Books, Exhibitions, Inspiration, mending, Stocktaking, Textiles

Reflections: 2017’s good stuff

The kids are back at school, I’ve had a massive clean-out in the studio, and I’m gearing up for some long studio sessions to make work for some exhibitions that are coming up later in the year. I’m just putting the finishing touches on workshop plans for children and adults so will let you know about those soon.

Over the Christmas break I have been doing the usual reflections on the previous year, taking stock and planning for the next. So … I thought it timely to share a few of the highlights and interesting things I’ve encountered before launching into 2018 proper.

EXHIBITIONS

Some standout exhibitions from 2017. So different but so good!

Piksa Niugini, Stephen Dupont: Darwin Museum and Art Gallery; The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture: National Gallery of Victoria; Interior Landscapes, Elisabeth Cummings: Orange Regional Gallery.

OTHER ARTISTS, AND OTHERWISE GENERALLY INTERESTING PEOPLE

Darn and Dusted

Check out the video of Luke Deverell’s fantastic mending enterprise.

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Tom of Holland

Another mending guru. Self-taught but with a penchant for the very precise.

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Hanne Friis

Norwegian textile artist extraordinaire. Oh my God. So beautiful I think I’m going to die.

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UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION

From nature – of all places.

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Kosciuszko National Park, long (v.e.r.y. long) walks amongst the wildflowers and lakes. The price you pay for silence and serenity…

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Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory.

BOOKS

2017 books

Working Class Man (and its prequel, Working Class Boy), Jimmy Barnes

Oh my God! These books are a compelling, gutsy, and raw insight into poverty, violence  and neglect, and the possible consequences for those caught up in that web. A brave revelation of the reality so many human beings face. Much food for thought.

The Last Girl, Nadia Murad

Another Oh. My. God. account of life from another world. Nadia’s story is a seriously courageous one, describing the murder of much her village’s population, and her kidnap and sexual slavery along with all the young girls from her village. Her account of her escape is chilling, and all the more haunting as few of her peers have been as lucky.

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

I loved this and couldn’t put it down, but was ever so slightly underwhelmed at the ending.

Alone in Berlin, Hans Fallada

An insidious and chilling account of life in Berlin during World War 2: trying to live your life while trust and humanity evaporate around you at a rate of knots.

The Art Rules, Paul Klein

Some pretty decent, practical advice for artists here.

The Good People, Hannah Kent

An absorbing story about rural Irish farmers and their beliefs, although I didn’t find it quite as thrilling, or as heartbreaking, as her first novel, Burial Rites.

First We Make the Beast Beautiful, Sarah Wilson

An inside view of living with anxiety. Pretty compelling, especially if you know someone who is dealing with it. Quirks, weirdness and acceptance all thrown together.

Practical home Mending Made Easy, Mary Brooks Picken

Said to be a mending bible. It’s certainly thorough! One for my textile reference library.

Fashion and Orientalism, Adam Geczy

Meticulously researched history of oriental influences on Western clothing. Authored by my old lecturer!

The Textile Reader, Jessica Hemmings (ed.)

This is a gem. I’ve only just started it but am thoroughly fascinated by it. Recommended to anyone interested in textile theory.

Now I’ve got all that off my chest, and the decks are almost cleared, I’m looking forward to getting down to work in the studio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Artists, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Fragments and Patches

I want to share with you visual art and textile lovers a couple of intriguing articles I’ve come across of late.

The first is a piece in issue number 77 of Selvedge magazine, Keeping Body and Soul Together. If you don’t have access to a print copy you can see an abbreviated version of the article here, under the title Going Going Ge Ba. With the most beautiful photography by Mark Eden Schooley, the article by quilt expert Dr Sue Marks outlines the old Chinese practice of making ‘Ge Ba’, a type of textile collage. With up to 15 fabric layers held together with rice glue, the resulting pieces (roughly 40 x 60 cm) were pretty tough, and were cut up to sole shoes!

All kinds of fabrics scraps were used to make Ge Ba, anything worn out or no longer of use, old embroideries and even propaganda cloth. Perhaps they can be seen as a Chinese version of Japanese boro.

I think you’ll see why I love them. The compositions are striking textural abstracts, in much the same vein as boro.

Ge Ba collage

Image: Selvedge blog, Going Going Ge Ba, 27 September 2017

The other article I wanted to mention is also a Selvedge one. Painting with Wool, on their blog of September 27, features American textile artist Channing Hansen‘s organic knitted works. This guy is wild! His complicated compositions are made of various natural fibres he dyes himself, patch-knitted in rambling formations. His work process must be so frenzied!

Channing Hansen Marc Selwyn Fine Art

Image: Marc Selwyn Fine Art

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Image: Selvedge blog, Knitting DNA, 16 June 2017

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Image: Selvedge blog, Painting with Wool, 27 September 2017

Feeling inspired? Pretty amazing work, don’t you think?

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Artists, Exhibitions, Galleries, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles

Flowers on the brain

Some new work on the go in the studio. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s spring or I’ve been gripped by Modus Operandi Flora, but flowers have definitely caught my eye these past few months.

I’ve been playing with making flowers with velvet and voile which I’m in the throes of experimenting with in an en-masse kind of way.

The two images shown above are studio shots. Everything is very much in the development stage. Studio updates to follow.

Meanwhile – enjoy the view…

Below are some of the floral distractions I’ve loved of late. From the top: Hiromi Tango, AGNSW, kids art installation at Gallery Lane Cove, Sarah Contos, MAASKosuke Tsumura, H&M, and Juz Kitson.

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Hiromi Tango at the Japan Foundation’s Eco-Anxiety – Holding a Deep Breath

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Embroidery details from the Asian Gallery at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

 

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Kids art installation at Gallery Lane Cove

Detail of a Sarah Contos work at Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, Sydney


 

 

 

 

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Beautiful details at Love Is…Australian Wedding Fashion at Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

 

H&M advertising poster

 

Juz Kitson at Sydney Contemporary

 

 

 

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Art classes, Japan, Kids, repair, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

New Workshops for Kids

I just wanted to let you all know about my upcoming kids’ school holiday workshops. Book your crafty, stitch-crazy kids in for some imaginative and skill-building creative time!

STITCHDRAWING: 10-4, Friday 29th September or Friday 6th October, Ku-ring-Gai Art Centre

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This is a new workshop that will build manual and imaginative skills. Here’s what we’ll be up to:

Share in an imaginative day of stitch drawing: making marks and drawing on cloth. We’ll use some basic hand stitches with different thread to create texture, line and pattern. Use your wild imagination to make an experimental abstract or figurative picture. Take home your own original cloth drawing.

Book here

JAPANESE BORO CUSHION WORKSHOP: 10-4, Thursday 5th October, Workshop Arts Centre

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This is a really fun workshop. Like collage with stitching. And the kids will get lots of recycling ideas!

Ideal for ages 8+ years. Spend a day making hand sewn Japanese boro style cushions! We’ll use reclaimed Japanese fabrics, denim and reused cloth to stitch our creations. Cost includes all materials.

Book here

I’m always developing workshop ideas, so if you’re interested in other workshops or have ideas of what you’d like to learn, please get in touch.

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Artists, Exhibitions, Galleries, Textiles, upcycling

It’s a wrap

Well, Sighting Memory has finished and its time to head back into the studio. The exhibition, with Sepideh Farzam at Gaffa Gallery in Sydney, was a fantastic experience. The gallery team at Gaffa are great to work with, and it was a real pleasure working with another artist who has such an affinity for cloth and feeling, and who produces such sensitive, unique work.

For those of you who were unable to make it to the gallery, you can see images of the works below. Most of these were taken by the very talented Marty Lochmann.

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A Close Marriage, 2017, reclaimed clothing, silks, pearl beads, thread, 203 x 110 cm. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

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A Close Marriage, detail. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

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Sighting Memory, installation view. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

As mentioned in my previous post the exhibition focused on textiles and their ability to store and convey memory, a theme characterising both our practices.

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Familial, (detail), 2017, Belgian linen, reclaimed textiles, thread, hand painted timber frame, 45 x 35 cm. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

My framed works were representations of people and relationships close to me. Using old textiles that struck me as meaningful and memory-charged, together with thread or yarn, I stitched and abstracted ‘portraits’. The combination of Belgian linen and hand painted frames make specific reference to the tradition of portrait painting.

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Verandah (detail), 2017, Belgian linen, reclaimed textiles, thread, hand painted timber frame, 45 x 35 cm. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

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A Close Marriage, and Sepideh Farzam’s Principles, 2017, fabric, vest and thread, 91 x 114 cm.

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Sepideh Farzam’s Don’t Leave Me Alone, 2017 (left), fabric, pullover and thread, 58 x 148 cm, and Insomnia, 2017 (right), doormat, fabric and thread, 60 x 56 x 53 cm.

Sepideh’s work concentrates on female perspectives and extensively uses hand stitching. Her amazing work, Insomnia (pictured below), is an incredible piece – sadly, my photograph doesn’t do it justice.

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Sepideh Farzam’s Insomnia.

If you’d like to be informed of upcoming exhibitions and events please get in touch via the link at the top of the page. I’d love to meet you at one of these events.

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The artists. Photograph: Jon Johannsen.

 

 

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Artists, Exhibitions, Experiments, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Sighting Memory exhibition

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After several months of experimentation, studio rearrangement and all kinds of work disruption my new exhibition is about to open. It’s a joint show of textile based work with my friend (an amazing and very sensitive artist) Sepideh Farzam.

Sighting Memory will be opening at Gaffa in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday 17 August, from 6 to 8 pm. I hope you’ll be able to drop in and have a look if you’re in town. The show runs from 17 to 28 August and is open Mondays to Saturdays (Gaffa: 1st floor, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000, T: 9283 4273).

SIGHTING MEMORY invite 2 copyHere is a bit of info about the exhibition:

Identity and relationships, memory and emotion: some of the most explored themes in contemporary society. Observations of human relationships: deep, body-embedded memories of personal experiences. Combine these subjects with the re-use of old textiles and you have a contemplative and sensitive appraisal of life.

Sighting Memory is a joint exhibition of new work by artists Rhonda Pryor and Sepideh Farzam.

Human beings long for connection. The ability of cloth to hold traces of direct personal contact make it perfect memory stuff. It can hold traces of body shape, show unique signs of wear by its user, even bear an individual’s DNA. It’s a fascinating substance to work with.

While working across several disciplines as artists, we’re drawn to the significance of textiles and their ability to trigger a memory response. Fragments of old, worn clothing combine with other materials to draw attention to the uniqueness and intimacy of human ties and the feelings they spark. With a keen sensitivity to observation, Sighting Memory explores these themes in an abstract way, addressing identity and referencing portraiture.

Here are a few images of my experimentation and process leading up to the exhibition:

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Each work has been developed using Belgian linen and old textiles, in a reference to painting, relationships and personalities embedded in memory. I like to think of these works as ‘portraits’. Not everyone’s definition, I know, but I think its time for an update.

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Each frame has been individually hand painted to tie in with their ‘portrait’.

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Please pop in to see the show if you get the chance. I’d love to know what you think.

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Art classes, Japan, repair, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

Workshop wonders

IMG_5700I gave a one-day Japanese Boro Bag Workshop to some really delightful and enthusiastic kids this week at Ku-ring-gai Art Centre.

I was amazed at how quickly some of the kids grasped the concept as well as handling needle and thread.

One little grade three girl did the neatest backstitch for the seams (have a look below)!

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fullsizeoutput_cf4We used denim from old jeans, calico, old Japanese indigo-dyed cotton, an old indigo-stencilled yukata and a few other bits and pieces, and stitched with linen thread, sashiko thread and fine string.

They were very receptive to the idea of using old clothes in this way, and we talked about the aesthetic appeal of combining these fabrics with a limited palette and varying patterns and textures.

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fullsizeoutput_cfaI pre-sewed the bag linings to save time, and sensibly, brought the sewing machine so I could hurry things up towards the end of the day, but the kids were keen to hand sew the side seams.

I’ll think I’ll need to make the workshop a two-day one next time.

fullsizeoutput_cf6The results were just beautiful!

And the kids learned so much too.

Always a bonus!

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