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Sandra Meech: Silence and Ice 

UK based artist Sandra Meech talked to Fibre Arts Take Two about the world of ice and silence. Enjoy Sandra’s beautiful take on life and art.

Sandra’s Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.

Sandra Meech is an artist, author, and teacher in textiles and mixed media. Originally from Canada, Sandra trained as a fine artist and illustrator, working as a graphic designer and art director in magazine publishing in Toronto and London before becoming interested in stitch textiles.

Themes in her work have varied from global warming to the Arctic to the recent flooding in the Somerset levels. 

During a deployment in stitch textiles at Windsor, Sandra began research based on the landscape and traditions of the Inuits in Arctic Canada, a theme that was to be developed in one form or another for many years. 

Sandra is an associate of the Ontario College of Art, and a graduate of the Diploma in stitch textiles from East Burke and shear College. Her work is in public and private collections, and a full gallery can be seen in any of her four books from contemporary quilts, design surface and stitch 2003 to the latest book, connecting design to stitch. 

Sandra talked to Fibre Arts Take Two about ice, silence, and her process.

Exploring the poles

Sandra’s passion for polar environments started with a trip to Iceland in the mid-2000s.

“That experience was the beginning of looking at ice and glaciers and the way ice was melting.” she says, “Looking and standing in this glacier bay and watching this Ancient glacial ice melting at my feet did bring the whole aspect of melt and ice melting to the fore. We were already hearing back then about global warming and climate change. It was wonderful for me to see these icebergs so close at hand and sketchbooks developed from there.” 

Sandra has travelled extensively in the arctic but a special pleasure was visiting the other end of the world, “We were very lucky in 2016 to go to Antarctica, and this was my bucket list wish come true. It was phenomenal. The ice and the icebergs in the shapes and the marks and the inspiration from that trip then went on to feed many, many more pieces of work that were developed over the years.” 

Ice and silence

One experience at Baker Lake particularly stood out for Sandra, “It was in May. The lake was already three and a half, four feet of ice so I felt very safe walking on the ice, but I was hearing a cracking sound, which happens when you’re walking on ice, even though it’s not dangerous. There’s this kind of little clicking, cracking sound.” 

Other than the cracking ice though, “There was not a sound to be heard anywhere, there wasn’t a bird in the sky, no planes, nothing. I was in the Arctic and it was silent. It was a silence that I had never experienced anywhere, there was no wind, I just heard the crunch of ice under my feet, and this little cracking sound.”

The Last Silence

Sandra would never experience silence like it again, “A few years later, coming back from that trip,” she says, “for reasons of flood in our house, here in and a bronchial infection, I developed tinnitus. So there is no silence for me now.” 

Her memory of the silence inspired Sandra to create her piece, The Last Silence. Stitched into the piece is a waveform representation of the sound of cracking ice. “It’s in two sections,” Sandra says, “and it’s been stitched on to a very stiffened material, and I have been able to fold it so it has a mark that was meant to be similar to the wave mark.’

Sketchbooks

An integral part of Sandra’s process is her sketchbooks, “Sometimes when I have nothing happening,” she says, “and I’m not sure where I’m going with a theme or a piece, I start with sketchbooks. I start with art and sketchbooks because I think everything is visual with me and I’m always thinking of the end product in my head. Sketchbooks are a great way of pulling these things together.”

Find your theme

Sandra’s advice to aspiring artists is to find your theme, “I think it is important for all makers to find a theme that you’re passionate about. Find a journey that means something to you, that you can add some personal input into and just go for it and go with it, but give it some time to develop because I think sometimes the challenges of groups are one theme one day, another theme, and you don’t know where you are. But I’ve found it very productive and useful for me to be true to a theme over a few years.”

About the artist

Originally from Canada, Sandra Meech has long been inspired creatively by nature and ‘a sense of place’.  

Using photo imagery, drawing, painting and collage as starting points, her stitched textile and mixed media work has evolved in many different directions over the years.  

Sandra has been a teacher, author and lecturer over the last 20 years, and although taking a break at the moment from teaching, she is available for lectures and exhibition opportunities.  

Sandra continues to exhibit with a number of professional art textile groups in the UK and her work is in private collections. 

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