WANT Exhibition at Ellenbrook Gallery, WA

Exhibition

Spanish Whispers IV by Katrina Virgona 2017 – included in WANT exhibition at Ellenbrook Gallery 2017

I spent quite some time today viewing “WAnt: contemporary jewellery from WA”, the current exhibition at Ellenbrook Gallery. For those of us that relish detail and art on a tiny scale, WANT is well worth a visit. All works are by members of The Jewellers and Metal Smiths Group of Australia – WA. I knew my friend Katrina Virgona had work in this exhibition (that was why I went in the first place) so I was expecting to see equally quirky and innovative works by other artists using unconventional materials. The work of Fatemeh Boroujeni, an artist that had caught my eye in the Made in Making Central TAFE exhibition 2015 (because she used brush bristles) also caught my eye in this. Overall, traditional precious metals and gems are well represented along with other unconventional materials such as silicon, silk, photographic paper, shakudo, polycarbonate, and paper. Techniques include metal-smithing and gem setting, but also crochet, felt, stitch and even charcoal drawing. The catalogue is well-produced with each artist having a 2-page spread comprising an artist statement and CV with a full page colour image on the facing page.

Katrina is also teaching a 1-day workshop “Felt and Textile Jewellery”  ($75) – for venue, other details and to book call Julie at The Gallery (08) 9297 9940. I have attended workshops by Katrina and know that this will be a fun filled day.

Details of exhibition: WANT, 14 March to 15 April 2018, Ellenbrook Gallery, 34 Main St, Ellenbrook WA 6069. Gallery hours: Closed Mon & Tue, 10-2 Wed-Fri, 1-5 Sat & Sun

Recycling a Little Blue Dress

Artwork In-Progress

I bought this little blue dress at an op-shop.

The dress I bought in an op-shop which fits nicely but is made from thin fabric and is a bit short. I'm going to try stitching pieces of other old clothing onto it to make a unique "arty" dress.

The dress I bought in an op-shop which fits nicely but is made from thin fabric and is a bit short. I’m going to try stitching pieces of other old clothing onto it to make a unique “arty” dress.

It fitted well but the fabric was so thin you could see through it, and it was a bit short. I decided it was a candidate for one of a series of altered clothing pieces that I have had in mind for a while (read that to mean that I have a stash of clothing bought from op-shops destined to be modified into something I would wear!). I am concerned about the amount of textile waste and pollution there is from all stages of the fashion industry – from manufacture right through to the post-consumer. So I “rescue” fabric and clothing whenever I can see a way I might use it. Anyway, this dress was so thin I decided it would make a good base to patch other fabric onto. It is also a very simple shape so I figured I could open the side seams to make it easier to stitch those patches on by machine. That way if the stitching caused some shrinkage (which I think is almost bound to happen) I can add a panel at the side seams. I can do the same thing at the shoulder if that also proves to be a problem.

Nagging doubts that have prevented me from starting this project to date are, 1. it will shrink so much it won’t fit, 2. that it will look really old-fashioned and almost “hippy”, 3. that I’m wasting time that could be better spent on something else, 4. that I won’t like it once I’ve done it, 5. that people will laugh at it, 6. that it isn’t really “art”, 7. that I could make some yardage in the same way and then cut out a dress using a pattern that I know will fit, 8. well, the list goes on – I could probably add 20 more negatives easily. 🙁

Recycled blue shirts destined to be "married" to the Little Blue Dress to make a unique "arty" dress.

Recycled blue shirts destined to be “married” to the Little Blue Dress to make a unique “arty” dress.

So, I have decided to go ahead regardless. The best that can happen is that I end up with a dress that I like and the worst is that some fabric that probably would have ended up as landfill, will end up as landfill. I won’t have wasted my time because I know I will learn a lot along the way.

Only one day left!

Artwork Experiments, Exhibition
Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop

Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop

Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.

Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.

Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday

Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday

Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.

Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here at the Basement Gallery and feel really quite sad that this is my penultimate day. This morning I gave an artist talk – which turned into more of a conversation between friends so my nervousness quickly faded away 🙂 I pulled out all my materials, pens, brushes, papers, inks, display folders, workbooks and samples from the workshop yesterday so my work desk in the gallery looked like a bomb had gone off! It didn’t take too long to clear up afterwards and it was totally worth it. It’s always rewarding to talk to people who understand when I get excited about leaving paper overnight in the jar of used water loaded with ink to see what I get the following day.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm 24 November so if you haven’t visited yet and would like to then this is your last chance!

The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.

The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.

Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional "swirl" and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.

Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional “swirl” and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.

 

Artist Talk – Thursday 23 November 2017

Artwork Finished, Exhibition
Secret Cove was inspired by a 2011 news item about whaling.

Secret Cove was inspired by a 2011 news item about whaling.

The Gallery Manager (Mathew) here at The Basement Gallery has put all my works from Reef – A Fine LIne on their website as an online catalogue. There is still time to see the exhibition “for real” as the exhibition runs until 4pm on Friday 24th. I am giving an artist talk on Thursday 23 at 10am so if you would like to meet me and ask questions about my work please come along – I’d love to meet you and explain my techniques, materials, inspiration and discuss what it’s like to be an emerging artist. The exhibition comprises drawings, embroidery, textile jewellery and collage – all related to the reef theme. Oh, and don’t forget that I am giving a short drawing workshop tomorrow morning (which you need to book for by emailing basementgallery@colosoul.com.au )

Pen and Ink Workshop Tuesday 21 November 2017

Exhibition, Uncategorized
Seaweed 005. Used as the promo image for Reef - A Fine Line solo exhibition

Pen and ink drawing titled Seaweed 005. Used as the promo image for Reef – A Fine Line solo exhibition

I will be running another pen and ink workshop at the basement gallery from 10am to 1pm on Tuesday 21 November 2017. To register go to their facebook event page or email them on gallery@colosoul.com.au The cost is $20, payable on the day.

We’ll look at the properties of different papers so that you know which papers I use, and why. I will demonstrate how I have drawn some of my images and talk about why I use particular pens. Then I will show you which acrylic inks I prefer, and talk about how they differ from other media such as watercolours, I will bring my brushes and pens for you to use, and will supply the inks for use in class so you can get a “feel” for them. Oxlades (at 49 Guthrie St, Osborne Park WA 6017) stock everything used in this class so if you decide you need some for yourself it would be worth visiting them.

The exhibition finishes on Friday 24 November. On Thursday 23rd I will be giving an artist talk starting at 10am (or just after) if you are interested in my inspiration, process or have any questions about the works.

A Solo Exhibition – Woo Hoo!

Exhibition, Uncategorized

Sometimes everything comes together to create an opportunity you just cannot pass up. That’s how come I am having a solo exhibition next week….

A friend noticed a Facebook post by The Basement Gallery asking for emerging artists who might be interested in holding an exhibition in their new premises (241 Hay Street, Subiaco) to attend an open viewing time. We both went along to find out more on behalf of a newly formed group that may be interested in exhibiting together – possibly next year. The gallery and associated Pop Creative graphics design are run by volunteers (mostly uni students) to gain work experience in the arts. During our discussions with the volunteer gallery curator we learned that there was a vacancy in November. We knew the group would not be ready by then (we haven’t even had our first meeting yet!) and I realised I already had enough work with a reef theme to fill the space. I have lots of pen and ink drawings, some collages and several textile pieces – all inspired by coral reefs and their inhabitants. I submitted the application and paid the hire fee so I will be exhibiting Mon 13 Nov to Fri 17 Nov and Mon 20 Nov to Fri 24 Nov (open weekdays only 10-4, closed weekends).

This is the invite to my first solo exhibition “Reef – A Fine Line

The invitation to my solo exhibition "Reef - A Fine Line" at the Basement Gallery, 241 Hay St, Subiaco, Western Australia.

The invitation to my solo exhibition “Reef – A Fine Line” at the Basement Gallery, 241 Hay St, Subiaco, Western Australia.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

Altered States – Giving an Artist Talk

Artwork by Liz, Exhibition

I was one of several artists invited to give a 5-minute artist talk on Thursday 21 September about how it felt to take part in the WAFTA Altered States challenge exhibition. See below for the notes I used to jog my memory as I spoke.

Alpaca fleece stitched into net bags, pegged onto line "hammock style" for drying.

Alpaca fleece stitched into net bags, pegged onto line “hammock style” for drying.

Initial reaction

What a hodge podge of materials! How on earth do you marry up a beaded cocktail dress with smelly alpaca! And a guitar string with Watsonia leaves.

I think I’ll just put the whole lot back in the bag for now and leave it out of reach of my dog who is showing an unhealthy interest in the contents.

Initial Ideas

  • Make a triple-humped camel-like animal with a yellow beak wearing snow shoes and dressed to party.
  • A book of caricatures of the people who dreamed this challenge up. I didn’t like my attempts to create a scroll from that ridiculously stretchy cocktail dress.
  • It has a sort of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” feel to it – maybe I could sculpt or collage a scene from the novel. Mmm maybe not – this is going to be a public exhibition.
  • What is the smallest possible thing I could make? If I cut just a snippet from everything and roll it in glue I could a make a tiny fabric marble.

Adornment – that’s the direction I want to go in generally. Can I make a jewellery item from this lot?

Necklace

At the very least I can make a bead from everything else and string it on that carpet yarn. Ok, let’s go with the necklace idea.

I didn’t want to destroy the “good” things like the magazine and the pattern that had never been used. So, I trimmed all the excess paper from the pattern so that it can be used to make a very flattering prom dress and bolero for someone ¼ my age. And I used the Subscriber Newsletter to make some beads rather than cut into the mag. Free to any taker….

I decided I could cut into the dress (it had been repaired several times already) and use the doily as embroidery thread (as it was unravelling all by itself).

And me being me, I carded ALL the alpaca over a period of 2 days. My dreams of whiter than white, snuggly soft felt evaporating as 90% of it ended up either on my black apron or all over the house.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

Washed and carded alpaca fleece.

Washed and carded alpaca fleece.

The challenge is supposed to be confidence-boosting so I went with that as my theme for the necklace.

The Benefits

I found making paper beads and embroidered beads very relaxing.

I enjoyed the designing – for balance, comfort, weight, fastening.

I enjoyed keeping it “secret” – after my initial blunder of posting about it on my blog – but I did show one or two people (hands up who didn’t show anyone!).

I learned that there is such a thing as a “closed” FB group and enjoyed the camaraderie of that – making friends with people I’d never met.

I really enjoyed the associated Textile Technique Toolbox workshops – thank you to all the tutors.

I “pushed through” the “OMG – everyone else’s is much better than mine” barrier.

It was more FUN than I expected it to be.

 

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming.

Artist in Residence – The Bonus Week

Artist in Residence

What a Bonus!

It was a huge bonus to be asked if we would like to stay for another week and we jumped at the chance. Robi wanted to add to her installation in the window and I still had lots of experiments I wanted to do.

Experiments with Heat Setting Polyester Fabric

I manipulated the polyester organza fabric in a few ways: I wrapped and tied (string or wire) squares around table-tennis balls, marbles, large beads, plastic poker chips, syringe caps and rolled up aluminium foil. All of those worked well. I stitched tubes of fabric and inserted beads – tying between each bead. I also wrapped stitched tubes around a dowel to create a spring-like form.

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming.

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming.

Another experiment was to cut iron-on pelmet interfacing into strips. I wove these into a grid and stitched them together. Then I poked the polyester squares that had been shaped around table-tennis balls through some of the holes. This worked quite well and might be worth exploring at a later date. Further experiments could include covering the interfacing with fabric before/after cutting into strips, varying the strip widths, making 3D forms from the strips, and more. It was quite interesting to try and form a pleasing composition by moving the red puffs around. I could have poked the puffs through from both sides because the back had interesting texture too. Another effect I thought about (but didn’t actually do at the time) was to stitch the corners of the puffed squares to the grid (so there wasn’t anything at the back).

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming. Shapes poked through holes in grid of stiff interfacing.

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming. Shapes poked through holes in grid of stiff interfacing. Front view.

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming. Shapes poked through holes in grid of stiff interfacing. Back view.

Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming. Shapes poked through holes in grid of stiff interfacing. Back view.

 

 

 

Artist in Residence – Intentions Go Awry

Artist in Residence

The Artist in Residence Brief

As part of the “interaction with students” in the brief for the WAFTA Artist in Residence we were encouraged to give talks to groups of students and WAFTA members towards the end of the first week, and another talk towards the end of the second week.

The AHA Moment

Early on during the residency I realised that I couldn’t really create “an exhibitions’ worth” of necklaces, bracelets, brooches, etc. Two weeks simply wasn’t enough time. This was just prior to giving the first talk. I started thinking “if that’s the case, then why am I here” – and completely changed what I was thinking about for the remainder of the 2 weeks.

The First Talk

I decided to give my first talk as I had prepared it – describing what I thought adornment was, why we adorn ourselves, what types of adornment there are and the methods/techniques used to create them. I showed slides and talked about the type of imagery that inspires me – coral reefs, sea slugs, micro/macro images etc.  Then I showed images of works by artists that inspire me: Mariko Kumusoto, Nora Fok and Arline Fisch. These 3 artists inspire me because their work is delicate, transparent, and either depicts or interprets natural elements. Nora Fok also makes some work that is her interpretation of mathematical concepts – which I also find inspirational (even though I am hopeless at maths!).

In-between the 2 Talks

I was nervous right from the start about talking to the students – that I wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively with them. I don’t really know why – they are people (just like me), they speak English (just like me), and we had a common interest in art. I kept telling myself it should be a breeze. In an attempt to reduce my nervousness I started making a mind map on the wall on the afternoon of the very first day. The artist in residence mind map was partly to show how I planned and recorded my research, and partly an artwork designed to prompt discussion between the students and myself. This took me a couple of days and then I started doing some planned experiments with thin interfacing.

Mind map for WAFTA Artist in Residence 2017

Mind map for WAFTA Artist in Residence 2017

I did a lot of the research in the 2 weeks prior to the residency so that I would be free to “make” and talk with visitors while I was there.Somehow, while I was sitting making (very repetitive, meditative work – spinning, wrapping) my mind wandered onto the questions of “what would be a big issue for young adult students?” and “how can I tailor my talk to include those issues?”

The Second Talk

I “sort of knew” that this talk would be completely different to the first – even before I gave the first talk! The second talk was supposed to be more about what the experience of being AIR was like. But I had started to think about the many media reports I had seen about Youth Suicide – and that this would be a relevant topic to weave into my second talk. So I included slides of my own work such as this one of some Shibori,

and this “Whirl” drawing, that related to being in a bit of mess.

Whirl 1 (detail), 17 Nov 2013, 58cmWx84cmH

 

I didn’t want to get really morbid – so mentioned some of the organisations that are around to help such as Youth Focus, Beyond Blue and LifeLine, as these seemed the most appropriate. If I’d been a bit better prepared I would have got hold of some brochures – but this all seemed to come “off the cuff” at the time. I wanted these young people to know that there are people who care what happens to them and are trained to help – and they are only a phone call away.

My final slide was of some work in progress.

Some paper-mache works in progress based on diatoms and radiolaria.

I got lots of hugs from fellow WAFTA members at the end of the talk, which was great because it made me feel that maybe I had communicated well with the audience. I felt really glad that I had tackled this difficult subject rather than taking the easy path and just talking about the creative side to the residency.

The Biggest Surprise

Soon after our talks, the Manager of the North Metro TAFE Shop Front Gallery asked if Robi Szalay and I would like to stay on for another week. We were thrilled and soooo happy we immediately said “yes – we’ll do it” 🙂 So then I got to thinking – well, maybe during this third week I’ll make lots of necklaces, bracelets, barrettes, brooches, anklets, ear-rings, cuff-links, bangles, beads, lariats, hair-slides, toe-rings, cuff-links, ear-cuffs, rings……

 

 

Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence, Artwork by Liz, Exhibition

Today both Robi Szalay and I set up our Artist in Residence spaces in the Shopfront Gallery, 149 Beaufort St, Northbridge. We were ably assisted by Gail Hawes (WAFTA AIR Coordinator) and Margaret Ford (a very willing friend). WAFTA have done a great job with the publicity – posters and postcards. Robi and I are both very excited at the prospect of 2 weeks to concentrate on our creative work and we look forward to visitors popping in to see what we’re up to and discussing our creations. The shopfront is open from 10-4 (weekdays only) from August 8 to 18th.

The brooch featured on the poster is prominently displayed in the shop window. Other finished items are displayed in the front half of “my” space and the other half dedicated to making. Margaret assures me that it looks like an atelier 🙂

Adam tagging electrical equipment prior to use.

Red Glove Brooch and Red Ripple Necklace by Liz Arnold on the shopfront mannequin.