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Camphill part of World Wide Weave

By Susan Doolan, Special to Postmedia Network

Camphill resident Tanya Widenhorn stands beside her fibre art creation , one of several items which will be available during an upcoming tribute dinner to be held at the Maclaren Art Centre, Thursday, April 7th.  Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner/Postmedia Network

Camphill resident Tanya Widenhorn stands beside her fibre art creation , one of several items which will be available during an upcoming tribute dinner to be held at the Maclaren Art Centre, Thursday, April 7th. Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner/Postmedia Network

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Camphill Communities has a lot to celebrate this year and most of it comes to fruition this month.

The first, a global textile exhibition called World Wide Weave, arrives in Barrie next week. It coincides with the annual Community Action Award tribute dinner, which this year honours internationally renowned artist, goldsmith, teacher and humanitarian, Donald Stuart.

Both events start April 7.

The exhibition, which is free to public to see, features 75 wall-hangings in weaving, tapestry, felting and other techniques, all created in the textile workshops of Camphill Communities around the globe.

One of the wall-hangings was made here in Barrie, at the weavery on Florence Street.

"Each scarf symbolizes the weaving together of their relationships (to different people, each other, and the community), how it keeps them warm, and the gold buttons symbolize their individuality," said Diane Kyd, co-founder of the local Camphill community. "It's lovely."

To the 10 weavers who created the wall-hanging, it represented community. The lighter scarves in the centre reflected the "light that comes from being held in the community, feeling safe and loved," while the darker scarves created a border symbolizing strong friendships.

Once the piece was complete, it was sent to England last spring for the start of the tour. It has been winding its way through Europe and after the Barrie show will move on to New York City for the 50th anniversary of Camphill in North America.

There are 11 Camphill Communities across North America. After the U.S., World Wide Weave moves on to Norway, one of 20 countries involved in the tour.

In Canada, there are three Camphill Communities: one in North Vancouver, one on Vancouver Island and one in Ontario which encompasses Barrie and Angus.

Kyd and her husband, Chuck, started the first Canadian Camphill in Caledon. It began as a home for children with developmental disabilities. The children grew into adults and they had no place to go, nor was there space in Caledon to expand.

When the Kyds were offered land near Angus, they moved there during the summer of 1987.

That became Camphill Nottawasaga, which includes a working farm where vegetables are grown, beef cattle, greenhouse, herbery, pottery studio, wood shop and Novalis Hall, which includes a library and auditorium where all kinds of performances and workshops are held.

An urban component followed in Barrie in 1997, as did the weavery, mosaic studio, life-skills programs and most recently a downtown store for the products they create as well as a variety of art and crafts by friends of Camphill from the greater Barrie region.

Currently, between the urban and rural centres, there are 30 residents and 25 day program participants.

The Barrie Camphill marks its 30th anniversary this year.

"Thirty years, now we're telling the stories," said Kyd, adding that it’s all about the stories of people and their abilities whether they are disabled or not. "There's a story behind every single item (in the store).”

There are more than a few stories about Donald Stuart, which will no doubt unfold during the annual tribute dinner April 7.

Camphill chose Stuart to be the receipt of their fourth annual Commuity Action Award in part for his humanitarian work, such as helping Inuit women in Pangnirtung set up a hand-weaving studio on Baffin Island in the mid-to-late 1960s and, since his retirement from teaching at Georgian College, to volunteering with Canadian Executive Service Organization, assisting with product development and design.

He received the Order of Canada in 2002.

Those who attend the April 7 dinner will be able to see some of his silver/goldsmithing creativity as 10 necklaces from his exhibition Homage (inspired by Canadian women) will be on display.

The entire exhibition, which was first shown at MacLaren Art Centre in 2010, is on view in Dundas, at the Carnegie Gallery, until April 3.

The dinner, which includes life entertainment by members of the King Edward Choir, also has a silent auction. The weaving by Camphill resident Tanya Widenhorn — she called it Harvest Time — will be up for auction at the dinner. There will also be raffle for a personal piece of jewelry, designed by Stuart, which is valued at $1,500.

For ticket availability to the tribute dinner, call 705-739-1833.

In other events this month, the new Camphill Store, located at 123 Dunlop St. E., will be joining the Barrie Spring Art Tour on April 23-24 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. It includes arts and crafts made by residents from all the various programs as items by artisans from the Barrie area.

One of the Camphill homes joins the tour again this year and will feature artist Valerie Losell. It is the fourth year a Camphill house has been a venue on the tour. The 87 Toronto St., address is where the day programs are held during the week.

One of Camphill's most popular annual events is its spring fair. This year it takes place on May 7 at Camphill Nottawasaga in Angus and is open from noon until 4 p.m. It features a cafe, maple syrup and crafts.

The World Wide Weave exhibition will be on display at Collier Street United Church from April 7 until April 22. View it weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Opening reception is April 9 from 2-5 p.m.

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