Flora & Fauna: Featuring Thea Haines

Thea Haines

Thea Haines


Thea Haines is a textile designer, artist, and educator living and working in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  Currently an instructor in textile design at Sheridan College, she was previously an artist-in-residence of the Craft Studio at Harbourfront Centre, and a member of the Contemporary Textile Studio Co-operative, Toronto.  Her research, practice and consultancy is focused on the use of natural colourants in surface design, printing and small-scale production, including the cultivation and harvest of colour-producing plants. Current projects include a study of colours produced from food waste, and a regional survey of dye plants in Hamilton. She received her MA in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art and Design, in London, UK.

Primary Colours: Red
Primary Colours: Yellow

My work investigates narrative, historical and landscape themes from the Canadian vernacular. In my daily life I travel the same corridor along the shores of Lake Ontario; the waste places along the highways and rail routes are my accompanying panorama. All the scenes are fleeting because of the speed of travel, but as blurred images sweep past, I absorb the scenery and I wonder how the landscape might look without the last two centuries of human touch. I imagine myself a lady geographer, Miss H., traversing the landscape and history of this country, recording the terrain and documenting gathered specimens with dye, needle and thread, the land shaping my character and leaving its traces upon me as I traverse it.

Miss H. is a lady explorer, scientist, cartographer and prospector of the sometimes uninviting Canadian landscape.  In the tradition of Lady Simcoe, Catherine Parr Traill and Anne of Green Gables, Miss H. is an intrepid student of history, botany and geography.

            History is a study subject to interpretation, in which narratives become scattered and muddied, skewed and biased, altered and embellished, strewn and gathered, unpicked, and patch-worked back together. Maps, charts and landscape sketches form a part of the writing of this history, tracing our intimacy with the pathways and geographies they seek to explain.

My work also investigates the connection to the landscape to food. Every year, I can jars of fruits, pickles and jellies. This is an annual activity of mine that takes place both within my kitchen, and consequently in my studio.  The relationship between gardening, harvesting and preserving to my studio practice has become intrinsic, as food wastes become dyes, and the activities of the kitchen feed my creative impulse. With natural dyes as the chief colourant of my work, my work is made of, and in the landscape.