Sunday 16 June 2019

King Island Residency

Great news! I have been accepted for an artist residency on King Island during the month of December this year! A remote island in the Bass Strait with a population of around 1600, 120km off the coast of Tasmania, with 143 km of amazing coastline to explore, and the Roaring Forties to rip my face off whilst I wrestle with giant Bull Kelp - I can't imagine a better place to spend almost 5 weeks! I actually included this picture in my application, taken on my one and only trip to Tasmania with Matt in 2013, as I was sure it would convince them that I am crazy for kelp! Above is the picture from the King Island Council website which I have been looking at so often for the past week!

This is the opportunity I have been searching for - a time of reflection, and immersion in spectacular nature, in order to begin work on a cohesive body of work for an exhibition. Although the last decade of my career has been focused on wearable art, I feel it is the right time now to channel my designs away from pieces designed for the body, and more towards sculptural works in their own right, as well as exploring low-relief wall works and installation pieces. I hope to utilise the vast array of techniques I have acquired using many different media towards exploring these other forms of expression. On the island itself, I aim to photograph, sketch, and formulate plans for the overall exhibition.
Here's another shot from my 2013 trip - I was so impressed with the movement of the kelp, as well as the sheer size - very Triffid-like!!
I've just booked the flights, even though I won't hear about my Grant Application to the Australia Council for travel and living expenses until September, because This. Is. Happening!!

Thursday 6 June 2019

Glowing Times

In my constant searching for opportunities to participate in, I stumbled across the Naracoorte National Art Prize, being held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of megafauna fossil remains in the world heritage Naracoorte Cave, South Australia. Artists are invited to create a 2D work in any media exploring the theme "Australian Megafauna, Fossils and Caves - an Artistic Exploration".
My composite design
 Not only did this offer a requirement to work in 2D, but upon researching images of the caves and coming up with a composite design of those most iconic, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with the UV reactive/glow-in-the-dark thread I had bought many months ago. Also from the studio stores came metres of what seems to be cotton organza, rescued from Reverse Garbage, which I dyed with eucalyptus leaves to create the natural tones of the caves. Having decided which images were going to go on what layers, I traced them out onto solvy to pin onto the fabric, hoop it, and start stitching!.
Printed design for reference pinned next to the machine
Once the layers were complete, it was time to bring them together. I had imagined keeping each layer whole and hanging millimetres apart, with images visible through, but decided to condense the image and started the scary process of cutting out sections!
The layers were then hand stitched together, with dark layers added around the edge to frame it, and I am now in the process of further framing it with a layer of reptilian-textured leather off-cuts - sewing this is going to be interesting! On track for the July entry deadline, although I'll need to work out how to photograph it more clearly!
Glow in the dark effect
UV Light reaction
It was so much fun working with the thread that I decided to use it to create a piece for Contemporary Wearables in Toowoomba. I had a lot of silk paper shapes dyed a vivid aqua - experiments for Lichen Morphology last year - and stitched densely around the edges, and in towards the centre - inspired a little by mushroom gills. I loved the effect of the loose threads too, creating a feathery, soft outline.
Having pinned them around a mannequin in a slightly asymmetrical shape, I made a wire armature to support them, needle-felted wool over it, and wet-felted it (for ages!) to shrink it down securely onto the wool. A lot more hand stitching later (there's been a lot of bloody fingertips around here lately) a few sequins added, and it was done.
The final stage was completing the entry, which means writing the artist statement, and finding a title for the work. In researching more about bioluminesence, I discovered that the light-emitting compound found in organisms which luminesce is called Luciferin, so this has been named Luciferin Lei.