Deer Lake -
Audrey Feltham said she was in one of those low, restless moods when you can't find exactly what you're looking for. That was last summer when the owner of Atelier West studios in Deer Lake was on the hunt for an artist with whom she could complete an artistic residency.
Feltham had been mulling about the idea of using fibre-based techniques in the process of printmaking for years, and an artist who did that, was who she was looking for.
"I kept thinking, 'There's got to be someone who's interested in doing this, somewhere,'" she said.
After countless hours and days of searching for artists in North and South America, Feltham found her perfect artistic match.
The woman's name is Dionne Swift, an international textile and print artist whose studio is in Manchester, England.
"What I wanted was somebody who was familiar with both (mediums of art) so I didn't have to waste a lot of time, energy and materials exploring the possibilities of how those two would work together," Feltham said.
"I wanted somebody who already went through all of that. I also wanted somebody who had done a lot of work on printing on textiles so that they understood layering and transparency and would show me this will work and this won't work. I wanted to be able to see what somebody else had done. There's a big difference looking at it on a computer screen and seeing it right in front of you. You see subtleties that you would never see on a screen."
Feltham needed to apply for a grant to help with travel and living costs for her to participate in such an educational residency.
Through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, Feltham was awarded $4,500 to support her professional development in the textile manipulation technique of devore, which is the French word for the term "to devour or to burn out."
Fabric is chemically altered with acid, giving it the effect of machine embroidery. Feltham's residency with Swift will focus on the incorporation of devore and silk fusion techniques into traditional printmaking.
"I've been doing this for five or six years, actually sewing paper and actually putting sewing marks on paper," Feltham said.
"But now I wondered how far I could push this. I was thinking about different methods of fibre art construction and different things that happen to textiles and one of the obvious things was devore. It uses chemicals to eat away at a fabric to produces a pattern on the fabric which can be transparent, translucent or burn a hole in the background as well. Very often it's velvet that they use."
Feltham said she is curious to see if she can make a similar mark reached through printmaking by using devore as the fabric.
She will not have much time to herself during her stay in the United Kingdom from the end of April until May 24. Feltham has been invited to participate in Printfest - an international print exhibition and sale. A print workshop in West Yorkshire is also organizing an exhibition of her work, she will present her work at the Stroud International Textile Festival and Feltham will organize and lead a workshop herself at The Art House, a facility for equal opportunities for work, training and exhibiting for both disabled and non-disabled artists.
During this time, Feltham will also be in the studio with Swift, learning new techniques and attempting different methods to create art.
"It feels real now. Everything is confirmed," Feltham said.
"You have to know what you want to accomplish out of this, what am I going to bring back to this. If you don't have that in your mind before you go, you're going to be all over the place," she said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes. It will change how I make my prints and what I'm doing. Artists do things differently, they just do. There's never a right way or a set way of accomplishing something. The whole thing is that we think outside the box. It's always very interesting what people come up with as a solution."