Discover more from Amanda Rataj Studio Newsletter
The end of my chair project - and an exhibition to celebrate it
In this newsletter you’ll find only one thing!
How is it already January! I’m excited to invite you to an exhibition that celebrates the culmination of a project I worked on for most of last year:
at Craft Ontario
January 15 - February 25, 2023
Opening reception is Sunday, January 22 from 2-5pm.
‘Generation’ is a two-person exhibition by Hamilton-based artist and weaver Amanda Rataj and her late grandfather, master woodworker and furniture designer Rudolph Rataj.
In the 1960s my paternal grandfather became the principal designer and shop manager for a successful furniture company in Toronto called Brunswick Manufacturing. For the following two decades, they supplied locally made, well-built institutional furniture to universities, community centres, and hospitals throughout the GTA.
In my home I have six chairs built by Brunswick Manufacturing that are covered in their original fabric — each of my grandfather's children got a matching set of chairs, and I have my father's set. The original fabric was plain, brown, and synthetic — very representative of the late 1970s when they were made.
When I moved into my house, we took on these chairs from my parents and I’ve wanted to recover them ever since. In 2018 I did make some small initial samples…. but then I had a concussion and things were derailed for a (long) while.
In the past year, I designed, sampled, and wove yardage to reupholster these chairs — if you have been following my studio work for a while, you’ve probably picked up on my love of material and process; for me, sampling is a lot like how sketching is to someone who draws, so I gave myself a lot of freedom in exploring any and all passing thoughts. Even the ones I knew wouldn’t work!
The new material for the chairs picks up on an ongoing rumination about shadows (which includes an epistolary/photographic conversation with my friend Charley Young), and takes its cues from the coloured light in shadows. I’ve used natural fibres and local wool felt from Revolution Wool Co for some of my chair padding to reduce the need for synthetic foams.
How I feel about the finished chairs is still up in the air! I’ve been studiously ignoring them piled in and taking over my studio space for the last month and a half, and I’ve sort of been forcing myself not to think about it (or worry about it). I’m looking forward to having a fresh look when they’re in a different context.
I hope to share some more photographs in next month’s newsletter and tell you a bit more about the discoveries, aspects and challenges of this project. Until then, I would love to say hello at the opening reception, which is, again, on Sunday, January 22 from 2-5pm at the Craft Ontario Gallery, 1106 Queen Street West, Toronto.
I would also like to thank the Ontario Arts Council for their support of this project and exhibition.
That’s all for this month. January has been full-on so far, and it’s only just over a week in. Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto if you can make it.