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JEFF MOLLOY: THE RED TOQUE

Selvedge

Guest blog post by Sian Hughes Our contributor to Selvedge's Millinary Issue (number 69) Kate Cavendish, is a fan of the classic Canadian toque. We came across the toque again when thinking of Canadian traditional costume from last month’s blog about our Hudson Bay Company Blankets (now in stock in the shop). There is a unique symbolism attached to the red toque, worn by legendary French Canadian Voyageurs during the height of the fur trade years. Jeff Molloy – whose paintings of the Hudson Bay Company Blankets we've previously featured – produces eye-catching sculptures and paintings including symbolic and culturally important Canadian artefacts. Molloy’s blog is in fact named "The Red Toque" and although he sadly passed away earlier this year – it remains a wonderful resource to enjoy his work. Toques-and-Moose The red toque began as a work-garment. The hard-working fur-traders transported hugely valuable goods across continents and needed warm and practical clothing. Modern-day re-enacters have increased the popularity of the red hats, though the historic Voyageurs wore other colours too. When our research took us to Molloy’s blog and website, it was clear why he identified strongly with the iconic red toque. His work shows both pragmatism and strong work ethic, with links to well renowned artists and humbler traditions from his Canadian heritage. Described by the Saatchi Foundation as "a farmer of art" Molloy was deeply imbedded in his community with an ability to create art that strongly connected with its wide audience. FlagStrip Molloy uses materials in a way that a milliner or weaver would strongly recognise. His work uses historic and modern techniques respectfully and connects the symbolic and the subtle with an undeniable confidence and curiosity. Molloy used to favour "encaustic" wax painting and semi-sculptural techniques rediscovered by Wassily Kandinsky and contemporaries. His red toque sculpture is a "mixed media assemblage" and perhaps of most interest is the red toque made from old sweatshirts, preserved and solidified with encaustic wax.  3-coats Molloy was clearly a man of both artistic integrity and imaginative flair. We think his work shows that even amongst painters, continents away, there is a continuing story of fabric that connects people still: a story of a hat, waxed fabric, or a traded fur. One that was started by our well-travelled ancestors, continued by artists like Jeff Molloy, and explored on the pages of Selvedge.   http://jeffmolloy.blogspot.co.uk/ http://molloy.ca/jeff/  


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