2014: What a year it's been!


It’s that time of year… reflecting on the past, and making goals for the upcoming year. For me, looking back fills me with great pride and a lot of energy moving forward. In early January of 2014, I joked that 2014 was going to be the year of the “Shelley” (playing on the Chinese zodiac). And I've got to say… it was! I had 3 public art commissions come to completion this year, with the MUHC hospital mural being my largest artwork to date. I’m anxious for the hospital to officially open in April of 2015 for the public to see this 640 square feet mural, Structura habitata,  in person. As well, there was the mural "Croissance" (Growth) for an elementary school (École Katimavik-Hébert) in Ville-St.Laurent commissioned by the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board. To end the year, there was the AMT mural (Tissu urban) at the new Saint-Michel - Montreal-North train station...all aboard!  Worth noting, all three of those projects were fabricated and installed by my longtime collaborators, Mosaika Art & Design

2015 is already set to be a big one. I’ve been awarded an outdoor commemorative sculpture commission in Pointe Claire (West Island of Montreal) honouring the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame. Landscape architect Eileen Finn and I are looking forward to breathing some new life into this historical site. I have also been shortlisted  for a project for one of the new LRT stations in Ottawa. The station I’ve been shortlisted for is Parliament Station. No pressure… :-)

I’ll also be starting some new projects and research in Brazil in the coming year, collaborating with communities in Bahia and in Rio de Janeiro.  Stay tuned for updates on these projects on my blog throughout the year. 

Stay happy, healthy, and creative 

TISSU URBAIN - Inauguration

These photos were taken Monday, November 17th. I'm so proud to have my work in this prominent location and I hope it continues to be a part of this area's urban fabric for many decades to come. 

You know a project is officially done when there's a ribbon-cutting ceremony!  I kind of wish all my projects had that kind of grand finale. In this case, it was more than just to mark the completion of my artwork, but to inaugurate the opening of a new commuter train station in St-MIchel - Montréal North. This AMT station is part of the new commuter train line going out to Mascouche, on Montreal's North Shore.

I also want to give a shout out to my fabricator, Mosaika Art & Design, in Montreal, for the amazing work they did to translate my original  artwork design in ceramic. I literally can't tell the difference between a photo of my original, and a photo of the final product! 


"What's my inspiration you ask?"  I've been pitching projects back to back this year and it feels like inspiration can come from strange or less obvious places sometimes. Last week, I stumbled upon an amazing wood retail store, selling rare and unique scraps of wood, veneer sold in large rolled sheets, and wood-carving tools of every size. It was across the street from the AMT station where I just installed a ceramic mural, in Montreal North. It was very challenging to keep my credit card in my wallet! 

I dedicated the MUHC project to my mom this year, who in my eyes, is a quilt guru. Her quilting crew in Melville, Saskatchewan  (and these ladies are some serious quilters by the way) make some of the most fantastic patterns. I was able to get a few quilting genes thankfully and I think when you do what you love inspiration seems like a pretty tough thing to define.

In some of my recent prep work for an upcoming proposal I got the chance to uncover some pretty interesting historic archives. Some of the documents that I researched were so personal and touching that they moved me tears. I'm sometimes surprised at what a sap I can be sometimes. 

I guess in a comforting way I am ok with not being able to tap into that inspirational place on demand...until, that is, they develop an app for that.

Quilt detail by my mom, Mary Miller

Quilt detail by my mom, Mary Miller

Pincushion design by my mom, Mary Miller

Pincushion design by my mom, Mary Miller

AMT Montréal North - St. Michel Station

We just finished installing my ceramic mural, "Tissu urbain" for a new AMT commuter train station in Montreal North. The station won't open until December 2014, so the site is still looking a bit rough. I just wanted to share this sneak peek! The official opening for the artwork likely won't happen until spring of 2015 after landscaping has been finished. 

Fabricated by the amazing team at Mosaika Art & Design, all pieces are hand-made from porcelain clay and hand painted to replicate the fabric texture that I used in my original design. Some pieces have photo transfers but most are created manually, painted on to create the look of fabric. And hence, the title, Urban Fabric: a comment about the many users of this station and the diverse makeup of this community. 

CROISSANCE (Growth): In the Making

At the end of the last "school year" I finished installing an art project at an elementary school in Montreal, École Katimavik-Hébert. The grades ranged from kindergarten to Grade 8. Each student was asked to select a page from their favourite book, either a photo, or text, and these would be integrated into the final artwork. Since a lot of them are quite young, my description of the project seemed to fall on deaf ears. I decided to make a short video for them to watch, explaining the process. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure! 

Version en français ici!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw_eAShwMGk

AMT PROJECT "Tissu Urbain" (AKA: my baby)

Time can fly pretty fast. As a parent, I often gauge time in terms of how old my son is, or what happened ‘pre-child’ vs ‘post-child’.  But in the case of my public art project for a new AMT commuter train station (Montreal-North / St. Michel AMT station), it’s literally the age of my son. I was pregnant with him when I was short-listed, and showed up for the site visit with the artists and architect waddling at 5-months pregnant. I continued to work furiously on the design every time my newborn slept. Then, when he was only 3 months old, I had to present my design concept and maquette to the selection committee.  Sleep deprived or not, never underestimate the competitive drive of a new mom!  I was awarded the commission and now, my son is almost 3 years old and the project is finally done. 

It's on the floor and waiting for an installation date to be set. Hopefully that'll be in the next month, but with construction deadlines, it may have to wait a little longer. I'm only showing details for now... you'll have to wait a little longer for the grand unveiling. 


Last night, my 3-year old found my Achilles heel. Just before it was time for him to go to bed, he started begging and pleading "but I want to DRAW!". Over and over, he asked to draw. How could I refuse? Although the chance was very high he was just trying to avoid bedtime, I still wanted to believe that he might have been overcome with inspiration. Heck, maybe we could pull an all-nighter sometime, drawing, collaging, listening to music.  Ok... so maybe not that far. But if his reason to go to bed later is because he wants to draw, I'll gladly grant him that wish. 

Here he is in front of his first wall painting:

And this is his "edited" version of my design for the MUHC hospital public art project. He continued to glue additional hexagons onto a print-out of the design that he found on my desk. It's pretty good. Maybe next time, I'll consult with him earlier in the design stage. 

MUHC commission unveiled

With the official press launch of all 11 public artworks out of the way, I can finally post images of my design and the work in progress. It's been challenging to be so tight-lipped, but I guess it was good to build suspense! 

This is a photo of my artwork design in the architectural maquette I made for the selection process. To give you a sense of the scale, that little black figure represents a 6-foot tall person. The artwork dimensions will be 25 feet high x 28 feet wide.  The location for my artwork is right at one of the main entrances to the adult hospital wing. 

The work is being fabricated in ceramic, hand-build clay, onyx and mosaic, as well as some image transfers on ceramic. Here are some details of the production at Mosaika Art & Design. Click on image to scroll through. 


One of my favourite things about starting a new project is figuring out how to turn an idea into a tangible thing. Everything is perfect in your sketchbook. My sketchbook is my playground; a place where I can dream big. But to convince others to fund those dreams takes a different art form: planning and budgeting. 

To make my ideas come to fruition I need to collaborate with other talented people. I visited m3béton yesterday, a company I worked with a few years ago to help make "CIRCULATION". Together, we're coming up with great solutions for new ideas. Tomorrow, I'm going to visit a 3D printing and modelling lab. I've never done that kind of work before, and maybe I won't anytime soon, but I'm excited to see new possibilities and to forge new relationships. 

I used to think that art-making was a solo act. But I've learned over the years that it takes teamwork to accomplish great things: professionally and personally. I still like to sit in my studio alone, enjoying the silence. But I keep reminding myself to open my door, and symbolically open my heart to ever increasing possibilities in the world.