Appliqué Workshop & Publication Launch with Alice Olsen Williams

Feb 9, 2 pm - at ARTSPACE

All are welcome to join us at Artspace on Saturday, February 9th from 2 to 4 pm for this beginner-friendly appliqué workshop hosted by Alice Olsen Williams. The workshop is free to attend and all the fabric and materials will be provided, but if you have a pair of fabric scissors, we encourage you to bring them.

Appliqué is a needlework technique in which pieces of fabric of different shapes are sewn or stuck onto a larger piece to form a picture or pattern. There are several ways to apply particular shapes onto a background fabric; Alice will be displaying her favourite method. In this workshop, she will teach you how to appliqué a leaf onto a second background fabric. You will be able to bring your work home with you.

We encourage anyone who is interested in attending to pre-register with us. No one will be turned away on the day of the event, but pre-registration will help us ensure that enough materials are available for all participants.

To pre-register please call the gallery or register online at:

Following the workshop, we will be hosting the launch of Alice Olsen Williams' Star Song, a publication supporting the exhibition of the same name, currently on view at Artspace. The 24-page publication features writing by Caroline Seck Langill and full-colour documentation of Alice's most recent work. The publications have been produced in an initial run of 150 and will be sold for $20.

About the Exhibition 
For close to four decades Alice Olsen Williams’ distinctive quilt-making style has been grounded in the traditional skills of beadwork and sewing of the Anishinaabe people, and the unique symbols and themes of her culture. Alice sees her practice and labour as a connection to the work of women that has been done, and is still being done, throughout the ages and across cultures. Alice's creative vision in quilt design focuses on the central placement of animals and birds, which figure prominently in the lives of the Anishinaabeg, as well as the traditional floral motifs that Anishinaabe-Kwewag continue to use in their beadwork, quillwork, embroidery, and other creative media. Surrounding her central designs are the conventional North American quilting blocks that were introduced by the first European Settlers, and continue to be developed by contemporary quilt artisans. Through her practice Alice combines the knowledge and appreciation of her Anishinaabe ancestry with new materials, to create wonderful expressions at the intersection of cultural symbolism, the healing arts, and Indigenous activism.

Since she took her first course in quilting in 1980, Alice Olsen Williams has never looked back.  Before she became a quilt artist, Alice teacher of the primary grades, and mother of four, completed her B.A. from Trent University. As well as developing her skills in beadwork and sewing, she discovered quilting, mastering the techniques which allow her to create meticulous hand-quilting. Gradually Alice formed the concepts which would be the basis for her distinctive style and work.  Blending her cultural heritage into a unified whole, she envisions the central motif to depict the symbols and themes of Anishinaabe culture, surrounded by the conventional North American quilting blocks and patterns which were developed and continue to be evolved by those women and their descendants who came to this Land from Europe, the legacy of her father’s people.  Through her understanding of the teachings of the Elders, Alice has created her own Life symbol.  She continues to grow as an artist, searching for new ways to express the Spirit of Creation in the images of her designs.

Alice's quilts and wall-hangings have been included in exhibitions at the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian), Michigan State University, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Wanuskewin Heritage Park and the Art Gallery of Peterborough, plus many other museums and art galleries.  She was the Artist-in-Residence at Trent University in 2007. Recently she was the Visiting Elder for the SAGE Indigenous Graduate Students Conference at UBC.

Caroline Seck Langill is a Peterborough-based writer and curator whose academic scholarship and curatorial work looks at the intersections between art and science, as well as the related fields of new media art history, criticism and preservation. Further interests lie in non-canonical art histories, gender studies and Indigenous epistemologies. With Lizzie Muller, based at UNSW, she has been looking at questions of liveliness in art and artifacts. She is currently an Associate Professor at OCAD University.

Image: Alice Williams, applique workshop held as part of On Hospitality, part of Artsweek 2018. Photo credit: Rodney Fuentes