I am a Canadian artist in Calgary, Alberta, working primarily with textiles. I’m curious, eccentric and just a little opinionated. Surrealist in thought, Fauvist at heart, eclectic, explorative and absurd, I use hand and machine techniques to illustrate idiosyncratic stories and integrate naturally dyed and “found” fabrics in my work. I am learning to respectfully collect a history with stitch, incorporating meaningful text and a Slow Cloth philosophy, believing that personal expression is instinctual when you listen to yourself truthfully. I am fascinated by the workings of the human body, and the natural world, interpreting them in unconventional ways.
I believe in research and reading, and because of this, pride myself on correctly using natural dyes for my work, from thread to cloth.
arlee barr has been creating art with fabric, needles and words for over 5 decades. Her mother was instrumental in teaching her to explore the odd, see the absurdities in rule keeping, and to express herself unconventionally.
A graduate of Capilano College’s Textile Arts program (North Vancouver BC,1993-95), she was a member of Contextural Fibre Arts Co-operative from 2008-2018, and (formerly) the Surface Design Association, has been featured in international magazines, teaches online and has exhibited nationally and internationally. arlee’s focus is combining hand and machine stitch with natural dyeing, in eccentric forms and viewpoints.
“Fascinated by the human body and the chemistry and inherent “accidental design” of natural dyeing, i illustrate idiosyncratic stories with hand dyed and found fabrics.
I create with inherent forces–you can’t escape the attrition marks in these surface design techniques. Stitch augments the designs, a practice i call “finding the image”. Natural dyes and ecoprints create innate graffiti to be interpreted on the cloth: even a failed piece can be subtext for a story. I use the principle “Shizen”, when naturally occurring patterns and rhythms are incorporated into the design, being of nature, but distinct from it because of my translation.”
arlee barr uses ecoprints, natural dyes and hand stitch to bridge early world textile practices and contemporary form. As each imprint of leaf, dye bath and stitch is added, the marking of time and labour create both temporal and chronological narratives. The intrinsic nature of indigenous plant material and personal variations in hand-work direct the story, but leave much open to interpretation.