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Hibernation Arts outlier studio stays connected through Facebook

by Andrew Seale   |   October 28, 2020   |   Share this:  

To Molly Farquharson, fibre art is hard to translate digitally.

It eludes the camera lens, the effect of every stitch and curled piece of fibre somehow lost somewhere in the ether between the aperture and the digitized image of the work.

“The colours look different… it's very textural, you know, it catches the light in different ways and it invites touch usually so that's a bit of a disadvantage for the digital stuff,” says the artist and owner of Hibernation Arts gallery and shop in Orillia. It presents a unique glitch in Farquharson’s plan to incorporate more digital tools into what she’s doing with gallery space. But still, she’s trying. 


“I'm a tech Luddite… a techno-klutz,” says Farquharson. For the past few months, she’s been trying to find a way to grow Hibernation Arts’ digital presence. So when she heard about Digital Main Street, a program that combines grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities, she signed on to work with a Digital Service Squad member.  


One of the things she realized is not all mediums are created equally, and some help her translate the more social elements of Hibernation Arts better than others. “Instagram feels too small… you can’t move stuff around. It seems very cluttered so I actually don’t use it very much,” says Farquharson. But Facebook has proven to be a better medium. “I have more control.”  


Hibernation Arts have been active on the channel, using it to talk about events, something that though momentarily stunted by the pandemic, is a part of Farquharson’s mandate. “It's not like your gallery with white walls displaying pieces, it’s outlier art – there’s a woman who makes objects with jewelry and another makes jewelry and I have a fibre art guest wall,” she says. “But then I have a sofa and armchair and it's also a social place… I used to have coffee on and I was doing music – alcohol-free concerts, and those were starting to get going and now they’ve stopped.” 


In mid-May, amidst the pandemic, Hibernation Arts moved into a bigger space, one that gives the artists more space and lends itself more to events. Through the move, Farquharson was active on Facebook, using the social channel to keep patrons in the loop about the transition. She’s still feeling her way through it and trying to make sense of Hibernation Arts digital presence. But if there’s one thing the medium does well, it’s giving a behind the scenes look at her work as it’s coming together.  


“Some people like online and some people prefer the personal touch,” she says. “I hope that we manage to balance that.” 


Written by Andrew Seale 

About Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.

This case study was completed during a prior expansion of DMS in partnership with the Province of Ontario and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

In June 2020, a $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.

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