Remains of the Day was made for Hanging by A Thread, WAFTA’s Member exhibition held at Holmes a Court Gallery, 10 Douglas Street, West Perth 17 September – 2 October 2020.
We can never truly throw things away. They remain, maybe not in our homes, but somewhere on the earth.
I use recycled and repurposed textiles in the majority of my work, to honour the past work of others, for the narrative of the fabric, and attempting to reduce the environmental impact of my practice. Despite this, I still end up with left-over bits…mostly too small to use.
Whatever I create, creates waste, destined for the bin, to end up in landfill, probably not decomposing for many, many years.
What is left at the end of the day in the studio? This work is made from those scraps of fabric that remain.
Yet I still threw out a handful of dust and scraps…
DIMENSIONS: Total – 105cm high x 151cm wide
Three panels 97.5cm h x 66cm w, 84cm h x 64cm w, 105cm h x 68cm w
MATERIALS: Fabric scraps from previous work in the artist’s studio, polyester thread
I think this is week ten of the new normal for our household. We isolated earlier than most due to concerns for our son who has Down Syndrome. I have not been to the shops at all during this time, and become quite good at online ordering. ???? I rarely leave my house, other than for my morning walk. I spend quite a lot of time at home working in the studio, and that hasn’t changed, however due to the cancellation and doubt in my 2020 exhibition calendar, my enthusiasm took a dive. Like many people, my emotions were all over the place for the first month or so. Gradually we have set new routines in place and weekly events to look forward to. We now have a weekly movie night among other things, and as I write this my son is having a cooking session with his support worker via zoom.
On my Groundhog Day morning walk each day (a walk for the hills and exercise, not the view) I have time to think and I have started to notice the gradual changes over the past few months, the weather (cooler), the smells (more fragrant), the increased number of birds and various plants blooming and then fading. This beautiful Banksia flower slowly blooming got me inspired.As I work in the studio, I’ve been listening to the fabulous The Great Women Artists podcast.I’ve enjoyed reading Threads of Life by Clare Hunter, The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley and most recently The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (if you’re a fan of Blackbooks…)This one below reminds me of the state of my Covid 19 hair 🙂
You can certainly tell where the world is at right now by the responses to my Instagram and Facebook post of this short video.
I purchased 18kg of recycled men’s business shirts from the Mega Barn Op Shop back in early February, as the base fabric for a body of work for a small group exhibition planned for later this year.
My preparation work was to wash the 93 shirts, cut out the back pieces, cut these into strips and then fold and roll the strips. I now have a colour palette / paint box ready to start.The reactions to the video, was “Wow!” and “I thought it was toilet paper rolls” ???? ☹
Almost all my events, workshops and exhibitions have been cancelled. My planned year, no longer…
It’s still, sort of, business as usual in the studio though, the work planned will hopefully show sometime in the future, if not now.
Making has always been my sanity, and the studio my sanctuary. Many works I have made have come out of the bad stuff that happens, it’s a way to deal with it. The process of making, getting in the flow, and of late the very repetitive task of cutting and rolling all these shirts has helped me on the emotional roller coaster we are all currently on. I simply walk into the studio and start where I left off. My hands engaged before my mind needs to be.
I am very excited to announce I have been invited to exhibit with fellow artists, Sarah Thornton-Smith, Leanne Bray, Charmaine Ball, William Leggatt, and Marina van Leeuwen at Lost Eden Gallery in Dwellingup in July in an exhibition called Patterning Habit.
I work to deadlines. I tend to set them for way ahead of actual need. An early experience of not meeting an entry deadline is forever in the back of my mind. AND there are always last-minute alterations, photography, paper work, challenges to fill in the spare time.My August deadline to finish the works above and at the end of this post, was due to family celebrations and travel. Not due until mid to late October they needed to be finished now, packed and ready to go. Then there’s this funny gap, where I don’t quite know what to do with myself. The studio routine is out the window and I have to…well there’s always cleaning and gardening to do 🙂
After months of working in the studio it’s now the start of the exhibition season. A Well Worn Path, a piece on the theme of Domestic Maps has been selected for Art Quilt Australia 2019 and opens at the National Wool Museum Geelong, Victoria tomorrow night 5th September until 15 December 2019. It then tours to Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale, Victoria from 8 February – 16 May 2020.Also currently on show is Light into the Darkness in Fiber Arts IX at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, California USA
I often get asked how I come up with the ideas for my work.
For me it’s lots of observation, questions, thinking, connection – often connecting two unrelated ideas…One thing I do know, is that the hours and years of driving my son to school and work, and after school activities was the perfect time to allow my mind to wander and make these weird connections. The twice weekly drive to swimming lessons past a construction site had me thinking about how the Hi Vis clothing worn by the workers was so faded and dirty I failed to see how it was serving its intended safety purpose. I then started to see Hi Vis clothing worn everywhere… “Is Hi Vis the new black”? became the idea for Fire Flies.
That drive time gave me regular daydreaming time, a good 20 minutes or more several times per day. Ideas developed, works became resolved. Something you can’t necessarily do in the studio or at a computer. Now that it’s no longer part of my daily routine, I realise how valuable that time was.I read this quote from author of Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury last week thanks to Austin Kleon, and I think it sums up how we get our own unique ideas/slant for our work (whatever field you work in):
Three things are in your head: First, everything you have experienced from the day of your birth until right now. Every single second, every single hour, every single day. Then, how you reacted to those events in the minute of their happening, whether they were disastrous or joyful. Those are two things you have in your mind to give you material. Then, separate from the living experiences are all the art experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve learned from other writers, artists, poets, film directors, and composers…
I would add here, all the things you have learned from others in any areas, not just art experiences.
He goes on to say…
All these things are very personal… You can’t write for other people. You can’t write for the left or the right, this religion or that religion, or this belief or that belief. You have to write the way you see things.The above images are details of the back and front of my current work in progress.
It tends to happen in waves, lots of time spent working in the studio with occasional visits to galleries and other art events. Austin Kleon would say you need this balance of input and output. I recently had a weekend full of art events. The last day of Evenline Kotai‘s beautiful exhibition Invisible Threads at Art Collective. Her work gives me both a sense of calm and blissful joy. Gorgeous busy detail whilst still creating an overall sense of unity, cohesion and emotion – something I am forever striving to do.
Saturday evening was the Lawley Art Auction. My work Dusk was auctioned with funds raised supporting the arts program at Mt Lawley SHS. Many, many years ago I attended a similar specialist high school arts program. It is lovely to be able to help support the next generation of artists.
Sunday I attended the Wearable Art Mandurah Showcase. I am delighted that two of the women, Meagan Howe and Ardea Murphy, that participated in my Wearable Art Mentor Group 18 months ago have won their respective categories in this years event! It is pure joy to be able to celebrate their wins with them and to feel that in some small way I have been able to help on their journey. See photos from the showcase here
For the first time in 6 years I was simply a member of the audience, rather than a nervous designer. I had a gap year from Wearable Art to give my full attention and time to my solo exhibition last November. After seeing the showcase I am again inspired. Lots of vague ideas floated around in my head. Many of these, as I considered them over the next few days disappeared due to lack of interest or practicality. Trust in the process, and one of these ideas has become stronger, clearer and compelling. I now know what I want to make, how, though is still a mystery!
I was tracking well on my latest piece of work. 2/3 finished and way ahead of the deadline…
Usually work slowly comes together, there is a love/hate relationship at various stages, with corrections and changes as the work develops.
The image in my head simply didn’t translate…the colours, the proportion, the contrast. There was simply no way to fix it.
So I have started over. Having made the decision it is actually quite a relief! I am much happier with the progress.
Below – A new start
Below- The top layer ready to machine stitch
Below – The Middle Layer
Each work I make stimulates more ideas to play and experiment with on the next piece. The more I make, the more I refine the process too. I have been experimenting with a range of backings over the years. Starting with polyester felt, upholstery fabrics and this year recycled denim. The denim made a lovely sturdy work, but proved difficult to hand stitch through. I’ve started doing a lot of hand stitching and the strength required to pull the needle through on each stitch really made my hands ache. I have changed to using old blankets for the last few pieces and find it much more comfortable on my hands.
Below – The backing. My childhood blanket recycled…again!
The backing for this new work was unpicked and sewn back together from a previous dud artwork. The disaster piece was no different. Both proving what not to do!
Since then there’s been a lot of machine stitching, cutting away areas
and lots of hand stitching Colonial KnotsAs I’ve been stitching away, I’ve been listening to more 99% Invisible podcasts – Here is their recent set on clothing. My favourites being Punk and Blue Jeans and Pockets.
As a female artist, the role of caring for loved ones, domestic duties and family responsibilities are never far away. From nappies to the beginnings of an empty nest, twenty five years of laundry care are marked by a well worn path. Mostly invisible, yet expected, quiet steps throughout the house are often only noticed in their absence. Stitched layers of worn-out family clothing map the labouring process expected of so many women throughout our society. A Well Worn Path is currently on show at the Minnawarra Art Awards, Armadale District Hall until 19 May 2019.The piece is made from family clothing, well washed and worn out: My Husband’s shirts printed with metallic paints, layered with shirts, shorts, jeans and silks. The whole piece is then machine stitched. Some areas have been cut away through two layers, then colonial knots cover the remaining circles to create the texture and contrast of the well worn layers.
Working is textiles is a rather slow process. I started this piece in mid February. It is large – 3 x 2m lengths and there are several very time consuming steps…lots of ironing, printing, machine stitching, cutting away and now covering the entire piece with colonial knots.The slow stitching is quite calming, I’ve got into a gentle working rhythm that is surprisingly easy on my back, neck and shoulders. Often the repetitive nature of my work leads to lots of pain…and always in the back of my mind – How will I complete this if my body can’t cope?I’ve started listening to Podcasts as I stitch. Thanks to a recommendation from my son, I’ve been listening become slightly addicted to 99% Invisible. I’m boring my poor husband with lots of interesting facts…