Vancouver Province, April 2017

Herald Sun, Durham, North Carolina, USA. July 2016

VanDocument, July 2014

Agave Magazine, Vol.1, Issue 2, Winter/Spring 2014

BeatRoute Magazine, June 2013



Exhibition Reviews (selected)


June 2 - July 4, 2006, SHAPED NOTES, Katherine Soucie, Circle Craft Gallery

Katherine Soucie is an adventurer in the volatile territory of textiles, navigating her terrain with confidence and zest from a sound background of textiles, fashion and the technology of printing. As for the shaped notes of this show, they are the inspiration of her surface designs which spring from the unique shapes of musical notes — especially the those of Tom Waits, Jeff Buckley and Johnny Cash.

Katherine's textiles range from waste textiles, hemp/cotton, silks and other natural fibres and — something very new — cotton or polyester blended with crab or shrimp shells (crabyon and seacell knits). Her surfaces design integrates embroidery, stitching, and natural dyeing with digital printing processes which deconstruct the images by exposing them to computer obstruction and manipulation. They are then developed on Photoshop and Illustrator, and printed directly on the fabric, the small format on Canon 1860, the large on an Encad 3000 — the latter done while at the Kansas City Art Institute in June 2005.

This is heady stuff and a good moment to introduce my guest commentator, Yvonne Wakabyashi. Her textile art is renowned internationally, and it would take too much space to list her awards. Like Katherine Soucie she also is an adventurer whose textiles combine traditional and modern techniques and marry the creative sensibilities of East and West. Her special expertise is shibori, a process of dyeing which begins with the cloth wrapped round a pole, compressed and tied with string. But for Yvonne shibori becomes a tool to create exquisite textile sculptures. So she appreciates Katherine Soucie and writes:

Katherine enrolled in the Textile Arts Program at Capilano College as an advanced student with a background in fashion. I was impressed with her energy and focus and was delighted that on graduation in 2003 she received the North Vancouver Arts Council Award for outstanding achievement in the Visual Arts Program, and the Circle Craft Co-operative's scholarship for creative and academic achievement. Now, while her work is showing at the Circle Craft Gallery, Katherine has been presented with the BC Achievement Award. 

None of this is surprising. Katherine's work is absolutely in tune with new elements in textiles and fashion - the deconstruction of materials, slashing it and layering different colours, textures and weight of cloth. The new deconstruction processes suits Katherine’s early impatience with the limited range of materials on the market, plus her ability to be centred in the changing world we live in. Deconstruction has long been a practice in the film industry to make clothes look old, and the young have deconstructed their clothes, patching them, leaving raw edges on roughly chopped jeans. It was a statement, and now is part of contemporary craft.

Katherine recently made her debut in the world of textiles and fashion with her clothing company "Sans Soucie" - a neat bi-lingual pun on her name, though her work is in no way achieved 'without care.’ On the contrary she took great care to prepare a unique line out of recycled nylon hosiery fabric.

 Katherine Soucie should have the last word: "Through natural curiosity for working with non-traditional materials I will continue to develop, design and produce textiles and unique, functional/practical garments which express our individuality. I feel that the mass production of garments and textiles today creates a need to rediscover, or reinvent already existing materials, so that we maintain awareness and an appreciation of what is individual in ourselves."


Thelma Ruck Keene, Gallery Curator

June 5-­‐30, 2009, OFF THE GRID, Circle Craft Gallery

The pure white of the central piece in this remarkable show hangs in a glorious tumble, as if thrown from the bed of giants. It is the work of Katherine Soucie, who has a passion for creating new textiles out of unlikely materials. This kind of passion is why textile artists slip off the grid to explore how the textile surface itself can be transformed to serve a new purpose. As Katherine says, "We shift. We transform. We go off the grid aesthetically, conceptually or environmentally."

Our artists have been well introduced in the section preceding these comments and my guest this month, Mary Lou Trinkwon, could not be a better exponent of their work. But first take a quick look at the labels attached to each piece which give the artists’ names, the titles of their work, and a neat, minimal description of the process and materials used. To the uninitiated much of this may be puzzling; but don’t despair. Just let the words tickle your fancy and sense the imagination, skill, scope and professionalism of these renowned Canadian women who live and work in our province. Here they are: Lesley Richmond: FOREST Cotton/silk fabric. Heat reactive base, metal paint. Katherine Soucie: "GOD BLESS YOU" Nylon waste hosiery , screen print, heat reactive base, digital machine embroidery. Hand stitched. Yvonne Wakabyashi: "PINEAPPLE SEA FORMS"Mixed media, pineapple fiber (Pina), shibori based tied/bound resist. Monofilament.  Now it’s time for Mary Lou Trinkwon to elucidate what is implied by the list of gallery labels. Mary Lou opens up the history of textile exploration, the multiplicity of ideas, and the astonishing momentum of human invention and imagination which sometimes hints at Alice in her Wonderland. But first, Mary Lou introduces herself.

As the coordinator of and surface design instructor within the Textile Arts Programs at Capilano University my main concerns are the dynamic approaches and applications of textile processes and the delivery of these processes and methods to my students. Working off the grids of convention and always working to push themselves away from their own foundational grids of tradition, technique and materials are Yvonne Wakabayashi, Lesley Richmond and Katherine Soucie. Lesley Richmond’s work has always been inspired by nature. Her most recent works have developed out of her investigation into the natural process of decay, which gives an unusual balance of realism and abstraction. Her recent tree series create eerily beautiful atmospheres through colour and fabric modification using the devore process. Yvonne Wakabayashi’s work moves off the traditional grid within the area of Shibori and moves onto the contemporary grid in her search for unusual materials and objects with which to shape her 3D forms. Katherine Soucie’s work intersects with the grids of materials and technique and has over the years engaged with textile practices within the areas of fashion, performance and more recently conceptual art. God Bless You reads as a heavenly quilt, a gesture of the most angelic kind. The intersection between the heavenly and the earthly create an unusual tension between the precious and perceived harmlessness of textiles and the horrendous environmental damage that the textile industry is responsible for.

The works of all the artists here at some point intersect with the grids of fashion, performance, environmentalism, literature, and ancient spiritual practices. Referencing the healing capacity, and the balance between physical and spiritual energies. As artists we move across, along, and within grids and structures in the form of tradition, technique and ideology throughout our lives. As we engage in creative endeavors we explore the gaps, the transitions and transgressions between our chosen and imposed grids. We take risks, make leaps, we sometimes forget who we once were. As we engage and are inspired by others, as we engage and are inspired by our materials we free fall into or resist these grids or structures, but either way they exist as starting points from which we move from. It is precisely this dynamic process that we see in Off the Grid: Vancouver. These artists fuel their own creative process by taking risks, making leaps reinventing themselves along the way. Viewing this show has helped me gain incite into the necessity of falling Off the Grid in order to gain new perspectives, to learn new things and to develop as an artist.

What Mary Lou has written reminds me of three questions concerning the challenges confronting creative work. "Why the process is relevant to the finished piece? What is the impetus behind this work? Why is the work significant?" This hits the bull’s eye being "off the grid." – exploring process, driven by the impetus of hanging in there, and finally the significance of pushing your talents, and in the doing discovered unexpected other possibilities.

Thelma Ruck Keene, Circle Craft

August 7 – September 2, 2009 Prêt-à-Porter, Circle Craft Gallery

Pierre Trudeau would have given Katherine Soucie and Amber Churchill thumbs up for giving a French title to their Made in Canada show of notably distinctive textiles and jewelery. After all, our country is, potentially, if not yet in fact, bilingual. Come to think of it even the sound of words in another language can spark an insight beyond the literal meaning. How carefree is the pit-a-pat of Prêt-à-porter, while the English "ready to wear" tends to imply something sensible, possibly a bargain.

"Sans Soucie" rightly describes Katherine Soucie’s textiles, so easy to wear and care for, no worry. Amber Churchill sticks to the simple name of Amber Jewelery, though on Salt Spring Island her Sweet Something’s Gallery is a nice flight of fancy, though her jewelery is by no means just something. But names are the fun part of this creative partnership. What matters is the shared craftsmanship and its visceral language, learnt by doing and full of purpose.

Katherine Soucie has a very clear purpose, for she is a revolutionary. She started back at home in Ontario, making outfits from vintage clothes with the definite purpose of fitting the clothes to the personality of each person. Naturally she went off to study fashion design, but the range of available materials was boring. On the basis of ‘If you can’t get it, make it’, she moved to Vancouver and at Capilano College began to learn how to create what is now her special line of textiles. Simply put she reclaims unworn nylon hosiery, and dyes and deconstructs it. Then the surface designs are silk-screened and heat-sealed onto cloth before being reconstructed into yardage. Unique? Sure. And note that Katherine abhors waste. Amber Churchill’s purpose is to create inspiringly bold jewellery from semi-precious stones and paua shell. The colours of the stones are rich and important, the shells a delicate pink or grey, and each pendant is, in different ways, a presence by a delicate woven network of very tiny beads. I note Katherine’s pure white dress, very simple, the surface broken only by widely spaced, stitched, black lines running vertically top to bottom. From the slightly ruffled neckline hangs a beautiful pendant of three large ammonite stones – and the dress is complete. By the way, Amber is an immigrant from Ontario and her jewellery reflects her joy in the beauty of BC’s West Coast. In her Sweet Something’s Gallery she proudly presents jewellery drawn from all over Canada.

For a change I have invited two guests for their comments this month, Diana Sanderson and Suzanne Nairne. Diana established her studio/shop on Granville Island in 1986 where she creates casually elegant classic garments from her hand-woven, hand-dyed silk ikat. Suzanne creates innovative silver jewellery which has honesty of creative work which comes from her heart. Diana and Suzanne are having a joint show together at our gallery next year. Here are their comments on this show. Diana writes: Viewing Prêt-à-porter with Katherine Soucie and Amber Churchill renewed my excitement about textiles and craft. Their works are a wonderful contrast. Katherine’s textiles and forms are light and flowing. Amber’s jewellery is big and bold. Brought together they are perfectly complimentary. Katherine’s designs obtain a deep complexity from her mastery of a process of screening waste hosiery fabric and assembling pieces to create wearable collage. The result invites the viewer to study the detail without losing the drama of the overall impression created by the flowing fabric. Amber too relies on collages of carefully chosen large exotic stones and beads to create a powerful and integrated statement.

Suzanne writes: Looking at Amber Churchill’s jewelry at the Prêt-à-porter show (shared with textile artist/designer, Katherine Soucie) at Circle Craft gallery, I was struck again by the incredible breadth of contemporary jewelry. Stones, beads, shells exclusively are the elements combined in these pieces – common enough materials in jewelry now and always – but what show stopping pieces she creates. Amber’s work strikingly complements Katherine Soucie’s innovative textiles in colour, texture, mood, but especially boldness, there is almost a performance ambience to the show, as if the clothing would fly off the forms and the jewelry off the wall to dance. Reading Diana’s perceptive comments I think how fortunate Vancouver is in the wealth of what an American arts writer called "the expressive life." The phrase turned up in a brief review of a really interesting book, The Craftsman, published last year. Sennet has much to say on this subject, and he emphasizes the need to give importance to vocational training in the made-by-hand skills which are the art of craft. So I celebrate the opportunities which foster our "expressive life", not just the post secondary institutions but the studios of professionals. Definitely the profession of craftsmanship has grown up over the last thirty years and these skilled citizens are playing an important role in our society.

Thelma Ruck Keene, Circle Craft


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