Victoria-based fibre artist Noah Gilroy, who uses the pronouns they/them and is known professionally as Moss and Arrow, found their happy place creating one-of-a-kind pieces that focus on the beauty, colours and textures of the Pacific Northwest.
Gilroy’s tapestries are primarily made with locally sourced, biodegradable or recycled wool, cotton and silk hung on hand-collected driftwood from the shores of the island.
The name Moss and Arrow was inspired by what Gilroy is passionate about: “Moss” represents fibre art, and the “Arrow” represents the pointedness of using art to talk about things that really matter to them. And what matters to Gilroy is learning and healing.
“I was in a really bad place when I found weaving and it’s helped me come out of that bad place. There’s actually a lot of research showing that fibre art, like knitting, weaving, is really good for your mental health so that’s really where the healing part comes in. Especially on my social media presence, I try to bring that in. I think about textiles as healing in general. When they’re in my space that’s a very calming thing and that’s what I try to give to other people when I make a piece.”
Bringing peace to their work, Gilroy takes inspiration from places they find beautiful: like one of their favourite spots, James Bay, or creating tapestries of the moonscape or the sea.
Gilroy also uses their artistic platforms to share openly about their queerness, living with ADHD, sustainability and social activism related to the Community Development master’s program they are currently studying at UVic.
“I’m on a crusade right now to create more housing for 2SLGBTQIA+ people so that’s what I’m studying there,” Gilroy said. “I have really intense ADHD, so doing just one thing is not an option.”
For Gilroy, ADHD shows up as a drive to constantly learn new techniques and experiment. And the medium of textile artistry offers a certain soothing appeal that Gilroy doesn’t find in other art forms.
“I grew up around art, but I was never much of a drawer or painter, and I’ve learned that that’s because I really need that tactile 3D element.”
“[My favourite thing is] really just getting to play. Bringing the creative energy in, experimenting and getting to explore what’s possible.”
Since they started in 2017, Gilroy has created over 85 handwoven tapestries, participated in an exhibition, completed a residency and taught workshops. And they are currently fully booked for commissions.
The creative process takes time and Gilroy said the monetization of that is their biggest challenge as an artist.
“I think it’s really hard to charge what my work is actually worth because there’s so many places like Walmart and HomeSense that charge $50 for wall hangings that are woven so people get that idea that that’s an appropriate amount to charge and it’s not at all.”
Despite that challenge, Gilroy loves to create pieces for others.
“I love doing commissioned work because the energy of co-creating encourages and inspires me, and some of my best work comes out of it,” Gilroy said.
They are also passionate about passing along their knowledge to others and hope to branch out into teaching youth.
Gilroy will be teaching an advanced workshop series at Knotty by Nature in the fall from October to December. Find out more at mossandarrow.com.