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East Coast art form beginning to make its way west

New way of expression, rug-hooking is gaining in popularity
rug hooking-eliza
Fort St. John artist Eliza Massey-Stanford spreads out all of her recent work in rug-hooking on the sundeck of her home. She was recognized in May for one of her pieces, Beach Rocks.

Fort St. John’s Eliza Massey-Stanford is known for her stunning photographs and paintings, but like many artists she’s always looking at expanding her creativity.

Last month, a new form of her artwork received the attention of judges at the Peace Liard Regional Juried Art Exhibition in Tumbler Ridge.

“I went to art school in Nova Scotia and that’s what I studied – painting and photography,” said Massey-Stanford.

“But rug-hooking caught my eye a few years ago when we went back for a visit and I thought, well, I could learn how to do that.”

With the encouragement of a friend, a tapestry artist, and some online videos, she was on her way.

Her speed, Eliza admits, has picked up a great deal.

“When I started, it might have taken me a month to do a small 12-inch circular creation. Now, I can do that, depending on the design, in about ten hours.

“The big piece in the juried art show took me about 100 hours.”

While it’s well-known on the east coast, it’s relatively new as a discipline out west.

Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, it seems, had the market cornered when it came to rug-hooking until almost recently.

“I think it really originated from people’s desire to re-use everything. So, when a coat was no good anymore, they tore it up into strips and it became a rug.”

At some point, rugs were put on the wall as artwork and a concept was born.

While Massey-Stanford was recognized with a distinguished award at the Peace Liard show for her entry Beach Rocks, there really isn’t, at least for now, a category for works like hers.

“There could possibly be a future one for textile arts in the juried arts show,” she said. “That would make sense because there are a lot of quilters, weavers, who would love to show off their work.”

Like any piece of artwork, the canvas or in this case, the weaving, is entirely up to the artist.

Massey-Stanford said, by and large, most rug-hookings from the east coast feature landscapes.

For her, though, it's all about her fascination for rocks.

“They’re just so beautiful and I can’t stop picking them up and bringing them home.”

With a response like that, I couldn’t help but ask what her partner (Edward) thought of the growing collection of art objects in the house.

“He’s in on it too,” was Massey-Stanford’s response. “…but don’t put that in your story.”


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