Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Etsy: Made in Canada & UnNatural History plus Dinovember

This Saturday, September 23, we're returning to MaRS for our 4th Etsy: Made in Canada show! 

This year, I'll be selling my prints and hand-printed textiles at Table 38 in the west side of the Atrium off University Avenue. I'm enjoying stepping back a little, playing a role in the organizational committee but not being the leader. I've handed over the reigns to my friend (and show neighbour at Table 40) Emma of Landfill Designs is the ringleader this year! So, I get much more opportunity to simply enjoy one of the biggest and best shows of the year. Show up early for a chance to get one of our fabled swag bags! There will be a great juried selection of 125 local artists, artisans, designers, vintage purveryors and makers. Hope to see you there! Click on the maps to see larger images and plan your route.

I'm also excited to announce I'll be taking part in An UnNatural History! Local multimedia (metal and glass) sculptor and jewellery maker Tosca Terran of nanopod is curating an international group show which takes inspiration from the history of the artistic representation of natural history to investigate the unreal including "hybrid organisms, fictional fungi/botany, distant imaginary worlds, unusual geometry, otherworldly life, geography, animals, minerals, astronomy, genetic mutations." This subject dovetails with my own investigations of fictional science and my "Unnatural history" series of prints and I'm excited to see my work in context of this group and others' interpretation of these fascinating ideas. Tosca is also planning some fabulous events to coincide with the show including a Halloween party Opening, bat skeleton articulation workshops and Dias de los Muertos themed sugar skull workshops all at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery!

Then in November, I'm curating the DINOVEMBER show, celebrating all things dinosaurs! This exhibition will feature art in all media and handcrafted items about everyone's favourite extinct behemoths*, the dinosaurs! For Dinovember we are seeking dinosaur items from imaginative artworks to scientific illustrations to handmade toys and other goods.

Other non-dinosaur Mesozoic creatures are also welcome! We love flying and marine reptiles, prehistoric fish and more.

*Diminuative dinosaurs are also welcome. Find out more here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beetles, Pangolins & Back to School

Beetles, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017
 When I did my demo for 'Washi Wednesday' at the Japanese Paper Place I had the idea of showing how I could print a single lino block to highlight the two main ways I incorporate various coloured and patterned washi papers into my work. I carved a lino block with an array of different interesting beetles and printed them both on papers to let me produce naturalistic images, mimicking as closely as possible the colours and sheen of these beetles in nature, and on a welter of wonderful patterned washi for imaginative reinterpretations of these beetles. The print shows, from left to right, top to bottom: Goliath beetle, Calligrapha verrucosa, blowout tiger beetle, Fruhstorferia sexmaculata, Phaedon oviformis, Reindeer beetle, Ceratophyus martinez, Erythrus ardens. Below are the first four "Other Beetles" in their wild colours and patterns.

Other Beetles I, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

Other Beetles II, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

Other Beetles III, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

Other Beetles IV, 11" x 14" linocut with collaged washi, Ele Willoughby 2017

I've also started on a series of pangolins. The ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), is one of the eight armour-plated mammals of the order Pholidota. The keratin scales made of fused hairs overlap like a pinecone or the leaves of an artichoke. When threatened the pagolin rolls up into an inpreganble ball or emit a noxious-smelling chemical like a skunk. They have sharp claws to burrow into ant or termite mounds and extremely long tongues like anteaters. All 8 species are vulnerable or endangered, due to hunting (for meat and scales) and deforestation. They are the most trafficked animals in the world.

Pangolin I, 16" x 11" linocut print on collaged washi papers, Ele Willoughby, 2017

I am making a series of prints on beautiful Japanese washi papers. The scene is printed on handmade gampi udaban paper, 41 cm by 27.7 cm (16 inches by 11 inches) with a deckle edge. Each of the scales is printed on various handmade, colourful, patterned papers. This print is one of a series of prints, each with its own unique pattern of scales.

Today is a really big day in our household. We sent out 3.6 year old son off for his first day of Junior Kindergarten. It's quite the experience for all of us. I think parents and son alike are filled with excitement and trepedation for this new stage of life. I hope he's safe and happy and learning and having fun. He was very excited to go to school, but looked quite concerned when he realized he would be left there with the other students rather than coming home with me. I've spent most of my day wondering how he's doing, of course.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Washi Wednesday at the Japanese Paper Place

Unicorn amongst umbrellas detail, one of my linocuts on washi
and other papers
This Wednesday, July 26 from 1:00 pm to 5:00, I will be demonstrating my process of making linocuts with hand-printed, collaged Japanese washi papers at the Japanese Paper Place. This 'Washi Wenesday' is a free demo - one held the last Wednesday of every month - and you can drop in and see me work, see examples from portfolio and chat about printmaking and paper! Stop in (103 The East Mall Unit 1, Etobicoke, M8Z 5X9) and say hello!

The Japanese Paper Place has the most amazing warehouse of Japanese papers, both handmade and machine made. They supply the Paper Place on Queen West, as well as working directly with artists and selling papers online. I'm looking forward to doing a demo because I find teaching in any way is always instructive, and allows me to think about my own process. Also, it's a chance to seek the perfect paper for ideas in my head!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Women in STEM cards

Women in Science and Engineering Trading cards starter pack

Definitely my favourite commission of 2016, was making and submitting five of my portraits of women in science for the Phylo Women in STEM trading cards. Dave Ng, a biologist at UBC got started with educational trading cards upon reading a study that children can identify more Pokemon than local flora and fauna. Struck by this idea I submitted my fox print when the project was getting started and shared some information about it. This latest set brings attention to women in science and technology, throughout history, and the hurdles facing women and under-represented groups. How can you not love a game with 'Stupid Patriarchy' cards? He told me he had seen my blog post about the death of physicist, material scientist and archeometry pioneer Ursula Franklin and it encouraged him to include her, as a great scientist, role model and Canadian. As you can see, I've also illustrated marine geologist Marie Tharp, physicist Lise Meitner, seismologist Inge Lehmann and proto-computer scientist Ada Lovelace. I'm flattered to see my art is in wonderful company with works by several other artists and science-artists. The sets are available from Phylo and you are even free to download and print your own!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Peacock Spider

Peacock Spider, linocut 8" x 8", Ele Willoughby, 2017

I confess I have mixed feelings about spiders. Generally, I leave them to mind their own business. But, I follow a lot of scicomm (you know, science communication) and seem to have fallen in with a bunch of very friendly Twitter entomologists. They're a subset of the biologists. For information and contagious enthusiasm for spiders, I recommend @Cataranea. As a result I consume a lot of science journalism and learn about a wider variety of creatures than I would have known existed. So, somewhere I stumbled upon the peacock spiders, and these are a group of spiders that you can't possibly fear. For one thing, they are beautiful. For another, they dance. This is a hand-printed lino block print of the colourful Australian Coastal Peacock Spider, Maratus Speciosus. Like the name suggests, peacock spiders have vivid, patterned, multicolour abdomens (and that round opisthosomal plate) which males lift and shake, along with their third pair of legs, during a courtship display. That is, much like peacocks, the males do a fancy dance to impress the lady spiders! Unlike other peacock spiders, the males of the Maratus Speciosus also have a set of bright orange hairs (setae) along both edges of the opisthosomal plate, only visible during the courtship display, as shown in this print.

This is one of an edition of 18, printed in browns, blue, turquoise, and orange on white handmade Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper, 8" x 8" (or 20.3 cm by 20.3 cm).

In a recently delightful science communication exchange amongst scientists on Twitter, spider specialists identified the mysterious jumping spiders raining down in an astronomer's office. One mentioned that their amazing eye tubes actually function like Galileo's telescope! Before you knew it astronomers were doing some quick calculations and together they made realization that jumping spiders can see the moon! (You can read more by great science journalist Ed Yong in the Atlantic). The funny thing for me was I read this exchange while it was happening and I wasn't sure it it appeared on my feed because of the astronomers or the entomologists I follow. I've seen it claimed that Twitter scicomm is "inside baseball" with scientists communication amongst ourselves. My own experience is more "baseball adjacent" if you will. Most people are involved in science in some way, but networks are much broader than traditional scientific networks within a field of study and there is the posibility for great cross-pollination like this whimsical story.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt, linocut by Ele Willoughby
Happy birthday to astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) who set the scale of the universe when she found the period-luminosity relationship for Cepheid variable stars. These pulsing stars in the Cepheid constellation (shown) can be used as "standard candles" allowing astronomers to determine distances to celestial bodies. 

This entire month, we're hosting Canada 150+ at the Toronto Etsy Street Team gallery, with a brief, but cool hiatus this week hosted by Tosca Teran, with events for a book launch of Suffed - Taxidermy for a New Generation by Divya Anantharaman & Katie Innamorato. On Thursday there will be the Carnival of Taxidermy book signing, 5 pm to midnight. Friday through Sunday there will be a series of related workshops (Entomology 101: Morphos & Jewel Beetles, 2- headed Chick Taxidermy and Fascinator/Wearable Taxidermy- check her site for availability).  If you come by you can see my prints of Canadian provinces and territories and all sorts of art and handmade goods. 


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June Shows & Markets: Bees and Returning to Campbell House

Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, linocut, Ele Willoughby, 2017
This week sees a new show at the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery, the 3rd annual 'Bees (& the Birds)', which raises funds and awareness of our beleagered pollinators, hosted by my friend Christine Pensa of Art That Moves. Come by the gallery to see the show between June 7 to 20th or join us for the Opening party June 8! Along with 30 artists and craftspeople who've made art inspired by bees, you can see my latest linocut of the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee and a print I made for an entomologist earlier this year, Megachile brevis.

Megachile brevis, linocut by Ele Willoughbby 2017

I'm also taking part in the Toronto Etsy Street Team's Midsummer Market! This is a really fun indoor/outdoor summer show at the Campbell House museum, Queen St and University. Check out the fabulous lookbook and join us for the show June 17!

I've got a couple other exciting things coming up which I can't wait to share with you! I've been a busy week...

Friday, May 12, 2017

WUNDERKAMMER: The Cabinet of Curiosity Show

I'm very excited to have curated the Toronto Etsy Street Team Gallery's first group art show, WUNDERKAMMER: The Cabinet of Curiosities from May 11 to 28. This art - or science art - show, is inspired by the Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosity, the immense, eccentric, encyclopedic natural history collections gathered by collectors since the Renaissance. Cabinets of Curiosities featured treasured zoological, botanical, anatomical, fossil and gem specimen, collected by early citizen scientists. WUNDERKAMMER features original sculptures, drawings, hand-bound books, prints, paintings, printmaking, ceramics, jewellery, generative and multimedia specimen of natural and unnatural history on all scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. We are featuring the work of local artists (myself included):

István Aggott Hönsch

Erin Candela
Gavin Canning

Andrée Chénier
Carolyn Eady

Leslie Fruman
Monika Millar

Heather Ibbott
Colleen Manestar

Peggy Muddles
Teodora Opris

Christine Strait-Gardner
Tosca Teran

Rovena Tey
Lauren Vartanian

Ele Willoughby

Explore our curiousity cabinet of wildlife biology, mathematics, chemistry, mycology, micro and cellular biology, marine biology, entomology, botany, and fantastical lifeforms through the lens of art.

Join us Saturday, May 13, 6:00 pm to 10:00 for our Opening! FOLLOW THE LINK TO RSVP

Also, check out this lovely little write up about my women in STEM on Women You Should Know!