My Mother’s Day gift was a 1 day WAFTA workshop with the lovely Katrina Virgona. 3D Textiles (or what the heck to do with an armature?!) I have admired Katrina’s work for some time and her piece “Emmeline” from twentyONE+ has pride of place in my studio.
The workshop was a great reassurance that I was generally on the right track with the few armatures I have made and has given me confidence to explore a range of wires, sizes and techniques for future projects…now happily sitting in the background until needed.
We also discussed the pros and cons of Instagram…I now have an Instagram account louisewellsartist
Firstly a transformation of the studio into boudoir for our friends from Sydney for a long weekend. It’s amazing what you find when you have a good clean up…
Five lovely days including an unheard of visit to the beach on a Monday morning…what an extravagance. The beach and weather stunning – it was meant to be 🙂
Then the submission of my 2017 entry for Wearable Art Mandurah WAM. The work has been finished for a while, photos taken, but pressing that “submit” button…it’s when you let go of your work.
On Saturday I gave a talk to the WAFTA WASG (Wearable Art Study Group) about my journey and experiences over the past 4 years making wearable art followed by a mini workshop.A simple way to start making Wearable Art – Discover the possibilities of upcycling your recycling bin!
Participants worked directly on dress forms, playing with recycled materials. Using pins, staples and masking tape to speed up the process.
It’s always interesting to see a garment develop on a body shape. You can do lots of drawings and designs, but when you place the items on a body form it comes to life.
All the participants made wonderful and unique starts to wearable art garments, including two 10 year old girls present by default. I could see the start of some wonderful garments for the 2018 WAM competition!
The workshop reminded me that I really enjoy teaching, something that I have been pushing aside for a long time.
A close up look at the works of others recently has made me go WOW!
I was on roster at the Common Threads Wearable Art display at the Craft Fair recently, in the early morning quiet I took the opportunity to photograph some of the works in detail. These works looked spectacular on stage, this was the chance to see some of them up close, the techniques, construction methods, how they attach to the body…
Elizabeth Morley’s Satori above and belowJacq Chorlton’s A Dress to Im’press – made from flattened plastic bottle topsCapillary Action by Val Hornibrook – layers of feltingThe Secret Garden by winner of the Youth Award Catherine KellyHope Lights the Way by Julie Smith
At the Quilt and Textile Study Group was privileged to see and touch Cynthia Harvey Baker’s collection of textiles from South Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan…Embroidery, batik, print, appliqué, patchwork, ikat weaving…
Most had stories of their history, purpose, technique and how they came to be in Cynthia’s possession.
I was taken by the detail. The simple stitch, the design, the colour combinations. Some were exquisite in the fine detail, others using simple stitch to create lovely patterns and designs.Tiny stitches below had us all guessing if this was really made by hand…Yes!
Several years ago WAFTA had a guest speaker talking about her arts practice and at the end of the night she mentioned how she spends 1/3 of her time applying for grants, a 1/3 of her time on art admin and a 1/3 of her time making art. My naive self thought this was ridiculous…why would I want to be doing anything else but making art, in the studio?
I now know to show/exhibit/promote your work does take a good chunk of time. I also now know how
enjoyable mostly enjoyable this can be. Finding exhibitions to enter, making artist statements clear enough for the audience to understand the work, helps me to understand the work too. Writing C Vs, bios, applications and such develop a cohesive sense of my practice as a whole. Blogging the processes of making my works helps me see how works have developed from my original idea and all the bumps along the way. Blogging is also a great record for myself of what I have been doing all year and my progress over the years. Days like the Common Threads Judging day are great fun and a great way to meet like minded fellow artists. Being part of a small committee like twentyONE+ is a wonderful learning experience, helps me think beyond my current framework, learn new skills, along with the opportunity to meet and work with great people in the arts field.
Alyson Stanfield’s book I’d rather be in the studio talks about the “business” of having an arts practice. Subscribing to her weekly blog is a constant reminder of what is required. Often in simple doable steps. Her year end review among others, I have found very useful.
So to say I haven’t spent much time “in the studio” of late is correct. A fair bit of socialising, my daughter’s school ball, son’s birthday, jury and judging days and then away in McLaren Vale SA for Easter.
Lovely beaches, yummy food, great wines…I try to “do something” always so have been hand stitching small circles over the past week or so and whilst we were away.My beloved camera has died so this last image is from my iPad, not the best quality…
Yesterday I visited two excellent textile exhibitions.
Improbable Returns at Heathcote Gallery. The work of Elisa Markes-Young (who’s work I have loved for a long time) and her husband photographer Christopher Young. The show closes next weekend 10 April.
over here at Nyisztor Studio until 1st May. The stunning work of five contemporary artists who live and practice in Albany WA. I am looking forward to their artist floor talk on saturday 16th April @ 6pm
It’s back to the studio now as I have a rather interesting and short deadline exhibition I want to enter.
Last week I entered 4 works into 3 (2 juried) exhibitions.
There are many many months of work to get to this point, and lots of things somewhat neglected, especially the garden, and yes, the studio…
I have been planning for some time to rearrange the studio AND have a big clean out. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started, moved some furniture out, added new drawers and storage shelves. I want to have all the tools and supplies at hand, stored in like areas (not in the box they came home from the last workshop in) Seriously cull the amount of stuff I keep, all those techniques I’ve tried and won’t again, all the products bought on a whim at craft fairs and never really used, and the “It might come in handy one day”s. I am sure some of this stuff just burdens you with guilt that you SHOULD use it rather than WANT to. The big question – Will I really use this? Is this the direction I am going?
The clean out is still a work in progress, due to slotting it in around all the other things going on at the moment, and the ripple on effect of moving things out of the studio means there are piles of stuff sorted, but not re-homed all around the house, and piles of stuff to give away.
Along with better storage, I wanted to make the studio easier to move in. I have a 2m wide display board in the studio that is a fantastic design wall and Josh uses it for the majority of textiles shoots he does. It has prevented the studio door being fully open for the past 18 months! The rearrangement means we can now do photo shoots in the studio AND open the door fully! We have done 5 photo shoots in the studio over the past few weeks and it is starting to work really well.
I’ve not finished the studio clean out partly because my wonderful husband took me to see Chris Isaak at Leeuwin Estate Winery in Margaret River last weekend. Traveling there and back I stitched, slow stitching over printed text on small pieces of silk organza. These will become my piece for “Brooching the Subject”. Once semi finished I am going to take the plunge and put the whole work in a sun dye jar for a month or so, and hope I can reproduce the result I achieved in the samples earlier this year.
I’ve known Anne Williams for about 8 years. We met through WAFTA and got to know each other very well serving on the general committee together. Anne has always been a great resource for information, offering helpful ideas and advice when I have been stuck on a project. She is always busy making something. She often talks about the very steep driveway to her house in the Perth Hills, that no one is prepared to tackle. I was prepared for this and parked at the bottom of her driveway, I wasn’t however, prepared for the lovely tranquil setting and the stunning views back across Perth.
Anne is busily preparing work for her 1st solo exhibition at Mundaring Arts Centre, Artist in Focus – “Through the Singing of My Hands” 19th March – 17 April 2016
Anne’s studio is her kitchen / living area. So we sat there with a cuppa and a slice of delicious home made pear cake and started the interview.
Anne describes her house as her studio, mainly working in her kitchen/living area, although extending throughout her house are storage areas for books, resources and completed works. She describes the space as being comfortable and having good light. She spends most of her time doing hand work (hand stitch, knitting, spinning etc) sitting in a comfortable chair in the living area or standing at the end of her kitchen bench. She draws and writes at the dining table nearby. This whole area has large windows looking out to her garden and views beyond. She is surrounded by works in progress and beautiful collections of objects and works by other artists.
When her children were younger it was the perfect place to work whilst supervising piano practice! Although Anne has had a separate, purpose built architecturally designed studio since 1980s, where her husband “hoped she would keep all her stuff”, it gradually found its way back into her living area and she uses the studio as a store room! She has her sewing machine set up there although says it is not a good work space, it is really hot in summer, the light is not very good, especially at night and it just doesn’t feel right. Doesn’t have good Feng shui. Fortunately her husband was very patient with this!
Anne works every day. Her hands get itchy if she is not working. She often has many projects on the go, sometimes starting work in the morning and going till 10 o’clock at night. She has spent 6 – 8 – 10 hours standing at the kitchen bench working when that feels like the right place to work.
“There is extreme excitement of developing an idea, knowing it’s working”
“That is rare, sometimes you can work on a piece for three weeks and then go ‘That’s a dud!’”
Anne said she “draws a huge amount”, she has beautiful notebooks filled with “a drawing a day”, others with ideas sketched out, how she might do things. Her work books and coloured pencils are on the dining table at all times, she also carries a notebook in her hand bag, often writes her ideas on a used envelope and then transfers to a notebook.
Anne writes a lot, often inspired from quotes, Rudolf Steiner’s work, art history and her daily reading of Anthroposophical literature. She has journals full of detailed plant studies accompanying dyeing notes and samples. Anne has been working with Natural dyes since the mid 1970s, keeping meticulous records since 2006, including recording rigorous fade tests. She makes lots of samples, trials, experiments, sometimes drawing the ideas, sometimes written. She uses mostly recycled materials, simple low tech stuff. She doesn’t as a rule go and buy specialised tools and materials.
Anne came from an artistic family, her parents were both artists and skilled craft workers, her mother trained as a commercial artist and later became an art teacher, her father was self taught. Although the family was poor, she said there was always quality art materials, tools and books around which she was encouraged to use. She was taught to use them in the proper way and that it is important to respect tools, even simple tools. Through her parents interests she was exposed to weaving, painting, pottery, china painting, leather work, lino cutting as a young child. At Primary School she along with all girls of her generation was taught sewing. If work was not up to standard, it had to be pulled out and started again. Anne says at 11 years old her stitching was immaculate.
Anne went to Perth Modern School where there was no option to do art so she ended up in a science course which she felt unsuited to. At the school there was never an attitude that girls can’t do anything. Following this she received a bursary to attend teacher’s college gaining a BA Dip Ed majoring in English Literature. She got married at the beginning of the year she graduated (1966) and taught English and Social Studies for 5 months. She had her first child later that year, never returning to teaching in the state school system. For almost the next 20 years she was a mother at home with her children. Anne’s husband worked away from Easter to October every year as a field geologist. These were the days of communication by letter (sometimes taking three weeks to arrive), no skype, rarely a phone call, no mobiles nor emails. She said the few visits to see her husband in the bush have been the highlights of her life. They built and moved into their current house in 1969.
At home with her young family, Anne would visit the Kalamunda Library every week and take out all the craft books she could get her hands on, learning all she could. She craved to make things. She made all the family’s clothes, even made shirts for her husband, knitted their jumpers and socks, her husband loved her brightly coloured socks. Anne said all the “practical stuff” of sewing she learnt at primary school. In 1974 she began spinning, she was drawn to it, right at the beginning of the spinning movement. She still uses the same spinning wheel 40 + years later. At this time along with another parent she ran weaving and then embroidery classes at the primary school her children attended. As there was no budget for the classes Anne would buy fleece and started natural dyeing, purely experimenting at this point.
In the early 1980s Anne was asked to teach off-loom weaving, spinning and dyeing at Nedlands Teachers College, firstly for a semester then continuing for two years. When the colleges amalgamated and all part time jobs were lost, including Anne’s, she flipped her role and at 37 enrolled as a student in the art school, gaining a Diploma in Secondary Art Teaching.
Whilst studying part time with two teenagers at home and a husband away for most of the year, Anne attended a talk by a visiting German family about the Waldorf Steiner school system. This lead to Anne becoming an instrumental member in the foundation of the Perth Waldorf School. This was all voluntary work, from fundraising, writing constitutions to finding land for the school. She was fully involved on the school council for the next 21 years. Over this time Anne set up the craft curriculum for the school, kindy to class 12. She retired from teaching at the school in 1997 although even now teaches adult classes in spinning, knitting and drawing, and the occasional school class. Anne became involved in WAFTA and around this time started to develop her own work.
Anne describes herself as having two types of work: (i) Bread and butter work, such as sewing/mending/knitting/spinning/making socks and jumpers…saleable items; and, (ii) What is becoming increasingly more important to her is her own body of work as an artist. At the time of the interview she was working towards her first solo exhibition which consists mostly of hand stitched works on linens, denims, tea towels and mining sample bags. Anne uses lots of recycled fabrics. Many are heavily stitched works, lots of running stitch and chain stitch, layers of fabrics, often backed with woolen blankets.
Anne’s work is influenced by her study and readings of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner and art history. She hasn’t met any other artists trying to express Anthroposophical teachings in a textile form. Anne said her parents treating children with respect as artists, and a belief that their work has integrity “has gone throughout my childhood, my teaching and my own work.”
“I get inspired by people who have done terrific work in later life”.
‘Housewives’ (sewing kits) were standard army issue for the ‘Nashos’ of the 1950s. They have been carried into battle zones all around the world. This one was issued to Pte. Ian Williams in 1956/7.
The above work made for WAFTA’s Memory and Commemoration exhibition, will be on show in Lake Grace Regional Art Space in March and Art Geo, Busselton in April.
If you would like to contact Anne please do so via this page.
It is a week and a bit since my return from Fibres West and I am well and truly back to reality. I have deadlines in the not too distant future for several exhibitions/projects. twentyone+ and Common Threads Wearable Art 2016 are two of them. None are overly pressing right now and each has its own “wait”. I had to wait until ReMida was open at a time I could get there to collect more goodies for one project (of course I have brought home two teddy bear skins, a cooler pack, 3 sheets of foam and another upholstery fabric sample card along with the items I went to collect)
I am waiting for a bit of Josh’s time to photograph a work in progress that will then be made into a thermofax screen. He is currently days away from submitting his Honours exegesis, so I need to wait for this.
I am waiting for a book I have ordered to arrive…I know it is the key to the inspiration on a third project.
So this past week and a bit I have been hand stitching, simple stitches, running stitch and colonial knots into some small pieces of cut away works.
They are not urgent, they are fun to do, on one level it appears to be procrastination… on another level this process of simple stitching for no great purpose is settling my mind after the information and inspiration overload filled week at Fibres West, where my mind was exploding with new ideas and directions.
The urgency to start more new works, buy more
stuff tools/materials/books to do it with has lessened over this week and a calmness to continue along my planned path has increased. The invaluable new skills and ideas from the Fibres West experience are still there, just put into perspective. So at this point in time it is not procrastination or avoidance, simply a little space to settle back into my routine.
My roses produced their stunning spring flush whilst I was away – they didn’t wait.
I feel like I have some breathing space right now. I have in essence finished the two pieces I have been working on solidly for the last few months, and pleasingly well ahead of schedule. They need hanging systems, photography and then the relevant paperwork to be submitted, all doable in the time available. This space has lead me to look around the house, see the dust, the overgrown garden and
mending surgery as Margaret Ford calls it (major) in this case. Poor Beaker had major surgery last May and at the time I had not counted on the arrival of a puppy! Beaker now has a new red suit and slightly shorter arms. I think he looks as happy as ever. Callum is happy as Beaker can still dance. You can read Beaker’s full story here Other family favourites – My own now vintage “Rabby” lovingly crocheted by my Nanna. Such and interesting shape to make clothing for…this is where as a pre-teen, I learned creative crocheting, adapting patterns, making my own designs…a good skill for an artistic future! I made Bikini bottoms to accommodate a tail.Nanna also made “Owly” for my Brother. This is one of the two he has.
A couple of months ago I went to Creative Partnerships: Artists’ Discussion introduced by Winthrop Professor Ted Snell, Director of the Cultural Precinct at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery UWA. Pippin Drysdale and Warrick Palmateer spoke of their well known 20 year collaboration. Here is a wonderful 5 minute ABC clip The Perfect Thing about how they work together. Sandra Black spoke of various collaborative processes she has been involved in along with her partnership with Andrew Nicholls for the exhibition HERE&NOW14
It was very interesting to hear the variety of ways artists could work together to produce a new body of work. This lead me to think about what I could do. Chatting to my son Josh Wells he also liked the idea. Josh gave me free rein to play with some of his images of gorgeous young ladies.
Here are a few of the results.
I have machine stitched directly onto the photographs and all of them other than “Aliza” have hand stitched silk fabric remnants, saved from my cut away works. These works have been a joy to create and are something I want to explore further.
The works are going to be on display and for sale this Sunday 23rd November at Hyde Park, cnr Vincent & William St Perth WA from around 4pm at launch of Minky G’s new CD. She is the very talented musician who played at the MELD exhibition opening. Bring a picnic and blanket and enjoy the music. Love to see you there!