I’m guessing most of you haven’t heard of Tamworth, a largish regional town between Sydney and Brisbane. Those of you that have probably associate it with guitars and Stetsons and a certain twang – it is Australia’s ‘Country Music Capital’, after all. However, as I discovered recently, when you talk Tamworth, you should actually be talking textile art!
Since 1975, the Tamworth Regional Gallery has been building a collection of Australian fibre art and curating regular exhibitions to celebrate the richness and diversity of the textile arts. In 2014, they opened Group Exchange: The 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial, a touring exhibition that features new work from 22 of Australia’s leading fibre artists. Lucky for me, its current stop is at the UTS Gallery in Sydney, and I had the chance to attend opening night.
Suffice to say, I was pretty blown away by the level of inventiveness and skill on show – who knew textile art could cover such a broad spectrum? I saw humour, whimsy, beauty, and a even few works that were quite unsettling. For those of you with a love for textiles or simply a curiosity as to what the show has in store, I bring you a few select pieces to whet your appetite.
Above, Lorna Murray’s Making Space invites the viewer into the creative world of the textile artist. And yes, those are deconstructed cocktail umbrellas stitched together to make fabric!
Artist Alana Clifton “mutates” knitwear for her piece :translocation:duplication:deletion:inversion:.
Ilka White’s Dwelling considers a sense of place and interconnectedness. Her installation uses diverse materials such as dry grass, plant dyes, weaving, thread, and photographic prints.
Patrick Snelling’s Minh the Tailor uses digitally printed fabric to document the migrant experience. It explores the use of textiles as not just a means to an economic end, but also as a conduit for identity and nostalgia.
The 226 components of Penny Evan’s Stranded represent the 226 years since the beginning of colonisation in Australia. Each piece represents a person at a different life stage – childhood, old age, and different stages of initiation.
Jemima Parker explores the fuzzy line between art and fashion through her oversized Undefined Objects.
Louisa Ennis-Thomas looks at the intersection between humans and nature. In her work In/Animate (Zoochorous), she mimics organic matter by wrapping and binding over base shapes to create a ‘skin’.
In the foreground is Gillian Lavery’s embroidered work Pranayama, which is influenced by meditation. In an effort to to let go of the outcome and focus on the making process, she “stitched for ten minutes a day for a year, around in a circle, focusing on breath.”
Urns made from grass, ostrich feathers, and the artist’s own hair make up Kate Campbell-Pope’s Transcendence, the creation of which she refers to as “a chapter in my longstanding use of fibre as an expressive sculptural medium.”
If you’re in Australia and would like to see these incredible works for yourself, the exhibition is touring all around the country over the next 18 months. You can find more information about dates and venues here. Let us know what you think!