Darn It! Exhibition at Maritime Museum of BC Explores History and Sustainability

8 February 2023

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There’s a long history in sailing and, in the Royal Canadian Navy, of repair and reuse, mostly due to necessity. For the Maritime Museum of BC, an exhibition called Darn It! connects that history to the contemporary sustainability movement. The museum wanted to draw on the past to connect it to the present. In BC that sustainability piece is high on everybody’s mind.

Exhibit Dates: November 8, 2022 to April 1, 2023
Location: Maritime Museum of BC
744 Douglas Street, Vancouver
Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday,
10 AM – 5 PM

Thanks to Collections & Exhibits Manager, Heather Feeney, I had the opportunity to tour the exhibition virtually from the East Coast; she shared photos and video with me, and her wealth of knowledge about the exhibition and the Maritime Museum of BC’s collection. Artifacts and items of interest are displayed in large honey-coloured antique display cases at the museum, giving them a very warm and inviting feel.

Once you get past the intro case that provides an overview, the exhibition dives into the history of net weaving and sail repair, stretching from long before recorded time to the present, exploring how those traditional techniques have been transformed. Feeney notes that from a sustainability standpoint, the way modern nets are made has taken a step back in many regards. They don’t biodegrade the way old ones did. The exhibit features a number of net-making needles and twine that would have been used to make repairs, extending the life of a net, reducing waste and the net’s impact on the environment. The display also includes sail repair kits, which sailors would have had on their vessels. The one that they have as part of Darn It! is in a gorgeous bag, very much like a doctor’s bag. And the bag itself has been repaired with sail twine, using the same techniques as those used to repair sails.


All images provided by the Maritime Museum of BC.

Copyright © Julie Rosvall except as indicated.
Image description: White woman with shoulder-length hair wearing a green cardigan over a black dress holds a large white metal wheel on the side of a letterpress machine.

About Julie Rosvall

Julie Rosvall grew up in New Brunswick, and moved to Wolfville, Nova Scotia in 1998 where she started her career as a textile artist. In 2010 Julie began experimenting with printmaking, exploring transferring the patterns & textures of textiles to paper. Her current practice is now focused on textile relief prints and copper soft ground etchings of knitted swatches and shawls. Julie has started & moved on from two satisfying fine craft businesses. The 1st a farm wool shop which she is pleased to say is still a vibrant part of the fibre arts community. The 2nd was with her husband & partner Peter, where they produced custom architectural concrete, garnering international attention for design & quality. Julie is a juried member of Craft Nova Scotia and Craft New Brunswick for spinning, dyeing, knitting, printmaking & architectural concrete. From 2003-22 Julie worked with Craft Nova Scotia, and is committed to continuing to foster the fine craft community, and make connections within the culture sector and through collaborations across industries. Connect with Julie at her website, podcast, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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