For Keeps Sneak Peek

For Keeps is one of two gallery shows presented for this year's City of Craft and is currently up in Cream Tangerine, the gallery/cafe that hosts some vendors on the weekend of the show (read: totally convenient to check it out before or after perusing hot crafts). It is a different kind of exhibition in that the pieces (and stories behind them) have been lent to us by generous and trusting souls rather than by artists producing work - though there is no denying the beauty and artistry involved in some of the mending here! These mended pieces are displayed alongside interpretive and evocative portraits by photographer Danijela Pruginic in an in an exploration of the relationships that exist between object and owner. It's poignant stuff!

For those of you who can't make it out to see this exhibition in the flesh or who need a bit of enticement to check it out, here's a peek at four of the photographic portraits accompanied by statements by the people who provided these pieces. The exhibition runs until December 22 - gallery hours are by appointment - please contact jen@torontocraftalert.ca to arrange or just show up this weekend!

For Keeps photography
Big Ted Little Ted, Angela Turner

The bears are about 60 years old. The bigger one was named "Empty Stomach" because he was thin and lost some stuffing, the small one was just "Little Ted". They originally belonged to my cousin who was about ten years older than me - she got them from her grandmother. I played with them from the time I was three or four years old. They were mended by her grandmother...then my mother...and me...different people at different times.

I still remember very clearly my cousin giving them to me with the provision that I take care of them - that the bears had a car accident and had to have surgery. Nobody in our family even had cars in those days, but that was probably the most dramatic thing we could think of that anyone could go through. I really believed it... I was so careful not to touch the stitched parts, their scars, and would never let anyone touch the paws because I thought it would hurt them. I never passed them on to anyone because no-one would have them; they look old and ugly to everyone but me. I have lived in a few different places - England, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Canada...and they have always gone with me.

For Keeps photography
My Favorite Mittens, Mary Kroetsch

My Mother was the best knitter I knew. She taught herself how to knit when she was a young girl and could adapt a pattern like no one else could. These mittens are the last pair she made me. I wore them with pride while she was still alive and when I got a hole in my right mitten thumb she expertly darned it for me. But she passed away in 2007 and never got around to teaching me how to darn. Now a new hole on my left mitten thumb has developed and keeps getting bigger.

My grieving process has taken on many different stages in the past three years as she and I were exceptionally close. My artwork has always dealt with memory and this past year I have been exploring it in a different concept by participating in collaborative events like this one to deposit treasured bits of memory of my mother in unusual places. A mending of a different kind if you know what I mean.

As for the material repair of the mittens, I will tackle that someday – I just need a little more time to make that happen on an emotional level. I love these mittens and must learn how to darn and preserve the memory of my Mom, the knitter.

For Keeps photography
I can fix it myself, can't afford the gold, Jacqueline Lawson

My father, a proud Scotsman, received his ring as a gift from his father shortly after he was sworn into the Mason's organization. It was symbol of an organization to which he and his father and his father- in-law all belonged and a special gift from his Dad that he cherished.

Following many successful years working as a farrier, my father found himself as a part owner of a manufacturing firm that made aluminium horseshoes for thoroughbred horses. This new adventure was to be his retirement security, while in fact the opposite happened. When his ring broke he was not in the financial position to have it repaired by a jeweller. The solution to mend it himself was an easy one. He took it to his workshop and repaired it with his blacksmithing tools and materials. My ring now represents my father, his pride, his love of what he did and I wear it proudly just the way it is.

For Keeps photography
A Disappearing Dress, Serene Daoud

Although I was born in Saudi Arabia, I grew up hearing my family's story of escape from Palestine after the Israeli take-over in 1948. I was raised the daughter of exiles; even after becoming a Canadian citizen, this identity did not disappear. In 1994, when the first "peace-talks" between Israeli and Palestinian leaders was televised, my Humanities teacher and friend Helen, a Jewish Montrealer, handed me this dress. Helen had received the tattered folk-dress from her friend, who had traveled in Israel in the early sixties. Her friend purchased the dress from a Palestinian woman at an open market who sold it at a cheap price because of the scar that cut through the intricate embroidery on the chest panel, right in front of the heart. The cut was made during an emergency birth. Much of the patchwork found on the dress was made by the woman who sold it; only a few patches of synthetic velvet were added by Helen's friend. Helen passed it on to me to commemorate what she felt was a sign of hope for peace in Palestine/Israel. She felt if anyone should inherit this antique dress it should be a young Palestinian woman on the eve of a new era.

I was touched, but also angered, though not at Helen directly. I felt like I was inheriting an 80-year-old corpse, and I was the closest living relative found. I still have very conflicted feelings about this dress; the holes in it keep growing and soon the whole thing will disappear just like its people's memory of their past.


For Keeps: a mending show
December 9-22 (contact jen@torontocraftalert.ca to arrange viewing)
Cream Tangerine Gallery and Café Gallery at the Great Hall
1087 Queen St W
Toronto, ON

Curated by Jen Anisef and Marsya Maharani
Photography by Danijela Pruginic
Presented by Toronto Craft Alert and WORN Fashion Journal with support from Freedom Clothing Collective for City of Craft 2010


  1. This is such a beautiful show. Everyone should make a serious point to spend some time with the works on display over the weekend, or before the 22nd. Congrats Jen!!


  2. slow responder over here. thanks guys!! i was really moved by a lot of the stories behind the pieces and feel like danijela captured the timbre of the relations really well. can't believe this show is all wrapped up now. wishing for an ongoing mending museum!!

  3. I feel like we should work to make mending an annual part of the event. what do you think? You in?