Heirloom: Victor tells stories of my maternal grandfather, Victor Fricker, who as a young Anglican clergyman posted to Matheson, Ontario, survived the worst “pioneer forest fire” that ravaged the northern area of the province. He would tell of seeing horse running terrified through the flames, its mane and tail ablaze. Photo: Paul Buer.

The Heirloom works explore family stories and family snaps through works that integrate domestic and archival photographs as well as text and textiles, with oil, acrylic and encaustic paint.

The first Heirloom Series (1993-94) is an exploration of my grandparents’ lives and times, and their continuing resonances in my own. The works connect my grandparents’ individual choices with Canadian social trends of the early twentieth century — the settlement of Ontario’s north; the development of corporate culture; the rise and fall of the railway; the enfranchisement of women. Born in 1883/1884, my grandparents participated in these and other major currents of their time. However, as much as narrate particular histories, each work of the Heirloom Series aims to offer an emotional experience of the person it represents.

The Heirloom Series incorporates family, archival and medical photography as well as excerpts from historical and personal texts (including a family account written by my Great Aunt Valda Vaughan, when she was in her nineties.)


Heirloom Revisited uses a family picture of my mother helping me learn to walk as a starting point for an exploration of the impetus of that first step towards an active creative life, represented by the appliquéd smocked textile on the centre and right panels. Tiled, heat-pressed photo transfer on canvas; cotton and embroidery floss appliqué; oil, acrylic and encaustic paint. Photo: Paul Buer.

Heirloom Revisited paid specific attention to the mother-child dynamic, working with a heat-pressed colour image rather than black-and-white photo-emulsion enlargements.