Quite honestly, we can't imagine Freedom without the presence of Sparrow Avenue pillows, tea towels, cards and mini pockets. Barbara's portrayal of indigenous animal life celebrates Canadian heritage and reminds us of the natural wealth our country has to offer. And here is how it all started.....
There has never been a time when I was not drawing animals. When I was little I would draw horses while watching TV. Later on in school, I would draw flowers and ivy all over my notebooks.
My work has always been influenced by nature and time. There has always a sense of the past in my work. It might be the subject matter, it might be my choice of colours or even the fabric. I am inspired by engravings from vintage text books and illustrated school dictionaries as well as ephemera from both the Edwardian and post-war periods.
After leaving school, my work naturally flowed into magazine and book illustration. I did this for a number of years until I started showing and selling my paintings.
A few years ago a very close friend invited me her studio to learn screen printing. I always wanted to know something about printmaking but little did I know that this was the beginning of a new direction for me. She was (and still is) instrumental in encouraging me in this new endeavor.
In 2009 Sparrow Avenue was established. Small birds were my interest at the time and sparrows seemed to suit my personality, hence the name. But my interest in animals soon re-surfaced and larger Canadian animals have been introduced into Sparrow Avenue's branding.
On the second floor of an 1899 house is a little studio where most of the work for Sparrow Avenue is produced. It all starts with a lot of drawing before an idea begins to emerge and the drawing is finalized. I also print and sew in this upstairs studio. All the sewing is done on my tiny 1947 Singer Featherweight sewing machine. The work piles up and is then packaged and ready to be shipped or delivered. In the basement I have a tiny dark room where the screens are coated with light-sensitive photo-emulsion. After this dries, the screen is ready to be put on my home-made light table and "exposed" to the drawing. When that is completed, the screen is washed. This is the exciting part because the original drawing emerges out of the photo-emulsion that is washed away.
Since the start of Sparrow Avenue I have been on a continuous adventure of learning. Ideas and possibilities are always presenting themselves. For this I would like to thank Freedom Clothing Collective for not only promoting their artisans but for introducing the "Made in Canada Series" which gives a voice to the work we love.
Keep up to date with Barbara's inspirations on her blog: www.sparrowavenue.blogspot.com.