The Indigenous practice of tufting infuses Amy Malbeuf's practice, her new print — even her hands
'I remember being a young kid and looking at it with awe and wonder. It looks like magic to me'
Eight Canadian artists have returned to the famed lithography workshop at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, to work with a master and create some fresh prints. Print's Not Dead follows these artists through the process — how they're making their works and the thinking that informed them.
Amy Malbeuf is an artist adept at many practices that are tough on the hands — tufting, hand sewing, beadwork, even tattooing. (As she points out in this video, she has the words "TUFT LIFE" tattooed on her fingers, reminding her to keep her hands in safe shape.) But tufting is a process that has influenced her since childhood. She says, "I don't remember the point at which I became aware of tufting — it's something that's always been visible and seen around my community. I remember being a young kid and seeing it and just sort of looking at it with awe and wonder. It looks like magic to me."
Malbeuf has brought this magic to her new print, made for the lithography workshop at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University) that was a renowned part of the school in the 1970s. Visited by many famous conceptual artists then, the workshop has once again become a destination for contemporary artists. Eight of them, including Malbeuf, have been working with master printer Jill Graham to create their own prints — and they all come from different practices.
Watch the video:
For Malbeuf, tufting was a natural choice to make her subject in her new print called Tuft Life. She says, "What I found really interesting about lithography is that it's a very tedious way of making an image or an artwork, just as tufting is. And so, I thought it would be really interesting to pair those two mediums as ideas together."
As you'll see in this video made by filmmaker Marcia Connolly, the result is a print that highlights the individual hairs that make up tufting and blow them up to large-scale. Malbeuf concludes, "I like that it shows completely transformed tuft with the original, like where we started from to get that image. And I think that's very important to me, as someone who is very connected to material and medium. This is a lithography about a tufting and so it's important to include the actual tufting, to me."
This video is part of a CBC Arts series called Print's Not Dead documenting eight artists working in NSCAD's lithography workshop in the present day — stay tuned for more to come. You can see the exhibition of these artists' works at NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editions, on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until April 26, 2020.
Find out more about the NSCAD Lithography Workshop and explore the works that have come out of it since 1969 here. And you can follow Amy Malbeuf here. You can see her work as part of They Forgot That We Were Seeds at Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa, February 9-April 19, 2020.