Birgit Bienek with one of her pieces of art. Max Winkelman photo.

Get drawn in by nature at Parkside

“I always thought ‘I want to weave’ but I was never into fabrics”

For this month’s Parkside Art Gallery exhibit, artist Birgit Bienek has woven together something a little different. Bienek starts out exploring in nature, hoping for treasures to find her. Often this is in the shape of old pieces of wood, stone and other elements.

She then adds to the pieces with her weaving skills.

“I know people are always a bit confused when you talk about weaving because they think fabric weaving.”

Bienek, on the other hand, uses basket weaving skills to create her art, although the finished product often isn’t a basket.

“I’ve always been living close to or near the natural work and always went exploring as a kid it was crafting a lot and stuff like that and it all came together when I got into or had the idea to combine the treasures, like natures art that I find with the basketry weaving techniques, preferably with natural materials.”

She considers her art to be a collaboration with nature, she says.

“There’s no real plan I find this driftwood, or pieces, or sometimes just a slab of wood, and at some point have an idea what to do with it.”

She started weaving when a lady in Lac la Hache, named Martha Cloudesley, offered a number of basketry weaving workshops.

“That kind of got me hooked. Even before I always thought ‘I want to weave’ but I was never into fabrics so I didn’t really know what I wanted until she offered these courses.”

While she does some baskets, she says she really likes doing the freeform works.

“I’m just buzzing with ideas so it’s not that I run out of those but sometimes a piece of wood is sticking with me for years.”

While she has an idea of how she would like things to work out, she says it doesn’t always go that way depending on the materials with natural materials having their own idea about what they want to do, she says.

“I have kind of a window where I would like to stay and I have to learn… to let go of a rigid vision of what I want.”

After a busy opening night, she said one of her favourite pieces was gone already.

“I like colours but the natural work doesn’t necessarily have, not in the wood and the roots etc., natural colour.”

To get colour you have to dye it and at her home, she doesn’t really have the means. One of her favourite pieces looks like a tree with a large piece of wood resembling the trunk and a woven piece for foliage.

“I can get really excited about finding a nice piece of driftwood or just seeing a tiny beautiful thing.”

Bienek really appreciates the space, more or less untouched nature, and the people who pop up in your journey through life sharing their experience, support and reassurance are really what stood out for her coming to this point, she says.

She thanks Parkside for providing the opportunity to showcase her works.

The show, titled Nature’s Magic, opened on Feb. 22 and runs until March 30.


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