I am interested in maps as vehicles for narrative. The maps I create describe personal or imaginary journeys. A map is always an edited version of a story, always subject to revision, always open to interpretation, often tempted by exaggeration. Fine detail and embellishment are the territory of both cartography and embroidery.

The Lookout Trail is a map (2016) of a trail I hiked during my stay at Gros Morne National Park as artist in residence. It was October and the plants were brightly coloured. I know if I went again, there would be more plants to learn. There were large boulders among the grasses and shrubby trees. I realized, while enjoying my thermos of tea, that they had antlers. One of the caribou looked at me but (correctly) deduced that I was harmless. So much traveling today seems like a checklist of sights to see, and yet taking time to just hang out somewhere, for an extended stay, is a gift. I was fortunate to be based in the Park for a month and by repeatedly hiking this trail I could gain a small sense of its magic. Making drawings and notations for a map forces me to look more closely.

A Childhood in Howe Sound dwells on childhood memories of sailing. My mother had Alzheimer's disease and I felt like I should write some of my recollections down. Everything on those trips seemed to happen in/on the water, so the land seems quite empty. The viewpoint is from the Howe Sound Crest trail where you can get grand views of Bowen and Gambier Islands. As an avid hiker, it seems to make sense that I am looking at the landscape of my childhood from the trails I take as an adult. 150cm x 61cm (59 x 24")



This work (A Map of the Coast 2013) was inspired by old maps whose cartouches (title decorations) are extravagant. Here, it has taken over the map. I was also thinking about the corporate map of the Northern Gateway project where they had conveniently omitted all the islands and reefs in the narrow channel. The islands here are included, but the map in this case is more about the players in the pipeline debate. Hand embroidery appx 127 x 92cm. I tell students in my workshops that decoration is never without meaning. The cartouche, as a decorative element, carries much information.


This map below, called "Commute", was made for the "Boxed In!" exhibit in St John's NFLD. It had to fit into a box that was maximum 41 x 41 x 46cm. The map with all the streets which lines the box, traces my bike commute to my part-time job and things I encounter, complete with tiny beads, buttons etc to link to the legend . The accompanying legend became so long, I had to roll it up under the lid and design a sort of contraption to hold it. Viewers were invited to put on gloves and unroll the legend.  Here are a few details from the legend, as well as the entire thing unrolled.

assorted embroidered maps: 

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Banff Maps

At a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2008, I worked on new maps made with layers of fabric that describe human and animal interactions.  I embroidered several legends adapted from local maps that, I felt, spoke volumes about how we see nature –alternately fascinating, complex and beautiful or as a simple backdrop to our needs for shelter, entertainment and convenience . The paths of animals are suddenly intersected by the Canada #1 freeway; in exchange for developing more land for housing in Banff National Park, a small area is set aside as a "no go" zone for humans and yet the creatures need the entire valley..... the layer of one fabric over another implies imposition, smothering.

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Bike Trip Project...

In 1998, as part of a directed studies project for my BFA (Visual Arts) from SFU, I undertook a solo 2300km bicycle trip from the Vancouver area to the Yukon. The Bike Trip Spool was a length of cloth I had prepared in advance, marking 1cm for each kilometre I intended to cover. As I traveled, I would mark off the day's ride, say, 80km (80cm on the spool) and draw what had transpired. Later, after the trip, I embroidered what I remembered best, emphasizing some things and forgetting others....the way memory often works. I continue to embroider it.

One aspect of the trip that surprised me was how kind people were. Often, at rest areas or campsites or even in the middle of the road, people would offer me food, something to drink, or just cheerful conversation. The Bike Trip Map attempts to chronicle these kindnesses, as well as the condition of the road and my emotional state.  

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