Pioneer Women Project

A group of people in Weyburn is raising funds for a sculpture of a pioneer woman.

As part of this project, the Committee, made up of Jan Linnell, Mayvis Goranson and M. Isabelle Butters, is encouraging people to share stories of Saskatchewan pioneer women. Two schools in Weyburn invited me to help turn their students’ narratives into digital stories. Grade 5 students at Assiniboia Park Elementary School were given the assignment to write about a pioneer woman travelling through time to the present day or to imagine a person from the year 2014 traveling back in time to pioneer days. The students wrote scripts, collected photos and produced imaginative digital stories that included a lot of references to Wal-Mart, cell phones, girls wearing pants, electricity, melting snow for water and general stores.

Later in the week, I visited Souris School and worked with 11 grade 5 students. Each had been given the assignment to interview a woman at a seniors’ home. The students brainstormed questions as a class and took a day trip to one of the local seniors’ homes, where they met women “as young as 94 years old,” as one student put it. After finding out what life was like for some of the seniors, the students took photos, wrote scripts and produced digital stories.

On the day that I was at Souris School, a couple of women from the Pioneer Woman Sculpture Committee and interested seniors visited the school to see what the students were up to. The students explained their projects to the seniors, who were impressed with the students’ creativity, dedication to the project, and their technical skills.

For more information about the Pioneer Woman Sculpture Project, please contact:

Ross McMurtry: 306-848-0444 Stan Runne: 306-842-5864 or Leo Leydon: 306-842-2595

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Sunday at the LMLCC

I spent the Sunday of Culture Days Weekend at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre (LMLCC), for a full day of Poetry Readings, an Artist Talk, a Gallery Reception, and a workshop on Paper Quilting.

The Paper Quilting Workshop I facilitated incorporated a Culture Days Activity that happened the previous Friday: A Photographic Scavenger Hunt.   From this activity, participants brought their photos of the Lake and surrounding area to the workshop.

We took those photos and adhered them to various types of paper, then layered other items around the photo (i.e., pieces of fabric, buttons, lace or ribbon). Once we were satisfied with our assemblage of tidbits, we then used a darning needle and thick crochet thread to quilt around the collage.  Although we didn’t have any experienced quilters in the group, you couldn’t tell.  Most of the ladies were very adept at stitching and in no time had a small Paper Quilt.



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Printmaking at Traditions

Traditions Hand Craft Gallery, on 13th Ave in Regina, was one of nine Galleries that participated in an “ArtWalk” on the Saturday of of Culture Days Weekend. In essence, people were encouraged to engage in a self-guided tour, using the ArtWalk Map, and visit all nine Galleries: Assiniboia Gallery, Dunlop Art Gallery, Hague Gallery, Mysteria Gallery, Nouveau Gallery, Sakewewak Artists Collective, SLATE Fine Art Gallery, Singing Winds Gallery at Tatanka Boutique and Traditions Hand Craft Gallery.

In celebration of the ArtWalk, Traditions Hand Craft Gallery invited two Performance Artists and myself to add to the festivities.

While the two Performance Artists braved the cold, wet weather in front of the Gallery, I had the luxury of a little table set up inside the shop.  I gave brief tutorials on how to make a simple styrofoam print and then encouraged participants to make a few.

Again, despite the weather there was a constant stream of participants at my table for the afternoon.  People of all ages tried their hand at making prints of patterns, animals, and other inspirational images.


Artist Talk at Shurniak

On the Friday night of Culture Days Weekend three artists (myself, Jay Kimball, and Patricia Holdsworth) spoke at the Shurniak Gallery in Assiniboia.  All three of us have current exhibitions at the Gallery so the Reception was perfect timing with Culture Days.

I spoke mostly about the process involved in my artwork.  Jay Kimball spoke about the theory and philosophy behind his ceramics. And Patricia Holdsworth addressed the composition and inspiration of her photography.

The Gallery provided two fun Culture Days cakes, and many other goodies, and attendance was good.

Although the Reception was brief (7 – 9 p.m.) the event passed quickly, as there was much conversation and visiting.

Thanks Shurniak Gallery.

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Mixed Media Sculpture Workshops at Shurniak Gallery

The only instruction that the Grades Four and Five students of Assiniboia Elementary School received was to bring a non-sentimental toy from yesteryear that was no bigger than a lunch paper bag to the Shurniak Gallery on Thursday, September 25, for a Mixed Media Sculpture Workshop.

When they arrived at the Gallery they were then introduced to my art practice as well as the world of Mixed Media Sculpture.  After watching a slide show on mixed media sculptures that included toys they were then asked to emulate what they had just seen, but using the toys they had brought.

I had collected buckets of old mechanical tidbits (bolts, screws, washers, and more) from a couple of local farmers.  I had gathered what amounted to a box of miscut keys from the two Co-Ops. I had gone to the bank and got a few rolls of pennies (which is more challenging than I expected, now that they are out of circulation).  Plus, I had gone to the Dollar Store and bought marbles, puff bawls, and bags of buttons.

I put all this material in dishes on the table and told the students they could use as much as they wanted, just so long as their sculpture included their toy.

Wow.  What an incredible job they did.  Super heroes with penny surfboards and button shields.  Dinosaurs with penny armour.  Dolls emerging from a marble hill.  And so on, and so on.

After the workshop I gave the students a tour of the Shurniak Gallery, and explained my work (which is the current exhibition).  But, we also had some interesting discussions about Post Modern Art when we viewed paintings in other parts of the Gallery.

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A Magical Lighted Launch

The night of the “Lighted Launch” at Fife Lake was magical.  There’s no other way to put it.

To begin, the weather was perfect.  The night was warm and the lake was calm.

Second, the turnout for this event was incredible.  Rockin’ Beach, the name of the Regional Park at Fife Lake, is situated about 16 kilometres east of Rockglen, which has a population of about 350.  There’s no more than a hundred students in the K – 12 school.

Yet, there was easily 60 people at the “Lighted Launch.”  One lady had driven over an hour with her two children to attend.

Many of the students who came had continued making origami boats at home after the workshop I did at Rockglen School, and that’s what they brought to the “Lighted Launch.”

After a brief welcome, we assembled the candles and boats.  Then those who wanted to set sail stood on the dock and waited to have their boats lighted, while the rest stayed on shore and watched the sparkling fleet.

Once all the boats were launched we just absorbed the magic of the night.  Such a pretty sight, it was.

If a critique had to be made, I’m sure it would be that the kids had wished we had more boats.

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My Contribution to Waldheim’s Yarn Bombing

On Tuesday, September 23, I began my journey down to the southern part of the province for a series of Culture Days activities. On my way, I stopped in at Waldheim and installed my contribution to the group’s yarn bombing project: two ‘pole cozies’ for the front of their school.

When I wasn’t providing instruction on how to knit to the Home Ec Class or the Knitting Group, I diligently worked on completing these knitted tubes for the front of the school.

Installing my work alongside the other trees that had been yarn bombed by groups of students, families (one tree was completed by a niece, an Aunt, and the Grandma), as well as school staff (the Janitor, an EA, and Teacher) gave me a sense of community and accomplishment.



Flying Kites in Biggar

My Facebook Post for September 22 reads as follows:

“That awesome feeling when you teach sixty-three kids how to make their own kite, then go outside and listen to their squeals and watch their smiles as they fly those kites.”


First thing in the morning I had a workshop with the Grade One class at St. Gabriel’s School in Biggar.  There were twenty students and we had an hour to assemble our kites.

My knowledge from a previous Culture Days Activity–the Windscape Kite Festival in Swift Current–came in handy. I had the parts pre-cut and ready to go, and I had the confidence of two days of kite-making behind me.

Next, I did a workshop with forty-three students from Biggar Central School.  Because they were an older group of students I included them in the process a bit more.  No pre-cut parts for them.  I gave them templates to trace as well as ribbon and string to cut.  We still had an hour to assemble to the kites, so it was a bit more intense considering the size of the group and the added workload.  But, just like the Grade One class of St. Gabriel’s this group of Grades Four and Five assembled their kites in a little over the allotted time.

While the kids finished up I took a lunch break.

When I returned to the school my chaperone and I walked in the direction of a large field that connects the two schools, which is hidden behind a hill.

As we walked up the hill I heard the students before I saw them–squeals of delight, laughter, running, and play.

I rushed to the top and was thrilled to see sixty-three students enjoying the simple pleasure of flying a kite (and, indeed, most of the kites did take flight).

Some of the students were running and laughing out loud, while others stood still and enjoyed the experience in silence with grin.

Either way, it was an enjoyable afternoon.  And the students learnt how much fun can be had with a little string, ribbon, a plastic bag, and a couple of sticks.

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CTV Saskatoon Highlights a Culture Days Activity

On September 16, CTV Saskatoon News went to Waldheim as part of the north portion of their Hometown Tour.

They took in a cultural feast, visited a few local businesses, stopped by the Rec Centre and the school.

While at the school, one of the things they focused on was a Culture Days Activity that has been in the works since last Spring.

Under the guidance Marla Laskowski and myself, Some of the high school students  as well as other members of the community have been busy learning how to knit and crochet so as to Yarn-Bomb the front of the school.

Needless to say, the students were very excited to have their project highlighted and featured on the 6:00 News.

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Origami Boats at Rockglen School

On September 15, I spent the day in Rockglen.

I met with two Board Members of Rockin’ Beach Regional Park to discuss their upcoming Culture Days event.

Plus, I facilitated two workshops at Rockglen School, which included all grades (1 – 12).  In those workshops, I explained the history and meaning of Culture Days and then gave a tutorial on how to make an Origami Boat.  Further, I extended an invitation to the students of Rockglen School.  I invited them to bring their Origami Boat (that they just made) to Rockin’ Beach on Wednesday, September 24th at 7:00 p.m..  I explained to them that at this time we are going to have a “Lighted Launch.”  We will put candles in the boats and launch them from either the shore or the middle of the lake (depending on the win) and enjoy the light show while we roast marshmallows and visit on the beach.