Exhibition – Façade

Façade – ATASDA Exhibition

The NSW branch of the Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association recently presented its bi-annual exhibition at the Palm House in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. (Links: ATASDA, and NSW blog FibreTribe).

The theme was Façade and I was impressed by individual works and the exhibition as a whole.
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Kay Murray The Garden Palace

Kay Murray
The Garden Palace

Kay Murray used free machine stitching on rust-dyed cotton to show the façade of the Garden Palace, an exhibition building built in the Gardens in 1879, based on London’s Crystal Palace. It was destroyed by arson in 1882. Some sandstone gateposts and wrought iron gates remain, the destruction and the remains symbolised in the rusted fabric.
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Gloria Muddle

Gloria Muddle
I Blue Print and Instructions
II Supports and Structures
III Scaffolding

Gloria Muddle

Gloria Muddle
II Supports and Structures

Gloria Muddle took ideas from building sites in responding to “façade”. A variety of materials and techniques were used in this hanging triptych. I like the strong rhythms created with repeated geometric forms.
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Claire Brach

Claire Brach
Connectivity

Claire Brach developed an architectural motif, apartment blocks under construction, to consider the networks between apparent strangers in society. We often focus on our individuality, overlooking our close links, our interdependence on those around us.

Claire use paint, pencil and stitch on paper, and it was interesting to see a new mix ideas, materials and techniques emerging following her OCA work. (More on Claire’s blog, including tactualtextiles.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/project-lines-connections-stage-3/).
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Nancy Conboy

Nancy Conboy
Public Façade, Private Despair

Other artists explored ideas around the personal façades or faces we show to those around us.

Nancy Conboy shared a difficult personal story, a loved relative who presented a beautiful, controlled persona, hiding ill-health and solitude. The layering of this wearable art reflected the layering of the individual, elegant clothes covering the fragile person. Nancy used a wide range of textile techniques, beautiful construction, thoughtful choice of materials and colours, to represent, celebrate and mourn.
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Debbie Morrison

Debbie Morrison
Dress of Apparent Happiness

In Dress of Apparent Happiness Debbie Morrison showed a more positive aspect of the façades we use to disguise inner turmoil.

While maintaining connections and sharing our difficulties with those close to us, there is often still the need to maintain a composed, deflecting persona in professional and social situations. The façade protects our vulnerabilities at such times.

This hanging was skillfully felted wool and silk, with machine and hand embroidery, beads and gems. I like the use of scale, pattern and line. There can be no doubting the sorrow and anxiety in the face and stance of the woman depicted, but from a distance the colours and exuberant flow of her dress dominate.
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Cathie Griffith

Cathie Griffith
Excuse me….have I taken you for someone else?

A still more colourful and cheerful view was presented by Cathie Griffith in Excuse me….have I taken you for someone else?. This self-portrait shows all the different facets of a life, environments, relationships, experiences, coming together in an individual. Rather than a barrier, mask or defence, this is a joyful fusing of self, showing openness and pleasure in integrating with the wider world.
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Kelcie Bryant-Duguid

Kelcie Bryant-Duguid
Yellow Protest Dress

Kelcie Bryant-Duguid took a political stance, highlighting the deceptive façade of government – in this case penalties, fines and jail, on peaceful protest against mining operations. Whose interests are being protected with these laws?

Kelcie references the “established history of feminist activism using thread as ink” – particularly interesting to me given last week’s musing on text in art (22-May-2016)

The dress is striking, direct, purposeful. This is a protest banner with the person fully involved.
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Diana Booth

Diana Booth
Hidden

I was first attracted to Diana Booth’s work Hidden by the shape and colour. There’s a quirky, independent elegance which appeals. At the time I took it to be felted – later reading my reference photo I see the artist’s statement mentions felt, wool and silk, but also the felt-like Koomchi paper, so I’m not sure.

Another thing I didn’t appreciate at the time was that the object displayed is a cover – a façade. Inside is a milky white glass vase, revealed in the surface design of holes. I really enjoy this literal response to the theme of the exhibition, especially given that literalness is obscured by the beauty of the mask/disguise.
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Overall I thought this one of the most successful ATASDA exhibitions I have seen. There was a good mix of traditional materials and techniques with strong moves into mixed media and more conceptual work. There is clear depth of talent, skill, ambition and creativity among ATASDA members. My only hesitation is that all of the works were domestic in scale – suitable for the venue, in fact the exhibition felt crowded, but it would be good to see what could be done with more space.

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In Basketry NSW Transformation exhibition Sunday 2 July. More info fibresofbeing.wordpress.com

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