Artist Profile: Miriam Grenville

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Miriam Grenville is one of the many fantastic independent artists who call Artscape Youngplace home. As a multidisciplinary artist, she works in textile art, design, is an art educator, and Creative Director at Grenville Designs. She graduated from OCAD University in 1987 with Honours in Textile Design, and then again in 2013 with a Bachelor in Design.

Her beautiful studio space is located on the second floor of our Artscape Youngplace building and features many of her unique, meticulously crafted pieces of handmade artwork.

Miriam is also one of Artscape Youngplace’s very own Teachers-in-Residence, and holds a project completion class called “withing”, where she provides a unique and incredibly useful opportunity for individuals to step away from their isolated work environments and dedicate time to work on and complete pesky projects alongside others in a bright, open, and inspiring environment. The name “withing” is also unique, however Miriam notes that she herself cannot take credit for its clever coinage—“the idea is that there’s so many things that you don’t want to do but you have to, but they’re easy to do with someone else. In fact, a lot of the stuff you do in therapy is ‘withing’; that another person is there to help you work through your thing, whatever it is”. Workshop participants in the past have brought in a wide variety of projects for completion from artist statement, resumes, even recipe binders!

Her most popular work to date is arguably her series of artwork titled “You Need to Make Some Money”. Based on the principal of producing money as an ends rather than a means, as well as questioning the role of currency and art in our day to day lives, neglected resources such as old wallpaper books, vinyl, and paper were used to produce individual handmade replicas of Canadian bank notes. “The idea behind it is one: it starts people talking about how artists make money, and it’s funny because it’s called ‘You Need to Make Some Money’. The idea with the work is that they are pieces that I’ve made to buy other people’s artwork. So, the idea is, if another artist produces something that I like, and they like my thing, then we can do a barter. So, I’d make something similar [in value] for the right piece of art”.  To give her bills even more value, Miriam gave them away to classmates, to be used as currency to purchase artwork from other artists. Some of these handmade banknotes are currently on display within her studio.

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Currently, Miriam is working on a series of garment interventions that “while embellishing the garments, simultaneously question the value of the effort”, as well as a series of bicycle seat covers. “The range of accessories that I am making are based on things I have made for my own bicycle riding. Likewise, when I designed wall paper, it was because I couldn’t find any wallpaper I really wanted in my own home.  I think this response is when designers do their best work, when they respond to themselves as ‘client’ instead of some invisible ‘market’”.

“My inspiration often comes from the materials themselves; I am a collector, verging on hoarding, of textiles. The textile is compelling in some way, and then it becomes embedded into a personal experience or discovery”.

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For more information on Miriam Grenville, visit her at grenvilledesign.com  and
miriamgrenville.blogspot.com. To learn more about Miriam’s Withing workshops for July, visit the event page on our Artscape Youngplace website at http://artscapeyoungplace.ca/events/upcoming

Photos by Arren Young Photography