When I posted on 7 Sept 2022 about my work in a WAFTA (Western Australian Fibre and Textile Association) members’ exhibition in 2020 I said that I was thrilled to have been juried into a special 25th anniversary exhibition by members of WAFTA in the same gallery: the Holmes A’Court Gallery at 10 Douglas Street, West Perth owned by art connoisseur Janet Holmes A ‘Court. [https://www.holmesacourtgallery.com.au/]
The names of the artists selected reads like a list of the elite textile artists of Western Australia, minus a few for whatever reason. I was surprised but very pleased to have been selected in that company.
As befits a juried exhibition, there was a brief. We were limited to a maximum of three techniques. We had to “crossover” in some way by using non-conventional techniques or materials or both. Phrases like “purity of design” and “clarity of intention” obviously conveyed what the jurors would be looking for.
I began with an ambitious design. A 3D twisted wire armature holding crochet and knitted and knotted “fabric” in shape but allowing light to cast shadows through the “fabric”. Design to be bold from a distance; more detailed from about a metre out; and micro-detailed close-up.
I assembled yarn.
Having also selected black/grey and red/orange as my other colours, I began to crochet.
I joked that if my entry did not make the jurors’ cut I’d give this to Sam as a little mat. Then I thought, maybe I’m on the wrong track and I should felt said cat for a nice creamy white padded and stitched piece! [RSPCA to note: Samson is still alive and meowing, demandingly, as I write this]
My generation of the fabric for a triptych in black/grey; red/orange and white/cream went well. I just couldn’t confidently settle on the construction of the supportive armature.
I tried heavy felt and pool noodles. No good as they blocked out the possibility of shadows.. .and they were hard to shape. I tried wire but was not confident that the joins I made in the wire would survive manipulation.
Finally as the submission date drew close, I retreated to a conventional mounting of said “fabric” on wooden frames. My wonderful brother-in-law made up the frames. I bought three spray cans of enamel paint and proceeded to spray the three frames black, red, and white. 24 hours before the date I’d booked for photography, I worked all night, finally putting the last staple in the last wooden frame 10 minutes before my scheduled photographic appointment.
In the session with Josh Wells Photography [https://joshwellsphotography.com/], in which he took numerous images and put them on a memory stick for me, I tried to stretch out my back in a good supportive chair and enjoyed a long overdue cup of tea….
Then I went home to bed, waking 14 hours later with my little memory stick of images still in my hand.
I submitted the work. Not because I thought it met the brief. I felt it was not sufficiently “crossover” for that. I submitted it because I thought it was OK technically and had a good story to tell. I felt, however, that it would not be selected because of its conventionalism.
Last Friday, 21 October 2022 there was a beautiful opening of the exhibition.
The jurors were a highly qualified trio of art specialists; the curator was sensitive and responsive to artists’ intent; the speeches were relevant but short; the volunteer bar tenders were charming and attentive; and the catering was yummy. Sales were brisk and expertly handled either manually or by QR code links. The catalogue is VERY professional (see https://waftatwentyfiveplus.com.au/).
My work is called Tempo; Tune; Tale; A Musical Analogy for Textile Design.
My submitted artist’s statement reads:
A musician begins to play in a distant room. The feel of the beat reaches you clear and strong. Drawing closer, you begin to hear the melody flowing harmoniously with and above the beat. Invited to go even closer, your brain appreciates and is stimulated by the lyrics embellishing and amplifying his story.
I have worked to convey these remote, medium and close-up perspectives in Tempo; Tune ;Tale; A Musical Analogy for Textile Design.
The work includes found objects such as metal and rubber washers; beads; stainless steel, iron ad plastic wires; buttons; and bangles. They support and shape both natural fibres (alpaca, cotton, mohair, possum, silk and wool) and acrylic, lurex, nylon and polyamide yarns.
I have used three techniques: crocheting, knitting and hand-stitching. These traditional but marvellously adaptable tools enabled me to mix and blend colours in the way a painter does; to layer and place materials as a quilt maker does; to build shapes as a sculptor does; and to add surface embellishment as embroiderers do..
The resulting three units can be installed to suit the spaces available, as a vertical or horizontal triptych or within a notional square of around 128cm in size.