Exploring tidal layers with fibre

An accomplished fibre artist, Susan Martin’s Tidal Layers is currently on display at SAGA Public Art Gallery until Saturday.

Fibre Artist: Faye Smith and daughter Susan Faye Martin pose with Martin’s fibre art piece entitled Tidal Layers

Pentimento is a notion that continues to inspire artist Susan Martin.

An accomplished fibre artist, Martin’s evocative Tidal Layers is currently on display in an exhibition by that name at SAGA Public Art Gallery until Saturday.

The Italian word “pentimento” can mean a draft re-considered, and the works contributed by several members of  Connections Fibre Artists show viewers that the image behind an image itself tells a story.

Martin says Tidal Layers explores the ocean shore with its layer of water that, when the tide goes out, reveals a layer of sand where things emerge that weren’t apparent at the previous low tide.

“It never stays the same and that has always fascinated me.”

Martin uses a digital camera for inspiration and says the basis of Tidal Layers is from photos she took at Qualicum Beach.

The hand-painted sky and water are covered by overlapping stitches to create textures, ever- evolving as the layers progress.

Shoes N Such owner Faye Smith’s daughter, Martin says her father supported her interest in art but insisted she and her sisters obtain careers that would provide them independence.

“Dad was very artistic but he wanted us to be self-sufficient so we didn’t need a man. So one sister is a CA, the other’s a CGA and I was a radiographer,” she says, noting that career choice came from working as a volunteer ambulance driver in Salmon Arm with her father many years ago. “I did art in high school but then science courses took over precedence.”

Martin began quilting in 1993 and from there went to Washington State to pursue a course certified by the London City and Guilds, from which she earned a level three diploma for embroidery and design.

“That still didn’t seem quite enough, so I went on line looking for a national group that supported each other and exhibited as a group at least annually,” she says. “I found Connections. You have to be juried in and I’ve been with the group since 2003.”

With the majority of the members  living in Ontario, Martin offered to use her connections to arrange this year’s exhibition at the SAGA Public Art Gallery.

“It’s quite forward-thinking and it’s a lovely spot.”

Martin continues to pursue her passion for the arts and is earning her bachelor of fine arts at University of British Columbia campus in Kelowna.

As well as exploring the history of art, she has completed courses in sculpture, basics of Photoshop, art history and drawing. Now she is sinking her artistic teeth into printing and collagraphy, a print-making process.

At one course at a time, Martin knows it will be a while before she gets her degree, but she is enjoying the experience of learning in an atmosphere of youthful energy, enthusiasm and creative ideas.

“I’m enjoying it, but it’s stretching my poor little mind because it’s so different and because I’m anal. I want to get an A,” she says with a laugh. “I like to be surrounded by all these young people, they’re not jaded yet and some of the things that come out of their minds are phenomenal.

Twice a year, Martin joins her mother on shoe-buying trips, trips to Vancouver she thoroughly enjoys.

And so does Smith, who says she’s enormously proud of her daughter and her accomplishments.

“I’m very proud,” she says. “She got her father’s artistic background and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s made her a new woman.”

Pentimento is a fabulous exhibition that runs to Nov. 25. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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