Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Joy of Rejuvenation: Nancy Yule

From humble beginnings, to becoming an artist in her own right, Nancy Yule has come a long way. An early childhood accident resulted in a brain injury causing her speech problems. As a result, she was put in remedial classes because complications in expression caused hindrances in communications. Yet, each year, Nancy graduated to the next level in school. By middle school, she was experiencing school as a popular child. She excelled more at school as compared to within her family at home. 

“Throughout kindergarten, no one, including my teacher was able to understand a word I said. Tested repeatedly for hearing problems, speech problems, I was put into remedial classes, yet the teacher graduated me to grade 1. Gradually, I was able to enunciate clearly, and by the time I got to grade 5, my grades had drastically improved.

Fragile Childhood

Belonging to a household that encouraged boys rather than girls to participate in activities outside the house, Nancy was forced to find her own niche within the family. Fortunately for her, there was creativity all around her. Words could not have expressed better what art has helped her express in life. The speech impediment forced her to use her hands more, helping polish her natural affinity to interact with material using her hands. Her first medium used for expressing art was clay. 

Burlington had just opened the Burlington Cultural Centre, later becoming Burlington Arts Centre. I just loved it! I remember sculpting some very unusual pieces compared to everyone else. 


The realization that she was making pieces unique from other people’s creations set the foundation for Nancy’s future endeavours. She gained confidence in her abilities to express herself using her hands. Avidly seeking other forms of expression, she taught herself how to knit, crochet, sew, and bake. Her mother taught her the fundamentals of sewing and knitting, but it was woodworking she always coveted. Her father considered it too manly a “craft” for her to pursue. An early marriage set her free from the conventions that had kept her from indulging in craft making. Her husband’s support led her to explore her artistic abilities freely.


I chose my own way of life and with love and support from Rob; I was able to take a different journey from the one I had known as a child.

An avid reader and observant person, naturally intuitive and innately able to manipulate material, Nancy found herself experimenting with what took her fancy. Experimenting with texture struck her the most. 

“I love texture. I notice texture wherever I go. I love colour. I notice colour.”

Folds of Fragility

Nancy’s aim at creating art is to gain expression; she feels money is a secondary aspect of creating art. 

“When the pool of one’s inspiration is steeped in desperation (particularly financial), the work comes from a desperate place, and that is not good.”

As a mother she gained creative independence. She would express her joy in art by sewing clothes for her children. She branched out from sewing to quilting, and from sewing cloth to sewing on paper, metal, and other unusual materials. Recently, she has started teaching her self how to work with encaustic wax.

Bound by Ceremony

Bound by Ceremony represents my current work, incorporating textile with encaustic wax. I was playing with the ends of the teabags dangling from the work, casting shadows on the wall much like birds in flight. Normally the story of a piece is contained in the four edges of the canvas but I try to allow the story to spread onto other surfaces through the shadow of some of the elements.

Nancy’s inspiration, like that of all artists, comes from what surrounds her. What differentiates her from others is her ability to identify uniqueness in commonality. 

Spool of Life

“I am particularly fond of materials that have great significance to us, and yet we take them for granted. Such as tea bags. The fact that tea has so much meaning in our daily lives fascinates me. When sharing a cup with a friend, we don't just share tea, we share memories, feelings, and emotions. It makes me wonder if all that energy is also infused in that material? And then we just dispose of it.”

In Her Shoes

Nancy believes in being well grounded as an artist. She believes in finding steady ground in the foundations of a medium or form of art first, experimenting and departing from the norms later. She loves introducing stories into her work using symbolism. Most of the symbols used emanate from her own spirituality. 


1 comment:

  1. Such an inspirational post! Kudos to Ms. Nancy Yule for her artwork and to you for sharing her story! Keep it up Mehreen! :)


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