Open House Perth 2017

Described as “When residents become tourists in their own city” Open House Perth, ran for it’s 6th year last weekend. This year we concentrated on the inner east and north discovering some gems.
 Old Perth Girls School 1936 -1962, and more recently occupied by the Police department until 2002, is now ready for the next phase, a 3 – 5 year use until the developers are ready to start the more permanent project. Cafes, tourism, arts, community involvement  are all considerations for this time frame. I can envisage some wonderful possibility here.
Above- view from the projection room into the assembly hall.
The building itself is a quality build, the original lockers, fire places, bookcases were a delight, as were the anecdotes from past students on our tour.
 I imagine they’ve given up trying to match keys to lockers 🙂
Edward Millen House in Victoria Park is at a similar stage. It was built in 1912 as the first maternity hospital in Western Australia, becoming a repatriation hospital in 1920 – 1960, and until 1995 for various medical purposes. Current owners, the Town of Victoria Park spent over a million dollars in 2007 on  maintenance works. The community visiting over the Open House weekend were invited to share their views on the future of this beautiful heritage listed building. I hope its use will mean it’s available for the public to enjoy.
 Next was The WA Ballet. A beautiful example of new use for a stunning Art Deco building. Government, councils, private donations all coming together to make this work. I loved the tour so much last year, I went again and am now hoping to get an in-depth look at the wardrobe dept 🙂
Lastly, a couple of residential houses. The Triangle House in Mt Lawley that I drive past regularly was a spacious surprise inside that we all loved. The build on this awkward triangle 170m2 block is a great example of what good design can do and the creativity that arises from limitations.

It’s November Already!

This year has gone by so fast. However, it’s not over yet and there are lots of great things happening (AND lots of sewing still to do) in spite of the fact that all the shops/media want us to do is count down to Christmas…and panic!

Two great events are happening this weekend.

Firstly, my friend Liz Arnold has her solo exhibition Reef – A Fine Line opening this weekend. Come and see some of her beautiful intricate pen drawings based on the fragile coral reefs.

It’s on at The Basement Gallery Hay St Subiaco 10 – 25 November

Also on this weekend is Open House Perth  11 – 12 November. This fabulous two day event allows the sticky beak in you to see the city’s historical gems and and nosy around some really interesting new design. I attended this event last year and blogged about it.

 

The Time of My Life – in review

Canadian independent creative magazine Uppercase asked for submissions recently on the theme Diagram Your Life. If you drew a Venn diagram of your life, how would your life and creativity intersect? What would a data-driven self-portrait look like? 
I am delighted my work “The Time of My Life” was selected for inclusion in issue 35. The work was originally made for the WAFTA InTension exhibition in 2011. In late 2010, I documented my time spent on the activities of the day for 100 days, each with a colour representing a separate activity. At the time of making the work I felt very frustrated about my lack of time in the studio. All the pink areas are studio time. Reviewing this seven years later, with my darling children all now beyond their teen and schooling years and mostly independent (although all still at home) my art practice has significantly changed and developed, and I do have more time available. The mad rush to get everyone out the door early in the morning is much less of a challenge and no longer am I running kids to appointments or after school activities and cooking dinner in spurts between the drop offs and pick ups.
In other ways there are still lots of demands on my time, however my priorities have also moved much more towards making art and art related activities. Sometimes often the housework is at a minimum, my garden is designed to thrive on neglect and I don’t go shopping without a specific purchase in mind.
In hindsight I can see the time spent away from the studio not so much as a frustration, as it can be just as valuable to my art practice as the hands on activities at my desk. That time helps me process ideas, find a solution to design challenge, see new possibilities, and relieve my sometimes aching back and shoulders!

The Studio Reality

I’m working on a place mat sized space of table in my studio at present, surrounded by clutter on every available work surface. The tidy, spacious studio images in Down Under Textile Magazine a few months ago is long gone (some would say they’d never seen it so tidy)
I’ve started sampling for my next project and as I slowly resolve the idea in my head, I am considering all possibilities and have pulled out every thread, fabric, and What If?
 This is a mess that may or may not become part of this work. I suppose what I am saying, is it’s the mess of inspiration, not of lack of storage space nor enthusiasm to tidy up 🙂
 I will be forced to “tidy” as the project progresses, when I need more table space to work and as I narrow down the possibilities of what might go into this project.
 Supporting my mess/clutter = inspiration, Austin Kleon in his newsletter last week talks about The art of finding what you didn’t know you were looking for. By not having everything in your studio filed and organised beautifully allows for the chance discovery as you search for what you thought you were looking for. 

City of Stirling Art Awards

My work Silver Linings #5 Seeds of Hope received an Highly Commended at the City of Stirling Art Awards last night !
 Out of darkness and disaster come seeds of hope, regeneration, new beginnings, an opportunity to do things differently.
The Silver Linings theme began in response to a series of back to back personal challenges in 2015. As the series has progressed, the inspiration for works has trended toward explorations into nature and life cycles. In this work I was inspired by travels along the Forrest Highway after the Yarloop Bush-fires. Amongst the blackened devastation new growth appears, a sign that our Australian bush is tough, resilient and adaptable to the circumstances presented. 

Altered States

Altered States 2017 Members Exhibition has just opened at the Perth Town Hall showing until 23rd September.

Members were given the challenge to make a small art piece using the contents of a bag of stuff. Numbered bags were allocated on receipt of entry to the challenge. Most of the contents of each bag are very similar as you see below.In addition, each bag had a piece of op shop clothing. My bag had this black dress, complete with plastic rhinestones!There were only two rules:
1. Use a little or a lot of everything in the bag,
2. The final piece to be a maximum of 30cm x 30cm (2D) or 30cm x 30cm x 30cm (3D).

It has been fun, and also quite challenging for many of us to work with materials and colours that we wouldn’t  normally consider. Some amazing ideas and works have resulted. My work is below. I’ve dyes and painted many of the items in the bag. You can see more of the works on the Altered States facebook page  It is well worth a visit to the exhibition!Title: Trappings

Artist Statement: Known or imagined, recycled and preloved fabrics have an air of mystery, a previous belonging. This thick, black, stretchy, polyester fabric however, feels void of a story. Is it just part of the trappings of consumerism? Set to be among the never worn, never decomposing clothing destined for land fill.

Techniques: Hand Dyed, Coiled, Machine & Hand Stitch

 

 

WAFTA @Wearable Art Mandurah 2018

Would you like to enter Wearable Art Mandurah in 2018? I have loved being a part of this competition over the past four years. I’ve made lots of great friendships in this wonderful community of designers, and there are many many opportunities to have your work shown. Along with making my own garment for the 2018 competition, I am running a five month long – one day per month program WAFTA @ Wearable Art 2018 starting 30th September. This program is designed to help you step-by-step through the processes and challenges to create and enter your work in the upcoming 2018 competition. I’m going to share my successes and my disasters! We will cover:

  • Concept development
  • Material choices
  • Tips and techniques
  • Judging criteria
  • Mentoring and instruction
  • Pre-selection photography
  • Artist statements

Suitable for Beginners, Tertiary Students, Groups (1 or 2 people) and Individuals.

It’s going to be loads of fun!  I hope you can join us, places are filling fast!

Click here for further details

Wearable Art Mandurah Exhibition

What is it made of? What does that look like up close?…questions often asked by people watching the WAM showcase or seeing photos of Wearable Art. The Wearable Art Mandurah exhibition is the opportunity to see a selection of 30 garments from the 2017 competition up close.The Mandurah Mail has lots of beautiful images from opening night. Here are some of my detail snaps to tempt you!
 These are just a taster of the stunning the exhibition, across two venues this year, running until 3rd September. It’s well worth a visit 🙂
CASM Wed – Sun 10am – 4pm 63 Ormsby Terrace Mandurah
Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery Mon – Fri 9am -5pm, Sat 10am – 4pm, Sun 12 – 4pm Ormsby Terrace Mandurah

Amanda McCavour – Fibres West 2017

I have just spent a wonderful week at Fibres West with the gorgeous tutor Canadian Artist Amanda McCavour in our class Experimental Surfaces: Machine Stitching and Unexpected Materials.I was drawn to attend Amanda’s class through her stunning installation works – and in hope that my previous failed attempts at machine embroidery using water soluble fabrics could be rectified.

I came to the class with a tonne of ideas, but put them aside to try samples of the techniques Amanda taught us. These first two days of technically successful samples became a solid foundation for my experiments and discoveries over the next three days.

We used Solvy, a water soluble “fabric”. Basically you stitch on the Solvy and as long as you have enough intersecting stitches, once you dissolve the Solvy the whole piece stays together, as a stitched line only. Sometimes easier said than done…

We sampled three types of Solvy, each useful for differing types of work. Firsty, sandwiching fibres, threads and small pieces of fabric.Using some scraps from my cut away workAs long as you capture these small pieces with stitch…it should all hold togetherAlternative materials such as security envelopes, poster card, acetate and paper held in place between two layers of sticky solvy.Stitchedand washed out And all stitchThis type of work can be light and airy or heavily stitched.I came to the workshop wanting to further explore cocoons and spent the remainder of the week working on this challenge. I wanted to make one complete cocoon, not having to join it in any way. This first attempt was too rounded at the top. So I started with the capsCreating a method for the peak and threadThen the baseTrialing the whole cocoon in one piece, adding some patternThen, consoling myself that the cocoon would need to be in two piecesTrialling a stainless steel/linen thread in the bobbin The cap

which caused the tension to go astray – a lovely mistakeand the final piece adding some security envelope paper scraps (in my test sample the colour bled onto the thread)


Work of others in the class –  ClaireWendyJan The Group sample wall growing all weekThe classroom was a buzz with sewing machines (mostly Bernina) all week. Some, the price of a small car. Claire’s 1970s, vintage? model was much admired and worked beautifully all week. Such tough machines 🙂

 

Making La Mariposa’s Cocoon

My usual way of working, is to get a great idea, think about the project for a while, make a start, slowly work and refine, let it sit at various stages, think some more, have a serious period of doubt, rethink, rework and over time, usually a few months, the original great idea in my head becomes a finished work – often not as I had possibly imagined it.

La Mariposa’s Cocoon was a very different experience. A waiting game…
Although I could see the development of the Wearable Art Whispers Project and form some ideas, as the final artist I needed to respond to the work of each of the other artists and add to the overall piece. Until I received the box and had the opportunity to unwrap each artists contribution, see the details up close and set up the whole garment, I had no idea if my thoughts would be possible.

A very short time frame. Each artist in the Wearable Art Whispers project had a month to complete their section. Half way through my month, I had an absolute deadline for the launch, then made even shorter by garment fitting and reveal rehearsals.

A completely different starting point. La Mariposa’s cocoon is the first work I have ever made with performance in mind as the initial idea for the work. I had an image of La Mariposa emerging from a cocoon, surrounded by curious young children and them unwrapping her. M. C. Escher’s Bond of Union came to mind.

Untested materials. I used materials I had never worked with before, I had never made a piece so large.

The process and the practicalities. “How is she going to get out?” was the question my immediate family continued to ask as I planned and then made the cocoon. “I’m not really sure yet” was my usual answer.

I started the process of making La Mariposa by researching images of cocoons (technically Chrysalis) for shape, colour, texture and how butterflies emerge. At this point I could have become VERY sidetracked as they are beautiful, a huge variety of colours, shapes, designs…then I started looking at the amazing variety of caterpillars and…

I chose a simple style with a distinct cap and ridge. The ridge defined the widest point of the cocoon to allow for La Mariposa’s wing span. It also determined the overall height. I chose to use cane for the armature for its lightness, flexibility and natural curve. Thank you Liz Arnold for a wonderful supply of cane 🙂Layers of cane masking taped together. The cane itself created this lovely curve.

Happy with the ridge, I continued to make large circles to define the width of the cocoon and create the cap.Each circle was then strung together to get the shape and height correct and then secured with crochet chain.

Testing the height on my daughter’s very tall friend.Of course this had to be hung as I worked on it. You can see above, I used a pole suspended between two cupboard doors initially and then a broom handle between two clothes airers so I could work at a reasonable height on the cap section.Above is a family affair – my daughter testing there is enough space for the wings, my Dad to the right, he had just brought over a free standing hanging frame he made and Ruby the Dachshund supervising.

Happy with the shape, next was to what to cover with. From the red and black in the  images I had seen of La Mariposa I planned to use a gorgeous piece of shot red/black/silver Ruth Tarvidas fabric I picked up at Para Quad op shop, however next to the garment it looked awful.

Back to google. I found images of microscopic details of cocoon patterns distinctive to particular species of butterflies. This started the inspiration for the use of recycled doilies.A quick Facebook request to our local Buy Nothing Group, a quick email to family and friends…crickets. A mad run around all the local op shops, and then slowly a few donations came in. I realised that people have either long ago cleaned out their linen cupboard, or they collect and cherish them. And I agree, I couldn’t donate those precious doilies made by my Nanna either. The lovely Rachel from our Buy Nothing group gave me over 50 from her collection and others gave generously too. Below are some of the beautiful designs donated.
Eventually I thought I had enough to cover the 2.8m height and 3m circumference. Initially I hand stitched individual pieces to the cocoon top…Then to speed things up for the main body of the cocoon, doilies were cut into strips and machine stitched back together. Before I attached this covering I needed to make a final decision about the opening. La Mariposa was to emerge herself, however very delicately to protect the wings and hand pieces. A few sleepless nights considering ideas:- unraveling – it needed to easily be reconnected to unravel again…  the front dropping down – it would become dirty very fast… and finally parting – lose press studs with gaps in between gave the model enough room to wiggle her hand through and then be able to expand the opening with her wrists, arms and leg.Cutting the cane armature for the opening, so close to completion was one of the most difficult things to do. Luckily it pretty much held its shape.

Other things to consider A free standing hanging frame to allow the cocoon to be used in a variety of locations. My Dad made the hanging frame from an old base for a table on wheels, a tent pole and a piece of chrome rod. The over cautious counter weight was made from a 20kg bag of sand covered in black fabric.

At this stage it functioned as a static piece…However the vision for La Mariposa to successfully emerge by herself was the dream goal and Tash from DTX Studios took my vision and ran with it. She made La Mariposa come alive and performed such an elegant reveal.