Kate Tupper's Valley Comfort

Full Metal Basket weaves worlds together

Friday opening at the RVAC kicks off fall art season

Kate Tupper’s most recent show “Full Metal Basket” is packed up and ready to go to Revelstoke after its abridged show at the ALFA Guild Gallery in Nakusp where a couple of the pieces had to be left out due to the enormity of their size and the smallness of the gallery space.

“There was one giant archway and a larger basket,” Tupper said, “I missed them.”

Such a personal sentiment, like a parent missing a child, is fitting for the show. Each piece is an exploration of ideas of domesticity and family, expressed in woven metal strapping and objects that call to mind home.

“This show is more art and sculpture,” Tupper said, “there’s not a lot of welding.”

Taking metal strapping as her warp and weft, she has woven together nests and hearths and archways, capturing both the durable and fragile aspects of home life, and the difficulty.

“I planned and collected materials for two years,” she told me, “It takes a while to develop ideas, and that was a totally new thing for me too.”

Now that she has entered into her third decade, the artist has noticed changes in interest and the artistic process as she gets older.

“I’m more comfortable with being more personal,” she revealed, “ It’s really scary to put your personal life and anything you’ve made out there.”

But Tupper knows that is what also makes art interesting too.

With her kids and her house, being a full-time artist isn’t possible for the Spark Tart.

“It’s not a reality, and it’s fine,” she remarked, “it’s important to be in the real world.”

Working with Nakusp Music Fest for two years has been great, and Tupper said she’s happy to get up early in order to make time for her art.

This show is particularly close to her heart because it is about her home and family, and the challenges that come with raising a child with mental health issues.

“Everything’s been cut,” she said, about programs in communities and schools that used to exist to help kids.

The show was a great opportunity to use her voice as an artist to raise the issue, so Tupper talked with her two boys and they both were excited about the show.

“They like the snacks,” she said.

The idea to weave metal came to her when she was working at Crescent Bay Construction in Nakusp as a welder when she found a pile of old strapping and began to form this huge sculpture.

At first it was all over the place, she said, and eventually it came together into a beautiful feminine shape. Tupper wasn’t sure she liked it at first.

“Usually in my best pieces, I hate it for a bit,” she told me.

But the material kept drawing her back, its appeal that with weaving she didn’t need any special equipment, just the ancient skill of creating fabric.

“Metal and fabric as materials are very close,” Tupper said, “both stretch, need a pattern and putting together.”

There aren’t a lot of metal workers who sew, she noted, which is why the connection may not seem obvious at first.

Weaving her pieces was a process in itself. She would get up at 5 a.m. and weave until seven when she had to go get the kids ready for school.

“I would cry and cry while I wove,” she said, “and more and more stress came out of my body.”

It was the timeless process of organizing, of putting rows in places, that is part of the art of weaving that Tupper felt she was connecting with.

When she showed the work at Oxygen in Nelson, she gave an artist’s talk and got a chance to interact with the people coming to see her work. It was a very powerful experience.

“The show affected anyone dealing with any mental illness,” she said, and felt that people really connected with something they needed.

Tupper doesn’t feel like she’s done with weaving, and wants to combine her love of crafts into her next work. At the moment, she’s out of strapping, but be prepared for another amazing show once she gets her hands on some more.

The entire collection will be on display at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre September 9th to the 30th, with reception at 6 p.m. on the 9th.

The show also includes Emerging from the Fire, an exhibit featuring raku pottery works of Revelstoke artists Nancy Geismar, Cat Mather and David Walker.

There will also be a Members’ Choice exhibit that will see Revelstoke Visual Arts members sharing works from their own private collections.