Marie Aiken-Barnes
Posted: Mar 27th, 2023 | Education

1926 (Alix, Alberta) - 2019 (Aurora, Ontario)

Thank you to Marie Aiken-Barnes and Gordon Barnes for their generous support of the Museum.

Born to Danish parents in Alberta, Marie Aiken-Barnes (nee Miller) was recognized for her wide range of textile works with a specialization in lichen dyes as well as numerous teaching contributions. She studied at the Vancouver School of Art (now known as Emily Carr University of Art + Design), and in the 60s moved to Ontario with her family. Marie became the Northern Ontario director of the Ontario Craft Foundation, and beginning in 1968 was active in the World Crafts Council, speaking on “Lichens as a Dye Source” at the WCC Conference in Dublin, Ireland. 

Marie has several large embroidered commissions to her credit such as a tapestry piece in the balcony and three Dossal Curtains in the Gravenhurst Trinity United Church, as well as two pieces in the Barrie Court House. Her work is included in A Fine Line: Studio Crafts in Ontario from 1930 to the Present, by Gail Crawford (1998) and Art of the Spirit: Contemporary Canadian Fabric Art, by Bradfield, Pringle & Ridout (1992). Marie founded the Tower Studios (1974) in a WWI potash factory on the shore of Muskoka Bay. During the 70’s the College system burst on the Ontario scene. Marie joined the Design Arts – Textiles Department at Georgian College in Barrie. She sold the Studio in 1981.

Marie began experiencing macular degeneration in her 70s and finally, a stroke left her legally blind at 81. With help from her husband Gordon Barnes, a low vision specialist, and the CNIB, she learned to cope. She continued reading, sewing, knitting, and cheerfully giving information to her many friends and former students.

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