Sans Soucie Zero Waste Texile + Design

This blog is about a Vancouver artist I know, Katherine Soucie, and her incredible work as a zero-waste textile + design artist. Her business, Sans Soucie, turns pre-consumer waste hosiery into new textiles for high-fashion women’s clothing and, more recently, 3D forms. Although Soucie is not an outsider artist, I met her through my outsider art connections and since this is my blog… I get to write about all sorts of cool art events.

When I first met Soucie, I couldn’t really imagine the world of re-used textiles she described. As a person who can ‘almost’ sew a button onto a shirt, I was at a loss to imagine the extent of her industry or the breath of her skill and creativity. I remember thinking that her work embodies everything an artist ‘should be’ in this century:  exceptionally skilled, fully committed, highly imaginative, and engaged in global issues. In Soucie’s case, the issue is the staggering ecological impact of the clothing industry on the environment. It is second only to the big oil producers. Few of us think about our carbon footprint when we buy ‘fast clothing’, with its long chain of getting clothing to market: growing natural textiles (with pesticides), producing synthetic textiles (from oil by-products); dying it (with toxic chemicals), manufacturing it in industrial settings, shipping it around the world (using fossil fuels), and its ultimate disposal in landfills. But Soucie does think about these serious issues and her life’s work has revolved around creating haute couture – truly wearable art pieces – from pre-consumer waste hosiery.

Soucie’s zero waste design philosophy means that she creates items from products that manufacturers have discarded; the process is environmentally sound, low-impact, and free of metal toxins. Any waste she produces is collected and re-purposed by other artists in the design community. In short, Soucie creates gorgeous clothing from waste that would otherwise end up in the trash. And what vibrant and sensuous clothing it is! Her highly-collectible work was lauded in British Vogue magazine last year.

Having mastered the art of clothing design (in my view), Soucie is turning to other creative ventures. At her recent exhibit at Seymour Art Gallery, she displayed some of her quirky ‘wrapped’ sewing machines, each one a unique and colourful reflection of her creative energy. They remind me of the objects that outsider artist Judith Scott so lovingly bound with strips of cloth. For Soucie, the machines are the tools of her trade, dating back to the Industrial Age of the 18th Century when garment manufacturing began in earnest. If only those cloth merchants could see her now! The other artist in the exhibit was Michelle Sirois-Silver, who uses scraps from Soucie’s production to hook colourful rugs.

The word ‘garbage’ doesn’t exist in either of these artists’ vocabularies.

The most intriguing of Soucie’s recent ventures has been her residency with HCMA Architecture + Design, an architecture agency that explores the public realm, seeking to ’tilt’ their perspective by watching artists at work. In Cast ON, Cast OFF, Soucie ‘knit’ a sculptural room from waste hosiery. A crown of LED lights hangs above the sculpture, inviting us to step inside the warm glow. The other pieces are seats, filled with natural latex foam.  Soucie asks us to consider what its like to be inside a garment that is not a garment. For Soucie, the residency was a perfect fit because structure and architecture has always informed her work as a textile designer. The project was another reminder that we all, as consumers, must step away from the frenzy of fast fashion. There are more sustainable ways to make the clothes we live in.











Raw Vision Magazine – The quirky world of Jordan MacLachlan

My article about Canadian outsider artist, Jordan MacLachlan, was just published in the current edition (#94) of Raw Vision, the international magazine of outsider art. Titled, The Stuff of Life: The sculptures of Jordan MacLachlan, the article begins like this:

Jordan MacLachlan is a storyteller, describing to us what is, was, and could be. Sometimes the stories are a Grimm’s fairy tale of horror; others are benevolent and quirky propositions that ask: what if this happened?

The article introduces readers to her current sculpture series, Unexpected Subway Living, in which  MacLachlan explores the consequences of a catastrophe that forces people and animals into the underworld of subways. Her 300 sculptures populate a 24-foot surface, doing ordinary and extraordinary things, from a man smoking a cigarette to a headless woman walking a sounder of swine. It is, undeniably, an intriguing, horrific, and funny story. Check it out.

More about MacLachlan and her work can be found in earlier blogs.


Martine Birobent and Jordan MacLachlan at Norway Exhibit


COOL: THE ARCTIC OUTSIDERS in Norway is featuring the work of two Canadian artists: Jordan MacLachlan from Toronto (see previous blog) , as well as Martine Birobent (Quebec). The exhibit  is at the Museum of Outsider Art in Harstad as part of the Northern Norway Festival. This photo shows MacLachlan’s sculptures and Birobent’s dolls (hanging on the wall). The first report from the curator is that the exhibition is a great success, with more than 1500 visitors in the first week. Remarkable feedback, too.

Birobent, who passed away too young last year, has two pieces in the exhibit. Both speak to the oppression of women, their bodies bound, their mouths covered, barely mobile in their confined state. Below (top) is Muzzled Milk Chocolate. The other is Muzzled Lilas Verte, which reminds me of Atwood’s eerie foretelling, in The Handmaid’s Tale, of a society of subjugated women, kept for the sole purpose of bearing children.



Visitors are particularly relating to MacLachlan’s sculpture of Marius and the giraffe, which documents the killing of Marius in front of a gawking crowd at the Copenhagen zoo in 2014.

It is wonderful to see two of Canada’s top artists being in the spotlight. And it’s perfect timing for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, eh?



Jordan MacLachlan goes to Norway

COOL – THE ARCTIC OUTSIDERS, is the name of an upcoming exhibit at Norway’s museum of outsider art. Canadian artist, Jordan MacLachlan, was invited to exhibit her clay vignettes at the festival along with works from other participating Arctic countries: Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. (Who knew Canada was an Arctic country?) This makes her an outsider in more ways than the obvious one.

One of the works on exhibit, entitled Marius, is pictured above. It shows the dispassionate response of visitors watching the matter-of-fact killing of the giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo in 2014. Eighteen-month old Marius was a healthy, but genetically unsuitable, giraffe who was fed his favourite breakfast before he was shot, chopped up, and fed to the lions.

This compelling scene is a fine example from MacLachlan’s large body of work, which bears witness to our complex relationship with animals. We use them for food, work, sport, and companionship. We can also, apparently, get rid of them when they outlive their usefulness.

The exhibit is at Sortroms Museum/Trastad Samlinger, Norway’s Museum for Outsider Art. It runs from 20 June to 1 September 2017. The exhibit will take place in a new gallery in the center of Harstad during The Northern Norway Festival.






Jordan MacLachlan – Unexpected Subway Living

03jm2009detailAnother uber-project from MacLachlan is her vignettes of what does or might happen on the subway. Displayed on a 24-foot table is humanity in all its gory detail: a headless pig-walker, a woman giving birth, and a man being attacked by a pack of dogs. In the midst of this chaos sits a pure white Buddha deep in meditation on a subway seat, oblivious to it all, or perhaps, accepting it all as the stream of life. Not, we hope, what we will encounter on our morning commute to work, but certainly possible if all parallel universes happen to collide in one unforgettable moment.


Such is the vivid vision of Jordan MacLachlan, who sculpts her figures with terracotta, plaster, varnish, paints and make-up. I am forever astounded by the quirky humour of this artist who casually drops laugh-out-loud images into the bleakest scenarios. It leaves me gasping for breath… in a good way. 


Oh, look, there’s a snowman sweeping up debris! JordanMacLachlan_162

Waaait a minute… is that Santa? Or is it Noah waiting for the animals to hop into his sack?JordanMacLachlan_185

And then, thankfully, there’s the Buddha, the sole figure of serenity in this glorious jumble of humanity.78(1)






Jordan is heading off to NYC for the Outsider Art Fair this weekend, where her work is being featured by Marion Harris. Kudos to you, Jordan!