Sidney Museum showcases Icelandic textile art

Wendy Klotz: A Crown for the Lady of the Mountain.

The Sidney Museum celebrates the unique aesthetic of Icelandic culture in woven form when it opens its newest exhibition, Connected Heritage, on September 1.

Featuring over thirty pieces of original textile art by six different artists of the Articulation Textile Group, the exhibit examines the connections between Icelandic and Canadian culture through their own personal stories and creative lens.

It’s presented in partnership with the Icelandic Canadian Club of BC and features objects such as Icelandic pottery, jewellery and art. 

Articulation Textile Group is a collective of female artists from across the western half of Canada who bring their unique styles and perspectives together to create impactful exhibitions.

“The first Europeans known to set foot on North American soil were Icelandic Norsemen around 1009 CE,” says the Museum’s media release, “making the connection between Iceland and Canada over a thousand years old. However, the modern connection is more often traced to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Askja in 1875, which displaced a large population of Icelanders and caused many to migrate to Canada and establish the colony of New Iceland on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. This event marked the beginning of a wave of Icelandic immigrants to the Canadian prairies.”

The Sidney Museum has featured the Articulation Textile Group before, for War: A Personal Response. Working with the group inspired the current exhibition, when the culture of Iceland came up in conversation with one of the artists. “We’re always looking for diverse voices to showcase,” says Executive Director Alyssa Gerwing, “and I don’t know a lot about Iceland. It’s one of those places you always want to visit, but don’t necessarily find the time to. And then the pandemic hit, and we couldn’t travel. So it seemed appropriate to bring Iceland to us in the form of art.”

Gerwing says the pieces are intricate and imaginative. “One example is by Amanda Onchulenko, and it looks like a painting made of fabric, with intricate details. There’s also a traditional dress, with a black skirt, white apron, blouse with very beautiful, almost filigree jewelry on it. Seeing that was quite something to behold – and the amount of wool art is amazing.”

Amanda Onchulenko, detail.

The museum closed this past summer to carry out renovations completed through a grant supplied by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Gerwing says the new, more accessible layout and flooring will create an inspiring new experience for those viewing the displays.

She notes that they’ve removed booking requirements for visitors, but that the number of visitors allowed in the museum will be restricted in accordance with public health recommendations. They’re open seven days a week, from 10 am to 4 pm, and the exhibition runs until December 27, 2021.

On January 2, 2022 the ever-popular LEGO exhibit opens. Gerwing says “People are very excited to have it come back and it’ll be almost like being in a new building.”

Visit sidneymuseum.ca for details.