Thursday, November 19, 2009


Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne.
October 2009

Workshop weaving is a demanding 9-5pm job where weavers interpret the works of artists through highly skilled, labor intensive and artistically demanding processes.
However, this exhibition gives us a window into the personal creative practices of the weavers in their own time, after workshop hours.
Sue Walker, founding director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, always maintained that the weavers were all artists in their own right. Their talents were obvious in the translations from artworks by other artists into woven tapestries, but their own artwork was seldom displayed in the workshop. This exhibition validates her statement by showing the diverse range of artistic practices of weavers and other staff.
The range of artwork exhibited includes woven tapestry but is varied - from mixed media to print to sculptural forms. Weaving all day, often on monumental scale works, means little time in the week is available for personal works in tapestry/the artist yearns to work in another form/returns to their original medium or experiments and develops their own highly individual style of work in tapestry.
Cheryl Thornton's finely woven miniatures are sensitive to every detail. They are understated and captivating in every pass of weft over red warp. The illusive tapestries are not facades - they are about the interaction of warp and weft, depth and a quiet appreciation of the medium.
At the opposite end of the scale Emma Sulzer's three dimensional woven training shoes at first glance say it all in a quirky humorous way. The famous brand names are resplendent worked in wool, cotton and touches of lurex.
Milly Formby's Monster Brooches are lots of fun; I expect woven as some light relief from heavy art, taking pleasure in the experimentation with materials within the small shaped pieces.
John Dicks presents plastic needlepoint, a contemporary take on the domestic craft, previously so shunned in art circles. The craft circle has come round again as we again celebrate the hand made.
The throw away materials of cardboard and newspaper are painted and arranged like a Marquette for a stage set by Lily Fraser. The freedom and abandon in this work is entirely refreshing and thinking about this work in relation to woven tapestry is very exciting.
In some previous instances workshop weavers have had their own designs woven in the workshop. This has allowed for individual creativity to flow into the weavers' day jobs. Perhaps this exhibition can again spark some weaver initiated designs and commissions for the workshop.

Valerie Kirk tapestry Weaver and Head of Textiles, ANU School of Art, Canberra.

Call for Papers

Sustainability - Issue #3
Call for academic papers documenting research that contributes to an understanding of craft and design issues in relation to sustainability.
Due date 30 June 2010
he Carbon issue - Sustainability in craft and design

What is the impact of climate change on craft and design practice?

This issue welcomes academic papers documenting research that contributes to an understanding of craft and design issues in relation to sustainability.

Green thumbprint

In terms of carbon emissions, craft production is not in the same league as coal electricity generation or jet travel. Yet with recognition of over-consumption as a problem in rich countries, questions are raised about the continuing production of non-essential goods. Is the handmade an exception? How?

Are there ways of developing a 'green thumbprint' that can reduce the environmental load of craft production, particularly kiln-based processes in ceramics and glass? Are there important efficiencies in new technologies that involve processes such as on-demand printing and customisation?

Craft ethic

Alternatively, does the ethic of the handmade provide an alternative to over-consumption, say by encouraging a culture of repair rather than replacement? Does the hand-made basis of craft provide an alternative route to escape dependency on fossil fuel? How can craft production engage with this today?

Much design in recent years has involved out-sourcing labour to manufacturing bases in Asia. What role might a concept of 'product miles' play in promoting local production? How can the return to local avoid a narrowing of diversity and creative insularity?

Aesthetics of the new green economy

In contrast to the 'clouds' of virtual exchange infiltrating work life, climate change re-focuses attention on the material world as the inevitable basis for life. In today's ecological imagination, carbon looms as a dangerous substance that needs capture to prevent it suffocating the world. Does this affect the aesthetics of carbon? How does this influence the way we look at objects in wood, or stones such as diamonds?

Papers due by 30 June 2010.

Kevin Murray is Guest Editor for this issue.

Inquiries, contact Kevin Murray at kevin [at]

Or Jenny Deves at jenny.deves [at]

To submit papers please register online

For journal announcements and calls for papers

For author guidelines

Craft Australia Research Centre call for papers.

Magdalena Abakanowicz and Craft Australia

Abakan Brunne c.1970 Warsaw / Poland
Textile, dyed sisal
Technique: high warp loom-woven, pieced and sewn
Primary Insc: signed M.ABAKANOWICZ in paint on black suede leather strip sewn to lower left front of 43061.1
309.0 h x 306.0 w x 46.0 d cm
299.0 h x 278.0 w x 46.0 d cm
Accn No: NGA 76.1318.A-B

The above information was taken from the National Gallery of Australia's website.

These image are from a collection found in the Craft Australia archives. I believe these images were taken at an exhibition held in Australia in the 1980's. The collection of images have been given to the National Gallery of Australia as they hold work/s made by Abakanowicz.
I will investigate this and get information on each image.

Abakanowicz, Magdalena (b Felenty, nr. Warsaw, 20 June 1930). Polish abstract sculptor, the pioneer and leading exponent of sculpture made from woven fabrics. Initially she worked in conventional media in painting and sculpture, but from 1960 she concentrated on textiles, using hessian and rope (in some works she has also incorporated wood). Sometimes she obtained her raw materials by visiting Poland's Baltic ports and collecting old ropes, which she then unravelled and dyed. At first she made reliefs, but she soon moved on to large three-dimensional works. In 1962 she first exhibited in the West (at the International Tapestry Biennial in Lausanne) and thereafter her work appeared often outside Poland in both solo and group shows, winning her an international reputation and numerous awards.

Information about Magdalena from
This link also has a number of you tube links of Magdalenas' work and an interview with the artist.

For Sale: A new collection of wool and cotton tapestries





Eight new wool tapestries and eight new cotton weavings for sale have been added to the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre website

Hurry to visit Wissa-Wassef Arts to view the collection.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Liquid Module VI 60x60cm 2009
Liquid Module IV 60x60cm 2008
Frequency IV 60x60cm 2008


14 - 31 OCTOBER 2009

"PHASE" is Melbourne artist Tim Gresham's latest solo exhibition of photography and woven tapestry. Held in the up market Collins Street precinct of the city, the show exudes confidence and accomplishment through the sophisticated works combined with the precise, minimal hang.
Gresham is a quiet and unassuming artist, dedicated to his practice. He is a Queenslander by birth, but now lives and works in Melbourne where he has had six solo exhibitions and participated in many group shows. His work has been acquired by public and private collections and he has completed several commissions.
In this latest solo show there were 12 small framed tapestries - 15 x 15 cm, 6 medium format tapestries 60 x 60cm and 12 digital Type C prints 60 X 60 cm. The even, square measurements and number of works reflects the precision of technique and image making. Mastery of tapestry weaving and photography is evident in the perfect edges and precisely woven squares and tightly framed photographic images. The skill is in the editing, deciding what to deal with and cutting out all extraneous detail.

Tapestry is by nature a repetitive process, the weaver steadily building the image from base of the loom to the top of the tapestry, picking up the warp and passing through the bobbin thousands of times. Although the weaver learns to automatically pick up every second warp in one direction and the alternate warps in the opposite direction, this process is usually not apparent in the finished work. Traditionally tapestries have had striking, narrative images demanding the viewer's attention. From a short distance away they have read as flat images historically linked to the Fine Art of painting, trying to hide from the lowly craft of weaving. In Gresham's tapestry it is all about weaving - the rhythm, the repetition and image worked intrinsically with the medium.
Overlapping, scalloped edge patterns and curved forms undulate and move rhythmically across the surface like groupings of notes in a musical score. The enclosed warp is emphasised by pick and pick pattern of the weft making subtle stripes that vibrate throughout the work. Shapes have stepped edges, calculated according to the warp and weft ratio, creating a tension between the given grid format of weaving and the artist's introduction of fluid design.

Colour in a soft and muted light to mid tone palette of Australian bush hues with white is used to achieve subtlety and softness or vibrancy. Combined with the expert use of the repertoire of colour mixing techniques, there is control of blending soft, feathered edges or making sharp contrast.

The black and white photographs point to the elements in Tim Gresham's urban environment that inspire his creative mind. Repetition in the surfaces of buildings, shadows softening graphic lines in concrete, reflections in water distorted by a rippling surface all point to an interest in graphic geometry softened by natural elements. These works share common themes with the tapestries: a sense of time; patterns continuing beyond the frame and contrast of underlying structure with distortion. They assert themselves as highly personal viewpoints of a contemporary city experience.

In all of the works the image extends out from the cropped frame, suggesting infinity. They provide a space to contemplate, to find pleasure in the universal sequences of forms, variations of the hand made and time devoted to the pursuit of excellence. "Phase" presents classic works to invest in, live with and enjoy into the future.