Celebrating the arts in Brome-Missisquoi
Pina Macku is a woman of many trades. The Czech-born artist keeps her hands busy with wood sculpture, textile, clothing, jewelry, stained glass, and more from her studio in Sutton. Constant movement comes naturally to her; after immigrating to Switzerland in her youth, Macku studied movement and taught dance for several years before touching down in Canada.
Even in Quebec, Macku’s hands never stopped crafting; in 1980, Macku built her own house in Sutton with her husband at the time. Macku had been brought up “like a boy” knowing how to use power tools, making the transition into crafting somewhat natural to her, having been in possession of artisanal skills and creative spirits for all her life. Over 40 years later, the Sutton-based creator still knows how to keep herself occupied.
Macku adds her own whimsical touch to wooden sculptures of animals, featuring mixed media and old tools that defamiliarize our notions of agriculture. The animals she crafts are typically those seen on the farm, including birds, bovine, cows, cats, and more. When paired with tools like old wrenches and scissors, they repurpose classic traditions and draw them into a contemporary context that both questions the manual use of the medium and its aesthetic quality.
Macku infuses her own humour into her creations, creating a playfulness to her final products. Her creative eye is capable of seeing beyond the bare materials she has before her, molding them into an elevated form.
“With the wood, the ideas come to me so naturally I don’t feel like I’m actually creating, even if I am creating,” Macku says of her process. “I see the tool or piece of wood and know right away what it’s going to be.”
When working with textiles, Macku laughs that she doesn’t like sewing. She prefers to look at texture and colour, resulting in beautiful hats, shirts, gloves, and more made from repurposed materials.
As she ages, Macku has shifted from teaching dance to selling her artisanal craft and teaching exercise classes from Sutton Town Hall. As someone with a background in movement, Macku is aware of how her body is changing, which shifts the focus of activities she allows herself to take on.
“The older I am, the more courageous I can be because I have the experience and know that failure isn’t the end of the world. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I think you can always learn new tricks. You just need more time or energy, maybe.”
Being well-versed in her textile and sculptural skills, Macku pushes the limits of new things she can try in her daily life which nourish her creative soul. A few years ago, she was asked to play a role in a professional theatre production. While she does come from a movement background, acting was completely new to her, and she plunged in headfirst.
“When we started to go to bigger theatres, I started to realize that I didn’t have the same skills of professional actors, like projecting your voice. So, I was driving on my tractor and trying to get my voice louder than the motor to practice.”
Macku is the perfect example of how youth is a state of mind, as she continues to craft and assemble new creations from her studio in Sutton. With her European roots, Macku notices a difference in the way in which Canadians support artists and artisans, not just of her own practice, but of the creative world at large. When artists price their products according to the materials used and time spent, the public is often unwilling to pay what they deem to be “expensive” amounts. While you theoretically can buy a cheaper generic version from a big box store, Macku wants to push our sights towards things made by hand and with love that can bring us genuine joy.
“For me, [art] is such a permanent investment,” she explains. “If someone buys a painting and puts it on the wall, they will have that joy for the rest of their lives. I would encourage people to surround themselves with things that they like that are good quality.”
Macku also runs a beautiful bed and breakfast in a serene location on the mountain, surrounded by swaths of forest. She has been a long time participant in the annual Tour des Arts, where she welcomes visitors into her workspace to get an intimate look at her work. To learn more about Macku’s many ventures from craft to exercise to her B&B Pinorama, visit pinamacku.com. Her studio can be visited at 1390, ch. Mont-Echo, Sutton