tara bursey

skin and hair studies | garlic skin, head of garlic, corn silk, adhesive | dimensions variable | 2010

I first came across Tara Bursey's work online while researching local artists for the Toronto Craft Alert. I was impressed by her intricate sculptures and her attention to detail. Tara has been an inspiration to me and it has been great working with her. This girl is a major talent, watch out for her. 

T A R A  B U R S E Y

I am an interdisciplinary artist whose work usually involves conceptual, transformative work with unlikely everyday materials such as food, as well as paper, fibre and materials commonly associated with the realm of craft.  My work often involves surprising formal parallels between unrelated objects such as food waste and flesh, miniature shrimp and lace tatting, and onion skin and feathers.

At the root of my work is a concern with the simultaneous resilience and fragility of the human body.  Past work has addressed the place of the body with relation to labour, endurance, institutional settings and behavior as well as explored the similarities between human, plant and animal forms.  I often employ food materially as a vehicle to address the place of the body within contemporary culture.

Tara Bursey is a recent graduate of the Toronto School of Art’s Diploma Program (2006) and Independent Studio Program (2008).  In the past few years, she has exhibited extensively throughout Toronto in a diverse range of venues, from storefront window installations, telephone poles and tattoo shops to the Textile Museum of Canada, the Ontario Crafts Council, as well as in group exhibitions in Halifax, Saskatoon and Copenhagen. Tara’s most recent projects include coordinating The Portable Library Project and installation programming for City of Craft, an annual contemporary craft event that takes place in Toronto. She began studies towards a degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University in September of 2009. 

skin study (hand) | garlic skin, adhesive | 6" x 4" x 1.5" | 2010
braid | egg noodles on wall | approximately 26" x 2" x 2.5" | 2008
corn maze | corn silk on 100% Kozo paper | 8" x 8" | 2010
corn maze (detail) | corn silk on 100% Kozo paper | 8" x 8" | 2010

shrimplace iv | dehydrated miniature shrimp, adhesive | 10" x 10" framed | 2007-08
shrimplace iv (detail) | dehydrated miniature shrimp, adhesive | 10" x 10" framed | 2007-08

 toothbrush (vermicelli) | modified toothbrush, vermicelli noodles | 5" x 0.5" x 0.5" | 2007
zine making | 2010

what are your processes?

The first creative process I ever engaged in was drawing.  After that, I started to make zines and self-publish, at first about punk rock culture, feminism, and my personal experiences.  Later, I eventually came back around to drawing, collage and art in general through zine-making.   I think this background working with paper, the production of multiples and DIY-type processes comes through often in my sculpture work.  Within my current art practice, even though I generally work sculpturally, I always find myself going back to drawing and self-publishing whenever I need a change or feel stuck.

With sculpture, I work with craft processes like crochet, weaving and embroidery, but in my own perverted, untrained way.  I also use glue a lot.  Sometimes I use crude mouldmaking techniques.  Most of my processes are based in experimentation and instinct, and rooted in the fact that I’m largely untrained in conventional sculpture and fine craft techniques.  Also, my processes usually change from project to project. 

what are your inspirations?

My childhood, symmetry, pattern, music, nature, fear, walking, occasional isolation, particular neighbourhoods and dialogue with other creative people.  Above all, the amazing work and productivity of other artists inspires me and keeps me on my toes.

what kind of advice would you give to a aspiring crafter/artist?

Learn the rules before you try to break them.  Try different things.  Make lists and write down your ideas.  Work hard and think critically about your work and the work of others.  Become engaged with your local art community and put yourself out there. Go out and talk to other artists and curators…and if you are concerned about looking dumb or weird, try to remind yourself that all artists are weird and awkward…it’s not just you. 

Also-- learn to draw!  Drawing is a valuable, elemental artistic skill.  It will come in handy, no matter what your discipline. 

what is one thing that people don't know about you (non art/craft related)?

I am obsessed with 60s and 70s psychedelic rock music, and have a huge record collection!  And I’m half Macedonian.

tara bursey :


ashley ludlow

I'm very honored to showcase her work and have her be the first artist on this site. We attended school together in the Art + Art history program at the University of Toronto in Mississauga and Sheridan College. I've been a huge fan of her work - her paintings and stitch work by hand. Her paintings are massive and you can see the layers and layers of paint constructed on each wooden panel. In contrast, her stitch work are much smaller and very intimate. 

A S H L E Y   L U D L O W

Thread has always kind of interested me, something so delicate that's main purpose is to bind, create and embellish. I wanted to try and use this material in a way that made sense; however, also create a unique image. I am not the best crafter, the majority of my art work revolved around creating abstracted figurative paintings, so for me, finding a way to incorporate my usual subject matter into a new realm became quite the headache. 

I started to use photographs that I had found in an old box, the images were of my friends sitting around and doing nothing. These were the types of photographs that tend to forever remain in a box. They were not special enough to deserve a frame, but gave too much nostalgia to its owner to just discard. I decided to embroider, rather than style a crude embroidery, these memories in attempts to turn the mundane into something more precious. 

Starting out by colour blocking the colours, I became obsessed with trying to replicate tones and shades through the use of various colours of thread. No longer able to simply mix new colours, I had to work out different layers  and build up to create contrasts and shape resulting in the build up of thread. As I continue to build up the photograph, it starts to rip, the faces of the people I knew become punctured and destroyed; however, each time I work a new colour the image became reaffirmed. This process takes time, never really knowing when to stop - that is until the needle becomes too hard to push through. 

The backs of stitched objects appeals to me more than the finished product. All the errors and movement of the needle and thread is evident, and it starts to tell a new story. I started to look at the backs of my photographs, and I found that the figures depicted a fluid abstraction of the body and was reminiscent of the style of paintings I did in the past. The images became a documentation of my hand, my attempts to understand, create and replicate a moment that might never be missed. 

Ashlee Ludlow currently lives in the industrious town of Oshawa. She received her HBA from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, in 2008, with a studio concentration on painting. Ashley also received for BeD in Fine Arts Integration J/L from York University in 2009. 

What are your processes? 

They vary based on what I am creating; I am kind of schizophrenic in that sense. For the most part the medium is the dictator for the artwork, it tells you how it wants to be manipulated and used. When I paint I have to make a mess, meaning I have to start out with random colours, and cover the surface as fast as possible. From here I take my reference points from models and use the paint to inform the image and I tend to experiment with different processes to manipulate the paint. As for drawing, I restrict myself more. I am more conscious of lines that should be there and the image becomes less abstract and much more linear. My stitching seems to be more of an in-between of the two, in the sense that I limit myself in what I am creating; however, experiment with the build up and trying to take the image into new interpretations. 

What are your inspirations? 

I think my biggest inspiration is the everyday life. I spend a lot of time on buses, and I like to watch the social interactions that often occur. Peoples faces and gestures get me every time, especially when they think no one is looking. There are many artists who help light that fire to want to create, seeing a really great work of art is like the best motivator to get you back into the studio and just make something. 

What kind of advice would you give to a younger crafter/artist? 

Two things I can share. The best advice that I can think to share is don't get too caught up on that whole art scene thing. Be true to yourself and what you believe with your work. Don't try to fit into other people's mould because you've got your own to adjust to. Also not everything you create will work out but it's about making as many mistakes as you possible can before you can get to point B. Also listen to criticism with an open heart. You may not agree with what other people but it always opens up another avenue for you to experiment with in the future and if it doesn't work out it is not the end of the world. 

What is one thing that people don't know about you (non art/craft related)? 

When I was a child I wanted to own pretend kitchen, but my parents couldn't afford to give me one. So I made my own fridge using this small upright drawer, and it seemed to service its purpose - making many pretend meals. Anyways, when I got older my mother decided to give it to my cousin who just discarded it and did not use it to its full potential (refrigerator was only a start, who knows where I could have taken it as time progressed). Needless to say I was heartbroken and to this day I still bring up the fact that my mother gave away my favorite toy...on a side note this is an excellent tactic when you are trying to get something in your favor. 

I can also do the majority of every dance in Dirty Dancing.

ashlee ludlow: aly.ludlow@gmail.com | blog in process


this is a mini online gallery space. i really hope to use this as a way to exhibit amazing people and get inspired. it will mainly focus on contemporary crafts and design work of canadian talent (represent!) and some international wonders.

i'm currently trying to clean up and organize my future plans and i hope this intro will motivate me to curate. xo.