Friday 17 May 2024

Exhibitions Everywhere

2024 has been a very busy year, and I have been very remiss in not sharing it thus far. I do find it becomes tricky between sharing the more immediate moments on Instagram, and writing articles for TEXTILE Fibre Forum; one keeps folks up to date to the minute, the other is almost six months behind, but claims most of my best words, images, and adventures - sometimes it seems as though there is nothing left for here!

It has been a wild ride so far, beginning with the continuing evolution of work for DistoMorph, my next body of work. For the most up-to-date mentions of #textileart and related activities, studiosvenja on Instagram is the place to visit.

I took a break in late March with a trip to Auckland to visit not only family but to see the Guo Pei exhibition. I was not disappointed with any moment of this trip, and I spent a day of wonder at the Auckland Art Gallery, looking at her work from 2005-2020. As someone definitely NOT from the less is more camp, her glorious excess was relished by my appreciative eyes, captivated also by the skill in design and construction of such wonders. I was extremely glad I was able to make the fairly spontaneous trip to witness this, bundled up with visiting long un-seen family members. It was a beautiful trip in every way.

On our return I did another three weeks in the studio before leaving for Melbourne with Janet de Boer on our pilgrimage to the Annemieke Mein exhibition in Gippsland Art Gallery. Ours has been a slowly evolving friendship since the time I first met her when I worked at Craft Queensland in the early 2000’s, and attending the first meetings of Queensland ATASDA. In actuality, my respect and admiration for Janet began a long time before that, as Editor of TEXTILE Fibre Forum, the magazine I devoured during the 90’s, the convenor of TEXTILE Fibre Forums, and the owner operator of Gallery 159, where I was fortunate enough to exhibit twice. Since then we have met more and more frequently, to talk art and textiles in the company of bubbles.

It was therefore an easy task for us to plan a trip down to Gippsland Art Gallery to visit the retrospective exhibition of the most influential artist on my career and Janet’s friend, Annemeike Mein. Due to their long-term friendship, I was able to ride Janets coat-tails along to an afternoon tea in the house of the woman who set me on this path, who demonstrated that textiles did not have to be clothes, but could also be employed as art materials. 

I was incredibly happy to meet this amazing woman who was a) so visibly happy to reconnect with Janet b) so generous in sharing her time and space with us, c) someone who clearly believed in her vision and doggedly followed and logged it, with wonderful family support, and d) just such a lovely lady! I adored watching them reconnect and then getting a tour of her beautiful attic workspace whilst she was signing our copies of the marvellous new book that supports her retrospective exhibition, ‘Annemieke Mein: A Life’s Work.’

 Arriving home on Thursday evening, it was back on the road on Friday to head to Warwick, where I had been invited to make presentations to students about wearable art. This was facilitated by the Jumpers and Jazz in July collective – I was involved in their Wearable Art Warwick event last year, and they are hoping to encourage student participation in the future.

In the evening I was delighted to be opening Sharyn Hall's exhibition at The Warwick Regional Art Gallery - A Cabinet of Curiosities. I thought it was a great turnout to see her fantastically eclectic new work, which I got to visit in her studio a week or so beforehand.

In more good news, after a concerted effort in the office submitting applications and slowly chasing them up, I have a skeleton schedule for my new exhibition, DistoMorph for the next few years. It is encouraging yet not totally surprising that this becomes easier as I gain more successes, or should that read, validations. Check my 'News' page on my website for updated venues.

It is a constant battle for me between studio and office, and I feel grateful for my ability to express myself in words as well as imagery, as application processes are reasonably demanding for even the most erudite, not to mention technologically literate. Let alone the spreadsheets that record when proposals were sent, received, responded to and/or chased up. It’s an on-going drama of the most unglamorous kind.

With my impending term of recovery after surgery looming in early May for my rhinoplasty revision, I felt like I was getting my affairs in order as I tidied-up loose-ends, mostly in my studio.  It did feel good to have a clean up and get a few things sorted out. 

I’m now on the other side of that, and although I had lots of very small tasks lined up to go, I didn’t factor in that one can become very fractious and impatient when not feeling 100%, which effects the usual work ethic. Still, there's a few weeks left of being a bit gentle left. 

And of course, having received the excellent news that my design has made it through the next round of paperonskin, work on putting the finishing touches to that continues. As usual, there is a fair amount of secrecy involved, so snippets are all I can show for now.

I also had to prepare for my special event coming up in June – a sale of works from my exhibitions and general creations to be held at The Richard Randall Studio at the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, 11-16 June. Textile art-works from Algalrhythms for the walls, wearable art works for the body, felting, nuno-felting, ice dye and botanical dye. Hours will be 10-4, and credit facilities are available.

So pop in and say hello!

Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 wrap up

It's always nice to remember and reflect on the year gone by, and 2023 has been a busy one. A constant throughout has been the creation of new works for my next exhibition DistoMorph. Alongside that goes the shopping for materials, the sampling of said materials and techniques, and the constant wrangling of the creative mess. Although not at it's finest, I am happy with the state of my little creative cave as I venture forward.

The year began with photographing some works in readiness for applications to galleries, competitions, and call-outs. Many of these were unsuccessful, so I'm taking a break from the time, frustration, and expense of the latter.

Some of these were a step away from my usual work, especially in colour palette. From now on, I will only create works that can be included in my exhibitions if unsuccessful in these ventures.
My exhibition Algalrhythms opened at the Lockyer Valley Regional Art Gallery in February, and finishes its final leg of the tour at Dogwood Crossing in January 2024. Each time I unbox it, I enjoy seeing the work again, and hanging it in different ways. I've learned a lot about how things can enhance and change the way works are viewed. 
Opening at Lockyer Valley Regional Art Gallery

Installation at Dogwood Crossing Miles Art Gallery
Janet de Boer (above) was finally able to perform the opening at Lockyer Valley, after the crazy post-Covid times. We have continued to meet throughout the year, enjoying a catch up with some food, always bubbles, sometimes cats, and even at our favourite surgeons rooms!
At the opening of Australian Wearable Arts Festival

Pre-radiation 'medicine'

Ah, yes, the surgeon. Mid-May I had a rhinoplasty, which had more of an impact than I'd anticipated, especially after a five-hour nosebleed led to a very traumatic night in Emergency a week later.
Luckily I recovered well in time for the drive drive down to Police Point, Mornington Peninsula, for my two-week artist residency there. Matt and I spent a fun couple of days on the road there, before parting ways in Sorrento, with him returning home by air.
The residency was fantastic - you can read about it on my website here. The highlight was definitely the snowy wonderland of Mt Donna Buang, but I certainly loved walking the wild and windy peninsula.

Having learned that I was mere hours away from the Gippsland Art Gallery, home of the Annemieke Mein permanent display, after leaving my cottage I detoured out to visit it, and was rewarded with the site of familiar works - and new ones! It was pretty magic. I can't wait to see her new exhibition next year, and meet her!
From here I drove into Melbourne to spend a few nights before making my way to Fibrearts Ballarat and running into these two.

It was great to settle into the now completely renovated Ballarat Grammar digs, and prepare for work in Alysn Midgelow-Marsden's class. My classmate and neighbour was the fabulous Jane, and we had an excellent time together, along with more old and new friends.
Jane and Christine
The workshop was on working with metal cloth, and I absolutely adored colouring it with flame, although many other techniques were explored.

Then came the long drive home by myself, which I was very proud to have achieved, as I have a tendency to fall asleep at the wheel.... I started off by getting bogged, when I pulled off the road to admire a creek near a deserted old mill. After very fortunately being helped on my way, I made quick stops in at Bendigo and Wangaratta to view textile art exhibitions.

I was very keen on seeing the Wangaratta Gallery itself, as I was putting in an application to exhibit there, after being encouraged to by staff after my last submission. Having left it until the final deadline to submit ( I had been trying to complete as many works as possible to photograph for the submission) there was a technical issue trying to use their official portal, so I let them know, and sent them via Dropbox. To my utter dismay, this was deemed unacceptable, even though they were aware of my intention to submit, and I had sent emails to explain the situation. It was suggested that my browser was out of date - I would have thought that in the circumstances, with technology itself clearly being the issue, some compassion would be shown, but no. But I digress....
Back in Brisbane, it was almost immediately off to Warwick for the Jumpers and Jazz Festival, where I had been invited to display some of my wearable art works, and judge their inaugral Warwick Wearable Art Awards. We had fabulous accommodation in a tiny house on a property with Alpacas, Highland Cows and goats!

The following month saw us up on the Sunshine Coast for our second Australian Wearable Arts Festival, where I was representing Textile Fibre Forum, the magazine I write for, to choose and present awards on their behalf. The show was of a great standard, and I hope it continues to grow to support and showcase the amazing artists.

Life continued to roll on as I flew to Townsville, to be a part of the Wearable Creatives Showcase, their exhibition at the Pinnacles Gallery, and present an artist talk and workshop on Wearable Art Concept Development.

The instigator of all this was Christina Papadimitriou, a passionate supporter of wearable art, and I was chauffered about by her affable son, Thomas, just one of many great people I met there. One of these was Denise Lamby, a fellow artist, who I was able to catch up with properly when we organised a day of studio tours with visiting World of WearableArt artist Vicky Robertson. We drove to the Sunshine Coast first to visit with Heather O'Flaherty, then onto Denise, with a spontaneous return visit happening the next day!
Vicky and Heather


A fabulous canal-side lunch
Denise meets Trumptopussy
Just before this, in September, Jenelle and I headed off for our first sojourn together to Geelong Fibre Forum, to make felt hats with the delightful Dawn Edwards. What a prolific, happy class we had!

As mentioned before, November saw us on the road again, delivering Algalrhythms to Miles, where I was pleased to sell a work on opening night!

The star triptych of Bluebottles was sold during the year to the lovely Jann, and I believe is headed to live, fittingly, on Stradbroke Island.
The series of six embroidered digital prints shown on the black wall below were sold at the Lockyer Valley exhibition, and we will deliver those when we bring the rest of the exhibition back home next month. And where does it all go, you ask? I don't know. I just don't know. All I know is I have to keep making.
So I'm looking forward to another year of designing, making, writing, experimenting, learning, sharing, and enjoying all things textile. I have met some fabulous people through my textile adventures this year, and had some wonderful experiences. Thank you to all those who support me, who read my articles, who come to my exhibitions, who buy my work, who visit my website and blog, who comment and share on Instagram and Facebook, who gift me fabulous treasures which find their way into my work.