Trophy#2, velvet, thread, plastic on wood, 2008

Canadian artist Clare Elson is the type of person you want to spend your afternoons with. Sitting in a room filled with plants, drinking juice from glass jars, chatting, channel-surfing. Noticing the cat. It’s idle and relaxing. Yet Elson at home is often hard at work. Sewing, embroidering, painting, and more recently, editing short films.

Elson in Montreal in 2009, photo by the author

Elson is patient. I’ve watched her sew. Over days, hours and minutes, figures emerge, free form, in richly- coloured thread. Often, these figures personify different forms of acceptance, sufferance, restraint.

In “Trophy#2,” a bugged out animal head. Forbearance gone mental. In “Bird,” a woman sits with the utmost composure, hands locked together and eyes sewn shut. She’s totally closed off. You know, weird calm.

In both works, then, we feel the many moments it takes to pass a needle innumerable times through cotton or brocade.

Bird, thread and acrylic on brocade, 2005

The result of Elson’s extended moment of creation are people, and animals, or mixtures of the two, cast in crossings of thread, paint and cloth. The imagery is feminine, powerful and painstaking.

Elson lives and works currently in Guelph, Ontario.


  1. brokenimagination reblogged this from penelopesmart
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    Another fiber artist named Clare! :o THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE. Just kidding, I hope to be as amazingly rad as my name-buddy...
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