Archive for April 30th, 2015

T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view

When busy exploring and producing samples I generally tend to think about possibilities in a very direct way. How can I incorporate this material in my future work? What does this effect suggest to me? Could I get this result in a textile? Lately I’ve noticed a few examples of less direct interpretations. is an upbeat ad for the HP sprout workstation featuring young designer Felix Conran. Conran brings paper back into what could be a paper-free design process.
He crumples the paper, scans it with the integrated hardware and software, refines with 3D-modelling software, prints out A and B side moulds on a 3D printer, then presses layers of laminate in it to create a desk tray. The paper crumpling is a direct match to course exercises, and the 3D-modelling and printing in my personal extension explorations.

Hexagon, extruded, tweaked

Hexagon, extruded, tweaked

Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka used an accidental discovery in 3D-modelling software to create a range of seating for Issey Miyake’s stores (see The image on the right is my variant, following the general steps of hexagon surface extruded and top rotated, drawn using 123D Design (free software from Autodesk). I think this shows the possibility of the playful, exploratory approach to surface distortion in the OCA course, using modelling software.

tafe_01The street facade of the TAFE Institute in Railway Square Sydney may be a less successful child of paper folding or design software. It’s certainly currently less resolved. Peering through those faceted windows, the interior fitout seems pretty much complete.

tafe_02At this stage the windows themselves seem a problem needing a solution – something more longterm than the roll of paper towels visible inside on the windowsill to the right. When/if they figure this out, there is promise of some interesting reflections of the mixed architecture in the area.

tafe_03Wandering off topic, I can’t tell what is planned for the awning area. The old arch framing the entryway is still peeling paint and has nothing to do with the shiny new triangular geometry. Perhaps the whole area will be cladded, tucked neatly away.

The examples above show possible indirect use of surface distortion play. They are all design exercises, rather than the more artistic, conceptual and thoughtful responses that draw me and to which I aspire.

Ariana Boussard-Reifel’s work Between the Lines in one sense could be an extension of project 2, exercise 4, cutting holes. Instead it is a deeply meaningful and very relevant work. See and The work is a response to the racial segregation espoused by white seprematists, it is a plea for unification, for diversity, for the necessity of all to create a meaningful whole.

I’ve mentioned Austin Kleon before in the context of course reading and his book Steal like an artist (15-January-2015). Kleon is poet who makes works by using permanent markers to redact newspaper articles ( and It’s the everyday transformed and given new meaning – both words and space.

I’ve tended to seen cutouts as revealing, showing what is underneath. They can also be concealing – not a window, but a void, meaning removed. Or transforming, creating new meaning. Some intriguing ideas. I hadn’t felt drawn to the cutting holes exercise, but now think I will make it my next exploration.

Moving to a different but related current chain of thought – mixed media and specific disciplines. In the past textile people have agonised over art and craft and feeling excluded or disrepected by fine arts and galleries. Now there’s mixed media and old boundaries are vanishing. I attended a textiles symposium at UTS a couple of weeks back (the post on that is in progress). One speaker, in the UK until recently, spoke of the hoardes of fine arts students trying to get into textiles classes, or practically stalking the textile technicians to get info on processes and techniques. Cecilia Heffer, the organiser of the symposium and curator of the second Tamworth Textile Triennial (, was particularly interested in cross-disciplinary approaches and whether there is a textile way of thinking that brings something fresh and special to other disciplines. Daniel Widrig has spoken about designers blurring boundaries, borrowing tools and technologies ( Alison Carlier has written about a “Drawing Attitude” that goes beyond graphite to be an approach to anything – like the body movements making lines in the air with hot glass (

The old compartments have dissolved, anything goes. It’s increasingly rare to see longterm dedication, deep exploration of a particular sub-discipline. Artists watch a few videos on youtube, and with fresh eyes and a lack of expectations and traditional restrictions create new insights. Yet in this free-for-all there are still allegiances, adherences to a core. I like that idea. In the rush for the new, the exotic (so dependent on the individual’s background and experience), you can end up with a lot of noisy sameness, with fads and fashions.

Kath Inglis  Mineral Nation (2014) PVC, silver

Kath Inglis
Mineral Nation
(2014) PVC, silver

Language can end up with a lot of sameness and loss of meaning in this race too. Heffer deliberately challenges the boundaries of “textile”, including for example carved pvc by Kath Inglis. I guess I’m ready to learn, but I don’t understand this push. It reminds me of the New Weave exhibition at Object Gallery last year ( I didn’t write about it at the time, because I was so disappointed. I wanted to see weave taken in new directions. I can see the link to say Jenni Kemarre Martiniello’s glass work that was shown, which referred to the shapes and lines of traditional woven fish baskets (see the video interview at the link given above). “Weave” is such a strong word, so many resonances and variations of meaning and metaphors in our language – yes, respond to that. But some works seemed included at random, and the titles and artists’ statements no help. Evolving, deepening, nuancing, responding … lots of ways to push boundaries. Broadening until nothing is differentiated, anything can be included – what’s the point? There’s no meaning left. Why don’t we just call everything “stuff”. A new exhibition: “Stuff, some but not all related to textiles by reason of material, process, technique, shape, intent, metaphor, artist background or way of thinking”.

I’m ranting. Time to get back to work.

T1-MMT-P1 – Stepping back for a wider view
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion


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