permission to grieve

“During the global pandemic, personal grief has increased for the entire Capital Regional District community, as individuals have, and currently, are mourning things like losing their job, deaths, and just everyday changes and routines that are now lost. These major life events are uprooting individual’s once grounded existence and causing grief to happen in isolated ways.” from Integrate Art Society publicity for the project Permission to Grieve.

The Integrate Art Society based in Victoria British Columbia Canada, sought out local emerging artists for two related projects around the themes of grief, mourning, and healing. Integrate had provided social practice workshops, titled Permission to Grieve, throughout the months of June and July 2021.

The Permission to Grieve project published a zine containing of personal stories, poems, paintings, pieces of advice, interviews, drawing, and photographs around the themes of grief, mourning, and healing. The chapbook was printed in a limited run in November/December 2021.

Integrate Art Society also commissioned two new art objects as Memento Mori, which acknowledge the presence of grief during our time of pandemic and political challenges. These objects are alternatives to some now fading traditions, such as wearing black or white when someone is mourning. Two artists were selected; I was honoured to be one of them.

I chose to make a series of one-of-a-kind scarves. A scarf was chosen as my object as so much of our sadness is held in our throats when words are not enough. These art scarves feature studies of roses in expressive lines and dark tones to represent our difficult times. The roses are from my neighbourhood and are hand-painted upon pure silk.  

Silk holds its history, every squeeze and stress leaves its mark. There are techniques to remove the evidence of imperfection but I value the wrinkles that remain after the making process. These hand painted scarves are a reminder of how fragile we are, and how softness and sadness are signs of life being present no matter what. Wearing them helps us remember to attend to our hearts. The scarves wrap and protect our throats that may not have found the words to speak for our experience.
I am grateful to @integrateartsoc for making it possible to produce this work

resilient creatives

I am honoured to be included in the premier of the podcast Resilient Creatives.
“Artist Cornelia van Voorst shares how developing an art practice in her fifties helped her explore the benefits of art, in a world shaken up by the intergenerational trauma of war and colonialism.”
I invite you to take in the podcast “Art After War” and be sure to listen to the two other fab interviews with Lindsay Delaronde and Simone Littledale Escobar.



Small,  ink on watercolour paper, 8.5 cm x 8.5cm
This piece done while I was immersed in my series A Complex Grief is a response to an historical image of a refugee child. During the Second World War, so many children bore the brunt of violence that in a PBS documentary about children and war, I heard a phrase that has haunted me ever since. “In WW2 the face of the front line became the face of a child.”

spring in winter

It’s Mardi Gras today. A very subdued one due to pandemic. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, which marks the time of fasting and contemplation in preparation for Easter. Emmaus Community, AbbeyChurch and St Matthias ( host of the Chapel Gallery ) have made a booklet of reflections and prayers by community members to accompany this time of year. I am thankful to have contributed a reflection and the cover images.
I was asked to provide the cover images and suggest a title. I chose to combine two words found in a list from the clergy into a simple phrase: Spring in Winter.
It sounds unexpected, miraculous like the blossoms here in Victoria that bloom in February. It is a play on words- is it spring or is it a spring that emerges from the dark; from the deep underground. Flowing water, not ice or snow, emerging just like the blossoms bloom from the dark and the deep of the body of the tree- and then are let go and transform into fruit. Spring in winter….we are weary, but perhaps, by tapping into that life beneath the surface of our circumstances, we too might feel something blossom and flow within us.