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53  Pat Hertzberg

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5  Cynthia Jackson

4  Lorraine Roy

3  Christine Mockett

2  Amanda McCavour

1  Ulrikka Mokdad


Black Lace Wrap, materials: assorted fabrics, laces, leather, suede, yarns and threads; techniques: thread-web, freemotion embroidery


Vibrant Sunset – detail


Passage – detail, – spring; materials: wool felt, wool roving, nylon, cording, thread; technique: freemotion embroidery




Artist: Pat Hertzberg, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Interview 53: Pat exhibited Hazel in the 2012 World of Threads Festival exhibition Where Were You When Amy Winehouse Died? at Gallery West in Toronto for the 2012 World of Threads Festival.

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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



After completing Fine Arts programs in Ottawa, Pat Hertzberg graduated from Sheridan College in Oakville and York University in Toronto. She attended the Penland School (Textiles) in North Carolina, and has studied a wide variety of textile art techniques under numerous fiber artists in both Canada and the United States.

Pat spent many years in the Canadian Fashion industry, designing women's fashion for a number of Canadian clothing companies. As well, she ran her own design and manufacturing firm with a factory in Toronto.

Because of her training in fine art and her long experience with fabrics Pat began experimenting in surface design. Eventually she shifted careers to concentrate on creating textile-based mixed-media fine art. Many of her mixed-media pieces blur the lines between textiles, painting, and sculpture, as she incorporates numerous mediums and techniques. Occasionally, Pat's work is a commentary on social issues, but mainly it celebrates nature's exquisite details with intimate explorations of colour and texture.

Her work can be found in both corporate and private collections in Canada, the USA, Great Britain and Mexico. Pat is presently a Resident Artist at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Canada, and a member of the "Connections" group of fibre artists. Pat's Website


Artist Pat Hertzberg


Tell us about your work?

As a textile and mixed-media artist, I am absorbed in fibre manipulation and embellishment, orchestrating colours and creating novel textural surfaces.

My current work examines the different fraying properties of various fabrics - both ripping on-grain and cutting off-grain. I then reconstruct these with an assortment of threads. When tightly reassembled, these pieces can resemble a crazy patchwork quilt, or a painted canvas with dabs and swirls of tonal shades, similar to brush strokes. When loosely reassembled, the effect is entirely different – more fragile, lacey, and translucent. I use numerous assorted fabrics with various surface properties in a single piece for textural dimension. Colour juxtapositions also play a large role in my work.

My primary focus is fine art, but I also design one-of-a-kind wearable art, scarves and wraps, using experimental techniques I have developed. My fascination with transparency, texture, light and shadow and the play of positive and negative space keep me engaged and continually experimenting.


Joie de Vie shawl, 18" x 80"; materials: assorted fabrics, cords and threads; techniques: some dyeing, thread-web, freemotion embroidery – this piece was exhibited in the 2009 Common Thread International Juried Exhibition at the Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre.

Joie de Vie shawl – thread-web detail


From where do you get your inspiration?

Social issues that have touched my life thematically inspire some of my work. After witnessing my Mother's last ten years where Alzheimer's disease slowly deteriorated her memory and her life, I drew from that experience to create a piece called "Memory". My piece "Hope" deals with the large number of people being diagnosed today with clinical depression. "Missing" is about absence and the after effect of the departure of someone dear. Socio-political issues that mean something to me have inspired pieces of work such as "Squandering Our Inheritance". This is a piece about the importance of preserving our natural resources, such as our fresh water. And "Going Green" deals with the complexity of the modern "green" movement.

More broadly my inspiration comes from nature. I lived in an urban forest for 28 years and that helped form an important perspective for me artistically. In the woods I developed a heightened appreciation of nature's seasonal transitions, unique lighting and amazing colour combinations. There are so many textures in nature to inspire - like lichen, moss, cloud formations, leaves and bare branches, tree bark, mud, rocks, streams, and forest floors. Sunrise and sunset are favourite times of the day for me because of the wonderful light, but I have a special fondness for twilight – just before the sky darkens completely. While driving on a northern Ontario highway last fall, I was moved by the sight of a brilliant mustard field under a sunset sky with dark purple storm clouds rolling in. The colours were surreal – almost other-worldly. This vision inspired the piece "Mustard Field". A car trip I took with my daughter across the prairies inspired the piece "Prairie Sun". Nature can provide unbelievable colour interactions and spectacular scenery, which is a dependable source of inspiration.

My camera is my best friend. It is rarely more than an arm's length away. I have thousands of catalogued images filed away for reference. These images often initiate new ideas or help flesh-out concepts as they evolve.


Purple Patch scarf, materials: assorted fabrics, leather, lace, yarns and threads; techniques: hand dyeing, thread-web, freemotion embroidery

Purple Patch scarf - detail,


Why did you choose to go into fibre art?

As a young teenager, fashion was a high priority for me. My father, in an attempt to reign-in my spending on clothing and encourage my hobby of sewing, told me that he would not buy my clothes, but he would pay for any fabric and sewing supplies I needed to make my own clothes. This strong encouragement to sew was likely the beginning of my road to fashion design. It also marked the beginning of my extensive, life-long fabric collection!

At age sixteen I was able to feed my fabric passion with a part-time job at a small, high-end fabric store, which carried only European designer imports. It was here that my real appreciation of unique, couturier fabric began and my fascination with surface design was ignited. Later, as a fashion designer, I got to play with beautiful fabrics. In hindsight, it seems only natural that after my long experience with fabrics, fibre would become my primary medium as an artist.

I know many artists who have gravitated to fibre art from other mediums. This is no wonder to me, as fibre has so much versatility and scope for development. It seems that its only limitation is our own imaginations.


Poppy Red Alpacca Shawl, materials: Alpacca yarn, assorted fabrics, threads; techniques: thread-web, freemotion embroidery

Poppy Red Alpacca Shawl – detail

Poppy Red Alpacca Shawl – detail

Which is your favourite fibre medium?

I don't have a single favourite fibre medium. I like many and I like to see them combined. My own work usually incorporates at least two or three different mediums, and occasionally many more.



Black Lace Wrap, materials: assorted fabrics, laces, leather, suede, yarns and threads; techniques: thread-web, freemotion embroidery

Black Lace Wrap – detail

Black Lace Wrap – detail


What other mediums do you work in, and how does this inform your work?

Painting, photography, sculpture, mosaic, and woodwork – I incorporate these and others with fibre in my mixed-media work.


Waterfall scarf, materials: merino wool, assorted fabrics, suede, yarns and threads; techniques: filigree felting, appliqué, freemotion embroidery

Waterfall scarf – detail


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

I am passionate about the historic work of Gustav Klimt from Austria, and have been mesmerized by his work since I was first exposed to it in grade school. I love his compositional use of space, his colour palate, and especially his decorative embellishment. His portrait work is sensual and highly respectful of women and his landscapes are magnificent. Of all the artists I have been exposed to, it is likely Klimt who I owe my appreciation of embellishment and my eventual career shift from fashion to fibre art.

The French Impressionist painters Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse – each in different ways, also influence me. Paul Gauguin's sumptuous colour palate captures the vibrant energy of a Polynesian jungle, and gives me permission to be extravagant with colour in my own work. Claude Monet's colour juxtapositions and the unique quality of light in his work, inspires me to develop these areas in my own work. As for Henri Matisse, I admire his bold simplification of subject matter. Often it's the simplest line or shape that resonates best and delivers the purist form. My own work is a dialect between the complex, highly decorative inspired by Klimt and the pared-down synthesis inspired by Matisse.

Northern Ontario is a favourite source of inspiration for my landscape works. I spend time there each summer where its pristine wilderness feeds my soul. Tom Thompson, Fred Varley, A.Y. Jackson and Arthur Lismer have a real gift for capturing the essence of the Canadian northern wilderness. Most of the members of the Canadian Group of Seven have been a source of national pride for many years and their styles have undoubtedly influenced my landscapes. For example, Lawren Harris's icebergs, mountains and lakes have an austerity of composition that really appeals to me. My fibre landscapes reflect this minimalist form. Fabrics lend themselves well to it and especially with textural emphasis when various torn and cut surfaces are incorporated.


Big Sky Sunset, 23" x 23"; materials: assorted fabrics and threads; technique: appliqué, freemotion embroidery – This piece is touring with the 2010 Threadworks Exhibition.

Water lily, 20" x 24"; materials: assorted fabrics and yarn, cording and threads; techniques: photo transfer, thread-web & freemotion embroidery

Prairie Sun, 24" x 24"; materials: canvas, jute, scrim, cotton & thread; techniques: dye, over dye, paint, freemotion embroidery

Storm Warning, 16" x 16"; materials: canvas, assorted silk fabrics, assorted cords and threads; techniques: dye, over-dye, discharge, freemotion embroidery

Mustard Field, 31" x 31"; materials: assorted fabrics; techniques: dyeing, painting, layered edge fabric assemblage, freemotion embroidery


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work? 

Britain's Kaffe Fassett has been up there in my estimation for many years. I see him as one of today's most accomplished artists. Initially he turned the knitting world upside down with his outrageous combining of multiple yarns - creating sumptuous texture and embellishment. He is also a prolific and highly respected quilter, an amazing weaver of tapestries and he creates exquisite ceramic mosaics. Fassett has a sophisticated, yet wonderfully playful sense of colour. Along with Josef Albers, I owe to Fassett much of my own fascination with colour compatibility and joy of colour experimentation.

The British environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy has been another key influence. He explores and experiments with various natural materials such as flower petals, leaves and branches etc. creating ephemeral sculptural works. He then documents, through photography, the process of decay. The transience of his sculptures contradicts the traditional permanence of art. His ability to create and capture an instant of compositional beauty has influenced a number of my layered fibre assemblages. One large outdoor fibre installation "Passage" I completed on the grounds of the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre in Oakville, Ontario, pays him homage, while documenting the passage of time. It has been slowly disintegrating over the last 18 months.

The Canadian metal artist Cal Lane transforms industrial "masculine" metal objects like wheelbarrows, shovels and oil drums into intricate, laser-cut "feminine" versions of the same thing. Her metal lace is inspirational as I create similar lacy artwork by deconstructing and reconstructing fabrics and yarns. The play of positive and negative space is beguiling to me, when light and shadow become an important element of the dialogue.

There are many other contemporary artists who have pioneered the way, no doubt influencing my work in less tangible ways. The trailblazers and risk-takers who lead their art form in a new direction inspire me. Kenzo Takada (Japan), Jean Paul Gaultier (France) and Alexander McQueen (Britain) are three dramatic examples. All of these fashion designers are creative geniuses with an ability to read the political, economic and spiritual pulse of modern society. The fashion designer Koos Van Den Akker from Holland has also inspired me for many years, with his opulent fabric collage and richly embellished wearable art pieces. I also admire his business decision not to sell off his name for profit, but to remain true to his artistic vision.

Of course, great female artists always inspire me. The American artists Georgia O'Keefe and Judy Chicago, plus Britain's Constance Howard come to mind as feminist role models of success in a world where men have historically dominated.


Aubergine Patchwork scarf, materials: assorted fabrics, yarns and threads; techniques: hand dyeing, thread-web, freemotion embroidery

Autumn splendor scarf, materials: assorted fabrics, yarns and threads; techniques: hand dyeing, thread-web, freemotion embroidery

Filigree Feathers scarf, materials: silk pongee, yarns and threads; techniques: hand dyeing, thread-web, freemotion embroidery


What other fibre artists are you interested in and why?

Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn a duo from Britain have a wonderful ability to create contemporary interpretations of nature in fibre. Their highly textural landscapes are exquisitely detailed with stitch, yet remain quite primal in their simplicity.

My colleagues in the 'Connections' group of fibre artists are extremely talented artists as well. Canadian Sybil Rampen deserves a special mention as a humble artist, an inspired and generous teacher and a grounded free-spirit. As a tireless supporter of textile art, she is truly a legend in her own time. There are so many fibre artists I admire today - unfortunately too many to list here. Trying to choose a few inevitably runs the risk of leaving out so many others who should not be left out.



Passage, 20'w x 12'h, this is an outdoor sculpture located on the grounds of the Joshua Creek Art Centre in Oakville, Ontario. It depicts the passage of life, with over 500 hand-made fibre leaves, cording, fabric, thread and wood (tree branches). Photo credit: Bob Steele

Passage – detail, – spring; materials: twine, cord, wool roving, paper, thread; technique: thread-web


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

Historically the traditional fibre arts have struggled to be included in the fine art world as a result of its origin as both 'women's work' and its label of 'craft'. Moreover, the traditional textile arts encompass such diverse, numerous and precise processes, they require specialized textile adjudicating. Fine art dealers and curators without much knowledge of traditional textiles were rightfully reluctant to judge this art form. Today, however, much contemporary fibre work is so far removed from traditional textiles, it can be judged by fine art dealers and curators. Today the contemporary textile genre is not just accepted, it's embraced and plays an important role in the contemporary art world.

The manual manipulations of materials, plus the materials themselves used by fibre artists, provide a tactile dimension not found in many other art forms. This dimension appeals to our primal sense of touch and is especially valued today as our modern, technological world becomes increasingly institutional and impersonal.


Passage – detail, – spring; materials: wool felt, wool roving, nylon, cording, thread; technique: freemotion embroidery

Passage – detail, – summer; materials: wool felt, lace, tuille, cording, thread; technique: dyeing, painting


Tell us about your studio and how you work:

I am in my fifth year as a Resident Artist in the Textile Studio at the LIVING ARTS CENTRE in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. After temporarily working out of a cramped studio space in my home (where I often had to expand into other rooms), I feel incredibly grateful to have the use of a professional studio equipped with just about everything you can imagine. Some pieces of equipment are indispensible to my work, such as the huge dye sink and dye lab, the large print and cutting table, the industrial steam iron and a very large light-table. My third-floor studio has great north/west-facing windows that provide ideal light and full panoramic sunsets. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, as I just love working in this space.

My camera is my most indispensible creativity tool; it's my 'third eye'. I have an extensive library of inspirational photos I've taken. Once I capture something digitally for reference, I also file it mentally, letting it cogitate for a while in my subconscious until I get my direction. One or more of my photographs may inspire a piece. Or it can be a fabric or group of fabrics that spark the creative process. Sometimes an issue I was struggling with in a previous piece leads me into a subsequent piece. It doesn't really matter why or how something inspires me as long as I become engaged and truly passionate about the project ahead.

I work long hours - often ten to twelve hours a day. I love what I do, so it doesn't feel like work. My pieces are very labour-intensive, and I focus my energy exclusively on each one until it is "ready to fly". I feel that my role as artist is much like the role of mothering a child. I'm devoted - completely immersed in the labour of its creation. Its development seems swift, yet always takes longer than expected to complete. Then when it's finally finished and ready to leave, I proudly display it, cherish it, and wait until the right person comes along who loves it enough to buy it, and take it away. (Ok – so I guess the child analogy ends before the buying part).

My "fabric stash" is large. While I use a dozen or so different staple fabrics, dyeing them the colours I want, I also collect unique fabrics when I see them and later incorporate them into my work.

Although my work is diverse with both fine art and wearable art, I use many of the same processes and techniques for both. Different fabrication will obviously result in a variation of the end result, but the actual techniques I've been working on have tremendous scope for development. I actually can't imagine truly exhausting them. Each piece I complete seems to open up a number of new possibilities and issues I can't wait to explore.


Pat in studio with foredom drill

Pat in studio dyeing fabrics

Pat in studio at sewing machine

Pat in studio making wood frame


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art?

Let's first separate the traditional from the contemporary fibre arts. I can't speak for the commercial viability of traditional fibre arts, though I know some traditional quilts sell for high prices and there is a large, known population of collectors for them.

Contemporary fibre artists are producing what the buying public sees as a "new" art form - a fresh change from painting and sculpture. Valuation can be a difficult issue however, as the investment potential of contemporary fibre art is still being established. The buying public will ultimately determine fibre art's commercial viability in the contemporary art world.

Many European countries have more respect for the arts in general than in North America. I suspect our colonial culture of survival is one of the reasons why the arts are valued well behind the more practical items we buy. So selling art here is more difficult to begin with than in Europe. A further challenge is that fibre art tends to be even less understood than other art mediums. Critical to selling contemporary fibre art is finding the right venues where informed patrons recognize the value of the work and will pay for it.


Passage – detail, – fall; materials: assorted fabrics and cording; technique: thread-web

Passage – detail – fall; materials: assorted fabrics, cords & ribbon; technique: dyeing, painting


Do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

I believe that in all art mediums, including fibre art, there are artists whose work sells and those whose work doesn't sell, for many different reasons. I have been fortunate to have had little difficulty getting my work juried into both fine art and fibre art shows, and selling it.


Passage – detail 6 – winter; materials: lutrador, ribbon, cording; technique: free-motion embroidery

Passage – detail 7 – winter; materials: assorted fabrics, jute, yarn, cording, ribbon, thread; technique: thread-web, dyeing


Which World of Threads Festival/s have you exhibited in?

I had three pieces in three different venues at the 2009 World of Threads Festival.

1) Evolution of Textiles – exhibited at the Towne Square Gallery
2) Joie de Vie shawl – exhibited at the Joshua Creek Art Centre
3) Going Green – exhibited at the Salon of the Common Thread, O'Conner MacLeod Hanna.


What was your motivation for submitting your work to the World of Threads Festival?

Before 2009 my work had been accepted into a number of juried fine art shows, yet I had not been entering fibre art shows. The 2009 World of Threads Festival application came at a time when I thought my work was ready to be put beside other textile artists' work, and have my exhibition focus broadened. I was quite impressed with the scope of this festival and the high quality of fibre work it attracted from around the world.


Hazel, 20" x 28"; materials: assorted fabrics, cording and threads; techniques: dyeing, photo transfer, freemotion embroidery

Memory, 30" x 84"; materials: photo, scrim, thread; technique: hand dye, mosaic with photo, appliqué



Where do you imagine your work in five years? 

A teacher of mine in design school, Agnes Kanda, used to drill into us the need for a five-year plan and in those days five years was an eternity! I now understand the importance of planning and directing my actions toward an ever-present goal. And five years is a reasonable timeframe to imagine. I have set goals throughout my career and I've generally reached them on target.

The techniques I've been developing and using for a number of years still seem to have enormous potential for expansion, and my passion for them hasn't subsided. I thoroughly enjoy the experimental process and am still finding my voice and place in this vast textile community. In five years I hope my work will be advanced substantially; though where and how, is difficult to predict right now.


Summer Jabot, materials: assorted silks only, yarns and threads; techniques: hand dyeing, thread-web, freemotion embroidery.

Summer Jabot – detail


Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you or your work that we have not covered?

My artwork is undoubtedly affected by the vibrant and colourful culture of Mexico, as I spend part of my winter there each year. On some very fundamental level, I feel connected to the strong, rich colours Mexicans surround themselves with in their dress, their homes and their world. These colours are such a contrast to the muted shades that tend to be more prolific in northern climates. I do work in a muted palate when necessary, but the more vivid colours energize my imagination, and make me feel more alive.


Autumn scarf, materials: merino wool, assorted fabrics, yarns and threads; techniques: filigree felting, appliqué, freemotion embroidery

Autumn scarf – detail


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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.


Fiesta scarf – detail,