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

Sighting Memory exhibition

Coat Strings_WEB_BANNER

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:

IMG_5223

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.

fullsizeoutput_d0b

fullsizeoutput_d0c

IMG_5578

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

fullsizeoutput_d0a

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

Standard
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)!

fullsizeoutput_cf5

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.

IMG_5835

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!

Standard
Stocktaking, Studio practice, Textiles

Studio (dis)organisation and other questionable habits

fullsizeoutput_cb4

So when did a tidy studio become a thing? I’ve tried, believe me, but just can’t make it work. All those blog posts and magazine spreads that show studios looking like they’ve just been painted, pimped and primed for ‘work’ do my head in. Little snippets of showpieces, that’s all they are…

Mine, on the other hand, simply operates around a kind of chaos where I can generally find everything (thank you visual memory) but can’t seem to negotiate the time to put everything away before starting something new. In fact, I frequently work over the top of things because I haven’t cleared a nice, inviting horizontal surface first.

I can confidently say I have nil clear horizontal planes anywhere in my workspace. This is, of course, exacerbated due to preparing for an upcoming show in August, and an influx of more pre-loved clothing I’ve been taking apart, but I’ve come to realise – only lately – that I really don’t care. That tidy desk tidy mind stuff just doesn’t match my brain. Whatever works.

These pictures are of some of the tidier bits of my studio. Full of promise and wonder.

fullsizeoutput_cb7

fullsizeoutput_cb5

fullsizeoutput_cb8

In fact, the whole chaos thing seems to suit me. I love finding bits of cloth/paper/yarn/photographs/wood/clumps of tangled thread/hair around the place and allowing them to suggest form for another work. The process can take a while though… like years.

And while I’m at it, falling prey to chaos has been the reason for my non-blogging of late. My apologies to anyone expecting the regular fortnightly thing I promised earlier in the year, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

So my advice to you all is this: don’t even think of trying to conform to the expectations of others (within reason I suppose I should add); just get on with your thing, and; believe in yourself while you’re going about it.

 

 

 

Standard
Experiments, Paper, repair, Studio practice, Textiles

Studio work: chaos, conflict, and the path to resolution

IMG_4850.jpg

I’ve been spending time in the studio working on some paper pieces – with cloth and text   too, of course – reflecting on chaos, conflict and resolution.

It seems to be part of an evolving theme I’m exploring about my dad. Always having thought of him as a fairly difficult man, with moments of intense love and attachment, I have for many years thought about examining his relationship with his family and his love of the Papua New Guinean people – his comrades during World War II.

Dad trained members of PNG police force during the war, and recorded, in Pidgin English, testimonies of the native people affected by Japanese war crimes after its end. You’ll see some of his handwritten and typed records in these photos.

Rather than embarking on a comprehensive analysis of his life, I’m finding myself drawn to examining bits, vignettes if you like, that catch in my memory. And the more I do this the more I see parallels with contemporary life, and sometimes specifically with my own.

In the contemporary world Japan is a major trading partner and friend of Australia; a remarkable contrast between Dad’s memories and mine. I love the Japanese, their culture, art practices and traditions. And the contrasts between the WWII era and now are both strikingly different and proof of the possibilities of reconciliation.

Having dug up some lovely vellum I bought in New York twenty years ago (in my painting days – and I’d always thought it too beautiful to use), I’m combining it with a variety of rice papers and vintage threads.

A selection of stitches that have their own particular meanings in this context: a ‘mattress’ surgical stitch, running/sashiko, and the stitch method used to repair Japanese sake bags (I don’t know if it has a name, but please let me know if you do) are really important to the work.

IMG_4853.jpg

Vintage Japanese rice paper from notebooks and ledgers.

IMG_4854

Burnt Arches paper, surgical stitching in vintage linen thread, handwritten text.

IMG_4852.jpg

Placement of layers of hand dyed muslin, like bandages, over the work, ready for stitching.

An attempt at mending.

I’m hoping to get at least one piece completed this week, so will show you the results in due course…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Art classes, Paper, Photographs, Textiles, Uncategorized, workshops

Stitching Memories workshops: the debrief

tip-truck

Two full classes and a hugely enthusiastic tribe. What more can you ask for?

Running the Stitching Memories workshops at Lane Cove Library was delightful. Its always an amazing thing to see what people do with their work: all have different approaches based on a photograph of their own selection from the Library’s historical image collection.

workshop-view

workshop

I showed how to transfer a design (or text) onto a photograph, and various ways to stitch, showing my own examples and those of other artists, always encouraging participants to be free, non-judgmental and experimental.

Some people chose images reminding them of their families or homes, others chose randomly, while others decided on imagery completely unfamiliar to them.

lady-in-garden

All the examples here are works-in-progress. A two and a half hour session really just provides an introduction to the possibilities.

Sometimes just a touch of stitching here and there is enough to make a quirky statement. The addition of text can change the entire reading of an image, and over-the-top stitchery is certainly not out of place in this workshop!

And did I mention the camaraderie involved in these sessions?

house

church

I have one more session in this series coming up at Gallery Lane Cove on Saturday March 11, with a slightly different focus. The Stitching Your Memories workshop is free, and will be running in conjunction with the exhibition Translating Displacement, which shares stories of former refugees, asylum seekers, citizens and non-citizens whose families fled war and violence to settle in Australia. If you’d like to book please phone 61 2 9428 4898 or email info@gallerylanecove.com.au.

We’d love to see you there.

 

 

Standard
Experiments, Paper, Studio practice

The seductive qualities of raw materials

img_4471

Dyed mulberry bark

Sometimes (well, frequently actually) I get sucked in to materials. Their various qualities zap onto something in my subconscious and I acquire them, often letting them sit in the studio for a ridiculously long time before knowing what to do with them.

Often it’s a time issue because there are occasions I know exactly what I want to do with a certain material and by the time I do get around to using the thing I’m almost salivating while handling and making with it. This exact thing happened last week with three pieces of Japanese mulberry bark paper I bought late last year.

img_4452

Boiling the avocado pieces in muslin

First, I dyed two pieces of the (very white) paper with avocado.  I wrapped about 1 kilogram of chopped avocado pips and skins in muslin and boiled the bundle in my big aluminium dye pot, with about 4 litres of water (enough to cover the bundle) for about an hour and left it overnight. Next day I heated the pot again, popped in the loose paper sheets and left them in for about 45 minutes.

img_4461

Post dye pot – Beautiful textures of the bark

The result was a lovely soft, goldy-pink colour with the beautiful surface sheen of the mulberry glowing through. I’m always amazed that you get pink out of avocado but there you have it. Note the beautiful, gnarled spiderwebbiness of the bark.

Looking for deeper colour I tried adding Spanish onion skins that I know can produce a very appealing rosy-pink. I really love the colour of these onions (and beetroot, which I understand is hopeless to dye with) … and purple carrots, by the way. With the uneven openness and quite firm body of the paper I knew the bunding method would be unlikely to work because it couldn’t be tightly rolled. However, I thought the result might be some pretty rosy blotches on the lighter background shown in the picture above.

img_4454

Mulberry bark with Spanish onion skins

img_4460

Loosely bundled for the dye pot

After bundling with rubber bands (being careful not to break the paper) I put it in the heated avocado dye pot, which now had only about two litres of dye water, simmered it for about 45 minutes, then left it to soak for a while.

The result was a richer, darker, fairly evenly distributed, dusty rose-pink with a lovely unevenness due to the bark’s construction. No rosy blotches, but a happy result nonetheless.

img_4468

The lovely deep pinky brown result

I intend to stitch with these pieces, either individually or sewn together into one larger work.

Something sculptural.

Watch this space to see what happens! And whether or not it works…

 

Standard
Art classes

Stitching Memories workshops in February

r-pryor_news_5-38mb-copy

Please join me for one of the free Stitching Memories workshops being offered by Lane Cove Library in February. Develop new art making skills while we explore memory and image making using a selection of historical photographs from the Library’s collection. Using text, hand stitching and cloth we’ll create new images from old, superimposing our contemporary lives onto photographic images of place and time from another era.

There are a few spots left so reserve your place by phoning 61 2 9911 3634. The details are:

Saturday 11 & 18 February

1:00pm – 3:30pm

at Lane Cove Library,

Library Walk, Longueville Rd, Lane Cove, Sydney.

I hope you can come and enjoy a fun afternoon with us while sharing your own ideas and skills. You’ll be in good company!

stitch contemporary art photography

 

Standard