Wednesday, March 25, 2009

summer camp...

The power to make things beautiful lies in each
of us already. It is a core so simple and so
deep, that we are born with it.


I use this quote at the beginning of every class. Photographic arts,
doll making, assemblage and bricolage, l'm like a traveling magic
show. It takes me a day to load my truck, old canvas, fabric, some
stained, some smelly, dirty rusty tin, banged up wood, blocks of
beeswax, needles and thread, and sometimes my sewing machine.

If it were the middle ages, l'd be tortured and hung up for my alchemist ways.
I taught a couple of two day workshops at the Denman Island Arts Center,
doll making and assemblage. l'm always scared when l go to denman island,
it's lawless you know. The people on denman don't just grow potatoes and corn
There are lots of artists there and they care. So l have to be prepared, l have to satisfy
them. If l don't, who knows, l'd probably wind up on the shore of the mainland, my
limbs sewn together, covered in beeswax, looking like a kewpie doll.

(to all of my students, sorry for the lack of names, if you have
a name or website, let me know and l'll post it.)

Wells, BC. - I've taught a few times at the Island Mountain Arts Center
I've also stayed a winter or two there, out in Stromville. In a cabin, woodstove
and lights powered by car batteries, sometimes l felt like a hairless dog curling
up tight to keep warm. Wells is a magical place and l like teaching there. Last time
l taught for five days, the first two days are the honeymoon, the third day,
it's over, people are sick of working eight hours stitching and sticking and listening
to my banter about the importance "of caring". Some even wished they had taken
the calligraphy class down the hall. I bribe them with cookies, fortune cookies
and chocolate cookies and if they make it to thursday, were okay.
The last day is the best, were all comfortable with each other,
things are just beginning to
develop, in fact that's
when the five days should really start.

Doesn't matter what class you take with me, l get you to make a fabric doll.

"If a child died, Ojibwa Indian women made a "doll of Misfortune"
creating it from feathers and placing it in a cradle, the mother cared for
the doll just as if it were a real baby. She would take it on journeys,
talk to it and give it presents for one year, until she considered the
baby old enough to reach paradise on its own."

Before making a doll, l ask the students to write for ten minutes non-stop
starting with words "I remember". This zen practice of writing is
borrowed/inspired from Natalie Goldberg
The students are brave, most read what they have written,
some tearfully, some with laughter, all with courage.

Metchosin, BC - I taught a five day class last summer at the
Metchosin International summer school of the arts.
This place is beautiful, it's like summer camp without the bully's. You sleep
there, you eat there, and you create. I start this class by making pinhole
cameras out of old record covers. Self portraits, transfers, rusty tin figures,
fabric dolls, encaustic, and collage. The pinhole images are beautiful,

it takes awhile to make the camera light proof. lots of black tape, lots of
frustration, but once done, it's like you just made friends with
Joseph Niepce. The act of building this little crooked box. The act of
building, so important, working with your hands, feeling and fumbling.
Like peeing in a ditch, you can't miss. It's almost primitive, and very
real, you just want to dance naked around a big fire.

And there's one thing you can't lose
And it's that feel
It's that feel

Red Deer, AB - I am teaching another five day class this summer at
Red Deer College. Last summer l had a wonderful group...
even a couple who had returned second year in a row, l guess l didn't explain
myself clearly enough the first time. (Thank you Paul and Glynis, and

of course thank you Erika and Gillian who always support me
and try to come to nearly all workshops.)

And me and Molley Hoey drank Pruno and Koolaid and she had a
Tattoo gun made out of a cassette Motor and a guitar string and
She soaked a hanky in 3 Roses And rubbed it on the spot
And drew a rickety heart and A bent arrow and it hurt like hell

A “bricoleur” is a kind of handyman who enjoys adroitly drawing upon all
sorts of everyday things - whatever is at hand
- to attend to those things that make the good life.

What has changed is my way of seeing,
l am learning how to look at pictures,
what has changed is my capacity of feeling.
Art opens the heart.

Winter has passed...

still a little cold...

but were warm...

I listen to him almost every day, and
because Renee at Circling My Head needs
some wailin and moanin, here is Jacque Brel


Renee said...

Ken how did you know I would love him. I have never heard Jacques before, but I will be hearing a lot of him from now on.

Thanks for turning me on to him.

I was going to talk about your workshops and the dols but it all went out the window when I saw your gorgeous baby, your dog, and the sensual picture of your woman's leg and hand.


I am happy to see that your best piece of art was a collaborative effort.

Love Renee xoxo

RachelW said...

Oh, how I would love to take one of your classes! Alchemical doll-making... and what a wonderful description of Denman Island. Lawless. Haha!

Manon Doyle said...

I'm with Rachel and would love to go back to B.C and take one of your classes! I lived in North Van and Chilliwack when I was young! A perfect reason to go back would be one of your amazing classes!

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

You must be such a fun teacher to have. And, I'm sure the "ladies" must develop crushes on you, I know I would:D Just teasing, Mrs. Flett. wink wink (lol)

How rewarding it must be for you to see your student's works throughout your class, and especially towards the end. A wonderful gift it is to pass on the knowledge of your craft to others.

P.S. ONce again, I love your photos, and your son and dog are adorable! Will you ever create a bricolage of them together?


Aleksandra said...

:O) :O) :)

kenflett said...

I'm glad you like jacque brel Renee. And yes, the boy is kindof like a superhero except without the superpowers :)

Thank you Rachel and Manon, but really, it's the cookies that are inticeing you.

Thanks Nancy :) but no, no crushes, l'm the meanest instructor out there, sometimes l will even ripe someone's work up and tell them it looks better. :)
A painting of the two boys together, well you know how l like cute, so yes, perhaps.

kenflett said...

You of the things l ask in doll making, is for everyone to go outside and collect organic material, then make two dolls, one to say your sorry to someone, and one, well...your greatest love.
I bet all of you could make some outstanding stick dolls., and l promise you cookies next time you visit me.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

I don't think the "meanest" instructor would offer cookies so nicely:) Anyway, teachers who expect the most from their students, get the most in return.

P.S. I love what you wrote in your comments (here) about asking to make two dolls (one to say you're sorry and the other for your greatest love.) How beautiful:) I'm going to try, one day soon when there are more organic materials on the ground to collect!

Sarah said...

Hi Ken, thanks for your lovely comment which I just saw today!
I have enjoyed visiting your blog too and wish I lived nearby so I could take one of your workshops. I like that idea in your comment of making a doll to say sorry and one -is it for or of your greatest love?
Love the photos of the workshops and of your sweet son!
Sarah :)

Renee said...

Ken is your wife Amy? I think I just saw Jonah on her site.

If so, she is hillarious and brilliant.

Thanks for the birthday wish done in totally Ken style, which of course I loved.

Love Renee xoxo

James Parker said...

What an incredible journey, Ken. And images. And memories. The story of the Indian doll fascinates me...I'm filing that in my Hmmmm file. Oh, and thanks again for a compelling photo for EPTAS...I tried to do it justice.

kenflett said...

I hope you make those two dolls Nancy, you could post them on created by hand :) or l would surely post them.

kenflett said...

Thanks for visiting Sarah.

Thanks Renee, yes, she sure is. :)

Thanks so much James, l like your words on eptas.

fucoid said...

damn, you make me want to be a better citizen. no easy feat.

kenflett said...

better than what?, just bring your outcast gypsy and come to camp.

Cherie/ Butterfly Dreamer said...

You are an amazing artist and photographer. I love your work.


kenflett said...

thank you papillon. :)

Renee said...

Hey Ken are you still rockin out in your end of the world.

Just wanted to send you some love.

Love Renee xoxo

kenflett said...

Renee, how lovely to hear from you. :) rockin out, takin rocks out, crawling around making tunnels under my house, just like The great Escape.

Renee said...

Another three months till spring in Winnipeg -- You need to take that back.....


Love Renee

kenflett said...

I take it back Renee, :) actually l think winnipeg is probably the best city in canada.

Aleksandra said...

Dear Ken,as I think of you highly,I wanted to share a small award with you,so if you want it its yours(on my blog)you'll see how and what with it,hugz and loads of good love to you,Amy and Jonah from Sandra
If you do not want it its OK throw it in a lake of your likings,for cute little fishez,ciao

CathM said...

OooohHhh... I wish I was closer so that I could take one of your classes... they look like great fun & therapeutic. I'd love it!

kenflett said...

Thanks CathM. :)

i should buy a old rusty school bus and tour around giving classes, :) poke a hole in the roof and stick a chimney out of it, if only l had a guitar and could sing.

kenflett said...

Sandra, your so sweet. thanks for the lovelyblogaward from a lovely person.

kenflett said...

Sandra, your so sweet. thanks for the lovelyblogaward from a lovely person.

Pierre Raby said...

Inspiring post Ken, sharing your world.
I'm especially moved by your beautiful four last photos showing peace and love from your intimacy - how humble and generous.
A great weekend to you and the ones you love.

kenflett said...

Pierre, you bring warmth to my blog, thank you so much.