Serene swirls on silk
From photographs to fabric

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 24/00) - The swirling, white, winter aerial view of the mountains somewhere between Whitehorse and Yellowknife inspired the light and magical new works of Yk artist Ann Timmins.

Her inspiration came from photos she took from a plane on the way back from Whitehorse.

"Intuition sort of grabs you and leads you down a path you haven't been down before. You can't stop yourself sometimes. You can't think up some of those abstract shapes, and there it is -- it's all in nature," she says. "Other images come from flying over Baffin."

Timmins' genre is painting with dye on silks, silk of all kinds -- such as crepe de chine -- dupion and habotai. The silks she uses also have different textures and twill -- a weave that gives the appearance of lines. Her method is very much like that of a watercolourist, though the dye goes right through the fabric.

Historical authenticity and durability are two motivating factors in her chosen art.

"There are incredible pieces of silk done in the Far East. One I've heard of is 160 feet long. It tells a story. If you've got silk that originated years and years ago and the colours are still vibrant -- you think, 'Someone worked on that piece and did the same thing you're doing.'"

Although Timmins started out by doing a lot of weaving, she soon moved on to surface design, finding inspiration in the surface of the earth.

"These pieces have more naturalism. I tend to have an explosion of naturalism and then an explosion of abstractionism," she says, adding that with overwhelming amount of graphics in the world, it's very important she comes up with a personal, touching and human quality in her work.

The basement studio in her home is filled with various works in progress. Swatches of dyed silk here and there -- a sign that she's been playing around with colour and form.

"The material takes me further, the playing takes me further. "But, she laughs, "you can have too many ideas of course. That's the trouble."

Timmins' confidence in herself and her work has grown over the past year.

"I think you have to feel strong enough to put yourself out there. You have to find that reality and believe in that reality. I guess it's when I don't go through a lot of worrying or prejudging that it works ... I'm ready. When I go into a piece, I'm ready."

Timmins' new works are currently hanging at the Birchwood Gallery.