Saturday, March 8, 2014

Musings of a Textile Tragic - Of Fires and Flooding Rains
March, 2014 - Issue 113
Art Essay (TFF Column)

Co-Editor: Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The largest selling textile magazine in Australasia is Textile Fibre Forum (TFF). I am the co-editor of the magazine (its founder - Janet de Boer - being the other co-editor). Hence I have created a column within the magazine titled – Musings of a Textile Tragic. This column will appear on this blogspot together with a link and contents page of each new issue of the quarterly magazine once it is available from magazine outlets and on the ArtWear website.

For your convenience, I have listed links to other Musing articles:
Musings of a Textile Tragic
Co-Editor of TFF
Lost in Translation
Venusian Men
The ArtWork of Youth
Textile Tasters from My Workshop
Be Brave, The Rest Will Follow

Content Page of TFF - March 2014 Edition (Issue Number 113)
The following contents are in the March 2014 issue of TFF Magazine.

Inside Front Cover Musings of a Textile Tragic - of fires and flooding rains
10 WAXING LYRICAL by Mo Godbeer
22 ABOUBAKAR FOFANA – Indigo Master by Marion Gorr
25 FELTPORTATION by Anita Larkin
28 WEST TIMOR – TEXTILES by Meredith Hinchliffe
34 DONNA TOUSSAINT – ASIAN GREENS Interview by Marjorie Cross
38 5000 POPPIES : A Tribute of Respect and Remembrance
42 PROGRESSIONS – Art Exhibition, Toowoomba Qld
50 TEXTILE CONNECTIONS – An Exhibition of Contemporary Textiles
58 ART QUILT AUSTRALIA – People, Place and Nation
64 A ‘MODERN LOVE’ STORY by Inga Walton

Regular Columnists
4 MARIE-THERESE WISNIOWSKI When Rainforests Glowed: The Prehistory of Mankind exhibition
5 JANET DE BOER In Glass Houses
6 LUCY POLAND Unreliable Memories
8 MARIE-THERESE WISNIOWSKI Musings of a Textile Tragic - of fires and flooding rains
12 IAN PENROSE From Across the Ditch: Ann Bell – a woman of fibre
46 MARY ELIZABETH BARRON Fabric of Community
53 MARIS HERR Take two aspirin … and call me in the morning
60 BOOKS & PERIODICALS Janet De Boer Page Editor

FRONT COVER: Section view of "Days in Nepal" by Mo Godbeer (2011).
Size: 45 x 30 cm.
Technique: Encaustic medium on dyed watercolour paper.
Photograph Courtesy of Mo Godbeer.

Musing of a Textile Tragic - Of Fires and Flooding Rains
What we should not forget is that Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, occupying an entire continent of some 7.7 million square kilometres. It has the world's 3rd largest ocean territory, spanning three oceans (Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans), covering around 12 million square kilometres. Australia is the most urbanized community in the world. It is also the driest continent on Earth, a fact that is barely appreciated.

As we are entering an era of anthropogenic influence on the climate, extreme weather events will become more commonplace. In Australia, extreme weather events have been with us for some time. For example, Henry Lawson in his poem “The Never - Never Land” wrote,

It lies beyond the farming belt,
Wide wastes of scrub and plain,
A blazing desert in the drought,
A lake-land after rain.

It is just that with nine billion people projected to be on the Earth within the next decade and a half, the frequency of such extreme weather events will be on the increase.

This now brings me to those textile groups who live in rural Australia and are at the brunt of these extreme weather conditions. Just recently this was sheeted home to me when Newcastle and its surrounds (e.g. Lake Munmorah) and the Blue Mountains were ablaze in October 2013. In previous years all States have been ablaze and of course, floods have recently devastated different parts of the country. Who could forget the recent floods of Toowoomba and its surrounds as well as Brisbane etc. So many lives lost and so many homes in ruins.

Barbara Wyles, Firemen.
Medium and Technique: Wool tapestry weaving with wool embroidery.
Size: 29cm h x 20cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Barbara Wyles.

Barbara Wyles, Flames Across the Lake.
Medium and Technique: Wool tapestry weaving with wool embroidery.
Size: 29cm h x 20cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Barbara Wyles.

Barbara Wyles, Flames 2.
Medium and Technique: Wool tapestry weaving with wool embroidery.
Size: 29cm h x 20cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Barbara Wyles.

I have always been cognizant of these extreme weather events and so I created an ArtCloth diptych with that in mind - “Flames Unfurling, Life Returning”. It is only now that the fire season is coming to an end that I feel free to present these images here without causing undue distress. Australians are a generous lot and so in the immediacy of an extreme weather event we give. However, it is the long term that becomes problematic for those who have lost everything. We are resilient and stoic but we should not forget our textile companions when the fires have been doused and the floodwaters have abated. I hope my images may re-kindle your memory of some of these events.

The “Flames Unfurling, Life Returning”. diptych, describes a metaphor to encapsulate the following: in the wake of adversity (e.g. such as the bush fires and floods that devastate Australia periodically) life forms adapt to re-emerge - whenever and where ever possible.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Flames Unfurling - Detailed View (one of a diptych).
Medium and Technique: MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) which employs disperse dyes, multiple resists and native flora on satin.
Size: 120cm h x 60cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Marie-Therese Wisniowski.
I have given workshops in capital cities throughout Australia but I want to concentrate on those I have given in regions that have recently been affected by fire and flood. For example I have given workshops in Ballarat (Vic), Geelong (Vic), Redcliffe (Qld), Crows Nest (Qld), Rockhampton (Qld), Woodbridge (Tas), Orange (NSW), Newcastle (NSW), Ourimbah (NSW), Tuross Heads (NSW) and Canberra (ACT) – to name a few! Of course, some of my participants came from major capital cities and travelled to these regional workshops but surprisingly, most came from the surrounding districts. This indicates that regional Australia has a thirst to further their knowledge in textile art, craft and design.

Sally Picker, Remnant 4 (Note: a fire remnant).
Medium and Technique: Limited edition etch on paper.
Size: 27cm h x 18cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Sally Picker.

In time of distress due to inclement weather, it is not unusual for rural regions to respond in a rustic humorous fashion. Kerryn Taylor writes: “On the weekend of the 1998 floods in Katherine I had been contracted to run a workshop on Machine Embroidery on Water Soluble fabric - the comment at the time was that it was just meant to be on a small piece of fabric not the whole town! After the floods a group worked on a panel called - ‘I learnt more than I lost’ - a community embroidered banner that incorporated images of experiences and memories saved from the floods. It was overprinted with images of hundreds of flies that swarmed in in the aftermath”. This typifies how such climatic events are dealt with and digested in regional Australia.

Helen Gray and Emma Rees, A Hard Bed To Lie In.
Medium and Technique: 500 houses from plant dyed paper and silk, folded, stitched and displayed on a bed (representing houses lost to fire).
Photograph Courtesy of Helen Gray and Emma Rees.

Detail view of - A Hard Bed to Lie In.
Photograph Courtesy of Helen Gray and Emma Rees.

What I had known for sometime is that the Country Women’s Association (CWA) have spawned so many textile groups in regional Australia. The CWA plays a major role in regional Australia in bringing women together to create their own environments of endeavors. For example, one of the most important CWA festivals is the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, which is in its 18th year in 2014. The aim of the festival is to allow people from many different communities in the Northern Territory to come together for four days in order to “…promote local Indigenous textiles and crafts, the development of skills and the development of textiles micro-industry that will provide employment opportunities in the region”. The CWA is a transforming association in regional Australia.

Tessa Wright, Heart Felt Bushfires.
Medium and Technique: Felted fibres, constructed vest and slippers, cotton, silk, wool, lame, tulle, fibres and threads. Vest lined with black wool. Padded heart applied, acrylic fibres as ‘flames’, red jewel hearts, wrapped beads, found brooch, painted rattan cane, hand painted canvas.
Size: 60cm h x 60cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Neville Wright.

To all of those Australians affected by extreme weather conditions we are thinking of you and moreover, our commitment to your textile work in this magazine will continue, no matter what trauma you have survived.

Sue Dennis, Queensland Floods January 2011.
Medium and Technique: Mono printing, machine pieced and appliquéd, machine quilted, cotton fabric, paint, batting, and threads.
Size: 100cm h x 40.5cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Bob Dennis.

Dianne Firth, Deluge.
Medium and Technique: Machine stitching/quilting, reverse appliqué, viscose felt, cotton.
Size: 139cm h x 71cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Sikorski.

Rasa Mauragis, Firestorm: Will it Come my Way? A moment frozen in time.
Medium and Technique: appliquéd raw edge piecing and machine quilted, hand dyed, commercial and discharged cotton fabrics.
Size: 100.5cm h x 100cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Rasa Mauragis.

Gillian Wolff - Black and Beautiful Candle.
Artist Statement: I made a series of candles for the Canberra Centenary Year 2013. I have vidid memories of the fire storm coming along Kambah Pool Road and burning houses and bushland in its path. I was fortunate I was safe, where others were not, on that fateful day. I helped our elderly neighbours (90 plus) and put spot fires out on fences and roof.

Gillian Wolff: Leaf - New Life To Come.
Kanzashi Flower Design Brooch.
Japanese material. Kanzashi brooch with beads.

As I was born in Ararat, Victoria, a rustic vein is embedded in my psyche and so, as I have started with a Henry Lawson poem, let me end with a stanza from his poem - “From The Bush” - which I believe encapsulates our rustic and brazen attitude towards the surmounting hardships of the Australian bush.

From a hundred years of hardship
Tis ours to tell the cost
From a thousand miles of silence
Where London would be lost;
From where the glorious sunset
On sweeps of mulga glows -
Ah! We know more than England,
And more than Europe knows!

1 comment:

Eton said...

It is nice poem. I like the textile design and color used are really beautiful. I studied fashion and textile design. I love textile designs especially new designing new fabrics, patterns/prints/textures etc.

Robert Green