Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fabrications [ bulletpoint ramble ] - actual quilt content!!

As promised, my impressions of the Fabricate Exhibition by TAG [ Textile Art Group ] at the Embroiderers' Guild, 170 Wattletree Road, Malvern. Given that the migraine is still hovering, I've opted for the rambling bullet point approach over the carefully crafted:


  • when we arrived there was a video presentation already underway so we had to creep in quietly by the 'tradesman's entrance'.

  • overall impression? Well worth a visit if you have even a passing interest in contemporary embroidery, quilting, felting and hand dyeing. A small exhibition but beautifully balanced and presented.
  • At a lot of exhibitions of this type, one is generally very aware of pieces that have been 'let down' by poor finishing / cheap framing / poor hanging. Certainly I've been guilty of that myself in the past when funds were limited. That was not the case here. Thought had been applied to choice of framing materials and where money needed to be spent, it clearly had been but at the same time, none of the framing overwhelmed its subject matter. There were no grubby finger marks. Stretched canvases were finished properly around the sides. There was really only one piece that was not displayed to best advantage and I know from talking to a friend who was on duty, that it was not from want of trying: many strategies had been tried with lighting etc.
  • The piece in question is cream stitching on cream transparent silk and it was suspended in the middle of the floor space. Perhaps hanging it 12" or so from a wall with a low front spot so that the shadow of the stitching is cast onto the wall might have worked better, but I can only say that because I saw a similar strategy used on an all-cream piece at a show I recently attended at the Central Goldfields Gallery in Maryborough. Oh well. As it was, it was a valiant effort and very nearly successful.

  • Almost all the girls from Maryborough commented to me that their recent work with photo transfer, fusibles, shibori, fabric printing, sashiko, etc, had given them a far greater appreciation of what they were looking at. They were mostly able to look beyond the initial impact of form, line and colour, to focus on technique. I think it was an interesting experience for them to connect the processes that they have been working with to these quite polished and thoughtful [ in the main ] products.

  • the artists' statements were the usual mix of the insightful, the self-agrandising and the hyperbolic. Poor grammar and mangled syntax aside, mostly they were quite helpful but I have to wonder why we feel the need to do this with fibre arts when it's rarely done with fine arts. Is it that the process is often as important as the product when dealing with fibrearts?

  • If you DO go [ and it's on until July 8 - 10 till 4 weekdays, 10 till 5 weekends $5 entry ] seriously consider spending $10 on the DVD.

  • The major prize winner was a representation of bushfire using a collage technique with extraordinarily subtle use of photo transfer, printing and stitching. The photos were a harmonious part of the whole, not " Hey look! Aren't I clever? I'm up with the new technology. I used a real photo here! " Often I get the impression that photos are used because it's the easier option. That was SO not the case here. In fact, it was worth going, just for that piece.

  • Mind you that wasn't the one I voted for for Viewer's Choice. My favourite was a largish piece of multi layered hand felting, in cream, honeyed tones and browns, heavily stitched with running stitch and [I think ] split stem stitch in a heavy brown thread. The running stitching wasn't quite sashiko, but sort of heading that way and added a whole extra layer to a piece that was already a beautiful confection of shapes and colours and textures. not even "MY" colours, but I really felt drawn to it.

  • Because I don't have the individual artists permission, I can't show you the photos that I took [ with permission from a committee person ] but here's a sort of general shot to give you a sense of the space

4 comments:

Sheepish Annie said...

That looks like the kind of place where you could spend a day and then wonder just where the time went. It must have been easy to get happily lost in all the color and texture. Sounds just fascinating and you did a super job as a virtual tour guide!

Helen said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on this show. I wish I could go, but a trip to Aussie isn't on the cards at the moment. I'll just have to be satisfied with the photo you posted.

catsmum said...

wish I could show you more of the photos but without permission? Well, it might not go down too well.
If anyone connected WITH anyone who has stuff in the exhibition would care to ask them for photo-on-the-internet permission, I'd be eternally grateful.

SueM said...

Hello Susan. I came across your Blog quite by accident but want to thank you for your excellent comments on the recent Fabricate exhibition. I particularly want to thank you for your enthusiastic response to my piece Regeneration, the winning work relating to bushfire. Just for the record, I didn't use any form of photo transfer, all images apart from those that I hand painted were printed directly onto the Lutradur with DuraBrite ink in an Epsom inkjet printer. Regards, Sue.