A lot has happened since I last wrote…

A wonderful big holiday to Europe in October. If you are a fan of German, French and Italian rocks, stones, brick walls, doors, windows, Mosaics, Stained Glass…you may well like to see my Instagram

Also on Instagram you can see in London my Mum and I had many a textile treat visiting the iconic Mary Quant exhibition at V&A and the fabulous Zandra Rhodes exhibition at The Fashion and Textile Museum.

We were part of the last small group tour of The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion. before it’s two-year long closure to move to a new location.

The Foundlings Museum, which has the largest collection of everyday textiles surviving from eighteenth century Britain.

Since returning home I have been busy making new work and new plans.

Exhibitions

This weekend we head to Collie for the opening of the Collie Art Prize where I am very pleased to be a finalist. 3 March – 15 April 2020.

Also opening soon is the Australia Textile Art Award (ATAA) at The Embroiderers Guild, Victoria 21 March – 5 April 2020. I am delighted to have work selected for this inaugural exhibition.

The Art Quilt Australia 2019 exhibition is now on show at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale, Victoria from 8 February-17 May 2020.

Workshops

There are a few places in a couple of workshops I am running for WAFTA very soon.

7th March “Where Do I start? Where do I begin?” Concept Development workshop 

29th March – Printmaking Techniques exploration on cloth and paper 

New plans

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.

 It’s a very busy 6 months!

 

[email protected] 2018

I’ve entered three times, but never finished a garment” was a comment that inspired me to propose an idea to WAFTA for a mentoring program to help people enter and complete a garment for the Wearable Art Mandurah (WAM). WAM started as a local competition in 2011 as part of the Stretch Festival, Mandurah, Western Australia and has grown to become a stand alone event fast gaining an international standing.

Went I first entered in 2014, all garments were automatically part of the showcase and exhibition. Now there are a series of steps – pre-selection, judging day…that’s once you have completed your garment!

[email protected] 2018 was a six session/six month program designed to assist participants along all the steps to create and enter their garment. We covered concept development, material choices, lots of tips and techniques, judging criteria, pre-selection photography, artist statements. Most importantly, at the first session I showed the group this image from Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist.  The Dark Night of the Soul is the point where we give up, it’s all too hard, for any number of reasons…THIS is where I really wanted to help the program participants. To get past this point. An initial brainstorming session; looking for inspiration, referring to category information and judging criteria and writing notes to help with artist statements further down the track.Trying out your ideas on a dress form is a great way to quickly see if the proportions are correct and the how it works on the body.

The garments not only need to look amazing on stage, but also have interest in the detailsThroughout the process the participants continued to refer back to their design ideas and inspiration.There were many many hours spent making individual elements, often trialed in several materials before the best solution was found. Group members were supportive of each other offering suggestions and advice, and materials.There were also many, many hours spent constructing body frames, corsets and hearwear supports made from paper, glue, cardboard, polystyrene, retic pipe, foam, masking tape, powertex, metal sheeting etc.

Trialing how elements work togetherSometimes you’ve just got to try it on…see how it feels! Headwear trials. Is it comfortable? Is it secure?Pre-selection photography day with last minute alterations and finishing. After quite a few rather late nights, we had a very exciting day seeing the completed garments come to life.

I am extremely proud to show the final results –

Phoenix by Kitty Boyd

Singing the Land by Jennie Abbott

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

The Bird Cage by Jennie Abbott and Lyn Nixon

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

Urban Insect by Carol Hazel and Amanda Brown

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

The Masquerade by Meagan Howe

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

The Mariners Treasure by Ardea Murphy

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography
www.stephenheathphotography.com

These amazing garments have gone on to be shown in wonderful events such as the WAM showcase, WAM exhibition, The Perth Craft Fair, Art Gallery of WA Art Ball.

Deeper, not wider

Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, by chance late last year, I came across an article Go Deeper, Not Wider on David Cain’s blog  Raptitude.com
He suggests –
“You take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or aquire any new possessions you don’t need. No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead you find value in what you already own or what you’ve already started…It’s wonderful to have the freedom to continually widen our interests. But like many luxuries, it has it’s downside. Ever branching possibilities make it harder for us to explore any given one deeply, because there’s always more “newness” to turn to when the old new thing has reached a difficult or boring part”.
 In the article he suggests going deeper into your interests rather than continuing to purchase bright shiny new things that the appeal of disappears not long after you bring it home. Think the books you buy and never read, the art supplies never used…however I personally can’t add the fabric stash to this list. 🙂
I think this equally applies to developing your art practice. The more new techniques you try, the more books, materials, equipment and supplies you purchase, you can only ever scratch the surface…or they simply sit in the cupboard.

I went wide…

I looked at my art supplies several years ago and gave myself a challenge of going wide – to sample all of these textile supplies and books I had purchased over the years. For one whole year I sampled all the techniques and supplies I had already purchased. The Colour Project forced me to try all these techniques, it gave me five great reference files of samples, many of which I will never look at again, discovering that most of them were not my thing, either interest or time wise. In the latest issue of Down Under Textiles magazine I have written an article about how to go about your own version of The Colour Project.

…then deep

Setting limits on techniques, materials, size etc allows you to go deeper. We associate particular artists with certain styles and techniques. Where the artist has continued to explore, push and refine, thought what if?  on the next piece I’ll try…, rather than jumping to the next thing as soon as it gets boring, or especially when it gets difficult.

In a recent interview with Hanny Newton in Textileartist.org she says: A lot of my pieces start with a ‘what happens if…’.

A notion comes into my head and I try to delve as deeply into it as possible, I find that if I simplify my work down to one type of stitch or one idea, it actually gives me more freedom to explore than if I had a world of possibilities, that would be quite overwhelming.

I tried this in the Fibres West 5 day retreat I did last year with Amanda McCavour on Experimental Surfaces: Machine Stitching and Unexpected Materials. After the initial class samples I pushed the idea of a cocoon shape for three days, trialing colour, shape, threads, tension. I came to the workshop with the idea of incorporating the connecting technique in my work as I was getting frustrated with the current joining processes I had been using. I’m really pleased to say that because of this intense experimenting, working through the challenges and possibilities of the material, the two most recent works I’ve been making it has worked a treat 🙂
Working in series is also a way to go deeper. Over the past few years I have been working on the theme of Silver Linings and explored many aspects of this and ways to interpret this into textiles.
How can you go deeper? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It’s been a fortnight of finishing

Four deadlines over a couple of weeks in February seemed like a long way off back in the second half of 2017. I put my hand up for them all, and I’m delighted to see the wonderful results produced by the consistent and hard work by myself and others involved in each of these projects .
[email protected] 2017 is a program I have presented and mentored over the past six months to help artists design, create and enter a garment into the 2018 Wearable Art Mandurah (WAM) competition. We had our final session and photography day last Saturday and after a few rather late nights, the participants have created some amazing garments. Seeing their works completed and come to life on a live model was breathtaking for all of us.
I’ve been working on my own WAM entry since last October and although 99% finished before Christmas, a few final details took several days, and then there was photography, artist statements leading to submission last week.
Sadly, you’ll have to wait until after Judging day to see any of these garments. Instead here is Mannequin Monroe, a new resident in the studio, a gift from our local Buy Nothing group. She has had a long career in Aherns Dept. store, then Behind the Monkey modelling jewellery and most recently has spent six months lonely in a shed. She will be busy modelling Wearable Art garments soon.
My gorgeous niece was our model for all of the WAM garments, and back in June 2017, she decided to make her own gown for the year 12 Ball, which was last Friday night. My mother, sister and I helped her through the processes of creating her stunning lace covered dress, meeting together about once a month. As you can see she looked stunning and rightfully won best dressed on the night.
My latest Down Under Textiles Magazine column was also due among these.
On a very busy day in the middle of all this I visited Annette Nykiel’s beautiful exhibition Meeting Place, which is on at Spectrum Project Space until 17 February 2018.
“…My edginess quietens as my mind wanders to moments in the country walking the ground…”  quoted from the exhibition catalogue.
Yes, this is how I felt, walking into the space, a sense of calm.
Well worth a visit if you can.

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

WAM Head Wear Workshop

Head Wear, like footwear in wearable art can cause a lot of angst.
The footwear challenge is due to the shoe size guessing game of your model. Head Wear has a few more challenges; for the artist and the model. As artists/designers we want a head piece to complement our garment and create that wow factor. We also don’t want it to fall off mid-showcase! Models and dancers require something secure, comfortable and lightweight.
Lou Grimshaw, Props Assistant at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts presented a wonderful workshop on Sunday to address these issues. Sharing her wealth of experience, we learnt techniques to make balanced, lightweight wire frames to build our designs upon. Below is one of Lou’s pieces.
 Using a jig we learnt to shape wire and solder the joins to make the basic headpiece.
We then looked at the endless variations and alternative materials, always considering the wearability of the piece. Lou shared many tips, suggestions and products to try for our head wear. The very experienced group of participants were also happy to share their knowledge. There were lots of aha moments and “ooh, I want to try that!”
Above – the wire frame of one of Lou’s pieces.
Many thanks to Barb Thoms from Wearable Art Mandurah for organising this fantastic workshop. I’m really looking forward to seeing some amazing head wear next year!

 

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 🙂

 

Armatures Workshop with Katrina Virgona

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.3D workshop 113D workshop 123D workshop 13

3D workshop 143D workshop 16The great group of fellow workshoppers inspired each other throughout the day. It’s always delightful to see the what others create from exactly the same instructions and materials.3D Workshop3D workshop 93D workshop 10

We also discussed the pros and cons of Instagram…I now have an Instagram account louisewellsartist

 

Simple Steps to Surface Design

Aha and AHHHH…These are the words you want to hear from participants in your workshop. That lovely moment when something clicks or they can see a connection to what you are presenting and the type of work they already do…a new way of working, a slight twist, an “of course”… I’ve had all these moments myself at workshops and artist talks. Some of them are defining moments in my work. Often a small, seemingly insignificant part of the whole, has made the difference.
I had the great pleasure of running two half day workshops for WAFTA late last week. Simple Steps to Surface Design was part of a series of Textile Techniques Toolbox workshops to coincide with the launch of “Altered States” WAFTA’s member challenge exhibition. The challenge is to create a small work of art from the surprise contents of a bag of materials. These workshops are designed to inspire and expand possibilities.Print wsahop 4In my half day workshops we covered screen printing in various forms, gelli printing, stamping, spray stencils, fugitive medium, Dylon and RIT dyeing. A lot to cover in a few hours, just a taster to explore further if it was of interest. The participants made lots of A4 size samples – reference material for future work.Print wshop2Print wshopPrint wshop 12Print wshop 10Print wshop 7I loved seeing my stencils and stamps used in ways I would never have thought of…how each participant explored new possibilities. I loved their delight when something surprised them and they were excited to explore further.Print wshop 3Plastic dyed 4Print wshop 5

Print wshop 9Dyed PlasticPlastic Dye 3 Dyeing DylonI am really looking forward to seeing all that comes from this.

It’s been a busy week…and a bit…

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 ArtDiscover the possibilities of upcycling your recycling bin!WASG2
Participants worked directly on dress forms, playing with recycled materials. Using pins, staples and masking tape to speed up the process.WASG
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.WASG10

WASG11WASG9All the participants made wonderful and unique starts to wearable art garments, including two 10 year old girls present by default.WASG6 I could see the start of some wonderful garments for the 2018 WAM competition!WASG4WASG13WASG8

WASG12

The workshop reminded me that I really enjoy teaching, something that I have been pushing aside for a long time.

I’m well into the next deadline and it’s slowly progressing with machine and now hand stitch. This needs to be my focus for the next few weeks.13 Feb 004 13 Feb 023