Recently I spent the weekend in the Victorian country town of Wangaratta attending the 'Stiched Up Festival 2017'. This festival draws on Wangaratta's textile history and is run biennally by volunteers from the Wangaratta Textile Arts Association. It involves people of different ages and features a range of textile arts and crafts.
2017 Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award This was the first event I viewed, displaying the work of 40 contemporary textile art finalists. The award was won by John Parkes for his piece 'Conflagration'. This piece combines a blanket found in a cellar and a jeweller's apron, both gifts from Germany, and a moleskin blanket purchased at an Op shop, the green colour discharged and overdyed red. Parkes' work portrays the importance of the hand and time based on the Japanese idea of 'Boro'; cloth is not discarded but repaired.
I liked the textural surface quality to this piece created through the combination of different fabrics, muted colours and hand stitching. The idea of repairing cloth appeals to me as it values the past and its associations. I think the choice of this piece as the winner of this award is debatable as there were other pieces that were stronger contenders in terms of technique, interpretation and use of materials.
I liked this piece created from fishing rope, found by Wallace on her walks along the beach, used to represent the beach's volcanic rock forms. The bright orange and blue in the work is colourful even though the ropes have been exposed to the elements. The coiled shapes are fairly symmetrical but differ in scale which draws the eye around the work. I find the overall scale of the work too large and overwhelming.
I really appreciated the range of materials and techniques used by the finalists to bring their ideas to fruition. These are aspects that appealed to me: Sera WATERS, Front-line on the Home-front: Remembering Johns. Dense textural surface/earthy colours Jane THEAU. Screens (1). Thread, tarlatan. Semi-transparency resulting in shadow Joy SMITH. Diary of Outback Pools (1 of 4). Solid colour/simple interpretation of subject Ema SHIN. Soft Alchemy/Rose Lungs. Texture/colours/message/representation connection Jennifer ROBERTSON. Cuprum29. Design/complementary colours/semi-transparency Alison ROBINSON. Metal Morphosis. Combination of linen & metal thread Emma PETERS. Topography of Memory (Rust) Rust dye/rounded motif/Soft flowing silk fabric Vicki MASON. Bottlebrush Garland. Affinity with nature/colour/circular form Kirsty MACAFEE. The length of a piece of string and other simple considerations. Idea of using spun family photos/technique/spherical form Dana HARRIS. grid 3000. Alternate representation of road grid/knitting/monotone/solid vs aerial Hannah GARTSIDE. From Lucy, with love. Delicate/geometric/fineness punctuated by spheres Cresside Collette. ‘Four Transitions’. Earthy colours/panels/colour gradation Ruby BERRY. Open Close Open Close. Simplicity/weave/monotone/connectedness of forms Christine APPLEBY. Shifting Sands. Curvilinear/natural colours/unequal horizontal spaces
Patchwork Quilt Exhibition The Rural City of Wangaratta Quilters presented 'Strictly Quilts 2017' at a local primary school. This striking metal mural which I assume was designed by the school children greeted visitors. The metalwork has a strong yet playful appearance set against the brick wall which acts as a contrasting background.
I enjoyed admiring the skills involved in making this diverse range of quilts. The difference between the exhibits in the Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award and these quilts is obvious but I appreciate equally the work that has gone into their making.
'Twist and Twirl' and 'Crazy in Amsterdam' both have a modern look using contemporary fashionable colours of grey, yellow, muted greens and white. A strong red creates a bold look in 'Red Blooms'. The curves of the flowers and border motifs are offset by the chequerboard design creating overall balance. The green internal borders create a clear delineation between the sections. I found 'Sew Many Stories', '42 Squares', 'Max's Quilt' and 'Farmyard Frolics' bought a smile to my face as I observed the clear motifs, bright colours and sense of order in the designs contrasted well with their humorous message. '42 Squares' by Carol Sonagan was a good example of how a single idea can be interpreted very differently, compared with the depiction of 'Miniscule' characters carrying sugar cubes and windows in a kombi van! The quilt created with eco printed scraps by Sonagan appeals to me for the natural colours and the design which has a deconstructed look. I also admired 'One Fabric Bargello' which used a bargello design to create a quilt that stood out with its use of fabric hand dyed in gradations. I could see the skill that was used in the placement of the strips to create the pattern. The quilting accentuates the design. 'Where's the Purple Gone?' demonstrates the use of a colour palette as a design in itself. I thought the black border printed fabric made from second hand clothing was resourceful and totally suitable contrasting with the colour swatches. I like the linear placement of the pieces and the narrow black border that separates them is effective.
Pamela McCabe was the featured quilter at this display. Her work could be seen as provocative and I could relate to the messages contained in her works.
I liked McCabe's organza veiling of the stamps in 'Rediscovered'. It suggests how something initially utilitarian has become something of hidden value. The mammalian protuberances in 'Moorooboom' were provocative yet humorous. The eye is drawn to the central design and then flows outward and downward with the bands of colour exiting the background. 'Adoration of the Label' is a still relevant comment on the consumer desire for fashion even though it was made in 1997. The link to religion is also significant. Generally McCabe's use of 'glitzy' fabrics and embellishments does not appeal to me, however, in this context totally suited.
In the foyer of the local library there was a display of 'Seasonal Stories'. 40 artists each produced 4 small works displaying their interpretations of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring through a wide variety of techniques including weaving, embroidery, applique and patchwork.
The final exhibition I visited was 'Textile Tales of Life, Love and Loss' at the Wangaratta Visitor Information Centre. Textiles from the 1800s through to the late 1900s were featured alongside the stories attached to the items. It is a wonderful record of those times.
I love the rich cream coloured silk and satin fabric used in the garments and the embellishments in the form of buttons, lace, pintucks and embroidery. Although highly impractical I like the clothing's look of opulence. I have always admired 'wagga' quilts, made from woollen mens' suit offcuts, and used by swagman during the depression. I like the design which is always a simple arrangement of rectangular shaped pieces in dull colours. The everyday clothing is made from second hand clothing and buttons that have been repurposed. I admire the recycling however I am sure it was through necessity, rather than choice, as with the lace evening jacket also. The dressing gown is a conglomeration of patterned fabrics in bright colours .
Reference List: Accessed 20/7/17 http://wangarattaartgallery.com.au/wangaratta-contemporary-textile-award-2017/ https://omadvertiser.com.au/2017/06/23/tactile-textile/ https://www.rubyberry.com.au/cycle?lightbox=dataItem-itz75d9q5 http://fleurbrett.com/works/weavings---basketmaking http://garlandmag.com/article/not-for-sale/ http://www.hannahgartside.com/from-lucy-with-love-the-art-of-setting-yourself-free/ http://www.bundoorahomestead.com/exhibition/dana-harris-survey/ http://www.charlottehaywood.com.au/green-influx-2/5bvs4uk52h6nqec79wdn8ja497zqca http://www.craft.org.au/2017-finalists/kirsty-macafee http://thecreatory.com/journal/vicki-mason-contemporary-jeweller/ http://mohsenmeysami.com/between-the-devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea.html http://www.closeknit.com.au/podcast/episode28 https://www.anthropocene.com.au/alison-robinson/ Geological Textiles http://margaritasampson.com/salon-series/ http://wangarattaartgallery.com.au/carve-and-stamp-workshop-with-ema-shin/ http://hawthornstudiogallery.com.au/galleries/joy-smith-2016/nggallery/image/1704 http://janetheau.com/gallery_673258.html http://frewster.com/#/new-page/ http://serawaters.com.au/w/2016 Accessed 22/7/17 http://www.rav.net.au/whats-on/member-events/wangaratta-stitched-up-textile-festival-2017 https://allevents.in/wangaratta/exhibiting-at-seasonal-stories/240674433081294# https://www.thecultureconcept.com/making-the-australian-quilt-ngv-australia-make-do-wagga