Posts Tagged 'CA1-P1-Other'

Sculpture by the sea

After a busy couple of weeks I have a little backlog of outings to write about. First up was sculpture by the sea. The event is celebrating fifteen years but this was my first visit – nothing like an overseas visitor to make one appreciate the back yard.

Joan and Margaret (mum)

Joan and Margaret (mum)

Joan, my mother’s sister, was in Sydney for a few days. Joan lives on the Isle of Wight (off the south coast of England) so is surrounded by water, but even so Sydney’s Bondi Beach is hard to beat.

She was very taken by the view (Judy writes with proprietorial pride, despite not having been to the place in who knows how many years, given the local assumption that it’s overtaken by tourists, backpackers and other people’s cars parked leaving nowhere for me). Still, it’s not all bad…
Rather a difficult ask to produce sculptures to compete with the locality and the different artists had taken a range of approaches, responding to different extents to the location.

Samuel Chamberlain - Windswept

 .
Windswept by Samuel Chamberlain was one that fitted in well, strong in itself and with clever placement near the yellow groundcover. Even so, my eye was taken by the backdrop of rock.

.
Many of the exhibits had a humerous or whimsical element. No photo, but one of our favourites was the hazard by Chava Kuchar – a 3 metre circle of synthetic grass on a low rock shelf, complete with a centrally placed golf flag. A challenge for any golfer!
.
There was even a textile “piece”, coping well in the exposed environment. I heard an interview on the radio, and the artist used recycled advertising banners for much of her material. A clever, amusing and popular exhibit!

Margarita Sampson - the yearning

Margarita Sampson - the yearning

Lace in seafoam and rock

You may not be able to see it in the photo on the right, but there are actual holes in the fine shelves of rock left by erosion – combined with the movement of the waves quite entrancing.

Joan with <em>now i see</em> by Margaret Sheridan

It was great to be able to spend some time with Joan, very interesting to visit the exhibition, and rather exciting to be reminded of another part of the amazing landscape to be found in Sydney.
If you’re near Sydney, you have until 20 November to enjoy the sculptures.

Reading and looking

Penny Leaver Green is a new-to-me textile artist, highlighted in a post on the Mr X Stitch blog. She asks that her images and words not be used without permission, so you need to follow this link to learn more about her approach to using stitch and fabrics to explore ideas and create meaning. I find the images draw me in, I get a sense of space and thoughtful consideration. This doesn’t mean the subject matter is easy, for example recent work explores aspects of the Japanese tsunami – a map, growing sunflowers to absorb radiation, another map of radiation levels.  Penny has produced a series of work on button phobia, and seems to use buttons and circles in a lot of her work – in particular an appliqued circle with a cross stitched over, seen in the colour pictures (like tests for colour blindness) and placemarkers on maps. Maps also recur in her work, some made by her, some collected.

Another chance find yesterday (it was raining, so I did my lunchtime walk in a bookshop!) was Textiles: The Whole Story by Beverly Gordon. The author herself admits it could seem grandiose to attempt the full story of textiles, their importance today and in history, in myth and ritual, in all cultures, physical, spiritual, emotional… (of course we already know the Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything). I’ve only just started reading, but already know this is a wonderful book that will change and deepen my understanding and love of textiles. I like the personal, warm, intimate style of writing – this is someone who loves her subject and wants to share with us all. I like the broad focus and the perspective given, and already feel as if things half-perceived are being put into focus. I find her storytelling engaging, beautifully and relevantly illustrated. I feel like my little hobby is part of an incredibly bigger whole – coming from a maths/science background there’s almost a sense of validation that this isn’t a soft diversion, that textiles are fundamental to human existence (not that I’ve been wanting or needing validation, still…). Even the paper of the book feels nice, a tactile pleasure.

Two strong, multiple-thumbs-up recommendations.

Western Australia

Some very brief notes on a great though brief visit to WA with my mother.

The map (based on maps from http://www.whereis.com/) shows the tiny part of the state we reached.

After a 5 hour flight west from Sydney to Perth we immediately drove east 4+ hours to Hyden.

The attraction of this small country town is Wave Rock, which we discovered is only one small part of Hyden Rock. The thumbnail gives an idea of the scale of the rock face. Much of the colour is from lichens on the granite, and the strange structure you may be able to see on the top is a wall built decades ago to redirect water runoff into a dam.

We had a full day to explore, climbing up by the dam, around the base to Hippo’s Yawn, a walk through the surrounding country (complete with the often-cited “carpet of wildflowers”, birds, lizards and many, many flies) and a short drive to Mulka’s Cave to view the Rock Art.

Next day we drove south, past the amazing colours and textures of the salt lakes around Lake Grace. This crusty desolate-looking landscape was only metres from wheatfields on just slightly higher land.
In the township of Lake Grace we visited the Australian Inland Mission Hospital Museum, then on through the Stirling Range to the port of Albany where we arrived in time for a dusk walk around the old parts of the town.
The highlight of the next day was the Valley of the Giants near Walpole. The link has a video which gives an idea of the 40 metre high pathway among the trees – you can see its shadow on the ground below in my photo.
The second part of the walk took us down and around the trees, where mum and I posed for the obligatory photo.
Driving on, we had our picnic lunch at a lookout over the Great Australian Bight towards the Southern Ocean, then reached Bunbury in time for dinner watching sunset over the Indian Ocean.
In the morning we drove on to Perth in time for midday ringing at the Bell Tower. No photos, so follow the link or even better, go visit when you’re in Perth. My mother, who has been ringing since 1940-something, was really excited to be able to watch the bells swinging – normally we just see ropes vanishing through holes in a ceiling, but here you can go up to the level of the bells and see it all happen (with very effective soundproof glass so you can still have a conversation). It was really fun to chat with visitors and explain some of the finer points of our usually invisible but highly audible craft. The rest of the day was a stroll through Perth followed by collapsing in our apartment.
Morning coffee with mum’s god-daughter was followed by a sobering visit to the Katta Djinoong gallery at the Western Australian Museum, learning about the history and culture of Aboriginal peoples of Western Australia. Harsh and all too common stories. The gallery name means “see and understand us” and perhaps I was able to, at least a little.
The afternoon, in total contrast, we spent at the Princely Treasures exhibition at the Art Gallery. The beautiful, opulent pieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum were magnificent, but rather cold and impersonal after the morning’s experience. It was all about flaunting power and prestige – which is not to say I didn’t admire the beauty and craftsmanship displayed, in particular a bed cover and a table top spinning wheel.
The next day we spent in Fremantle where I indulged my fascination with rust, but our primary focus was the Shipwreck Galleries, part of the Western Australian Museum, and in particular the Batavia (wrecked in 1629). The large exhibit was timbers from the ship that have been reconstructed on a steel frame, but for me the most exciting were actual textile fragments – lace (and lace bobbins), twill, and knit. The lace was found in concretion and there was sufficient for Rosemary Shepherd to produce a pattern.
Our final day was spent in Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Great views over Perth and an amazing variety of plants.

One disappointment was the very nice shop, Aspects of Kings Park. I made a point of going in to see Shirley Treasure‘s weaving. Her work didn’t disappoint and there were other talented textile artists represented – but I felt the manner of “display” did them a grave disservice. Work was stored in large drawers, in a general jumble. Bits were trailing out higgledy-piggledy, very difficult to see and appreciate – and I was making a conscious effort! Another issue for me came up when browsing the jewellery, where many of the artists came from interstate. I would have preferred that the gallery did more editing of their artists and concentrate on those of Western Australia and presenting them really well, rather than cramming in so much.

We had a wonderful holiday. We ticked off everything on our “must do” list and were left wanting more time to explore everywhere we went. On the flight home I re-read all my OCA course notes from the beginning – and was left feeling I’ve strayed from the path in the latest exercises. I did do a little sketching and stitching while away, plus take heaps of photos of texture – rust, rocks, bark, flowers… But that’s a topic for another day.

Surfing for stitch

Some stitch-related websites I’ve found interesting lately:

Takashi Iwasaki, Pinapinatamashiihasukozuchi Embroidery floss and fabric (hand embroidered) 45.5cm x 45.5cm 2009

Takashi Iwasaki uses a range of media to create his artwork including hand embroidery. His statement explains “hand embroidering is the most time-consuming and painstaking method of art-making which in turn engages my thinking process differently from the other methods I use, such as collage making, drawing, painting, printmaking, and other graphic/web-design-related creations. Working with various kinds of media is very important for me to keep my thoughts and ideas fluid and flexible.”

I like the playful and colourful work. The main stitch used seems to be satin stitch, and flattened down in a photo is visually very close to his painting in acrylic in particular. It seems to me his interest is in the process of the hand stitching, rather than exploring the range of marks and textures that stitch offers.

Shona Skinner, Towards North Unst, 19 x 17 cm

Shona Skinner lives in Shetland and her work is full of images of the sea and nature that surrounds her. Shona works from her drawings and in her Studio photos you can see a little of how she develops her images. Shona fuses fabrics together, then free machine embroidery. In some of the works I think I see a little hand stitching too. The images are beautiful and peaceful. I like the use of cloth as an integral part of the final piece (for instance in the skies), not just a somewhat anonymous base for stitching.

Alice Kettle, Camille, 52 x 32 cm, 2004

Alice Kettle has an emotional connection with her work and the tactile qualities are important. There is such an incredible amount of feeling expressed. Alice has put very high resolution images on her website, and if you zoom right in you can see every stitch, the different qualities of yarn, the layering – fascinating.

All three of these artists come from a formal training in fine arts and they each use stitch quite differently.

I also read a book review on the Textile Arts Center blog about Hoopla: the art of unexpected embroidery. Then followed some of the links on that page to various artists… you can spend a lot of time surfing!

Preserving crafts

I’ve been working on this post a while now and it’s still not finished. I’ve been thinking about the future of craftsmanship and particularly handcrafts, the relationships between design and craft and designers and craftspeople, what authenticity means… .

Recently I posted here about a lecture given by Amanda Talbot at the Powerhouse Museum. Titled “Preserving the Past to Make Our Future Happen”, the blurb on the website  points to the need to learn from the past, rediscover lost skills and secure the knowledge of “the final generation with specialist craft skills”. To me a lot of what she said was about opportunities for designers – to find and use crafts and craftspeople, to engage with consumers. This was as advertised, but not what I was looking for – which was more about craftspeople preserving skills and knowledge, and the challenges of making a living through their craft if that’s what they choose to do.

drop spindle in the foreground, technology in the background

A couple of weeks ago at the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild of NSW we had our first simulcast meeting, reaching out to members many kilometres from Sydney.

I love this photo – our President, Ann Beatty, in the foreground busy spindling while listening to committee member Ann Jackson (techo and spindle queen) introducing the new facilities.

This for me is the essence of preserving handcrafts – individuals building and passing on skills, learning and sharing, bringing in new ideas and materials but also valuing the traditional. People working with their own hands, creating, is the core. The object created is important. Good design is important. Building understanding and appreciation among consumers of handcrafted goods enriches the lives of those buying and those selling. Projects to provide opportunities and a market, to empower people or communities through trade  – very worthy. Globalisation of production – I concede some points but there are issues.

Back to the Guild simulcast. It was very impressive. The smooth running is a testament to the effort and preparation of the organisers, who had tested connections, found alternatives, rehearsed presentations, addressed issues of privacy and copyright… The focus is on members who can’t get to meetings and potential members around the state – but for me an immediate benefit for the “locals” was having the detail of a demonstration displayed up on the screen. The main presentation was about Ravelry. While I’m a member I’ve explored very little of it, and it was really interesting to see some of the possibilities. I hope the distance participants found it a satisfying experience and that this venture continues.

A demo of Facebook was also planned, but didn’t go ahead partly on time but also with the comment – “there’s no point after looking at Ravelry. That is the future of social networking – linking people with shared interests.” Which brings me back on topic – if craftmanship is about people and my concerns about preserving and sharing skills – how fabulous is the internet? As well as Ravelry there’s weavolution and blogs and ventures like P2P2 and of course YouTube… Incredible rich resources.

I’m beginning to collect quite a few bits of discussion on developments in handcrafts and consumer perceptions and values. I haven’t done any conscious research yet, but suspect this will be an ongoing area of interest for me (and maybe others), so below am listing some of what I’ve found so far. There’s rather a lot and undigested – no conclusions – so you are warned!

Continue reading ‘Preserving crafts’


Calendar of Posts

April 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Categories