Mary-Anne McTrowe

Mary-Anne McTrowe, 50 Songs About Love, String, 2012, 3” x 8” each. Image courtesy of The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie

Mary-Anne McTrowe, 50 Songs About Love, String, 2012, 3” x 8” each. Image courtesy of The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie


Mary-Anne McTrowe, Sea of Love from 50 Songs About Love, 2012. 8″ x 3″ yarn and string.


Mary-Anne McTrowe sat down so quietly on the soft seats in the old Parlour studio that I didn’t notice when she had come in. Parlour was a space run by David Hoffos that doubled as a window gallery, shared studio space, and practice space for a ukelele band. I was in town for M:ST Performance Art Festival, and Wednesday Lupypciw was situated in the window space for a marathon of maternal misbehaviours.

Mary-Anne and I did not speak much in our first few encounters, but over the years I would learn extended pauses and silence were acceptable, and that uniforms were never to be mistaken for costumes.

The last time I saw Mary-Anne, she was standing across from Dan Wong and a pair of six-foot-tall go-go dancers doing a deadpan version of the robot dance for a live show I had organized in Edmonton. I highly recommend The Cedar Tavern Singers, aka La Phonorealistes, as stage MCs for any event you have in mind.

But before the songs and the silence, running alongside them, Mary-Anne’s solo practice is firmly rooted in the realm of conceptual crafts.

Rendering incomprehensible the modern grand gesture of pop songs, fifty song titles with the word “love” have been hand stitched into systematized measurements of soft structures. They are decorative productions otherwise known as filet crochets, but they have embedded within what could be mistaken as doily hides a set of binary codes. Implicit in its very existence is a reconsideration of how we engage with information, visually representing the abstraction of quantitative data, Mary-Anne’s crochets are an example of conceptual labour obscuring its own meaning.

As an expression that is at once intimate and personal, yet made popular via universal appeal, each of these love songs remain locked and loaded as emblems of double-bound devotion. Function takes on multiple meanings—from the function of these wall hangings to the purpose of binary code, we are asked to consider how we communicate and express our most sincere feelings of human engagement through layers of socialized codes.

Crocheting is as much a performance for Mary-Anne as her musical inclinations. She is playing a character either way with a quiet, reserved wit that can be anything, but reveals nothing.


50 Songs About Love


Mary-Anne McTrowe

string, 2012


1. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)

2. Love Will Keep Us Together (Captain and Tenille)

3. Sea of Love (The Honeydrippers)

4. Crazy Love (Van Morrison)

5. I Love Rock’n’Roll (Joan Jett)

6. Love Hurts (Nazareth)

7. It Must Be Love (Madness)

8. Tainted Love (Soft Cell)

9. You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi)

10. When a Man Loves a Woman (Michael Bolton)

11. The Book of Love (Peter Gabriel)

12. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? (Jim Reeves)

13. You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Loves You (Dean Martin)

14. Justify My Love (Madonna)

15. You Can’t Hurry Love (Phil Collins)

16. All Out of Love (Air Supply)

17. This Love of Mine (Jonathan Richman)

18. Love Changes Everything (Honeymoon Suite)

19. Love is in the Air (John Paul Young)

20. Friday I’m in Love (The Cure)

21. Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love (They Might Be Giants)

22. Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)

23. Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)

24. I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)

25. And I Love Her (The Beatles)

26. Pleasure of Love (Tom Tom Club)

27. To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before (Willie Nelson)

28. The Ballad of Love and Hate (Avett Brothers)

29. I Love a Ukulele (Annette Hershaw)

30. Make You Feel My Love (Adele)

31. My Love For You (Has Turned to Hate)(Hank Williams)

32. It’s Love, Love, Love (Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians)

33. I Wanna Be Loved By You (Marilyn Monroe)

34. How to Love (Li’l Wayne)

35. Lozenge of Love (Radiohead)

36. Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It)(Marlene Dietrich)

37. The Power of Love (Celine Dion)

38. I Don’t Really Love You Anymore (Magnetic Fields)

39. Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley)

40. The Look of Love (Dusty Springfield)

41. If it’s Lovin’ That You Want (Rihanna)

42. Crown of Love (Arcade Fire)

43. Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (Elton John)

44. Love Shack (B52s)

45. Satellite of Love (Lou Reed)

46. I Just Called to Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder)

47. An Old Fashioned Love Song (Three Dog Night)

48. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (Sarah Vaughn)

49. I’m in the Mood for Love (Nat King Cole)

50. Born to Love You (Jackson 5)