This past April the 25th my day started as it always does, in the kitchen. Coffee, make breakfast and lunches then herd my daughter through the house getting ready for the day and out the door to school. ‘Sherpa Mom’ collects bags, coats, boots, touques and gloves throwing them over my shoulder as we head out the door for the day.
Thirty minutes later I open the studio door take a deep breath and a moment to shed the morning rush and gather myself before calling into a conference. I’m meeting with British artist Yvonne Mullock and long distance with Nathan Ball from Fogo Island Shop in Joe Batt’s Arm, located in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador on Fogo Island.
The largest offshore island of the province, Fogo Island’s earliest documentation dates to the 1600’s and a long standing maritime history that eventually sees the settlement of English and Irish to the area in the 1800’s. By the 1850’s settlers were focused on fishing cod until an eventual depletion in stock brought on by factory overfishing in the mid 1900’s. Beginning around the 1960’s and finalized with a moratorium on Northern Cod fishing by the Federal Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans in 1992, a centuries-old way of life for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador came to an end.
I first met Yvonne a few months prior to our phone conference, through a mutual friend, who referred my printing services for a project she was managing for the Fogo Island Shop. Yvonne’s practice, “spans diverse interests in nature and craft and incorporates drawing, sculpture, ceramics, video, and textiles for both gallery and site-specific installations. Recent interests have explored materiality, thriftiness and care and has manifested itself into a number of projects that have engaged ‘others’, either as participants or collaborators.” Fogo Island Shop
In 2010, Yvonne joined the Shorefast design team as lead artist for a community quilt project which eventually lead to the production of several printed fabrics. Using imagery from local artists Freeman Combden and Winston Osmond she created patterns for print, to be used in the Fogo Island Inn.
“Shorefast is a registered Canadian charity formed in 2006 by siblings Zita, Alan, and Anthony Cobb: eighth generation Fogo Islanders with the goal to build another leg on Fogo Island’s economy following the collapse of the traditional cod fishery that had sustained this remote island for several centuries.
Shorefast’s mission is to build economic and cultural resilience on Fogo Island. We envision a world where all business is social business, and our model on Fogo Island holds learnings for places worldwide.
Using business-minded means to achieve social ends, Shorefast describes itself as a social enterprise and has spearheaded a holistic set of charitable programs and social businesses on Fogo Island. Charitable initiatives include Fogo Island Arts, Geology at the Edge, a micro-lending fund, and numerous heritage restoration projects. Shorefast is also behind three social businesses, Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island Shop, and Fogo Island Fish, which have garnered worldwide attention as examples of business used as a tool to serve place and community…” Shorefast
At the beginning of the year I decided to broaden my scope of work to provide printing services to clients. What I didn’t expect was that this could align with my passion for community initiatives that support sustainable futures.
The outcome of our meeting on April 25th was an order to print a series of patterns on fabric for Fogo Island Shop. Five months later the fabrics have been printed and are now in the hands of Fogo Island makers and taking on a new life.
While our morning routines, surroundings and studios are completely different it’s such a rewarding feeling knowing that fabrics printed in the studio here in Calgary are now on the other side of Canada creating opportunities for others.