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 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.
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.
We have all experienced the last 2 years in many different ways…
I collaborated with 195 artists to share collaged books about our “Sense of Place”…
Worked in the garden until it was so pristine it would have won many garden awards… but of course it didn’t cos all those things were cancelled…
But just last week, after a 2-year hiatus, the Masterclass returned to the beautiful Bungalook studio that belongs to Rick and Josephine Jakobi.
In this atmosphere of pure sanctuary, 8 of us gathered to live under canvas.. sorta “glamping’… and to work for 5 days in the fabulous Bungalook Studio.
The Masterclass, run my me, was different to others that I have done… the conversations flowed constantly.
The work stalled for a while, as the students grappled with huge changes to their thought process and then the ‘light’ was turned on, after much encouragement, on about the 4th day.
The changes were profound…. The thought process was huge… the results were stating to be uncovered, but it is the long-term work that these amazing artists will produce is what I am interested in.
Masterclasses are not everyone’s ‘cup-of-tea’, but if you want to extend your art practice you have to let a Master into your realm to support you on your new journey.
I was supported on a new journey during this week, when I invited two artists from the East Gippsland area to have a conversation with us about their art practice and passion.
Josephine Jakobi is so passionate about her environment around Lake Tyers, a place that she has lived for most of her life, that you can’t help but be mesmerized by her passion. The skill of finding the hidden workings of creatures, large and small in that environment is profound… the work that Josephine does is testament to the observation skills that have been skillfully honed.
Josephine does not call herself a fibre artist, but when you see her work and hear her stories, it all somehow falls into place. Her drawings are stunningly real, her stitch on massive works of linen is awe-inspiring… to stand in front of these works, brings me to tears… emotional tears from the power that is created within these works.
Her conversation moved me into another direction… I now wonder just who the ‘master’ is!!
Josephine Jakobi Glenys Mann at the opening of Develop at Iceworks Lakes Entrance
Our other guest was Catherine van Wilgenburg.
I sat next to Catherine at a function that was held late last year in the Bungalook Studio and her knowledge and great sense of place was beguiling.
The invitation was sent to Catherine to join us at the opening of DEVELOP… an exhibition of the Masterclass students works at ICEWORKS, in Lakes Entrance.
When asked how she regarded the standard of the exhibition and presentations, she replied….
The ‘opening’ at Iceworks was a 2-way enterprise, where a community gets to see and understand something that is happening among them, but which also places us within the local art ‘scene’ The environment here at Bungalook also influences the kind of Masterclasses we have and the way we respond to each other and ourselves.
The other question we put to Catherine was…
What did you discover about us / our art? (Here in the studio)
An enjoyment of being, a sense of beingness
A focused but highly sensitive environment where you are individually engaged in your own processes yet sensitive enough to pick up on cues from the conversations around you. The best form of collaboration, where you become part of an organism in an individualistic way.
The interior of Bungalook Studio, Lakes Entrance
So… being at Bungalook for 6 days, it has really started the ‘new era’ for Fibre Arts Australia…. A ‘kick start’ if you will…..
After being isolated for 2 years…. to be able to the experience in person and have that “face-to-face” connection: it does not compare with “online learning” or of the in-person contact to the tribe!
This is what the Masterclass at Bungalook brought back!!!
The new Fibre Arts team is very excited to get back to Ballarat Grammar in April to start re-connecting with our Tribe and with ourselves… to be part of the excitement that grows from being together… all amazing artists in their own right!
It has been a dream for more than 2 years to get together again and heck, we will do it!
CEO of the best Fibre Arts Tribe!
Images courtesy of : JILL MIGLIETTE, JOSEPHINE JAKOBI, GLENYS MANN
“She sat at the back and they said she was shy.
She led from the front and they hated her pride.
They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance.
They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence.
When she shared no ambition they said it was sad.
So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad.
They told her they'd listen, then covered their ears,
And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,
And she listened to all of it thinking she should,
Be the girl they told her to be best as she could.
But one day she asked what was best for herself,
Instead of trying to please everyone else,
So she walked into the bush and stood with the trees,
She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves.
She spoke to the willow, the gums and the pine,
And she told them what she'd been told time after time.
She told them she felt she was never enough,
She was either too little or far far too much,
Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,
Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,
Then she found a small clearing surrounded by trees,
And she stopped...and she heard what the trees said to her.
And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave.
For the bush said nothing,
it just let her breathe.”
“For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves.
For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no.
And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . .
When we don't listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls.
And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don't,
others will abandon us.”
- Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds
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...