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Unapologetically Canadian
Unapologetically Canadian

Episode 3 · 2 years ago

Crafting sculptures and stories with Lucy Anglin

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Recently, I had the good fortune to interview Lucy Anglin, one of the writers with Genealogy Ensemble and a talented fabric sculptor. We spoke about life as an artist, combining two crafts, selling your work and life as a sixth or seventh generation Canadian. To read the show notes, refer to https://traceyarial.com/blog/lucy-anglin.

Well, I earning. My name is Tracy Ariel and I am unapologetically Canadian, and today we're interviewing Lucy Angling, who is my good buddy from genealogy on Psalm. She's another genealogy family history writer and she's also a textile artist. That I'm so looking forward to introducing you to. Lucy. How you doing? I'm fine, Tracy. Thanks for setting this up. Yeah, I'm so excited. I think it's really fun talking to local artists and because a lot of my listeners are creative entrepreneurs, so they like to know how other small business people function, particularly when they don't actually consider themselves business people, but more artists and writers. So it's a fascinating world. So can you tell me a little bit about I guess we should start with how you started your artwork, because I think that's something that people don't know much about. So why don't we start about you as a textile artist? All right, because some I was going to answer a lot of your questions with two parts, because I wear to creative hats, I write genealogy stories about my ancestors and I create bronze like sculptures with recycled fabrics. So you'd like to talk about the sculptures first? Yeah, I think. Well, I think we start with that and then we can but if you want to, you can compare and contrast to your writing side, because I think it's a kind of interesting how that to feed into each other. Okay, well, I'll start with my favorite sculpture, is probably my first. Her name is Catherine. Nine years ago I took a one day workshop with a friend and created Catherine. The armature was already made and waiting for us, which saves some time for the workshop and you. Then we use tinfoil to bulk up the wire armature into a more human like body shape, and then we took strips of old cotton t shirts that we dipped into a fabric hardener called power text and drape them around the armature, eventually making what look like a mummy wrap. So now we had a tall figurine all wrapped up like a mummy. Still not very impressive. Then the fund again and the fun began, as we dipped old lace and cotton pieces and dressed our sculptures. And I used my daughter's Christening dress in the sculpture, so she was bound to have extra sentimental value. And the old Christening. Oh yeah, it was a very thin, thin old cotton, obviously, because I think it had been her grandmother's Chris Dress as well. So now it's in the sculpture and I get...

...to enjoy it all the time instead of just looking into a tissue covered box in a drawer somewhere. And at the end of the year, yeah, exactly, you've turned yeah, at the end of the day. So you've created an actual piece of art. Yes, and with something that's, you know, so special and you can use all kinds of mementos and things. When lady came to me and her mother was a flapper dancer in the s and she brought me a piece of her mother's lace and said can you make me a sculpture of a flapper dancer? Or actually I interviewed her and asked what her mother was like and she told me she was a flapper dancer. So I said, Aha, that gives me a wonderful idea. So I made a lovely little figurine flapper dancer wearing her mother's lace and and I all my I like to put action into my sculptures. So she's actually in a sort of flapper dancer pose. You can sort of imagine that, I hope, and the lady was just thrilled when I yeah a little bit. Maybe we'll pardon. I'm thinking that maybe I should get you to send me a copy of cat picture of Catherine in a picture of the flapper dancers, that people can look at the show notes to see what these actually look like. It's kind of hard to imagine these. They really do look like they look like miniature bronze status. That's except that they're made of claw. So at the end of the day, at the end of the workshop, that one day, in that one day, and I never done this before, I had catherine and she just surprised me so much. I was hooked. She was so elegant and Regal but with a touch of whimsy, and I sort of continued. That was sort of, I guess, me coming out in sculpture, because most of my sculptures that follow her are very similar, very whimsical. Is The it's what most people say and it I find that a biggest compliment they could give me. So now I've made like, yeah, I've made over a hundred and fifty sculptures to date and I have a web page my namecom if you'd like to see all the sculptures, they're all there. So it's I'm hooked. I love it. Every time I sit down at my work bench, I with my little wire armature. It's it's just a piece of wire and at some point during the process it turns into a little personality. It it I can't it does it sounds funny, but they sort of talk back to me. So sometimes I'll be putting their arm up in the air or something and somehow I know they don't want it up there. They want it down and I will listen to the best of my ability, and they all some for all was delighted. All A surprised. All the sculpture surprised me. I start with an idea, but they're all is very different at the end and all the surprise me. It's well, usually make them mostly in a day or two and when they've been created and sitting...

...on my in my studio, I can't wait in the morning after night sleep to go down and see them because that they happened so quickly and they're just they just surprised me. Oh, that's so fascinating. In writing. That's called pans. Are writing when you when you discover the story as you write it. So I guess you're a pansy artist. depends. Are Artists like that? It's fabulous. Yeah, so you're discovering who your sculptures are as you make them. And well, one of my sculptures I put outside in the garden and her name is Quinn. They all have names. I named them alphabetically to try and keep track of them and I'm in the sixth alphabet now, so that hundred and fifty. And also, anyway, Quinn is sitting in the garden on a beautiful piece of Tall Driftwood, and these sculptures are weatherproof, so I was. I put her out there maybe seven years ago and I come on looking at her right now and she's covered in snow but she seems quite happy, and the only thing weatherproof is fine. But unfortunately they're not squirrel proof. So during her first winter, oh no, during her first winter, only the first winter, squirrel had the audacity to dig out her nose from her face. I must admit they do look a little bit a little noses I make are are actually pins. So then the nose does look a little bit like a bird buried seed. So but so the squirrel sort of dug it out thinking he was getting a seed and I guess didn't enjoy eating it. But I was so shocked to see her completely disfigured, the poor girl. So in the spring and the spring because she's permanently fixed outside on this piece of Driftwood, I can't just bring her inside or easily. So I took the necessary materials out to the garden to perform a facelift as well as give Quinn a new haird to mask all the squirrel damage, and right now she looks very fine and deed and the squirrels have left her new nose alone. So I guess it was a very tasty and the words bread. That was quite an adventure. So how long have how long have you been doing these? Um, it's nine years now. I can't believe it. I just love it. Nine years and nine years tied us so far, doesn't I guess I make I guess it's turning out to be sort of between twelve and fifteen a year. So I don't really sit...

...down and say, Oh, I have to make a sculpture once a month. It's it's just when it when I have the time and when I enjoy making them. I'm I'm a member at to Art Association's Beaconsfield Artist Association and Lake Shore Artist Association, and so I exhibit with them several times a year at Centennial Hall here in the West Island and Fritz Farm, which is a lovely location to have an exhibition, and every September out outside by the lake we have art by the lake, which really is a nice way to display my sculptures because they really are indoor outdoor art. Oh, how wonderful you have you send me the dates for two thousand and twenty. If you have them, then I can put them on the fie that as well. So I think that would be really interesting. Yeah, yeah, okay. So now let's let's ask the same question for your family history side, because I know you from that side. So what's your favorite FEMMI? Well, my story, story is my latest. Actually it's a three print story. My name is Tracy area and I am apologetic, but thanks. All right, sorry about that. That's me messing up. Okay, today's pretty favorite story. I'll just take that part even. Story is actually my latest. It's a three part story about Miss Marguerite Lindsay and she was my grandfather's baby sister who died tragically when she was only twenty five years old, almost a hundred years ago. My cousin, also a writer in our group, was fond of saying that our ancestors want their stories told. Well, Marguerite story almost wrote itself. I only had photos of her as a girl in my dusty old boxes of family memorabilia. And then all of a sudden a research student in at Memorial University in St John's, Newfoundland read a story that I wrote about her father where I mentioned her name, and this student must have googled Marguarite Lindsay's name and came up with the story I wrote about her father and she just wrote me a oneline email saying where is marguerite buried? And I thought, oh, that's a very strange question indeed. So I answered her buried here in Montreal Mount Royal Cemetery in the family plot. But why do you want to know? So she writes back saying Oh, she's a university student at memorial and she's just doing some research on Marguerite Lindsay and sort of fell down a rabbit hole. And one wants to learn more about her and she has all these newspaper clippings about Marguerite's tragedy from all way back to one thousand nine hundred and twenty two. Well, that was very exciting. I said, you have research on my aunt, my great aunt, so she...

...happy. I don't like about story. Writing is a research. So here was all done for me, falling into my lap. She sent it on to me and I had all these lovely clippings to go on. So I did a little research on my own and I looked up in cartwright, Labrador, where y'all were all this took place, the local elementary school there is called Henry Gordon Academy after Henry Gordon, who was with the green film mission, and Marguerite Lindsay went as a summer volunteer with the Green Film Mission and worked under Henry Gordon. So there's the local school named after him. So I look them up and they have a website, like everybody does, and I wrote an email to the assistant principal or secretary and it was forwarded to someone else and this this lady, Lovely Lady Ola Anderson, got back to me by email and answered a few questions initially and then she said would it be all right if she called me to talk more about Marguerite and all the things that have taken place in cartwright after her demise many years ago, and I said sure. So Alla calls me up and I said, Oh, this is so wonderful. Tell me, tell me more about what's happening in cartwright and she said, well, Marguerite's very fondly remembered. The students are taught about her every year. There's a place where Miss Lindsay actually died and it's now called Miss Lindsay's marsh. To this day there's a plaque at the church. The local Church has a plaque remembering her. Again, all this from a hundred years ago. The students are taught about her. Some students who wrote a poem. The great four students wrote a poem about her. And then she said, Oh, do you know a song was written about her? Would you like me to play it for you over the phone? I couldn't believe it. So, Oh my God. Oh, she put the song on and it was sort of a Gordon lightfoot sounding voice telling a story and it was all about Marguerite. and His name is to second I've forgotten anyway. It's a lovely, lovely tribute to her. And then at the end she's saying she says to me I can't believe I'm talking to a descendant of Marguerite Lindsay, and I thought, wow, thank you. I just I felt so special that this woman was so well remembered. In her short little twenty five year life. She's left such a legacy in this small community of Cartwright, Labrador, and I was just I was in awe of...

...what she told me was what had happened and she was an awe of talking to it descendant. So we've kept in touch, needless to say, and it was, it was all very special all around. I had very little to do except write the story. So I made the story into three parts. Three stories. Yeah, well, three stories, and and you'll know why, because all three stories have been published on the genealogy ensomb's website, which I don't know if I should reiterate the genealogy ensemble, there's a group of nine women who meet monthly to write stories about their ancestors and a little while ago we even published a book of our stories a couple years ago called beats in a necklace, and you can get more information on all that on our website and have if you really want. HMM, yeah, we're all also like to end the story. Okay, I'll link to all of that in the show notes as well, because it's I mean it's I think my listeners know about geneology of some but I do like to remind them every now and then. I think it's a really amazing group. Can you talk a little bit about becoming a writer through with the genealogy writers? Yes, I mean, I think it's been a long time we've been come together now. Well, my cousin is one of the writers. Janis Hamilton is one of the writers and she's been doing this a long time and has is actually a professional writer and was a journalist, and so she and I were in touch, but not not very closely. She's a distant cousin and I don't know. Somehow, I think it was through Quebec Genealogy Group and they started a writing group and I have in my possession that. I'm the very lucky recipient of this beautiful, wonderful boxes and boxes of dusty old boxes, I call them, of family memorabilia and I knew they were special and I knew I had to do something with them someday and this was the perfect little push I needed. So I think she's right. Our ancestors do want their stories told. So I started this would join this group and I was one of I guess. I guess we're nine now, but at the time there were a few more and all levels of writing and I wrote a story and away we went and it's been wonderful ever since. The wonderful bunch of women were still all part of the group, still all writing our stories and I'm making my way through the dusty old boxes happily and I think the next generations will be pleased that somebody did something with them. Yeah, yeah, for sure, I'm sure they will. I'm mean, and especially when it's such an joy to read. And the thing about Margaret Story is that it's so hard to find any reason, any documents or any anything about women from an earlier time.

It's almost as if they were hidden by all the official dumb you know, yeah, the point where they were called Missus, whatever their husband's name was. Not Very many people have, you know, that much information about what they're what they were about. So I definitely encourage listeners to listen to the to read those three parts of that story. Can now, can we talk a little bit about some of the struggles that you've had as an artist? I mean in terms of on both sides. So you can start with whichever one you want to. You with some. It's not all easy these this kind of with production is not okay. So talk about maybe so a story well be and writ or one that you started when I remember most struggling with with was a marguerite's father, Robert Lindsay. He was a stockbroker and on Montreal and so but I didn't have much more in the way of information. I knew where he lived, I knew his family, I knew his his descendants and is and his parents, because that's all part of my family tree. But it was kind of dry. Of writing about a stock broker isn't very interesting. So actually, with help from the Writers Group, which we always helped each other, one of the writers suggested looking up to see what was happening in Montreal during the time he was a broker and in the in the world, but mostly Montreal, because these are Montreal ba stories. So I did a bit of that and and found a little more information to put in the story, but it was kind of just missing. We always like to try and find something exciting about our ancestors and start the story like that, with a little omph to get the reader excited to read the rest. But there is not much umph to my marguerite''s father, who's my great great grandfather. So I I decided just to fill in the the last paragraph with his children and named them all and what they did. He had to. He had a son who was a doctor, one who is who was my grandfather. He was a priest. These are all stories that are on geneal is gjen psalm to that would be the Anglican priest the story. He had another son who was also a broker. So and then I went on to name the women. Like you say, they're not always first and foremost in family history, but Margarete's name got mentioned in that story and, Lo and behold, it unraveled into this wonderful adventure. So everything happens for a reason. And so how many stories, I say that you've I don't think I've compluted now from those boxes. No, I don't know. Do you know? I know that I get every now and then, like I just...

...got not that long ago saying you've posted fifty times on genealogy will self. So I sort of have a rough idea. But yeah, so what about your most charging fill your ill? I always want you claim. And that wasn't my failure, that was the squirrel doing his damage. But but a failure of Squirrel. Again, I don't I think of these as opportunity does, not so much failures. But just recently, actually, he's still down on my in my studio I had a sculpture I made this summer and I don't often do men or boys. I like to do women because it's much more fun making freely dresses and sweeping scarves and hair dues and things. So I don't often do males, but every now and then I will, and I mean his name was Jay for Jacob, and Jacob did not really pull any heart strings. I can't believe he has actually left the studio ever. And I displayed him the last show and outside with the art by the lake and I was not pleased to have to look at so I thought, all right, I have to do something to you, Jacob. I brought him down to the studio and if you these sculptures it's quite interesting. Altho, though they look like bronze, they certainly aren't bronze. They don't they're not heavy like bronze in this not nearly the work involved with the bronze sculpture. So if you warm the material up with a hair dryer, even when it's been wrapped around the wire armature, the material will soften and you know underneath is a wire. So you can move the sculpture somewhat, not not a hundred eighty degrees or anything, but you can lift arms and change positions and do a little of this and a little of that. So down went Jacob, onto into the studio, on to the work bench, and I had not sure when the idea came again. Their personality sort of jump out at you eventually. So I didn't like him and I kept thinking what he could be instead of what he was. He was just sitting there holding something's kind of boring. Anyway. I'm not sure the process, but all of a sudden Jacob has turned into the joker another Ja, because I had to stay in Ja for the so Jacob is now the joker. Now he is delightful, he is he's wonderful, he's sitting on his purchase. Jake. That's where Jacob was. I can't change too much of that. But he's holding a scepter and he's wearing a gester hat and he's got pointy shoes on his feet and he's very whimsical, which is, I guess, my signature. So Jacob Joker, Jacob, joker, joker. Jacob is almost ready to...

...leave the studio again and be shown in the next art exhibition in April. So that's that's but yeah, yeah, he seems my heart. You turned them into show your looking at. Yeah, it doesn't happen very often, but he's he's special. Now, whisical, and he's one of my few males that I have done. So I can go back to my females now done the token mail. That's hilarious. So do you have some tips for other crafts people like yourself, and you mean now that you've sort of created a life of duel cried two different, very extremely different crafts? Is there anything that connects them? Actually, I would just looking to actually, I believe it or not, my next letter in the alphabet is m, and I made this lovely female sculpture and I didn't really have Marguerite Lindsay in mind. But and it's not really someone. She doesn't look like someone back from the s who worked as a teacher and a missionary and mission up in Cartwright Labrador. She looks he's way more elegant and floaty and but I think I'll think, I'll namber marguerite. So that's linking the two together, sort of. I don't think I could really make a sculpture of marguerite the way she might have been as a missionary school teacher. So I don't think it would have much whinsy. So but I will use her name in this late net latest sculpture to tribute the tribute to her and the story that just got written. So that's flinking them together. Okay, in terms of in terms of crap like, do you find that doing one craft helps you put effort into the other one? Are they linked in any way? I think of your own actually, I think. I think it's nice to have like you find it to go to and just give yourself a little break or a little change of scene. And they don't really overlap. I might keep them in mind. No, they don't really overlap. But for there's so many different ways to create, especially artistically. My goodness, in my past, before I found this medium, which I just adore, I painted, I stenciled, I quilt, did and and and much more. I did all kinds of things in the past, many, many years. I was always doing something artistic and at the time I threw myself into it and made many of them...

...and I would go to shows and sell them and then all of a sudden I would just say get almost like I was saturated and thought okay, enough and I would just pull the plug and not really go back to them, although quilting I do from time to time, but not not like I did when I was pursuing it as a real, a real priority. But anybody there, with all these lovely, lovely workshops available to us, there's you can learn how to do anything and ideally just find something you're passionate about and you'll will show in your work. So I think that's what I finally did with this medium, in this power TEX fabric hardner textile sculptures it. It did pull all my other experiences, artistic experiences, into it. So I it was all meant to be. I guess my sculpture is a lot like I said, people, people like to say their whimsical which which I love as a call of wonderful, and other other comments have been, oh, they look so happy and they look like siblings, they look related to each other. Well, that must be the little part of me coming through in each of them, because everybody can, like any artist, you can all do you can use the same mediums, but your your results will always be different because it's you creating. So I kind of like that. All these sculptures all sort of look related there than like my family and I'm their creator, but me and them. So it's it is definitely my past. But then once you have of yeah, so that's like another like they're there. I had your creative family and you're also documented miscrestion of mine, this artistic passion of mine has taken over the house, that core. So they are everywhere, and so, as an artist of any kind, you have to find an outlet to share with, share it with the world. So again I have my two art associations with their semi annual exhibitions, but there are art shows all over the island of Montreal, especially at Christmastime, but the jury ones are the best. So your art is being shown with other you need, I guess I can say, quality art so that you're not competing with maybe Christmas decorations made by the church ladies or something, but they're beautiful too. Gallery reason. Yeah, yeah, galleries and gift shops will often sell her for you for a commission. So you just have to pedally awares. And recently two of my artist friends have suggested that we exhibit outside the...

Montreal area because it's get somewhat saturated with all these art associations. So we're looking for we have a few citing possibilities in Quebec and Ontario area. So stay tuned. And Yeah, yeah, well, yeah, it's kind of wonderful. So you'll be doing a bit of traveling this year. That's cool. That's very cool. So that my last question. As always. Yes, definitely yourself a Canadian. I can trace several branches of my family tree, both sides of the family, back to the seventeen century. My ancestors came from England, Ireland and Scotland and settled in Montreal as well as Kingston, Ontario and Sheittiac New Brunswick areas. So few years ago my sister and I went on two trips what we call sister pilgrimages. One was to SHEDTIAC, New Brunswick, and one was to Kingston, Ontario, to look up historical family connections and and sort of travel down memory lane, and it was wonderful. We met new cousins, we found family names and Gregg gravesides, we saw a few ancestral home still standing and we even attended a church service in the Church built by my three times great grandfather, William Hennington. That's in Chetti AC, New Brunswick, and we were there on a Sunday, so we went to around ten o'clock. He went to the Church for early morning service and we walked in and the lovely lady greeted us and we asked her, are there any Hannington's here? We're Hennington descendants and we'd like to know if there any other Hennington's here. So she just said just a minute and then she looked down the church aisle and beckoned to this gentleman who came forward and she said these ladies would like to meet Hennington descendants, and so he put out his hand and said Alan Hannington, nice to meet you, and so he is. I forget the exact connection, but he is a distant cousin and I think we threw our arms around them and give them a big hug, which which must have surprised them. Why these two, I think we're pretty blond girls, just threw themselves at him. Anyway, it was a lovely service and afterwards he invited us to come back to their place for iced tea on the porch and they introduced us to his sister who's the family genealogist, and she had he was excited to meet us too, and it was just very special all around, and I wrote that into a story called sister pilgrimage, and that's on genealogy on south as well. So that's...

...but but all the maritime provinces are very close to my heart. The scene me is so impressive and the people are so friendly in their music is great. I could easily live in the maritimes. So that that's the instant part of Canada. My husband and I traveled to Winnipeg a couple years ago, where where his ancestors settle, so where he grew up, and so he showed me around and that was something I'd never seen before. A Winnipeg and Manitoba. So that was very special and it there are his roots. So again, I guess travel produces stories, because I wrote a story like father, like son, which is also on genealogy on some and I believe Tracy helped me with that one. So thank you, Tracy. But that was just lovely to see him. Was Lovely to see him explore his, you know, childhood homes and this is where he got to school and this is where he hung out with his little buddies and and Gott into trouble and it was just it was a wonderful to experience genealogy from his side or his best side of the family. So that was lovely and just I'm just I guess I'm going East to West in Canada. So I'm just telling you my my why I'm think of myself as a Canadian and why I'm so proud to be a Canadian. So when we were in New Zealand few years ago, all we could do we were just so impressed by the scenery there was just spectacular, the mountain ranges and the greenery and it just it kept reminding us of Alberta, especially Chad, Jasper and bath and so there we were in this beautiful New Zealand thinking of Home, Canada and and that was kind of interesting. So that's Alberta and and continuing west. We used to visit my elderly aunt in Beautiful Victoria, BC before she moved Ottawa ten years ago. And Victoria is just really, really special and a little well royal, because I guess it's you've got the empress hotel in the afternoon teas and it does seem quite British compared to the rest of Canada. But this wonderful aunt. This wonderful aunt is now ninety nine years old and living in Ottawa where we can visit her more often, and I wrote a story about her and you can read that on genealogy on Song. It's called my for Mei Dab Lea Taunt Mary. So my yeah, we just we just had lunch. He of the recently where we are going to nail for a love and THY sister boughty...

...little red wine in her class because she really enjoys her red wine but it's not served where she lives. So she brought a little flat, she brought a little flast for her ninety nine birthday and offered it to her and said talk to Matty, would you like a little bit boy? And she just looked at her and said Perk Uh. Now I say this because she's she's she's not French, but she's always enjoyed to she was in theater. If you read the story, she was theatrical and she still is to this day. So that was the perfect answer to would you like a little nip of red wine? PEROQUAPPA. So well, and so my experiences that Canadians are sold, seved cover, they travel and everyone loves us. It really makes me feel special and the experiences you one just have that that acceptance. That's that. That's the my experience anyway. And being Canadian means four different seasons, which encourages a healthy, active lifestyle, especially winter sports, which not everybody, not many places have the winter that we do. So skiing, both kinds of skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, skating. That's pretty special in our winter season. And nothing can beat the fall leaves and their colorful canopy in the in the fall. But also to me being yeah, being a Canadian also means Maple Syrup, which is kind of Corny, but it worse. Wherever you go people say, Oh you you have lovely Maple Syrup, and I guess northern Vermont does as well, but being Canadian means Maple Syrup to me and a whole array of international cuisines that we have now made our own, which is lovely, and being a Canadian means. It means endless opportunities and the freedom to choose what you want to do with your life, and being Canadian is special and it makes me proud to be a sixth or seventh generation Canadian and I want to give a very special thank you to my ancestors for their courage to set out on their life changing adventure to the new land so many years ago my life. Thank you so much. That's perfect. I really appreciate your time.

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