our present moment. It allowed us the opportunity to realign our feelings and attitude towards the things we are thankful for and the way in which we assign a hierarchy to our priorities. This in essence is the mandate Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost champions – the banality of everyday life and the wonder that can be realised in the simple things, the little things. The onset of COVID-19 meant that we had no other choice but to find joy in our present self and place and this is
the feeling we wish to conjure in each and every person that stumbles upon or engages with Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost.

5. What moves you forward? Do you have a mantra, model, book, photo, country?? something that motivates you? Next Projects?

We are very excited to be working on a brand-new body of work, centred on the human brain, its mechanisms, and our never-ending pursuit of identity as visceral and functioning members of society. We aim to delve into both the conscious and unconscious realms of the mind to ultimately arrive at an understanding of self. Our directive around the promotion of contentment in self and place translates and applies itself to this project tenfold. Our aim is to elevate our exploration of thoughts around contentment in self and place by focusing directly on the human psyche. COVID-willing, we hope to be in a position to present this work in a physical sphere in 2021.


Myriam Laroche organized many ECO Fashion Weeks, here in Vancouver! All beautiful, and all showing how we can change environmentally disastrous fast fashion making and buying practises, how we can recycle, repurpose and upcycle materials, and how we have a responsibility to make change happen. I was so impressed by her collaborations: with Designers and Science/Technology, with the Vancouver Aquarium, with Value Village and with Businesses, to discuss and plan common strategies for educating and making policy changes. In the many fashion events, I attend, I see much greater emphasis on ECO, especially on vintage and thrift and highlighting slow, hand crafted techniques to the runway. I loved how she often wore thrifted outfits and talked about their origins. Here she is just a while ago. The message continues. I thank you, Myriam for your leadership and for your thoughtful responses. Thanks, too to Marilyn R Wilson, for the COVID 19 series idea.

Here are a few articles where we have covered Myriam and her events:

ZERO WASTE and the TEXTILE INDUSTRY - Metro Vancouver In Collaboration with Vancouver Eco Fashion Week 2015

The #IGIVEASHIRT Installation and Partnership: ECO Fashion Week, Aquarium and Savers Value Village

ECO Fashion Week - Seminar: Rethinking Second-Hand by Myriam Laroche and Anny Leclerc - Value Village

ECO FASHION WEEK: 10 Seasons of Old and New: Press Preview 2016

Photo credit: Audet Photo

I reached out to her in Montreal and here are her thoughts about moving forward during COVID 19

1) Please tell us about your work, length of time, goals, audience, etc.

I am an apparel and textile sustainability strategist. That’s what I have been focusing on since the end of Eco Fashion Week in 2018. I guide and support apparel and textile brands in starting their sustainability initiatives, based on what they are already doing, and I give them tools to pursue their eco-fashion mission, grow and improve every season.

2) How has social isolation COVID 19 affected you and your work, colleagues,...

Daily wise, the COVID19 confinement did not really affect me. I work from home so that part stayed the same. But I work with retailers, and they all had to pause their activities. So did I. Not to sound insensitive, but I kind of have been waiting for an exceptional situation like this for people to start listening and understanding that how we make and consume clothes can’t continue this way. It has been a blessing in disguise for what I want to accomplish in the fashion industry.

3) How did you reach your audience before COVID 19? 

I did a soft launch of my website (  ) right before confinement in March. I wanted to officially promote it in April, Earth Month. But with everything that was happening it did not feel right. And it was a good thing. It made me rethink the way I want to work with retailers and see where they will need my help the most. The narrative is changing !

4) What are strategies to reach them now? 

I am working on creating easy and clear packages for fashion businesses. A lot of them think that they absolutely need a degree in sustainability or to hire a big agency to develop an eco or transparency strategy. But I do not agree. If you know how clothes are designed, made, market and sold, you mostly need a tool box to start developing your eco-recipe. I believe that brands already have things in place to where they can start in a cost efficient way and build from there. It’s about doing things well and improving every season.

5) Do you have a motto, mantra, mentor, role model, book? Something or someone that moves your forward during this time?  

Beyond COVID-19 , the Black Lives Matter movement has been the biggest wake up call and inspiration to do better and acknowledge my white privilege and the reality of systemic racism, very present in Fashion.  There is a part of me that was always feeling something was missing in the eco fashion movement I was trying to lead. I was focusing on ethical labor and bad conditions (which are super important topics) but it’s about humanity every step of the way: factories, head offices, stores…  I never wanted to listen as much as I want to listen now and see my faults. I can’t be an authentic leader if I don’t own the privileges I have as a white woman. Transparency starts with me. I can create the greenest products but if I am not an ally, it means nothing.

How to find Myriam:
The June/July Issue of Vogue features self created images (with commentary) from people in the world of Fashion, Art and Theatre, confined at home during this pandemic. Articles on how people's creative responses are changing the world, include: Creating the Future (Fashion) Still Life (Art), Into the Wings (Theatre), Brave New Trail (Political Strategy - Biden's Virtual Campaign) and more.

On sale now, this issue is an inspiring account of how people are moving forward in a tough time of isolation and subsequent changes in all aspects of our lives. One of the most compelling images for me is of Annie Leibovitz, Photographer and Mother of 3 Teens: "All I'm doing is laundry and cleaning and trying to figure out meals." Everyone does laundry and meal planning, but her photo tells a much bigger story. Love the photo of Billy Porter, Long Island, NY., with his tee shirt featuring Barbra Streisand, singing "When the Sun Comes Out". He looks for joy to inspire his writing for his soon to be published memoir, the reworking of a musical and spending time with his husband. Others, like Lin-Manual Miranda, take photographs of constants in their lives, like the George Washington Bridge and how the traffic has diminished. A two page spread of photos: A Model World, shows models at home with families, at home reading, cooking and working. A black and white photograph by Enri Canaj, Athens, shows a man trying to make a living by selling fruit. There is no colour, and there are no crowds, showing the stark realities of a city slowed and a work life changed. And Artist, Cindy Sherman also has a two page photo of a woman from two perspectives: She says, "I have no idea of what it means." She was recently here, at The Vancouver Art Gallery here. Sherman's work invites you to be somewhere else, like right in her images. Love that way of being transported.

So I would highly recommend this edition of VOGUE because, as Anna Wintour says: I don't think I am alone in wishing for a little bit of hope right now--though one of the few positives of our current time is that one can find it if one is looking for it. She goes on to say that people have rushed in quickly to help and I found, too, that when I asked people to keep me company and tell me what they are doing now, they did. You can read more about what they said on the blog. I started off with what i was reading, here: You can see the 19 interviews completed to date here.

Image taken by Colleen

Image via Vogue

Image via Vogue

Image via Vogue

Image via Vogue

Image via Vogue

Saturday, July 11, 2020

My friend, Bobbie Yoshihara, a life long Sewer/Crafter, has now joined the Richmond Branch of The GoGos. and is continuing to share her creative skills to fund raise for Grandmothers in Africa, who are raising their orphaned grandchildren who have lost parents to HIV/Aids. A fabulous quilter, she also makes a myriad of other projects, including masks, the proceeds of which she donated to the Gogos. Here is Bobby below and some of her creations.

I asked Darcy Bilinkoff and  Barbara Halparin to tell me more about the Gogos and what they are doing across Canada. It is clear that these Grandmothers motivate each other to move forward during COVID 19.

Thanks to Marilyn Wilson for the Covid 19 Interview inspiration.

Interview with Barbara Halparin

In 2006 the Stephen Lewis Foundation launched the Grandmothers Campaign in response to the HIV AIDS pandemic ravaging Africa. Millions of grandmothers, many afflicted with the disease themselves, and mourning the loss of their children, stepped up to raise their orphaned grandchildren. Since then the Stephen Lewis Foundation has partnered with more than 325 community-based organizations in fifteen African nations to support the grandmothers’ fundamental needs for housing, education, medical care, support groups, business skills, LGBTIQ awareness and much more. The principles of social justice, equality and partnership guide our process. 

There are over two hundred Gogos groups (gogos is a Zulu word for grandmother) across Canada dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the Grandmothers Campaign. Greater Van Gogos acts as an umbrella organization to support more than twenty groups in the Lower Mainland. We have two co-chairs, a steering committee, and representatives from six geographic “neighbourhoods.” We also have a regional communications team and a speakers’ roster, and we provide speakers’ training upon request.  

All of our groups are autonomous, each choosing its own meeting format and fundraising initiatives. Many of these involve attractive quality craft items such as jewelry, aprons, scarves, umbrellas, notecards and a variety of bags. Our handcrafted tote bags have become a recognizable signature product.  

Groups have also undertaken other types of fundraising events such as art auctions, African dinners, and concerts. Our latest area-wide endeavours include an annual 50 or 100-kilometer Solidarity Cycle, and the For Love of Grandmothers Fitness Challenge. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged us to adapt and grow, and we have responded with enthusiasm and creativity. Many groups had already embraced technology by creating websites, and now continue to hold chapter meetings by Zoom. On-line events are springing up, with one group hosting virtual cocktail crafting workshops.  

With craft fairs on hold for the foreseeable future, one group is holding a ”craft crawl” in four limited venues.  Instead of tote bags we are making masks, allowing us to give back to the communities that supported us while continuing to join hands and hearts with our African partners. 

Our annual fitness challenge has morphed into an event called Gogos Go to Joburg, a virtual walk of 17,000 km through the fifteen countries in which the Stephen Lewis Foundation has partners. Participants engage sponsors, and gain 5 virtual km for every hour of physical activity performed. 

Our fourth annual Solidarity Cycle will take place, also with modifications. If we are not able to hold a group event, our sponsored cyclists will dedicate Grandparents Day, Sunday September 13, 2020, to individually completing their 50 or 100 km ride. 

What keeps us going with such love and determination? It helps to think about the many millions of African women who inspire us with their intrepid ability to rise to the multiple challenges of not just one, but now two pandemics: HIV AIDS and COVID 19. They are the best people to teach us what the needs are, and how best to respond to adversity with self-awareness, generosity, and empathy. It helps to track the incredible advancements that have been made in turning the tide of HIV AIDS since 2006. 

But the mantra that has kept us focused and committed from the very beginning is the one we think about when we are exhausted from only a few hours with our grandchildren:  

“We will not rest until they can rest.” 

Check us out at: 
Last year’s For Love of Grandmothers Fitness Challenge wrap up luncheon.

Inaugural Solidarity Cycle, September 10, 2017.

Tikun Olam Gogos: Paddles for Africa, an online art auction of mahogany dragon boat paddles painted by local BC artists 

Tikun Olam Gogos (my group): Totes and Masks

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Last February, I attended the fabulous VCC Fundraiser Gala, FLOURISH. This is an annual event for which the top Culinary Alumni cater and all of the programs are there, with students showing off their  expertise to bring in the money that keeps the College, flourishing, growing and really providing an oasis of services at both campuses. The theme colour is green and attendees wear it. When I go to visit VCC, I am usually there about Spa, Jewellery, Food and Fashion. I am in awe of the vast array of services and courses, and often do interviews, before events, especially for Vancouver Fashion Week. Of course I did meet Sarah Murray, Fashion Program Coordinator and Continuing Studies Marketing Liaison, at FLOURISH, and she showed me the Illustration Competition. In keeping with the theme, Flourish, students were invited to draw an illustration around the words green and circle. The illustrations were sold in sets of gorgeous cards as well as being sold individually in the Silent Auction. Long time attendees are determined and know exactly when to bid to win, but I managed to land Shadi's beautiful illustration, which I call 'Lady of the Flowers'. It is framed and is on a wall that I look at every day. I love the life in this illustration: the windblown hair is so natural and the colours, particularly those royal purples and brilliant gold yellows of the dress and flowers, over the green background, draw me closer. I contacted Shadi for an email interview and, because she is working during this time of social isolation, she was happy to send along her reflections and her extraordinary illustrations. Thank you, Shadi for bringing light and inspiration to our readers. Thank you also, to Marilyn R Wilson who began her COVID Series on her blog: Olio by Marilyn. One more, a big one to Nancy Nesbitt, Interim Executive Director, VCC Foundation and Co-Chair of the FLOURISH GALA, who made sure Shadi's illustration was delivered right to my hands. She was there to thank me, too. Excellence and commitment from everyone! By the way, Nancy designed her own red carpet ready gorgeous green dress and also did an illustration for it. VCC-the place to be. Fundraising for students: the benefits are obvious! Shine on, Shadi Arasteh Manesh.

Please Tell us about your work, school, Art, how long have you been doing this? 

I am Shadi Arastehmanesh a start up fashion designer based in Vancouver and originally from Iran. I remember when I was child, I made a game related to fashion design. I drew different pieces of garments such as skirt, top, pants, dress etc, and I asked my family and friends to pick one of each and make a new look and I drew the new style for them again. I’ve been always connected to art and design and started my academic education in Graphic Design field when I was 14. I entered to university of art when I was 17 and I’ve received my associate degree in Persian Painting and bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Iran. After I finished university, I opened my gallery specialized in making relief and patina. I moved to Canada on December 2017 and I decided to continue my study in fashion field since I’ve been always passionate about it. I took fashion design and production diploma program at Vancouver Community College and now I’m about to pass my practicum and get my diploma. Illustration is my favourite part in fashion, and I know several techniques since I got my associate degree in Persian painting. I love hand drawing even though I am comfortable with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Who is your audience and how did you reach out to them before COVID19? 

We live in Technology era and Social media makes communication easier in most parts of the world. Since I am still new in the country and I was studying full-time and working part-time I didn’t have too much chances to make a local network but definitely participating in events, exhibitions, contests, fashion shows provided me the chance of making more audiences which due to COVID19 I missed those events. I have been always in touch with my audience through Instagram account, so in this case I had more free time to promote my profile, upload more pictures from my design and spend more time with my followers who are interested to know more about me and my artworks. In addition one of my favourite brands Alexander McQueen have been creating challenge every week and designers can participate, share their design( could be illustration, handcraft, design idea, actual garment) and use hashtag AlexanderMcQueen and Mcqueencreators to get more followers on Instagram and people can reach out to our profile through their channel.

How has social isolation affected you? 

The first thing I was totally upset about was postponing Vancouver Fashion Week from March 2020 to October 2020 which I was supposed to showcase my graduation collection on that, and it was like a dream comes true for me. Due to postponing VFW I missed work opportunities and connection with people in fashion field, it caused delay for starting my career also trend changes when season changes. In addition I should have finished my practicum course by end of April, but because many businesses were closed I couldn’t finish my program yet even though I have time, I believe to finish my job at the right time to avoid any delay in my plan in the future. With consideration of this fact that COVID19 is an issue for many people all around the world and it is out of my control I tried to take advantage of my free time due to pandemic and made new projects. I participated in some contests and I’m honored to be recipient of Circle Craft Award of excellence during this slow time and showcase my handcraft piece in Circle Craft Gallery in Granville Island.

What strategies are you using to reach people now? What projects are inspiriting you to move ahead? 

First of all, I encourage all my friends, family and audiences to improve their health care plans and not be strict about themselves when they are not too much productive. Think about what they wanted to do in their busy time, and they didn’t do it because they didn’t have time for it. Now it is a perfect time to start and do whatever you want. There are too many free channels, courses, tutorial, workshops you can learn from. Be creative and positive and believe this situation will end soon and you will be back into your busy life. I try to reach out to people through Instagram. Share my stories and projects I have done before. Nature is my inspiration currently. Since I have been staying home for couple months, I feel the need of sunshine, fresh air, and beauty of nature to share with my audience and inspire them.

Do you have a mantra, motto, role model, favourite illustration that moves you forward? 

Being creative is my motto everyday in my life. No matter what you do, just do it right and make best out of it. Whenever I do artwork, time flies for me. There are some illustrators and fashion designers I am always inspired by and admire their creativities. Also, thanks to my amazing instructors in fashion program at Vancouver Community College who encouraged me to participate in some contests during this time. I have been always inspired by ancient architecture and my country heritage (IRAN) as you can see in my illustrations, but there was a movement for me when I drew flourish illustration. When I was drawing this portrait of mine, my hometown (IRAN) wasn't in a proper political situation and I was worried about my family and friends!  During that time, there were too many tragic stories happening in my hometown, but I just want to tell you no matter where you are, how you feel, just take advantage of every single moment you live! float among colourful flowers and enjoy. You live once!

See my Instagram page here

A photo of the illustration I bought from Shadi

Sunday, May 31, 2020

I have long been a fan of  VCC Jewellery and was pleased to meet Christine Dibble, recent Grad of the program. Also a Music Therapist, Christine's beautiful designs reflect her total immersion in the Arts.

Interview with Christine Dibble

Hi folks! My name is Christine Dibble, creator and designer of Bodacious Butterflies, and I am a recent graduate of the Jewellery Art And Design program at Vancouver Community College, 2020.  

I started hand making Bodacious Beads woven beaded jewelry in 2011, in a search for alternative forms of creative self-expression after moving back to BC from completing my Masters in Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. Bodacious Butterflies came to be in 2012 after I was inspired by butterfly wing art I saw in several galleries in the Nayarit province of Mexico. I attended a stained glass art workshop from Sunlight Art Glass in Surrey BC, to explore ways of presenting these beautiful specimens as wearable art. In 2016, I began silversmithing through workshops at the Working Silver Studio in New Westminster BC, to further pursue my love, passion, and craft of jewelry making and design.  

I create not only as a means of giving voice to my inner world, but also as an instrument of self-exploration. I find motivation to design wearable pieces through the joy the act of constructing brings, as well as its inherent therapeutic components. I consider art, like music, as therapy: it brings a sense of calm, peace, and purpose. Making gives my life meaning: to devise elegant pieces that people can wear to reflect their inner individuality, and appreciate for their aesthetic appeal and uniqueness is the aspiration of my art. 

Since I have been a full time student for the past two years at VCC, I have not had much time to continue growing Bodacious Butterflies within the community of the Lower Mainland. I had, up until the start of my studies, been very active in the artisanal craft show circuit, meeting with current and potential clients, making contacts for custom designs, and growing my professional circle. Since the lockdown following the COVID 19 Pandemic, I am continuing to focus on my online presence, growing my brand globally. It has been difficult, as several shops that sell my work in Vancouver have also closed down, and online sales have seen a definite decline. I often worry about the relevance of my work during these strange days, where other human necessities are far more important. However, art is therapy! As artists, we still need to create, to grow, to build, despite the financial uncertainties. I create for catharsis, not for financial gain, and this will not change regardless of the state of the world.  

My plans, now that I am finished my studies and my music therapy work has been put on hold due to COVID-19, are to advance my technical jewelry making skills through online workshops and revamp my website into an online portfolio instead of an online store. I would also like to start a YouTube channel that focuses on jewelry making techniques and how-to videos. I want to expand my audience not only to current and potential clients, but other jewelers as well. I want to use online platforms to connect, communicate, and share art.  

I think what sustains me in continuing to move forward with my work is my passion for creating. I want to know more, gain more skill, learn, grow, and branch out. I have always had a herculean drive in all my artistic endeavours, and the present is no different. Though currently we may have had to alter how we connect, I see it as an opportunity to continue reaching personal goals and milestones creatively and artistically.  

COVID-19 has currently put a kibosh on our first and second year students year-end show, however we have found alternative means of sharing our work. The VCC Jewellery facebook page is featuring our work online through photo postings, and the BC Craft Council gallery on Granville Island is hosting a window display for socially distant viewing of our work. Opening night at the Craft Council is May 28th from 6-9pm, with both the online and window displays being featured until June 11th 2020. 

Click here for more information: 

We hope to see you there, from afar, and I look forward to what these new horizons have to offer.  

~ C 

VCC Jewellery Program's Grad Shows, Student Exhibitions and Sales are truly wonderful.

Recently, VCC Jewellery Grad Show has gone online and can be seen on Facebook and at CCBC store on Granville Island.

Thanks so much Christine! Thanks also to Marilyn R. Wilson who led the way by featuring her own COVID Series Olio by Marilyn.

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