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The Line Up, 36cm h x 67cm w, Three-Dimensional Applique (spandex, cotton, vinyl, fur, leather)




Artist: Molly Grundy of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Interview 73: Molly exhibited in the 2012 World of Threads Festival exhibition Where were you when Amy Winehouse died? at gallerywest in Toronto.

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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Molly Grundy is a Toronto based award winning fibre artist, illustrator and arts educator who graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design with a focus in Printmaking and Material Arts. Always a prolific and energetic artist, Molly has worked in everything from costume design, wearable art, illustration, fashion styling and puppet building for stop motion animation. Her illustration work has been featured in numerous magazines including Bust, Wax Poetic and Vice, as well as a full-page feature in 3x3 The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration, 2011 international illustration showcase. 

In addition, her fibre art has been seen in many group shows including The Award Winners Exhibition at the Ontario Craft Council Gallery in 2011 and the Shadow Box Show at The Textile Museum of Canada in 2010. Molly’s work in costume has also rendered recognition with the Canadian Opera Company and the most recent Much Music Video Awards. Molly is currently teaming up with TIFF Bell Lightbox and The National Ballet in celebration of their 60th Anniversary with The Tutu Project. Molly's website.


Artist: Molly Grundy, photo: Zach Slootsky.


Tell us about your work?

My work is an ongoing technicolour exploration of our wide and wondrous world and the creatures that dwell within it. I am on an energetic mission to investigate notions of power, privacy, belonging, alienation, sexuality and survival. Working primarily in three dimensional fabric illustrations and plush sculpture, I stitch, embellish and stuff each figure to form fictitious narratives. I endeavour to create a comedic correspondence between my work and my viewer.

On the strictly commercial side of things I work as a costume designer, prop and wig builder, stylist, illustrator and arts educator.


Wolverina, 124cm h x 66cm w x 3cm d, Three-Dimensional Applique (cotton,chiffon, fur, vinyl and leather)


From where do you get your inspiration?

I am uncontrollably obsessed with sickly colour combinations and garish, bold pattern. A lifelong infatuation with all things miniature (i.e. - dioramas, music boxes, train sets, architectural models etc.) has also had a powerful influence on my work. There is secrecy to that intimate scale that I find very exciting. As far as daily inspiration goes, I will now attempt a comprehensive list of some things that make my heart sing:

The colour red, tap shoes, smelling a flower so vigorously that petals gets sucked into your nostril, dressing like a 1960s spy when traveling by plane, a thick fog, Paul Newman, climbing trees, solar power, belting out karaoke songs, making a chubby baby laugh, conductive fabric, rice pudding, unitards, sleeping under the stars, the golden age of Broadway musicals, pink champagne, Roberta Bondar, orange lipstick, the smell of hot concrete after a thunderstorm, garage sales, when strangers smile at you, biking on a sunny day, being the first one on the dance floor, hot air balloons, Mariachi bands, Bigfoot, when you can feel the base in your chest, building forts, cooking with too much garlic.

The other morning I spent the better part of two hours, taking pictures of tea towels blowing in the wind...sometimes inspiration gets a little out of hand.


The Big Night, 72cm h x 50cm w, Three-Dimensional Applique (cotton, silk, wool, vinyl and leather)


Why did you choose to go into fibre art?

I really can't say that it was a choice. More like an itch that needed to be scratched. I began my career in print and papermaking but found that I would rush home after a studio class to sew into the wee hours of the night. Why deny what feels so right?


Which is your favourite fibre medium?

How could I possibly pluck one gem from a waterfall of wealth?


Nonas, 46cm h x 61cm w, Medium/Technique: Three - Dimensional Applique (Cotton, Wool, Fur, Silk, Leather)


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

I have always loved cardboard and hot glue. The sculptural possibilities never end with that glorious combination. I also love to felt and work with wood.

What bridges the works that you have created in differing media?

I always try to keep my approach as open and uninhibited as I can, no matter what medium I am working with. I think art should be based in play whenever possible.


Milano Man, 75cm h x 50cm w, Three-Dimensional Applique (cotton, silk, velvet, vinyl and leather)


What specific historic artists have influenced your work?

Egon Schiele - (Austria) His illustrative painting style dances and vibrates on the page. His work is a beautifully raw depiction of his subjects.

Gustav Klimt - (Austria) A childhood favourite, I love his arresting combination of ethereal figures and strong graphic shapes.



The Throw Down, 69cm h x 68cm w, Three-Dimensional Applique (faux fur, cotton, wool, vinyl and leather)


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?

Shary Boyle - (Toronto) Possibly the most prolific artist working today. Her exquisite porcelain figurines are a beautiful reminder that an artist can always shift gears and be swept up by a new process.

Sherri Hay - (Toronto/New York) Witty and breath taking work. She is a master of every medium.

Wayne White - A lover of cardboard earns my immediate respect. He has a brilliant sense of humour and clearly never takes himself too seriously.



Big Shot, 30cm h x 30cm w, Three-Dimensional Applique (spandex, cotton, fringe, vinyl and leather)


What other fibre artists are you interested in?

Do-Ho Suh - (Korea) Mind bending perfection. I can't help but revere his seamless structured approach.

Allyson Mitchell - (Toronto) She is forever badass and unapologetic. My favourite to date are her furry feminist forts/huts.


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

The historical impact and importance of fibre art and craft is indisputable. In a contemporary setting, it resonates in very stimulating and compelling ways.



TIFF Tutu, 3' w x 2' h, Clear Film Strips, Wire and Sharpie Marker, photo: Peter Grundy


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art and do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

Fibre art and the craft movement in general are finally gaining the commercial recognition they so deserve. Thus far I am experiencing most of my success from private commissions and corporate contracts.


TIFF Tutu, 3' w x 2' h, Clear Film Strips, Wire and Sharpie Marker, photo: Peter Grundy


When did you first discover your creative talents?

I had a paper doll collection as a little girl. I soon started drawing my own outfits and one in particular, a cheetah jumpsuit made me so proud. I quietly thought to myself 'is there a job like this?'


TIFF Tutu, 3' w x 2' h, Clear Film Strips, Wire and Sharpie Marker, photo: Peter Grundy


Where did you train and how did your training influence your art?

I received my BFA in Printmaking from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Although I later strayed to other disciplines, having access to endless studio space and techniques really opened my mind.


Please explain how you developed your own style.

I'd say my style progressed naturally over time, but I do remember always having a clear understanding of when something was bang on and when I needed to take another stab at it.


Plush Nudes, From 20cm - 30cm in height, Medium/Technique: Plush Sculpture (Stretch Cotton, wire and acrylic paint)


If a good friend were to describe your style, what would they say?



What is your philosophy about the Art that you create?

If I can dream it up, I can make it a reality.


Troll wig, 12cm w x 4cm h, Upholstery Foam, Faux Fur.


Are you attempting to evoke particular feelings in your audience?

I want to take hold of my viewer. Relate to them and ignite their interest in a visceral way. I was at one of my openings recently and I witnessed two women howling with laughter at one of my pieces. It was such sweet music to my ears.


Fabric Mural, 153cm h x 914cm w, Three-Dimensional Applique (cotton, silk, wool, linen, corduroy, velvet and leather)


When you were starting out, did you have a mentor?

I have been fortunate enough to have several mentors in my life. First and foremost were my hilarious and artistically supportive parents. They both worked in film while I was growing up and as a result I was often surrounded by scenic backdrops and oversized props. I learned very early on not to doubt my creative intuition and that there is no wrong way to make anything. Thank you, I love you both.

When I was 17, I left my standard high school and was accepted into the Central Tech Arts Program. It was there I met the infamous Michael Gerry, a Toronto artist and my drawing and painting teacher. He took one look at my portfolio and said, "You think you're pretty hot to trot don't you? You're good, but that's all. To be great you'll have to shut up and work a lot harder than that." That shook my adolescent ego, but it made me strive day and night to prove myself. No teacher had ever taken the time to challenge me like that before.

In 2009 I worked in the wardrobe department of a stop motion animation studio. Aside from the infinitesimal costumes appealing to my love of all things miniature, I worked with some of the most talented women ever to live in that studio. We became a formidable tribe staging bake-offs and weekly dress up parties. I will forever fight against the mundane to honour every one of those skilled sirens.


Big Mouth Strikes Again, 100cm h x 80cm w x 60cm d, (Cardboard, hot glue, acrylic paint)


Tell us about your studio and how you work:

My 'at home' studio is currently the epicenter of my art party. Blaring music, one-woman dance parties, bolts of fabric and endless cups of tea!


Where do you imagine your work in five years?

I am planning on pursuing a master's degree abroad in the next few years. I always feel so invigoratingly inspired when I travel and I am excited by the prospect of making new work, without the safety net of my sewing machines and beloved studio.



Molly Grundy's Studio, photo: My Channel

Molly Grundy's Studio, photo: My Channel


What interests you about the World of Threads festival?

This festival is an incredible showcase of the some of the world's most exciting fibre artists. It is my first year being involved and I am very honoured to be counted in such talented company.



In Search of a Midnight Kissss, 30cm h x 30cm w, Plush Sculpture (cotton, velvet, vinyl, leather, wooden frame and acrylic paint)



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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.