s o n y a   i w a s i u k

Woven Histories VancityNew Westminster Branch

Heads and Tales Cooperative

Artist Statement

Woven Histories

Heads and Tales Cooperative, in Vancouver, BC, is comprised of mixed media artists Pilar Mehlis and Sonya Iwasiuk. Through this collaboration, the pair explores visual conversation by infusing mutual interests and realizations into the projects they pursue. The artists create pieces from diverse mediums, developing the best visuals from, often, discarded objects and daily recyclable rubbish such as found metal, newspaper and vintage clothing patterns.

Coincidently, the pair begun to explore narratives around migration, immigration, belonging and history of place. Development of community and connection, sustainability, repurposing items and a profound need to protect and experience the natural world are other resounding themes important to their work.

In the project “Woven Histories” the raised, current New Westminster map silhouette is made of repurposed paper pulp, plaster and acrylic and is etched with script of important names, dates and events etc. The original district map of 1880, which did not include the islands, is overlaid on top of the mainland area. Poplar and lulu island were added to the map of 1892. Relief images of landmarks, monuments and cultural groups that settled in the area through the ages - the Qay-Qayt, First Nations and later explorers that worked in the forestry, railway and fishing industries, are marked with lights placed in the vicinity their locations on the map. On the river, appliqués of ships, boats and canoes denote the importance of the Fraser River and it’s bounty.

The anthropomorphic fish figures carry objects on their backs symbolizing the migration of both the Salmon of the Fraser River and people to the area. These Antrofish depict the creation of community, the building of important structures and the portrayal of significant events that took place in New Westminster through the ages. Many First Nations people considered the salmon a symbol of wealth and trade. To them, these highly esteemed beings were their main source of food and were believed to be relatives and superior to people. The Antrofish sculptures also represent the large and successful commercial fishing industry built around this resource.