adventures in enamelling, stories, music and travel
From 1975-79 Catherine acquired a BA in Philosophy and History.She has always been fascinated by the past and by ideas. It set the tone for the rest of her life and she continues to think of it as the best four years she ever spent. She never lost these interests, and purues independent studies to the present.
So then ventured into the world of low paying day jobs and theatre. She was bitten by the theatre bug in junior high and never lost her love for theatre, working as a professional both back and on stage for some years.
However theatre proved frustrating as an artistic pursuit, she felt she had too little creative control over the outcome.
Just around this time she had started attending Irish music sessions at the Unicorn pub on Eglinton Avenue. Her great friend and mentor – her uncle Gerry Crowe – had introduced her into the thriving cultural scene that was Toronto’s Irish community. She soon became hooked on Irish music and culture – eventually travelling to Ireland, Scotland and Brittany with long time partner and musical mentor Ian Goodfellow.
While in Ireland she discovered the beautiful enamels that were part of the Celtic art of the European Iron age and she was smitten. She also met Ola Gorie (a distant relation of Ian’s) and was inspired by her use of traditional designs to make modern jewellery, and also by her generosity and encouragement. On returning to Canada she taught herself enamelling largely from books, but especially using “The Art of Champlevé and Cloisonné Enamelling” by Patrick and Judith Lull Stroshal and Coral Schaffer (now, sadly out of print)
She began selling her work first on the street in Toronto’s funky Queen St W entertainment district (Queen & Soho), but eventually moved to shows. She didn’t do ‘craft’ shows – preferring the more diverse milieu of folk and cultural festivals where people were more likely to relate to the mythological and folkloric nature of her work. Now she tends to concentrate on Conferences (archaeological, anthropological and cultural) which focus more specifically on understanding and teaching cultural values in more depth. In tandem with teaching herself enamels she has been studying Celtic/Irish folklore, art history, archaeology and mythology – which are her main sources of inspiration. This research is ongoing, and occasionally leads to her giving papers (like this one) at cultural Conferences as well as exhibiting.
Starting in 2000 she has taken classes with Faye Rook, an internationally renowned enamellist who taught at Ontario College of Art for many years. This has stimulated her work enormously, helping her focus on technique as well as content. She has also begun her own teaching career – starting at folk schools and now finding a home in the Fashion and Jewellery Department at George Brown College’s Continuing Education Division.
Most of her current shows are in the USA. She divides her time between enamelling, singing, researching and teaching; and enjoys immensely the endless adventure of life on the road. She hopes you will come and visit her at one of her shows, as she loves lively conversation above all things.
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