Exhibitions, Inspiration, Japan, Residencies, workshops

Images, memory and boro love

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How do you feel about the power of images? Do you ever stop and think about the impact images have had on your life? They’ve always been hugely influential to me, and I can think of many I’ve carried around in my head since early childhood.

A more recent episode that illustrates this is my fascination with Japanese antique boro textiles and clothing. A few years ago I came across my first boro images (yep, on the internet) and was captivated by their layering, frayed and tangled edges, faded surfaces, and their quirky and sometimes desperate stitching. But what I think screamed out to me the most was the obvious extent to which these items were valued by their makers and their families – out of desperate poverty I might add, but the Japanese have a way with aesthetics that can make your head spin.

While my art practice began with (mostly oil) painting, my recent work involves photography, textiles and installation. I found the sentiment of these boro textiles very sympathetic to the intentions in my own work. Memory, a sense of place, traces of human touch and history now all interconnect with varying input from photographs, cloth and stitch.

All this led me to undertake an artist residency in Japan last month, where I saw authentic boro that didn’t disappoint. More on my residency next week. But in the meantime here are some photographs I took at Amuse Museum in Asakusa, Tokyo that show some exquisite textiles and clothing. Here is the museum’s website. And if you’d like to see more I can recommend Sri Threads beautiful website as well. I wonder if they touch your sensibilities too?

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This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body

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I’d also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Copyright Agency Creative Individuals Career Fund for this project

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Artists, Exhibitions

Jane Theau: Sunbaking in Oslo

I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented Jane Theau at her exhibition at Incinerator Art Space  last week. A staggering amount of beautiful stitching (that must have taken an even more staggering amount of time to execute) as well as a decent quantity of wit thrown in. Well worth a visit if you’re in the Willoughby vicinity.

Sunbaking in Oslo – Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small St Willoughby, NSW – until November 8.

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Residencies

Gunyah artist residency

I’ve just returned from a wonderful short residency at Gunyah (Port Stephens, NSW) – a peaceful, serene environment for working, thinking, and re-evaluating.

Sunset from the balcony

Sunset from the balcony

A wonderful, if too short, residency that was a real delight. Pluto the dog was very impressed too, what with all those intriguing bush smells to check out. The family came to visit for the weekend and we took off to the sand dunes (which had moved so much closer to the road than we remembered – no doubt due to the recent storms), had morning tea at Tillerman’s in Tea Gardens, and lazed around the Gunyah living room, enjoying the fireside, world map jigsaw puzzle, art magazines and the views. We had a great time checking out the jetty (Pluto does love a swim), discovering charming little beaches, and walking around exploring – and baking bread.

Wet day activities

Wet day activities

I used the time to play around with the local flora (luckily readily available because of those storms) and making dyes for the silk lengths I brought with me. Pluto and I went on daily walks collecting interesting bits and pieces to include in the process.

Pluto eyeing off our collection

Pluto eyeing off our collection

We washed the cloth down by the jetty before and after the dyeing – a serene and meditative process at Gunyah (it is so quiet). The lovely golden colour of the water no doubt contributed to the final results. Photographing the fabrics in the water was fascinating for me – I couldn’t get enough of it. The colour of the water, the rocks beneath, the swirling cloth, beautiful light….

Clockwise from top left: washing the silk by the jetty; bundled with petals & foliage; finished cloth; dyepot with bark, flower petals & orange fungi

Clockwise from top left: washing the silk by the jetty; bundled with petals & foliage; finished cloth; dyepot with bark, flower petals & orange fungi

Washing dyed silk

Washing dyed silk

I also used up some of the waste threads and string to make experimental ‘lace’ samples.

Hand stitched 'lace' experiments using waste string and frayed silk threads from the dye bundles

Hand stitched ‘lace’ experiments using waste string and frayed silk threads from the dye bundles

Evaluating some work

Evaluating some work

A big thank you to Kath Fries and the Gunyah team! What a peaceful and laid back thinking/working environment! And the house is sooooo charming…

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