Meet The Makers: Little 'm' Inventions

Posted by Drake General Store, March 26, 2015

We recently got talking with Marjorie Campbell, the Toronto-based fibre artist behind “Little ‘m’ Inventions”, and the creator responsible for the curious “Barbie” bunnies that have been stimulating discussion at our Drake General Stores as of late.

With her first solo show just recently ended at the Alison Milne Gallery, and a piece set to join the space; a temporary installation in the lobby of The Thompson Hotel as a part of Love Art Toronto; and her first line of sculptural outerwear (titled “PREY”) set to present at FAT this year, I think it’s fair to say that for someone in such discourse with the inanimate, Marjorie is very much alive and in motion. Then again, that’s her gig; the movement and intention of objects that we traditionally understand to be still.

Primarily a self-taught sculptor, Marjorie also has a background in theatre and dance, and studied at the Toronto School of Art where she learned sculpting techniques from well-respected instructors in her field. She focuses primarily on wool sculpture, but also incorporates found objects, pieces of nature, cement and different fabrics into her pieces. And while she may be still trying to come to terms with her own “alien nature” (as said by her), she is most definitely commanding a presence down here on earth, even if her reality is more “whimsical” than wonted.

Here she talks with us about the beauty of form; why she finds inspiration mainly in nature and in the abandoned; and why the perfect sculpture is actually a living one. Meet Marjorie Campbell of “Little ‘m’ Inventions”.


DGS: How did you get started with “Little ‘m’ Inventions”? What’s the story behind the name?

M: My friend had a store. We threw around ideas, held classes and soirees, and mornings… and she sold delicious wools and fibers and threads. I got to practice making things and people started asking to buy them. My friends suggested that if I was going to do this seriously I needed a name. After days of drawing a blank, I told my friend “I used to sign my pottery pieces with a little ‘m’ …” and she said “ ‘Little m’, that’s perfect.” I added “Inventions” to the end. I consider myself an inventor of sorts.

DGS: Your work is quite eccentric. Where do you draw inspiration?

M: I find inspiration in nature and in the abandoned. Garbage. I like finding part of a doll hand on the ground, or a piece of twig that reaches out and speaks to me. Maybe that broken tiny doll hand is the holder of the delicate spring twig. These kinds of random findings become a collection of images in my story mind: sticks and stones, garbage and the abandoned, and the gentle fierceness of animals and how a found object can lead me to a whole wealth of stories. Little vignettes that become so clear in my imagination. Colour and smell, and texture and feelings are also huge inspirations. The story of the way the limb on a tree grows, and the fact that a tree appears to be in one place for an eternity and yet has the opportunity to live many lives. The tree is a great expresser of movement and yet apparently still. The perfect living sculpture.


DGS: What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work?

DGS: What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work?

M: The penis. I needle felted the most extraordinary penis. I used all these stunningly beautiful threads from France.

DGS: Would you say there is a running theme to the work you create?

M: Animals and humans, and the way we as humans seem able to connect more easily with animals than with humans. How an animal always has a sense of royalty and dignity no matter how broken they may be. I feel like an odd and strange animal that I don’t quite understand. I’m trying to come to terms with my own alien nature. Vulnerability and strength. The beauty of form. The harmony of movement. The simplicity of structure in nature and our man-made world. Coexistence. LOVE.

DGS: What kind of mediums do you work with?

M: I work with sheep’s wool and found objects, and thread and clay, and wood. I have collections of teeny tiny driftwood, and very long and obsessively marked beaver chewed sticks and gnarly burls, and big, root, sun structures, and my very own birch forest. Each piece holds a different quality. Doll Parts. I love all the old porcelain dolls … weathered toys. I love cement. I wish I could weld. I love moss and earth and how little of something you need to have form. When a limb is cut from a tree I still see the limb reaching into the sky. The movement and intention is etched into space

Wolf and Bunny

DGS: What makes your work unique and truly your own?

M: That’s funny. Sometimes when I look at my work I have no idea who made it! Which makes it terrifying, because each time I go to make something my imagination seems like it is leaps and bounds ahead of my abilities to create. Also … I fall so deeply in love with each piece that I make!

DGS: Favourite place in Toronto to go and get inspired?

M: I love to get out and walk and ride in Toronto. So many tiny, secret pockets of green spaces in the strangest places. Parks and cemeteries, ravines and alleyways. I love to make it to the waterfront, the change of seeing distance and being by the water fills my heart with hope.

You can find Little 'm' Inventions at our flagship Drake General Store location, or online here!

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