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Suzanne Swannie and Eskasoni Mi'kmaq Women
1979 silk appliqué with beads
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Eskasoni Mi’kmaq Women and Suzanne Swannie
Phyllis Denny, Patsy Dennis, Frances Paul, Juanita Syllaboy, Deborah Julian, Anita Young under the leadership of Margaret Johnson
(Cape Breton, NS)
Suzanne Swannie, consultant and designer
(b. 1942 Copenhagen, Denmark; lives in Halifax, NS)
silk appliqué with beads
106.6 x 170 cm
Mount Saint Vincent University Collection
Abamou, named after a Mi’kmaq spirit, is based on the appliqué and beadwork border of traditional clothing and basketry once created and worn by the Mi’kmaq women of what is now Cape Breton.
Suzanne Swannie was commissioned in 1978 by the Fine Arts Committee of the Eskasoni reserve to design a fibre hanging based on Mi’kmaq traditions. She researched Mi’kmaq pieces held in the collection of the Nova Scotia Museum, looking for inspiration in traditional objects. Swannie worked with Margaret Johnson, Phyllis Denny, Patsy Dennis, Frances Paul, Juanita Syllaboy, Deborah Julian, and Anita Young, to produce a series of fabric hangings recalling traditional Mi’kmaq women’s practices.
Of her role in the project, Swannie says, When I was asked to work on the Eskasoni fibre project, my exposure to traditional Micmac art had been very limited. I therefore spent some time reading and researching piece of works in the collection of the Nova Scotia Museum. Certain objects, very beautiful in quality and design, were representative of Micmac women’s work through time. These designs could, I felt, form basic designs which when transformed would function very well in a contemporary situation. It was important not to disturb the strong design concept with its emphasis on geometry. Also the traditional quality of craftsmanship should be retained and emphasized.
Suzanne Swannie is a distinguished artist with an international reputation for production weaving and unique fabric construction.
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