Catherine and I started off as neighbours on George Street in Peterborough. I remember clearly the first time I laid eyes on her: she was wearing clothes covered in paint. Over the months of that summer as I began my slow, slow wooing process I experienced her life as a working artist mostly through the sounds of her pounding on some piece of metal or another in her backyard-cum-studio. Fortunately, Catherine accelerated the wooing process – my “five year plan” was much under her patience threshold – and by Thanksgiving we were a couple. We’ve been together ever since – 22 years.
When we moved to Prince Edward Island in 1993, one of the first magical things that happened was that Catherine took up residence in a studio on Victoria Row, a spot that, until the week before we arrived, had been Lester O’Donnell’s law office. She worked there for two years, and then reluctantly gave it up when we moved to the country. When we returned to town and Catherine went looking for a studio again, the magic was obviously still in the air, as she was able to move back in when Ben Stahl, who had been there in the intervening 13 years, moved out.
Almost since the day she moved back in, she has been working on a body of work – in fibre these days, mostly, not metal – related to Prince Edward Island and land use and the environment. Along the way Oliver and I have had a backstage pass to the creation of everything from fabric potato plants to a large wall hangings. I’ve schlepped a dory around, helped her figure out how to scan $20 bills, and, mostly, watched from the sidelines as her studio slowly filled with work.
The rest of you, I am happy to say, will get a chance to see what we’ve been seeing, as in February the Confederation Centre Art Gallery is mounting a show of Catherine’s recent work, Changing Environs. The show opens to the public on February 2, there’s an opening on February 24th, 2013 in the afternoon (Facebook event), and the show will be in place all spring. You should make sure to see it; it is, if I don’t say so myself, rather wonderful.