Skip to main content

Carrie Allison, “Hold Your Circle Close,” 2019.

Carrie Allison, Hold Your Circle Close, 2021
Photographic reproduction of the original artwork (beads on fabric foundation)

Hold Your Circle Close, 2019.

“Reach deep. Stand tall. Take a breath and tighten that circle around the little and not-so-little ones. It’s all we can do.”  –Sherry Farrell Racette, June 24, 2021.

Allison’s work, ‘Hold Your Circle Close’ is in response to the above quote by Sherry Farrell Racette following the 215 bodies of children buried at Kamloops Residential school entering the Canadian public consciousness. Lisa Myers wrote on the 2019 exhibition “Beads they’re sewn so tight” at the Textile Museum of Canada : “beading requires a balance of tension in the thread.[1] It’s what keeps the beadwork flat and tight”. Allison’s work is a single circle of beads suspended within space, holding tension but also the focus of the viewers. Circles are associated with all the wonderful ways many Indigenous communities gather, relate and observe time – but a tight circle is also a strategy for weathering multiple, repeated attempts of assimilation and cultural genocide. These attempts have been made through policy targeted at Indigenous children by the Canadian government – residential schools, seizure of children through Child Family Services, and gendered policies around status. Farrell Racette’s statement, “hold your little ones and not-so-little ones close” speaks to the strength and love that weaves itself through our community, even in the face of extreme grief. 

One of the first shapes to be taught when learning to do single-needle or double needle beading is a circle; it begins with a single bead in the middle and rings build outwards. The single bead in the middle is what holds the shape and tension of the outer rings – and in beading, a balance of tension in the thread is what keeps the beadwork flat and tight.  In the same way that the centre of the circle is seminal to the integrity of the beadwork, children make up the heart of our communities.” – Franchesca Hebert-Spence 

[1]  Myers, Lisa “Beads they’re sewn so tight” Textile Museum of Canada


Carrie Allison is a nêhiýaw/cree, Métis, and European descent visual artist based in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She grew up on the unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Her maternal roots are based in maskotewisipiy (High Prairie, Alberta), Treaty 8. Situated in K’jipuktuk since 2010, her practice responds to her maternal nêhiýaw/cree and Métis ancestry, thinking through intergenerational cultural loss and acts of reclaiming, resilience, resistance, and activism, while also thinking through notions of allyship, kinship and visiting. Her practice is rooted in research and pedagogical discourses. Allison’s work seeks to reclaim, remember, recreate and celebrate her ancestry through visual discussions often utilizing beading, embroidery, handmade paper, watercolour, websites, QR codes, audio, video and most recently animation. Old and new technologies are combined to tell stories of the land, continuance, growth, and of healing. Allison holds a Master in Fine Art, a Bachelor in Art History, and a Bachelor in Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. Her work has been exhibited nationally in The Textile Museum of Canada (Toronto), Urban Shaman (Winnipeg), and Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton). She has had solo exhibitions at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery (Halifax), the Owens Art Gallery (Sackville), The Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History (Halifax), and The New Gallery (Calgary). In 2021 her work will be featured at Artspace in Peterborough, the McIntosh Gallery in London, Ontario, and at the Visual Arts Centre in New Jersey. She has received grants from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Arts Nova Scotia and Canada Council for the Arts. 

Carrie Allison

To learn more about the exhibition “Tout-Terrain: Régale | Regal”.

Become a member

Becoming a member allows you to participate in exclusive activities.
Become a member


With your support, we can share art with our community!
Make a Donation


Stay tuned for our activities. Be the first to know.