Saturday, August 31, 2013

Federation on Hold – Call Waiting
Prints On Paper

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Made to Order
Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
Veiled Curtains
A Letter to a Friend
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Cry for the Wilderness
Wish You Were Where?
The Four Seasons

Commissioned to do a series of prints to celebrate 100 years of the Australian Federation, these fine-art limited edition prints have been collected by Murdoch University (Western Australia), the Maitland City Art Gallery (NSW, Australia) and The University of Newcastle Print Collection (NSW, Australia). It uses my recently developed "multiplexing silkscreen" technique on the borders of my prints.

Federation on Hold – The Journey
I am no stranger to commissioned work. After all, I was employed as a graphic designer for over thirty years in some of the leading advertising companies in Australia. Consequently, my graphic designs were on mixed drink cans, my advertising posters adorned many a billboard and my illustrative work was published in medical and commercial journals. Dealing with clients, presenting them with a number of concept roughs and then ensuring the selected rough through to finished art was basically my stock and trade.

More recently, I have had a number of my screen prints hung in various galleries. Nevertheless, I was surprised when a small company in the Hunter Valley commissioned me to do a series of prints to celebrate 100 years of the Australian Federation (1901-2001). Their brief was simple: “We like your work and so we want you to complete a series of prints by February of 2002”. A “dream come true” for any graphic designer, who has now become a feral studio artist. Finally, a client who is paying me and is happy to be deaf, dumb and blind in the process!

Anyone who has been commissioned, has doubts about whether the commissioned work will satisfy the client. For example, Utzon - who designed the Sydney Opera House for the NSW Government would be able to tell you a story or two about the trials and tribulations of that commissioned work. In fact, he was eventually sacked by the NSW government in order that the work could be completed - or so they claimed! Commissioned work with a difficult client is never easy!

Sydney Opera House.
Not exactly built to Utzon's specifications.

There are two golden rules for commissioned work (and only two): keep your “voice” intact and do an extensive amount of research. The latter is self-explanatory, but the former may need further elaboration. Companies and organizations commission you because of what they know about your work, the way you express yourself through the medium and moreover, the way it resonates with them or with others; that is, they are commissioning your “voice” at a price (and as Utzon finally realized - not at any price!)

Research on the Australian "Federation" appeared easy enough. There are a multiple of sources on the internet, from books and documentaries. Whilst I gutted libraries and other warehouses of information, I also focused on what media and design I should employ. That is, a synergic relationship between information gained from research and the form or design of the print that works for me.

As these prints would be a series, I decided that the same medium and techniques should be employed in order to ensure consistency; they would be uniform in size, and form as well as using similar design structures and elements. I also decided to use predominantly transparent and some opaque inks, with a consistent palette of soft and muted colors. The “olde world” colors of the Victorian era (e.g. soft color palette) would be used in conjunction with contemporary colors (e.g. stronger color palette) in order to highlight the passage of time. Colors would be mixed by hand, using oil-based screen-printing inks. Each print would require a new set of colors to be mixed in order to comply with the palette range.

Each print would incorporate the use of political and historical images as well as some text form. The scale of various images and their positions on the page would also be constructed with uniformity in mind. All prints would exhibit extensive layered images and colors. The primary rationale for using mainly transparent inks was to add layers of depth to the overall image, thus seamlessly freezing images of each print as if it was trapped in its own time capsule.

The series would also highlight a “Native Flower Border”, which would emphasize the pretty, romantic and “flowery” aesthetic of the Victorian era when the Australian Federation was born (1901). Native flowers represent “Australia” and so would be extensively layered to achieve depth and to create an illusion of timeliness.

Ovals would also be introduced as a design motif in order to further highlight the historical content of the series. An oval shape was very popular in the “Victorian” era. Series of “dotted lines” would act to frame each individual image area and to draw the viewer’s attention to the overall complexity and movement of the piece.

Having decided on the design principles, my attention increasingly focused on the content of each print. My research kept bringing to the fore the Prime Ministers of this Country. After all, they are the principal political elected identity of our Nation (via a party system as distinct from being directly elected by the people). Their “Australian-ness” is especially emphasized, when juxtaposed to some of our early Governor-Generals (who were very British and had very little empathy for our emerging identity). For example, Lord Hopetoun (our first Governor-General) was more “…preoccupied with his bowels than with the concerns of Australia” (C.M.H. Clark – A History of Australia).

The more I read, the more I wanted these prints not only to look back at the past 100 years but to question what these years may project into the future. That is, I did not want to focus on myths that mock us. For example, that we are an outback society when in fact we are the most urbanized society in the world. Or that wars - such as First & Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and more recently, East Timor, Iraq, Afganastan and those skirmishes in the Middle East - have somehow defined us. I did not wish to belittle these experiences, but my sense is that these wars did not define our society or our Federation, but rather they defined our fears of what may overcome or annihilate us politically. That is, unlike so many Nations, we did not have a War of Independence or a Civil War in which the type of Nation that we wished to forge was at the front and center of the conflict.

I decided that I would need four prints – each print encapsulating a time of nation building, which projected a shadow across a number of possible futures for this Nation. I checked with my client and they were happy to purchase the four prints, not knowing their form or content - very brave, very risky!

My research uncovered a Nation in waiting - a Nation slowly emerging, with no accelerants on the immediate horizon. The four shadows that I saw (which projected a number of distinct futures) began to crystallize: reconciliation, poverty, political structure and compassion. These shadows of the past were unresolved in 2001. Yet depending on the solution (or lack thereof) each has the potential to generate another type of Australia. The title of the series was therefore resolved. I would named it, Federation on Hold - Call Waiting , with each print being a generator (e.g. Press One - Reconciliation; Press Two - Poverty; Press Three - The Republic; Press Four - Refugees). These prints would not represent a “black arm-band history of Australia” (as John Howard loved to accuse when confronted with a history not of his own choosing), but rather a myriad of possible future Australian Federations, depending on which road is taken.

Press One - Reconciliation

Federation on Hold - Call Waiting; Press One - Reconciliation.

The plight of the Australian aboriginal people was still on “hold” in 2001. The Prime Minister in 2001, John Howard, was still unable to officially say “Sorry” to the indigenous population even though the Canadian Prime Minister and the President of the USA did not hesitate to do so for their indigenous people. Judging by the sizeable attendance of people at “Reconciliation Marches” it is clear that a large proportion of Australians wanted this matter resolved. It took Prime Minister Rudd (some seven years later) to utter those words in Parliament, to a standing ovation. This was not known when the print was forged.

The print was executed using primarily terracotta’s, purples, browns and golden colors. Overlaid by transparent colors, images of Australia’s Coat of Arms are evident. In the background of the large central oval, Legislative Acts of both State and Federal Governments, relating to the indigenous people, can be seen. Another layer superimposed over these texts show images depicting Indigenous people in the pre-settlement era. The smaller central oval depicts Prime Minister Edmund Barton (1901-1903), with the notes from a brief to his Australian colleagues before negotiations with the British Government in 1901.

As Australia’s first Prime Minister, Barton did not accept responsibility for the aboriginal people. It was not until 1962 that Australian aborigines gained the right to vote in Federal elections. However, it was not until 1967 that over 90% of Australians voted to have aboriginal Australians counted in the census. Moreover, this referendum also gave the Commonwealth Government power to make laws for the indigenous people.

So do we want a multi-racial rather than a multi-cultural society. That is, is it our intention to assimilate a “living” aboriginal culture out of existence?

Press Two – Poverty
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting; Press Two - Poverty.

At the turn of the century, there was hope that all Australians could realize their potential - without economic circumstances of their birth inhibiting their progress. Prime Minister Bob Hawke boasted that there will be no child “ in poverty by 2000”. Yet poverty still surrounded us in 2001 (e.g. the homeless were replanted from the inner to the outer streets of Sydney during the 2000 Olympics). Poverty has been shunted from public gaze and in our generation, somewhat shunted from the public purse where middle class government welfare took center stage.

This print was executed using primarily blue, purple, rhodamine and cream colors. The application of inks to the “Native Flower Border” concentrates on a heavier application of gum acacia resulting in a similar yet different color distribution to Print One. Overlaid by transparent colors, images of low quality government boots (which were issued to the poor during the “Great Depression”) can be seen. A coin is also visible. It is encased in a jeweled motif depicting the head of Queen Elizabeth II. She is encased in a jeweled motif to highlight that she is still an untouchable - an ethereal enigma. Another layer superimposed over the former, shows a number of images, which depict poverty. The smaller central oval depicts Jim Scullin, who was Australia’s ninth Prime Minister during the “Great Depression” (1929-1932).

In November 1931, Scullin planned a Christmas relief for the unemployed, which was violently opposed by certain Labor members. It led to the defeat of his Government and delivered a landslide for the Opposition, led by Scullin’s former Cabinet Minister, Joe Lyons.

Our commitment to alleviating poverty from our society and to make it less of a stigma for those born in poverty was still unresolved in 2001. That is, do we want a stratified society structured by the volume of money that we possess or a society where the homeless and hapless are not forgotten in the distribution of the public purse?

Press Three - The Republic
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting; Press Three - The Republic.

Both the origin of the Head of State and its legal identity were still being debated in 2001 and so was still on “hold”.

There was no stronger defender of the British Monarchy in Australia than Sir Robert Gordon Menzies. He was Australia’s twelfth and seventeenth Prime Minister (1939-1941/1949-1966). For example, in those crucial years of the Second World War, as Prime Minster of Australia, he resided in Britain rather than in Australia. In 1963 he recited a love poem to Queen Elizabeth II in front of an embarrassed Queen and an ever more embarrassed Nation; and in 1966 he wanted the first decimal note in Australia to be named the “Royal”. Yet by 1999 over 70% of Australians wanted an Australian to be Head of State (i.e. to be a republic), but could not agree how this could be achieved.

This print was executed using primarily green, yellow, rhodamine and blue colors. Overlaid by transparent colors, images of the Australian Republican Movement’s logo can be seen. At the bottom of this oval appear the words "Our Republic - the Next Step", the new slogan of the Australian Republican Movement, launched on Australia Day 2001. At the top of this oval is a crown - Sir Edwards crown, which was refurbished for Charles’ II coronation. Another layer shows a number of images that depict the status of our independent Nation. The smaller central oval depicts Sir Menzies, with the Union Jack displayed in the background.

There are two different paths ahead - one for a Republic and the other for a Constitutional Monarchy. Which path shall we take and will the path taken make us less of a derivative society than we were in 2001?

Press Four – Refugees
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting; Press Four - Refugees.

We, as a Nation, are only as compassionate as our Government. Those that are in need of compassion are the refugees. They have fled from terror and conflict and have flung themselves at the feet and on the mercy of others.

This print focuses on issues relating to our treatment of the Muslim refugees and the loss of humanitarian values and compassion shown by the Howard Government (2001). This Government put compassion on "hold" by implementing repressive and regressive measures in order to ensure their survival as a Government in the 2001 elections. Are they still throwing their children in the water or burning their boats just to gain freedom (as lied to us by a Minister in the Howard government during an election campaign)?

This print was executed using primarily reds, browns and yellow colors. Overlaid by transparent colors, images in Islamic script show the phrase, "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful". At the top of the oval is an image of the United Nations logo and at the bottom of the oval, an image of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Another layer shows images from: the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 10th December 1948 of which Australia is a signatory); spice traders forced to leave their profession to seek refuge in Australia; prayers and mourning for a refugee family drowned in the sea; the traditional mode of transport for Afghan Camel drivers; a new mode of transport for the asylum seekers – a boat; a Muslim woman being escorted by Australian officials; and a man praying to Mohammed, underwritten by the above Islamic Script. The smaller central oval depicts John Howard, Australia’s thirtieth Prime Minister (1996 - 2007) with "Tampa" text in the background.

Our "Tampa" Prime Minister in 2001 had placed our collective compassion on “hold” for one type of refugee at any rate. If there were 400 Irish men and women on the Tampa doing a “River-dance” and singing “Oh, Danny-Boy”, would we have accepted them? That is, is our compassion for refugees based on their religion, race and creed? Needless to say, the public dealt with Prime Minister Howard in the best manner possible, he lost his seat in parliament in 2007 whilst serving as Prime Minister of the country - an irony he still does not understand - a good proportion of his electorate had similar ethnicities to past refugees.

So what did my clients say about the four prints? They were surprised by what their commission had brought forth. They did not necessarily accept my viewpoint, but they enjoyed my perception of the 100 years of Australia's Federation. Moreover, they were not sure if the prints were a celebration. However, isn’t one component of a celebration an embedded forlorn hope of a brighter way ahead? That is, what I set out to achieve was to showcase, from a number of these shadows of the past, the possibility of seeding a “new” Federation. Whether it is a Federation to be admired or one that historians will want to shed for its narrowness, only time will tell.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Where Did The Year Go?
Annual Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Psychologists argue that once you are over 50, you think of yourself as a decade younger than your actual age. Don't look in the mirror - that's my solution! However, I believe what is more telling is that the older you get, the more time flies. When you're 12 years old, to get to the first year of your teenage years takes a lifetime! By the time you get to my age (which is a dark, deep and murky secret) within a blink of an eyelid - the year has gone! I hope that next year will slow up a little so that I can stop and taste my life in small doses, rather than see it flash by as if I am viewing it from a window of a shinkansen (bullet train).

I started this blog three years ago, on the 26th August 2010 - in part as art therapy and moreover, to inform, aspire and inspire others to get on with their own art. Convincing yourself that you will have more time to devote to your art next year rather than now, creates the illusion of what might have been rather than - what is!

At the outset my commitment was simple: I would blog approximately 50 posts a year, including a summary of each year. For your convenience I have listed these summaries below:
It's Been An Exciting Year (2010/2011)
Another Cheer - Another Year (2011/2012)
The Year Of The Horse (2013/2014)
Cold and Windy - But on the Dawn of Renewal (2014/2015)
A Time To Reflect - A Time To Select (2015/2016)
A Time to Remember (2016/2017)
To Be or Not to Be (2017/2018)
The Night Too Quickly Passes (2018/2019)

I have positioned this blog on my twin passions: prints on cloth and prints on paper. However, I have tempered my passions by including reviews, articles and opinions about art. Therefore I created the following categories: (i) Art Reviews; (ii) Resource Reviews; (iii) Art Essays; (iv) Technical Articles; (v) Art Exhibitions/Installations/Talks; (vi) My Prints On Paper; (vii) My ArtCloth; (viii) My Students Outputs (Workshops and Master Classes); (ix) Guest Editor; (x) Guest Artist; (xi) Art Resources; (xii) Wearable Art.

I have never been guided by popularity, since if I was so inclined I would not have tackled a lot of art projects that I did (some of which I have showcased on this blogspot). Some of my exhibited art pieces have been damaged by art viewers, indicating an outrage of what they have experienced. My Post Graffiti work on cloth, in particular, is often considered to be outrageous by art viewers, who genuinely hate urban graffiti marks on walls. I have always maintained that bringing it to cloth is a much smarter approach than splashing it on doors, trains and walls. However, in doing so I am clearly choosing to opt out of that underground urban warfare.

Although I have my favourite posts, I am always shocked by what the democratic process throws up. Naturally the statistics are always worse for those posts that are near in time to the annual review (i.e. number of page views, visitors, length of stay etc.) As for those posts in the various categories, some I would have predicted would be popular, but others are a complete surprise. The surprises always resides with my artwork, since we all believe that we know our artwork the best and so we assert we know what works and what doesn’t work with the public. Think again!

Vine-Glow-ed by Marie-Therese Wisniowski (as a Fat Quarter - 21" wide x 18" long).
Design Concept: After years of unrelenting drought the rains came. "Vine Glow-ed" tries to capture the variation in light and shade that is so necessary for a continuance of the diversity of plant life. The return of the rain will ensure that our rain forest plants will continue to glow.
Technique: From the artist's signature MutliSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) technique artwork employing native Australian flora. Reformatted for digital print production.
Available Fabrics: The design can be purchased on the following printed fabrics: basic combed cotton; kona® cotton; cotton poplin; cotton voile; cotton silk; linen-cotton canvas; organic cotton interlock knit; organic cotton sateen; heavy cotton twill; silk crepe de chine.
Other Uses: It is also available in other various media for use as a self adhesive wallpaper, gift paper wrapping and peel & stick wall decals.
Availability: The design can be purchased from "Spoonflower" in any of the above media.

(i) Art Reviews (2012 - 2013)
There were seven posts in this category competing for the limelight. The two that were well ahead of the pack statistically, namely - Some Textiles@The Powerhouse Museum and Hallstatt Textiles - were separated by only 150 visitors, with the former post taking the mantle. It is interesting to note that the Powerhouse Museum is in Sydney and that the post was mostly viewed by Australian visitors, who one would assume could access the Museum readily, even if they lived interstate.

Collected by the Powerhouse Museum.
Australian Tapestry, Woven in France (1960).
Designer: Jean Lurcat (1992-1965).
Weavers: Suzanne Coubely-Gatien, Aubusson, France.
Materials: Wool and Cotton.
Size: 687.5 (width) x 348 cm (height).

(ii) Resource Reviews (2012 - 2013)
This is a new category that I needed to create in 2013. It mainly encompasses resources such as museums, galleries and workshop collectives, where the mission and services are at the forefront of the post, rather than focussing on a particular exhibition or collection or workshop etc. For example, in this category there would be an article about an institution such as the Louvre rather than on a particular exhibition that the Louvre may be displaying (such as a costume of the Ballets Russes etc.)

There were in fact three posts in the first year of this category. The most read post in this category was the most recently posted, namely: Fibre Arts@Ballarat. It was mostly viewed by Australian visitors to the blogspot, with a heavy sprinkling of visitors from Germany and a lighter sprinkling from the rest of Europe.

Beautifully crafted sculptural forms created from books appeared on a daily basis, which evolved into new works on the following days. These inspiring artworks were created by the very talented book artist Deb McArdle. This image shows a side view.

This image shows a view taken from above of the same piece – see previous photograph.

(iii) Art Essays (2012 - 2013)
This year I have penned half as many art essays than in the previous year. In general, I don't write book reviews but this year I have written one about Mary Schoeser's Book - Textiles: The Art of Mankind. I have included this review in this category.

What is surprising is that the most read art essay by a country mile was Print Making in the 1970s and in the New Millenium. It is surprising for a number of reasons. First of all, this blogspot is mostly concerned with prints on cloth and not on paper and this essay is solely about prints on paper. Hence, most people who visit my blogspot have the former expectation in mind rather than the latter. Secondly, the essay is mainly concerned with Australian printmakers' collectives and cooperatives but most of the visitors viewing this post were from the USA and Europe. Thirdly, it was more concerned with the genre's of the past than with what is happening in the present. Perhaps, it was the lack of knowledge of the Australian printmaking scene of the past that made it a must view for so many people.

Toni Robertson – History I (1977).
Earthworks Poster Collective.

Toni Robertson – History II (1977).
Earthworks Poster Collective.

(iv) Technical Articles (2012 - 2013)
There are a number of posts that center on "how to do" articles that I have penned for various magazines on such techniques as MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) to Talc Powder prints on cloth etc.

The most read post in this category by far was IMPRINT Printmaking - An Ever Expanding Artistic Universe. The article centered on my MSDS technique. This technique has been heavily published over the past three years. Nevertheless, people apparently can't get enough of it.

March / Autumn Issue: IMPRINT Vol. 48 No. 1, 2013.
Cover image by Eleanor Gates-Stuart.
MAGICal B, 2012.
Cover: Eleanor Gates-Stuart is a CSIRO Science Art Fellow. MAGICal B was created for StellrScope: the Centenary of Canberra’s Science Art Commission — The image is a reference to CSIRO Multi-parent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC) research into the identification of genes in the parenting of plants.
Technique and Size: Inkjet on paper, 90 x 60 cm.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

(v) Art Exhibitions/Installations/Talks (2012 - 2013)
I have been involved in a number of group art exhibitions this year (e.g. "Center for Book Art: An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street", New York, USA; "An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street", The Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; "An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street", The John Rylands Library, Manchester, United Kingdom; "9 x 5" 2012, Walker Street Gallery, Dandenong, Victoria, Australia etc.) - none of which were documented on this blogspot. I blame it on the speed of this year - too fast to capture all of my activities. Hence, this category although substantial in my life, was thin on the ground with respect to this blogspot in my third year. Nevertheless, this blogspot did record an international talk I gave about some of my previous installations and exhibitions to an audience at Zijdelings in Tilburg (The Netherlands).

My ArtCloth Continuum.

(vi) My Prints On Paper (2012 - 2013)
There were only a couple of posts this year that featured my prints on paper, with the most popular being "The Star" series. Now I don't know what it is about Marilyn Monroe, but even today people all over the world are googling her name and image - so eventually they will drop in and view this post. Traffic for this image has come from the four corners of the world. She is better known than most - to the rest of the world!

Print on Paper entitled: Fame and Fortune - A Star Quality.
Technique: Silkscreened employing oil based inks on stonehenge.
Size: 56 cm wide x 76 cm high.
Limited edition prints on paper

(vii) My ArtCloth (2012 - 2013)
There are a number of posts carrying my ArtCloth on this blog spot. The statistics show that the most popular in terms of page views, visitors and length of duration was Entropy. You can think of entropy as a measure of chaos or the amount of disorder in a system. That is, the more chaotic or disordered a system is, the greater amount of entropy it possesses.

In order to create this work I needed to give fragments of rationality or self-organization embedded in a field of chaos or disorder.

Entropy - Full View.
My Artist Statement: From chaos (entropy) self-reorganization suddenly emerges. The ArtCloth “ENTROPY” examines the explosion of painterly images that arose from a fragmented societal framework during the renaissance to the recent explosion of contemporary wall art within a similar societal framework.
Techniques and Media: Multiple discharge processes, silkscreened, stenciled and mono printed employing gels, transparent, opaque and metallic paints on rayon.
Size of Work: 1.1 (width) x 3.2 (height) meters.

(viii) My Students Outputs (Workshops and Master Classes) (2012 - 2013)
I love my student’s outputs. They teach me so much about art and their individual attitudes and experiences that they bring to their artistic table. It is a pleasure to be a part of their camaraderie and laughter. I believe these are the most important ingredients in order to engender a learning atmosphere.

In this category are one, two and five day workshops as well as a university course and so although this is a popularity contest it is not a fair one in that it depends largely on when it is posted, how large the class sizes were and the duration of the workshops/courses.

With all these flaws to be considered the most popular viewed workshop was the Visual Communication and Design, a university semester course using multi-media

Robert Barnard. Painted, stenciled and printed disperse dyes and pigment on satin. The African inspired wall hanging was based on his experiences growing up and living in Africa.

(ix) Guest Editor (2012 - 2013)
There was only one Guest Editor post this year and its was written by Michael Florrimell - Travelling Solander Project, London Print Studio. It was widely read being the second most read post in the year. It was mainly concerned with prints on paper and multi-media. In fact, the only ArtCloth piece was my own. Nevertheless, its popularity sheets home the point that a post that is well written and gives wide coverage to many artists' work is a successful formula.

Artist: Deb Williams.
Title: Sense of Self.
Medium: Unique State – Etching.
Size: 56 cm x 76 cm.

(x) Guest Artist (2012 - 2013)
There is also only one Guest Artist featured this year and that was Lesley Turner who penned - An Artistic Dialogue With My Immediate Environment. Her post was exceptionally well received being in the top 10 popular posts of the year. Many readers came from USA, Canada, UK and Australia to view her work. New Zealand has a smallish population nevertheless there was dedicated traffic from that country as well.

Lesley Turner, Title of Artwork - Succession.
Materials: Cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, wood.
Size: 96” (high) x 60” (wide) x 36” (deep).

(xi) Art Resources (2012 - 2013)
The Art Resource series is posted in the first week of every month and so there are twelve posts in this category this year. Nevertheless, the Glossary of Terms and Fabrics which was posted in 2011-2012 season still outstrips all other posts on this blogspot. In this year, it therefore still dominated this series in popularity.

The most popularly read post in this series penned during the 2012-2013 season is - Color Schemes. It is not a lengthy (in words) post - nor is it complex in structure. The "Color Schemes" post contains simple principles that are easily invoked in most settings - from fine-art to ArtCloth to prints on paper to art wearables to architecture.

Complementary Color Scheme

The complementary color scheme consists of two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel; that is, they are opposed optically such as red-green, yellow-violet and blue-orange (see figure below).

This scheme looks best when you place a warm color against a cool color; for example, a red versus green-blue. This scheme is intrinsically high-contrast. Note: Placing a red near a green makes the colors at the shared edge appear more intense; that is, the red appears redder and the green appears greener at the shared edge. This is termed a simultaneous contrast.

(xii) Wearable Art (2012 - 2013)
This year saw five posts focussing on wearable art. All of them did well in terms of visitors who stayed on the site long enough to read them. The post that was the most popular by far was Costumes of the Ballets Russes. It is a stunning collection of wearables that are often not seen by the rest of the world. Perhaps the National Gallery of Australia should loan its collection to overseas galleries more often, since interest appeared from all parts of the world for this post and that was most surprising.

Costume of the Ballets Russes - Tunic for Blue God (1912).
Worn by Nijinsky as blue god in "Le Dieu Bleu" (1912).
Designer: Leon Bakst.

In this review of 2012-2013 posts, let me add I always like to receive comments, whether they are critical or singing praises – how else can one learn? Moreover, gremlins will continue to appear in my posts and so I am always grateful to my readers who correct these deficiencies. Thanks!

So where did the year go? It went all too fast. Have fun blogging your art - remain passionate!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Fabric Collection:
"Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona!"@Spoonflower
Fabric Lengths & Designs

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

On this blog spot there are posts that center on my “Wearable Art” (e.g. scarves, digital or analogue created fabric lengths etc.) For your convenience I have listed these posts below.

A Selection of My Scarves
Leaves Transformed: A New Collection of My Digitally Designed Fabrics
My New Silk Rayon Velvet Scarves@Purple Noon Art And Sculpture Gallery
My Fabric Lengths@QSDS
My Fabric Collection: "Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona!"@Spoonflower
2013 Australian Craft Awards – Finalist
My Scarves@2014 Scarf Festival: "Urban Artscape" Pashminas
My New Scarves and Fabric Lengths
New Range of Silk Neckties - Karma and Akash
AIVA: My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design
New Colorways For My 'Cultural Graffiti' Fabrics
Byzantine Glow: A New Collection of My Digitally Designed Fabrics
Wall Flower: A New Collection of My Digitally Designed Fabrics
Ink Fern: A New Collection of My Digitally Designed Fabrics
Celebratory Fireworks
My New Silk ArtCloth Scarves
New ‘Unique State’ Silk ArtCloth Scarves
 - My New Hand Dyed & Printed Fabric Design
Renaissance Man - My New Hand Dyed & Printed Fabric Design
Banksia - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design

Ginkgo Love - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design

“Garden Delights I & II”
 - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design
Wallflower III - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design
Rainforest Beauty
 Collection - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design
Spring & Autumn Flurry Collection
 - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design

La Volute Collection - My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design
Urban Butterfly -
 My New Hand Printed Fabric Design
Acanthus Dream
 - My New Hand Printed Fabric Design

Cascading Acanthus - 
My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed Fabric Design
My New Hand Dyed and Hand Printed 'Rainforest Beauty' Pashmina Wraps Collection

One of my passions is to create Post-Graffiti artwork on cloth. A series of posts on this blogspot have addressed issues in Graffiti and Post Graffiti Art as well as presenting images of such art. I have listed some of these below for your enjoyment.
Time Dimension in Art
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art
Act of Engagement
New York Spray-Can Memorials
Another Brick
Cultural Graffiti
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Neu Kunst: Mona & Marilyn
Paste Modernism 4

Spoonflower is a company that provides fabric crafters and artists a platform from which they can create their own printed fabrics and/or fabric items. The company has widened its berth by now printing paper products such as wall paper etc.

It also allows other individuals to purchase unique designs from thousands of independent fabric designers in the world. Its Facebook site[1] reports that "...the company has been mentioned in the New York Times, Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, CRAFT, ApartmentTherapy, and many other terrific publications and blogs".

I have several collections of fabric designs with Spoonflower that are available for purchase to the public at large. Today, I will highlight one such collection.

Spoonflower - A Brief History[1-2]
In 2008 Stephen Fraser and Gart Davis launched a startup company - Spoonflower – with the aim to give people, who make unique wearables or fabric items, a platform in order to create their own fabrics and items and moreover, to make their creative fabric designs available to others.

Spoonflower founders Stephen Fraser and Gart Davis.
Photograph Courtesy of Spoonflower.

Perhaps they were not aware of the advice India’s first Prime Minister Nehru gave to his daughter Indira Ghandi, namely, “Be Brave - the rest will follow!”. But surely they have followed his advice in spirit, since they launched their company in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis using their own money and secured personal loans. While their company is a “dot com” company, it nevertheless has doubled in size each year and now employs ca. 40 people.

Traffic Statistic for Spoonflower.
Graph - Courtesy of Quantcast.

Neither Fraser nor Davis had any formal training in textile manufacturing. However, the business model for the company was not unique in that both had previously worked for, a Raleigh company that sells e-books and moreover, helps authors to self-publish their works. Hence what was “new” was the application of this business model to fabrics and to fabric items, a direction that they have attributed to their wives, who were both fabric crafters.

The company is physically located in Durham, North Carolina (USA), which makes it one of the few profitable digital printing fabric companies that does not rely on China nor India in order to outsource its workload and so reduce its operating costs. Its physical location is also important for its continuing growth, since both founders learnt the digital printing techniques of fabrics from the College of Textiles, North Carolina State University - one of the world’s leading institutions for textile education and research – which continues to work with the company in order to assist in maintaining its leading edge.

Spoonflower now resides in the Research Triangle Park, Durham North Carolina (USA).

Spoonflower has built a community that now numbers around one million individuals[1], who use their own fabrics to make curtains, quilts and clothes etc. as well as to sell their fabric designs to a larger cohort. The Spoonflower community straddles most continents, with Australians featuring strongly in their community mix.

Spoonflower has now widened its printed media from fabric to wallpaper to gift-wrap to decals. It uses eco-friendly digital textile printing technology and offers natural fiber fabrics. Custom fabrics from Spoonflower are used to make quilts, clothes, pillows, dolls, blankets, ArtCloth and many other products – too many to list here!

Spoonflower today prints out more than 1,000 yards of fabric a day using water-based pigments. At the time of writing, the company charges, for example for combed cotton (US)$17.50 per yard, and customers have a choice of 10 fabrics. The fabrics are printed using large versions of inkjet printers that have been modified to print on fabric. After fabrics are printed, the pigment is set for a minute at 330oF.

Spoonflower's Fabric Printer in Action.

"Oh, Oh Marilyn & Mona!"
A New Collection of Digitally Designed Fabrics

The "Oh, Oh Marilyn & Mona!" collection of digitally designed fabrics is based on my original signature Post Graffiti artwork which employed dyeing, multiple drawing, screen printing, mono printing, digital imaging and mixed media processes. The works investigate the influence of the "fine-art" world on the awakening of "street" art, and the evolving iconography of female "fine-art", "pop" icons and their continuing urban influence.

The collection consists of four designs. There are two designs in the "Oh Marilyn" series - "Oh Marilyn 1" and "Oh Marilyn 2", and two designs in the "Oh Mona" series - "Oh Mona 1" and "Oh Mona 2" that are available for purchase. The designs are available in a "half drop" format and can be used for interior design, clothing items and other decorative purposes.

The eco-friendly textile printed designs are available in ten natural fabrics including silk crepe de chine, heavy cotton twill, organic cotton sateen, organic cotton interlock knit, linen-cotton canvas, cotton silk, cotton voile, cotton poplin, quilting weight Kona® cotton and basic combed cotton. Fabric widths vary from 40" (102 cm), 42" (107 cm), 54" (137 cm), 56" (142 cm), and 58" (147 cm) depending on the chosen fabric. The designs are also available to use as self-adhesive wallpaper and peel and stick wall decals.

There is no minimum order and the printed fabrics range from a test swatch (8" x 8" or 20 cm x 20 cm) to a fat quarter (21" x 18" or 53 cm x 46 cm) or to whatever your yardage requirements may be.

These fabric lengths can be used for wearable art, accessories, furnishing and interior design projects. You can purchase fabric lengths from my “Oh, Oh Marilyn & Mona!” collection. More information can be accessed about the various fabrics and wall media as well.

Images of my "Oh, Oh Marilyn & Mona!" collection - for wearable art, accessories, interior and other design projects - are shown below. Each work in the collection below shows a test swatch (8" x 8" or 20 cm x 20 cm) view of the printed fabric design and a one yard length (36" or 91.5 cm) view of the printed fabric design.

"Oh Marilyn 1" - test swatch.

"Oh Marilyn 1" - one yard length.

"Oh Marilyn 2" - test swatch.

"Oh Marilyn 2" - one yard length.

"Oh Mona 1" - test swatch.

"Oh Mona 1" - one yard length.

"Oh Mona 2" - test swatch.

"Oh Mona 2" - one yard length.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Australian Aboriginal Silk Paintings[1-2]

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Most of the Australian Aboriginal ArtCloth that is world renowned centers on the Batik technique that was introduced to the women of Ernabella In 1971 by a young American, Leo Brereton, who learnt the technique in Indonesia. This technique quickly spread to the surrounding aboriginal communities and so it became the artistic medium of choice for a number of women in these communities.

Painter: Nyukana Baker,
Fabric Length, 1970s.
Batik on Silk.
Size: 351.5 x 93 cm.
Enid Bowden Memorial Collection (Australia).

What lies in their shadow somewhat are the aboriginal silk paintings (which is also a form of resist dyeing) that has become the forte of Eastern Arrente artists at Ltyenye Apurte (Santa Teresa) and in the Top End, namely the Daly River artists at Merrepen Arts. These ArtCloth works are spectacular in that they also highlight and document an Aboriginal spiritual consciousness.

Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Terese).

Today’s post gives tribute to this form of Aboriginal ArtCloth.

Silk Painting – A Brief Overview of the Technique
Silk painting in China is believed to date back as far as the Waring States period (476 - 221 BC), reaching its height as an art form in the Western Han dynasty (206 BC to 25 AD).

Artisans of the imperial courts first used silk as a medium for calligraphy painting, which at the time was thought to be the highest and purest form of painting. They used black ink made of pine soot and animal-based glues to silk scrolls.

Over the years the art developed to include human figures and depicted religious and mythological characters as well as forms from nature. The oldest silk painting artifacts were unearthed from a tomb built in the Warring States period in Changsha, central China. The two silk paintings that were discovered featured mythical beasts - the dragon and phoenix traditionally believed to help the dead enter heaven.

One of the earliest discovered silk paintings has been titled – “Lady, Dragon and Phoenix”. The painting depicts a noblewoman on a boat praying to a dragon and phoenix.

When silk weaving was introduced in France in the sixteenth century, silk painting accompanied its introduction. Like marbling, it became unfashionable for a time only to re-merge over the last half century as an exciting art form.

Painting on silk is quite different from any other form of fabric painting – such as on velvets or on cotton etc. The difference centers on the fact that silk paints and dyes are translucent rather than opaque. Normal fabric paints are a thicker and deeply infuse into the core of the fabric changing the handle of the cloth. On the other hand, silk paints and dyes sit on the surface of the fabric, thereby yielding the unique sheen of the silk being preserved and not blotted out, and so not altering the hand of the silk.

Desert Opal Caterpillars.
Printed by Pauline Clark over mop-up by Liz Wauchope.
Courtesy of Reference[2].

Another feature are that the colors of the silk paints generally are strong and lively, although they can be made to appear soft and with a pastel hue if diluted, giving the artist a wide range of moods to choose from. They are color fast, washable or can be dry-cleaned, thereby acting as a perfect medium for wearable art (such as silk scarves, garments etc.)

Detailed serti method silk, with silk painting equipment.
Courtesy Reference[2].

There are many different types and qualities of silk, all of which can be painted. Some silk paints such as the French silk paints, require you to use 100% silk or a combination of silk and wool. Some silks are produced containing sizing and so have a stiff handle. These silks need to be washed and dried before they can be painted, otherwise the sizing can prevent the paint from effectively adhering to the silk fibers.

Silk also comes in different weights (commonly measured in grams per meter). There is also a wide variety of weaves, each of which has a different surface texture. Both of these factors will effect how the paint and the resist (called gutta) will react with the silk and so will alter the final appearance.

Typically, the types of silks used are Habutai (or Jap), and Pongee, Chiffon and Georgette, Crepe de Chine, Twill, Satin and Satin Crepe, Noil and Raw Silk and Jacquard. In each silk category care must be taken with respect to dilution. For example, Noil and raw silk are very heavy weights with no sheen. Noil has little flecks of brown matter through it. Neither fabric is suitable for scarves but both are good for outer garments such as jackets and pants. Both fabrics will soak up large quantities of paint, but because they are heavy weights, will bleed little. The thick weaves soak up paints so much that colors become more intense and so to lighten the colors, the paints need to be heavily diluted. Some of the paints will wash out the excess paint in the first wash etc. Also gutta (the resist) does not penetrate the tight, thick weave easily and so care must be taken in diluting it since if it is too diluted the resist will be unable to keep the paint diluting through the gutta (resist) lines.

Natural Raw Noil Silk Fabric.

Silk paints are specifically designed for use on silk and wool. They do not work on synthetic material. There are several brands of silk paints (e.g. Orient Express) with more being added to the market all the time. The main differences in the brands are the color ranges. Note: There is no white since to get white areas on the silk you do not paint in these areas. There are also powdered dyes which are not specific to silk but which can be used in the same way and have many properties of silk paints.

Gutta is a resist which the paints cannot penetrate and so is used as an outliner to draw your design on the silk. Basically it prevents the paint from spreading from one area to an adjoining area and so acts like wax does in the Batik technique. It is composed of a latex or vegetable gum and unlike wax, it stays at a usable consistency without heat and so it is easy to use and to learn how to draw fine lines with an applicator pen. White spirit or Shellite are used to dilute spirit base gutta and to remove it from the silk completely if so desired.

Most silk paints and dyes are extremely susceptible to water until the color has been fixed into the fabric. There are a variety of fixing agents beginning with chemical fixatives to heat fixatives (such as steaming, ironing and microwaving etc.)

Jacquard Gutta Resist.

Diiffusants and anti-diffusants are also added to the paint and to the gutta respectively, in order to obtain painterly effects on the silk medium. For example, when a diffusant is added to paint, it makes the paint bleed faster and run more smoothly on the surface of the silk, thus making the background more easy to paint as well as giving a rock-salt effect to the finish.

Use of an applicator pen with a diffusant added to paint.
Courtesy reference[2].

Case Study: Silk Painting at Santa Teresa Mission
The Santa Teresa Mission was built in 1953 at Ltyentye Apurte, a sacred rain-making site, located eighty kilometers South-East of Alice Springs (South Australia). In the early 1950s Mr. Sojack, an European artist, visited the Mission, giving lessons in water color painting to the students of the Mission’s school. In 1987 when Sydney artist Cait Wait visited the Mission and became a resident for six years, she was asked to impart to the students textile skills and decided to focus on lino-block printing and fabric painting. She decided against Batik due to the success of the Central Aboriginal communities and the Tiwi Islanders using that technique.

In 1988 government funding was used to create in 1990 "Keringke Arts" (meaning Kangaroo track – named after a rock hole near Santa Teresa, created by a big Kangaroo ancestor, whose tracks are imprinted in the rock). The group specialized in producing hand-painted silk scarves, lengths and garments. Kathleen Wallace who was the traditional owner for the rock hole and who named the group, became a leading practitioner of this art.

Aboriginal Silk Paintings From Different Regions of Australia

Artist and Title: Kathleen Wallace – Spirit Figures Singing (1995).
Technique: Fabric Dyes and Metallic Paint on Silk.
Size: 200 x 115 cm.
Santa Teresa.

Artist and Title: Kathleen Wallace – Untitled (Detail, 1997).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 200 x 120 cm.
Santa Teresa.

Artist and Title: Kathleen Wallace – Irrernte-Arenye (Spirit Figures) Singing (Detail, 1997).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 200 x 115 cm.
Santa Teresa.

Artist and Title: Muriel van der Byl – Marringhan (1992).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 83 x 110 cm.
Santa Teresa.

Artist and Title: Marita Sambono – Rainbow (Detail, 1997).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 246 x 113 cm.
Daly River.

Artist and Title: Marita Sambono – Night Sky (Detail, 1997).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 230 x 116 cm.
Daly River.

Artist and Title: Miriam Rose Bauman Ungunmerr – Dragon Fly (1997).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 245 x 190 cm.
Daly River.

Artist and Title: Marlene Young – Brabralung Dreaming (1995).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 295.5 x 116 cm.

Artist and Title: Eva Wanganeen – Silk Shield (2013).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 295.5 x 116 cm.
Contemporary/Traditional, Queensland.

Artist and Title: Eva Wanganeen – Nurruti (2013).
Technique: Painted on Silk.
Size: 295.5 x 116 cm.
Contemporary/Traditional, Queensland.

[1] J. Ryan and R. Healy, Raiki Wara, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1998).
[2] L. Wauchope, Silk Painting, Simon & Schuster, Sydney (1992).