“Now and Then” Rug Hooking Exhibit Pays Tribute to Joan MacGillivary
2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Lady Slipper Rug Hooking Guild in Summerside. The Guild has played a major role in breathing new life into the old world art of rug hooking and has taught and encouraged new generations of rug hookers. In a desire to mark the anniversary and pay tribute to the remaining founding member of the Guild, Joan MacGillivary, who marked her 90th birthday in May, an exhibit was secretly planned for the Lefurgey Cultural Centre.
The Guild had six founding members. Dot Clark was the instigator. She discovered the art of rug hooking in a visit to her sister off-Island. In viewing her sister’s work and trying her hand at hooking she wanted to see the skill revived in Summerside and recruited Dot Enman, Vivian MacNeil, Edie Thompson, Isabel Cameron and Joan MacGillivary to form the Lady Slipper Rug Hooking Guild. MacGillivary was the youngest original member. As an artist who had painted since High School and further expanded her skill under the tutelage of such artists as Ardis DesBorough, MacGillivary quickly embraced rug hooking and blended it with painting. She was an eager participant in the weekly rug hooking gathering and the yearly trips to join with the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Guilds for workshops taught by the best instructors in the country. MacGillivary loved to work with the array of colours in hooking and while she did design mats she preferred to hook the patterns of other top designers. She admits she had to work hard to become a master rug hooker, but every moment invested in the art was worth the effort. In addition to the creativity of the art she enjoyed the comradeship with other rug hookers.
MacGillivary has 25 rugs listed in the PEI Rug Hooking Registry, but her numbers are far greater. Most of her creations grace her own home or those of family members, but she has sold mats when her storage space has filled.
The anniversary – tribute exhibit was planned by Guild members Linda Marchbank, Brenda Sinclair, Louise Morris, Janet Vieth-Forbes, and Marlene Cameron. A number of MacGillivary’s paintings were chosen to be adapted to rug patterns and hooked by Guild members for the show. The paintings and the rugs hang side by side on one section of the gallery. There are also a number of MacGillivary’s hooking creations. The works of other Guild members round out the show. It was all kept a secret from MacGillivary until the show was hung and she was invited to a private viewing with a few of the Guild members. MacGillivary was overwhelmed by the tribute. She described it as a humbling experience. MacGillivary is still actively participating in the Guild and the creation of new works of art.
The “Now and Then” Rug Hooking Exhibit can be viewed at the Lefurgey Cultural Centre, 205 Prince Street, Summerside until October 8, Monday – Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm.