the essence of its presence
“YUGEN” GLENYS MANN
EAST GIPPSLAND ART GALLERY, BAIRNSDALE
5 MAY – 12 JUNE 2023
YUGEN A profound awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.
The exact translation of the word depends on the context. Yūgen is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience…
I had no idea about the ‘aesthetics’ of this word, until I read more about the context.
I never knew why, when out in the deep desert of the Rann in NW India, on a mountain on the South Island of NZ, standing in my back yard and feeling the fog settle on my face..
To watch the sun, sink behind a straight horizon. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a bird that disappears into the distance.
Why did the tears flow…
Why was it that I could not stop this overwhelming amazing emotion that grips me every time I am faced with some extraordinary beauty that I do not understand.
Just how do you put this into your art practice.
I had to think about all of this as I started to work on the next exhibition that I had planned in April 2020 to have in May 2023.
This thought sat with me as we all grappled with a pandemic and were otherwise distracted… but still… the power of Yugen was beating at me to try and put this into my work.
I went into the bush near my home, after a massive storm had blown over many trees, just the sight of these large giants laying on there side was sad enough but what stirred me more was the fact that they had stood longer than I had been on this earth and suddenly did not have the strength to stand any longer.
I took all of this to heart and decided to wrap these large giants with soft bandage like gauze to see if there was a way to extract from their bodies some indication that they had not stood for this long without a purpose.
Gently folding the cloth around their form, I left them to see if there was anything that they could give to set my mind into making pieces for this exhibition.
They laid wrapped from July 2021 – late January 2023… the cloth a little worse for wear as the weather battered them as they lay protecting their giant.
What was left was an extraordinary cloth, unique in its own right and a gift from the fallen tree for me to gather and see how I can make these pieces exude the feeling that is Yugen… to bring the viewer into its realm by quietly taking time to sit and absorb these huge pieces of mended, stained, torn, dirty cloth. To be in the moment by just sitting and putting yourself into the stillness that brings all emotions to the surface.
It is not wrong that we cry. It is like a balm to the soul, helps with the healing or putting us in a place that we could find very confronting but knowing that the emotions are for something other than sadness.
Nature is seen as a dynamic whole that is to be admired and appreciated.
This appreciation of nature has been fundamental to my art aesthetic and other cultural elements for as long as I have been making.
But never on the level that it is at the moment, that brings with it a powerful reaction within my soul and my emotions.
Yugen: A profound awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.
Yugen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art. It values the power to evoke, rather than the ability to state directly.
The principle of Yugen shows that real beauty exists when, through its suggestiveness, only a few words, or few stitches can suggest what has not been said or shown, and hence awaken many inner thoughts and feelings.
Glenys Mann 2023
Daniel Jenkins @ Yugen his opening address…
Glenys writes, YUGEN is a profound awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.
Yet we use words to define the essence of the undefinable. As artists we know this inherently. Yet still we are asked and expected to make words for the wordless.
We are expected to define an emotion when it is still an infant idea, somehow make a feeling tangible. We act in our studios on the spur of the moment and turn away silently and let the creative process begin.
‘what are you going to make next?’ they ask… and then the idea dissipates because we’re expected to put parameters on a thought. Glenys appears to show that the thought comes back a bit later, when no one’s asking and she’s not necessarily looking,
As she explains it is expected that a fallen tree wanted to be draped. So it was. And she waited. It was a controlled wait, patient, excited and undefined.
In our respective art practices few of us know what is next, what to expect. Too many words can be the enemy in the creative process. The words can come later.
Glenys and I sat one day at the ‘gingerbread house’ over a cuppa that she demanded. I’m a terrible host, I rarely get visitors. The idea was to come up with nice things to say tonight. We hardly touched on the initial intent of the meeting and just went off on our respective tangents of story telling as we have often done.
I had a notebook that I felt was overly conspicuous, like I knew what I was doing. Or had to do for tonight. No idea. But in our ebb and flow of on-topic, odd topic, l I managed to write down a few words that I thought would be pertinent, if not definitive…. Or at least expected.
Lockdown… Every artist’s utopic friend to one degree or another. A good time to think guilt free, like we were actually working. Doodle with a passion while no one’s looking.
“four inch nails” a kind a measuring stick as a solution.
Arsenic… it is almost impossible to make art without venturing into some degree of danger. In our studio we have cyanide and lead acetate. Many years ago a colleague spoke at a danger-free conference of artists in Kyoto and said, in her medium safety was an intentional coincidence. That we sometimes have to bleed for our art.
The stories we could tell…..
What is difficult for some can be easy for artists and what is hard for artists is almost inexplicable for others not in the game.
Artist understands things… we see the unseen…
Glenys see an essence.
Deep thinking is a silent practice. Don’t just relate, be taken. But there is no need to be profound… there is always, however, the need to provoke… the need to evoke…
It is always important to place the physicality of the art in comparison to the essence of the presence.
In this exhibition Glenys has put it to you to look into the works…
not just at them…
and listen to what these works have to say.
"WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?"
“What Took You So Long?”
my brain and
a decade ago
over who was
to blame about
how big of a mess
I have become
they couldn't be
in the same room
with each other
now my head and heart
share custody of me
I stay with my brain
during the week
and my heart
gets me on weekends
they never speak to one another
- instead, they give me
the same note to pass
to each other every week
and their notes they
send to one another always
says the same thing:
"This is all your fault"
my heart complains
about how my
head has let me down
in the past
and on Wednesday
my head lists all
of the times my
heart has screwed
things up for me
in the future
they blame each
other for the
state of my life
there's been a lot
of yelling - and crying
lately, I've been
spending a lot of
time with my gut
who serves as my
most nights, I sneak out of the
window in my ribcage
and slide down my spine
and collapse on my
gut's plush leather chair
that's always open for me
~ and I just sit sit sit sit
until the sun comes up
my gut asked me
if I was having a hard
time being caught
between my heart
and my head
I said I didn't know
if I could live with
either of them anymore
"my heart is always sad about
something that happened yesterday
while my head is always worried
about something that may happen tomorrow,"
my gut squeezed my hand
"I just can't live with
my mistakes of the past
or my anxiety about the future,"
my gut smiled and said:
"in that case,
go stay with your
lungs for a while,"
I was confused
- the look on my face gave it away
"if you are exhausted about
your heart's obsession with
the fixed past and your mind's focus
on the uncertain future
your lungs are the perfect place for you
there is no yesterday in your lungs
there is no tomorrow there either
there is only now
there is only inhale
there is only exhale
there is only this moment
there is only breath
and in that breath
you can rest while your
heart and head work
their relationship out."
while my brain
was busy reading
and while my
heart was staring
at old photographs
I packed a little
bag and walked
to the door of
before I could even knock
she opened the door
with a smile and as
a gust of air embraced me
"what took you so long?"
~ john roedel
"you go into another realm..."
Still from Warm Egg Productions video
These are the first words you hear me say on the new Youtube video that has just been put up on the Fibre Arts website...
This beautiful video, produced by “Warm Egg Productions” came about by a chance meeting of like minds…. You know the type of meeting that stays with you for a very long time!!
Katrina Douglas, “Kat” is a remarkable and very talented young woman who has a history of creating beautiful and compelling videos.
We met in Trentham quite by chance when I was visiting my friend Carolyn Holt.
It was such a chance meeting because we saw Kat’s home grown fresh flowers in a newish gallery in the town and were smitten by what we saw.
She delivered a bunch to Carolyn’s Studio…. The rest is history…
What Kat wanted to do was to try and tell the story about Fibre Arts Australia…
now that is a very complex story and the only one to tell it was me….
It took a while to meet again, what with a pandemic getting in the way of doing almost everything, but it did happen….
This little video, gives you a very tiny glimpse into what Fibre Arts is all about…
in real life and to understand more you really do have to attend one of the many workshops that is offered.
Is this a promotional video? You betcha!
Is this a video that is trying to get you to come to an event? You betcha!
Has this video given you a little … “Hmm, I would like to know more”? Well I certainly hope so!!
I am very thrilled that Carolyn loaned her studio so that this video could be made…
it is in a beautiful part of the world and her collections are eclectic and many!!
If you really would love to know more and experience what Fibre Arts Australia is all about… not just the workshops but all the other things we do within our Fibre Tribe, there is so much more to find on the website!!
FIBRE ARTS AUSTRALIA
FIBRE ARTS EVENTS/WORKSHOPS
Still from Warm Egg Productions video
Biennale: power to evoke
I know that this is a very strange image to put up at the moment…
But is a bit like gathering the washing off the line to start a-new…
Well it isn’t washing it is cloth that has been stapled to trees for the last 6 months for my new exhibition in May called… YUGEN… more about that closer to the time.
What I have been gathering is a sense of great awareness of emotional response to many things that are too deep and mysterious for words…
The International Art Textile Biennale 2023, which opened last Friday at
East Gippsland Art Gallery in Bairnsdale was one of those phenomenal emotional responses that came when I saw all the remarkable works that were selected from 10 countries, including Australia.
Standing in the gallery surrounded by such power of cloth and fibre, it moved me to tears that awakened many inner thoughts and feelings.
Then to hear the stories from the artists that were able to be at the opening event… made me much more aware that we use this medium to evoke strong emotional feelings.
These talks will be here very soon…. https://www.fibrearts.net.au/biennale.html
There is also this…. https://www.fibrearts.net.au/iatb23-directory.html all the selected works and artist statements.
There is a sense that that Fibre Arts Australia is on the right track when you read and hear from the peers of Art Textiles… like what SUE WOOD said in her opening speech about her selection of the Major Award and the feelings that she had …
It is an honour and privilege to be part of this wonderful project. Congratulations to Glenys Mann and Fibre Arts Australia for their vision in establishing the International Art Textile Biennale and to East Gippsland Art Gallery for supporting that vision. So many exciting arts initiatives originate in regional centres, perhaps because we are so willing to take risks. It is also great to see the number of venues the Biennale will travel to. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase art textiles to a broad audience.
It is a significant achievement to establish a competition and exhibition that attracts entries from across Australia and around the globe. As someone who’s been involved in the Australian textile community for a long time there’s something extremely satisfying about seeing international artists submitting and sending work to an Australian exhibition. For so long it’s been the other way around.
The artists in this show use textile materials, processes, and sensibilities to explore a range of contemporary concerns, both personal and political. The works engage with questions of social justice, environmental concerns, the challenges of living in an increasingly fractured and unstable world. Nothing is off limits. For a maker, the medium of textiles offers unlimited opportunities for expression: colour, texture, multiple ways of working. I think you can see the pleasures of making in the works around you. But there’s another reason to use the textiles. They are central to the human experience. We all experience textiles in one form or another every day of our life. This familiarity is a reason why the medium has been sidelined in the past. But it is also a strength. It means that layers of meaning can be embedded in a textile work for the discerning viewer to uncover. Textiles seduce the viewer, drawing them in and inviting them to contemplate and respond to complex and challenging ideas. And that’s what the works in this exhibition do.
Nearly 20 years ago I wrote a doctoral thesis on embroiderers in NSW in the years between 1960 and 1975. They were women interested in modern approaches to embroidery. They played a role in the development of the textile community in Australia and one of their dreams was to see textiles in general, and embroidery in particular, accepted as art. Standing here, surrounded by such varied and engaging work in an exhibition of international standing there’s no question in my mind that their dream is now a reality.
Catalogue cover art work: Claudia Mazzotta, Australia
And the foreword in the catalogue by me, Glenys Mann, CEO Fibre Arts Australia
The International Art Textile Biennale 2023 seeks to exhibit the best of contemporary art textiles and this the second Biennale, reflects a wide range of works related to the textile medium. The goal of the exhibition is to include innovative work rooted primarily in textile as well as art that explores unexpected relationships between textile and other creative disciplines.
Art Textiles have been enjoying a resurgence after decades of being derided, ignored, or often referred as being ‘craft’ or ‘Women’s work’, in other words “not real art”.
The importance of textiles is being reinstating by way of incredible force and ingenuity, and an intelligent dismantling of established art world ‘rules’, Viewers will be captivated and engaged by the rhythm of the maker and excellence that is exhibited. The selected works in this biennial award pushes previously held notions of textile/fibre, opening a dialogue about what it is to be a textile artist that makes an expression and commentary on content and concept in the 21st Century.
Now textile-based art becomes a powerful and accessible medium in the examination of identity, society, and politics.
This exhibition begins by taking textiles’ artistic legitimacy for granted, a point proven many times over throughout its long history, selecting some of the best and brightest artists working in the world today.
Fibre Arts Australia and the founder, Glenys Mann is committed to developing this significant award and with it an original vision and intentions so that Art Textile practitioners continue to expand, grow, and inspire.
All these words may not mean much to some people, but they mean so much more to many fibre/textile artsists that struggle to be heard or shown.
Keep an eye on this page https://www.fibrearts.net.au/biennale.html for so much more …. this will be added over the next couple of weeks and I hope that you will be able to visit a gallery as it gets close to you … that list is on the Biennale page.
Now that I have gathered all the cloth from the trees… it is time to work on my next exhibition….
I know it is a long blog… but OMG!!! There has been so much going on and I haven’t even told you about the Indian trip… you will have to wait, but not for long!
I came across this section of an article from the Washington Post and it touched a chord...
"Many artists have found that old age, for all its physical and emotional burdens, can be a moment of creative liberation comparable to, even superior to, anything in youth. By their 70s and 80s, their artistic judgments sharpened by a lifetime of lessons learned — and their heightened awareness of mortality a spur to productivity they could not have imagined in youth — they can operate at peak power. Better still, with the “life force” still pulsing, they can go on daring to try new things."
I turned 77 at Christmas time I can only concur, that this is truly one of the best times of my life... artistically and personally!
What a gift to be given this with many art thoughts and projects in my mind, the International Art Textile Biennale opening in January at East Gippsland Art Gallery and a personal exhibition in May, with huge textile works and great health.
I have got so much more to do before I jump off this 'mortal coil'!!
One of the things I value most within the Fibre Arts Australia Tribe is humility.
It could be a natural consequence of working with artisans – as we've all had to come to terms with the fact that there are an amazing number of talented artists in the room.
But humility is about more than keeping your ego in check.
Understanding that we can't do it all on our own opens us up to seeking help. And when we ask for help and get it, great things happen.
In 2022 I've been bowled over by the generous support of so many people who see the value of learning face to face, and who care enough to help provide it to the widest possible audience.
Thanks to every artist who stayed up late, got up early or skipped something else important to come to a Fibre Arts event . Thanks to our tribe who are curious enough to see other people’s places within Studio Spaces and who care about the India Project and other disasters that Fibre Arts supports when called upon.
Thanks to our tutors who work so hard to make a positive difference.
Thanks to the Gold Team who work hard at the event and behind the scenes to steer this fabulous ship.
Thanks to the team at Ballarat Grammar for their unwavering support throughout the year.
Finally, a special thanks to you, who became students again as we try to get back on an even keel and the thousands more who supported us throughout the year. The support of subscribers like you is essential to everything Fibre Arts does.
I hope you have a merry Christmas and joyous holiday full of creative experiences and a generous dose of humility.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; It is thinking of yourself less.”
aFTER MANY MONTHS OF PLANNING...
After many months of planning and sorting and more planning and a lot of toing and froing between many entrants the final 35 artists have been selected for the International Art Textile Biennale 2023.
167 artists from 25 countries and 270 pieces entered in the Biennale, it was a huge task for the selectors to choose the final 35 that will be shown.
This Biennale has attracted a lot of galleries for the 2023/24 exhibition season, and I am so thrilled that these impressive works will get to travel to
East Gippsland Art Gallery, Bairnsdale Vic 20 January – 18 March 2023
Emu Park Art Gallery, Emu Park, Queensland 15 April – 10 June 2023
Toowoomba Regional Gallery, Queensland 8 July – 26 August 2023
Kyogle Gallery, Kyogle, New South Wales 23 September – 11 November 2023
Moonah Art Centre, Moonah, Tasmania 9 December 2023- 20 January 2024
Design Centre Sydney, Darlinghurst, NSW 2 February – 22 March 2024
Geelong Art Space, Geelong, Victoria 5 April – 18 May 2024
Fibre Arts Australia is highlighting the contemporary practice within Art Textiles as an art form. It has long been a dream of mine to highlight art textiles and in 2021 the dream materialised.
Art Textiles is a term derived to express emotions and feelings using a media that has been used since the dawn of time. With many working with cloth and fibre, the subtle marks of stitch show an extraordinary diversity of methods that are applied by 35 artists from 9 countries including Australia. Traditional and non-traditional techniques being utilised in a contemporary practice, the repeated touch in these works is very gratifying.
Viewers will be captivated and engaged by the rhythm of the maker and excellence that is exhibited. The selected works pushes previously held notions of textile/fibre, opening a dialogue about what it is to be a textile artist that makes an expression and commentary on content and concept in the 21st Century.
The finalists show a well resolved concept combined with exploratory and expert use of their chosen material. From intimate reflections to huge environmental issues, the works vary in concepts, techniques, material, and presentation.
From the work of one’s hands, these works are from artists who present themselves in varied ways as Masters in a technique that is so inherent within their art practice.
There is a common thread of innovation, experimentation beside professional practice with a focus on contemporary as never before.
Fibre Arts Australia is committed to developing this significant award with it original vision and intentions so that Art Textile practitioners continue to expand, grow and inspire.
A Large Gathering of a Specific Kind...
"Place yourself amongst those who live their lives with passion, and true learning will take place, no matter how humble or exalted the setting.
But no matter what path you follow, do not be ashamed of your learning.
In some corner of your life, you know more about something than anyone else.
The true measure of your education is not what you know, but how you share what you know with others.
- - - Kent Nerburn
Quote found in " One Artist Journal" by Orly Avineri. Find her here on Instagram
Images from "REMNANTS: A Journal" by Glenys Mann. More journal images here
Images provided by the students of Brooke Munro and Goprdon Bain's workshop
You start to plan an event years out from the event happening.. you always have a film playing in your head as to how it is all going to run
The workshops… setting a diverse range on contemporary workshops that would thrill and delight the students
The tutors.. Making sure that there is a range of extraordinary tutors from every inch of the Globe teaching many different techniques
The students …. Giving only the best in workshops, accommodation, food and entertainment.
Images 1 and 2 Julie Ryder's workshop and 3 from Alysn Midgelow Marsden workshop
Then it gets sorta kinda a little bit different to the film in your head
That is how it was at the 2022 Winter School that was held recently at Ballarat Grammar, Fibre Arts 18th year at this great venue.
Never suspecting that there would be calamities that could interrupt a perfectly planned event
How wrong can it get when there are problems on the street with our youth and a pandemic that does not consider anyone, including an event of this kind!
Car break-ins.. forensic police… ambulance and paramedics, what else could be thrown at us….
Well of course we could not escape that pesky virus and to our sadness there have been about 23 that have tested positive.
5 were in a position that they could not get home, so they were isolated for 5 days into a separate accommodation wing with the school looking after their every need. I did hear that as they all started to get better, the talk around the kitchen table was lively and very arty! A lovely thing to be able to do, but not under the circumstances.
Images from Irene Manion's workshop
Besides all the dramas, I was blown away by the fabulous reaction that everyone had toward each another… the empathy, the compassion, the kindness, the thoughtfulness of all, was truly inspiring
The Gold Team paddled really hard to make sure that nobody noticed the anxieties that were underlying their wonderful work…. I am so proud of how they supported me during the week….
As for the work that was produced during the week in 11 workshops… it was outstanding and Tessa, my Webmaster, has made an online exhibition for you all to marvel at what was achieved. Watch it here...
The Team and I are working with the school to shore up the discrepancies and a stronger COVID plan so that we can work toward a healthier environment at the events.
Lots of great things happened… but it was just those few that seem to take our focus away for a little time, I know at our next event in September, we will have the same laughter, friendship and madness that is a Fibre Arts event.
Your positivity.... that is what drives me to bring you the best artisans in the world to share their knowledge with us.
Glenys and The Gold Team.
Images from Helen Coleman's workshop
Nothing good comes from holding on to past resentments.
The past is done.
It can't touch you anymore.
Nor can it atone for its wrongdoings.
It's only the present and the future that can be affected by your actions.
As you prepare to close the door on something that is over, take one last look back. Remember how it made you feel and appreciate all that you've learned.
The cosmos is encouraging you to move forwards with conviction, knowing you have every tool necessary to turn yesterday's troubles into today's victories.
Notes that catch my thoughts, dribbles, splashes, spills, drips, words, and other detritus, as I work my way thru journals and blogs that have kept me occupied during an unusual time in all of our lives...