Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fleeting - ArtCloth
Sea Scrolls. Celebrating 50 Years of Print

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

My artwork has appeared in a number of exhibitions which have been featured on this blog spot. For your convenience I have listed these posts below.

ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions (Marie-Therese Wisniowski - Curator's Talk)
Sequestration of CO2 (Engaging New Visions) M-T. Wisniowski
Codes – Lost Voices (ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art (Art Exhibition) Various Artists
Merge and Flow (SDA Members Exhibition) M-T. Wisniowski
The Journey (Megalo Studio) M-T. Wisniowski
Another Brick (Post Graffiti ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
ArtCloth Swap & Exhibition
When Rainforests Ruled (Purple Noon Art & Sculpture Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
When Rainforests Glowed (Eden Gardens Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
My Southern Land (Galerie 't Haentje te Paart, Netherlands) M-T. Wisniowski
The Last Exhibition @ Galerie ’t Haentje the Paart
Mark Making on Urban Walls @ Palm House (Post Graffiti Art Work)
My Eleven Year Contribution to the '9 x 5' Exhibition at the Walker Street Gallery & Arts Centre
Timelines: An Environmental Journey
Man-Made Fish Kills

Fleeting - Art Cloth
On the 21st February of 2016 I was invited to exhibit in the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Exhibition titled - ‘Sea Scrolls. Celebrating 50 Years of Print’ - an exhibition of scrolls at Art Systems Wickham art gallery, Newcastle, 21th to 30th October 2016.

The criteria for the exhibition was based on the following:
Sci-fi writer H.P. Lovecraft once said that the ocean "is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time." We land-dwellers can sometimes take the ocean for granted, but we really shouldn't, since the Earth's surface is 70% water. When you think of it that way, this is the ocean's planet, and we're just guests.

I hope you enjoy my journey in creating the piece for the ‘Sea Scrolls. Celebrating 50 Years of Print’ exhibition which I have named ‘Fleeting’.

The Research Concepts
Around 252 million years ago, during the Permian-Triassic extinction event, an estimated 90 to 95 percent of marine and terrestrial species became extinct. As a result, oceanic reefs did not exist anywhere on the planet for ten million years.

“The Great Dying,” as it’s now known, was the most severe mass extinction in Earth’s history, and is probably the closest life has come to being completely extinguished. Possible causes include immense volcanic eruptions, rapid depletion of oxygen in the oceans, and - an unlikely option - an asteroid collision.

While the causes of this global catastrophe are unknown, an MIT-led team of researchers has now established that the end-Permian extinction was extremely rapid, triggering massive die-outs both in the oceans and on land in less than 20,000 years - the blink of an eye in geologic time. The researchers also found that this time period coincides with a massive buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which likely triggered the simultaneous collapse of species in the oceans and on land.

With further calculations, the group found that the average rate at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere during the end-Permian extinction was slightly below today’s rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel emissions. Over tens of thousands of years, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the Permian period likely triggered severe global warming, accelerating species extinctions [1].

In the meantime, Paleontologists from the University of Zurich now reveal that climate catastrophes in the past played a crucial role in the dominance of ray-finned fish today.

The scientists studied the changes in biodiversity among cartilaginous and bony fish during the Permian and Triassic periods around 300 to 200 million years ago - an interval marked by several serious extinction events. They evaluated the global scientific literature on bony and cartilaginous fish from the last 200 years and collected data on diversity and body size, the latter providing an indication of the fish’s position in the food chains in the seas and freshwater.

Based on the data evaluated, the researchers demonstrate that cartilaginous fish, the most biodiverse fish group at the time, especially suffered heavily during an extinction event in the Middle Permian epoch while the Permian ray-finned fish escaped relatively unscathed. After an even bigger mass extinction close to the Permian-Triassic boundary, which wiped out 96 percent of all sea organisms, these bony fish diversified heavily. Of the ray-finned fish, the so-called Neopterygii (“new fins”) became particular biodiverse during the Triassic and, with over 30,000 species, today constitute the largest vertebrate group. Their spectacular variety of forms ranges from eels, tuna, flounders and angler fish all the way to seahorses [2].

Artist Statement, Conceptual Processes and Solutions
Artist Statement
This ArtCloth Sea Scroll depicts the fragility of life due to The Great Permian Extinction. The trilobites (lower half) are representative of the extinct marine species, whereas the sea horse (upper half) represents new species, with both halves being connected by the extinction timeline.

Conceptual Processes
A number of factors needed to be considered to encompass the concepts in the ArtCloth piece:
(i) That the background needed texture to represent the earth’s land and in particular, ocean topographies.
(ii) That imagery included the idea of islands and land masses being covered by rising oceans.
(iii) That references were made to the recent warming of the planet and climate change issues by incorporating warm hues such as orange, yellow and red.
(iv) That references were made to the previous cooling of the planet and those historical climatic events by incorporating cool hues such as various blues, greys, purples and black.
(v) That the piece be given a formal repetitive structure to imply that these contemporary climate change issues are due to the intervention of the human species.
(vi) That the historical events and contemporary issues be acknowledged as two independent eras but to be unified as a single artwork highlighting the on-going evolutionary processes on our planet.
(vii) That an extinct end-Permian species - a trilobite - be represented in the piece.
(viii) That a newly evolved fish species be represented in the piece.
(ix) That the two represented species have a unique and ‘fleeting’ presence on the piece - to depict the loss of one species and the possible future loss of the newly evolved species.
(x) That the fabric used for the piece would be light enough so that it could move in a gentle breeze and reference the movement of waves. Due to its light weight it should also reference the fragility of ocean species.

After much research the concepts for items (i) - (v) were encapsulated after hours of drawings, colour studies, photography and design elements working with computer software programs until the desired effects were achieved. The images were then printed on a three and a half metre fabric length.

The solution for concept/item (vi) was achieved by splitting the artwork into two separate sections and then joining them with a hand stitched lutrador panel to depict the extinction timelines.

For concept/item (vii) a trilobite was chosen as the extinct end-Permian species.

For concept/item (viii) a seahorse was chosen as the newly evolved fish species.

For concept/item (ix) that the images be screenprinted in gold foil at varying sizes to depict a unique and visually ‘fleeting’ presence on the piece as well as convey a sense of the ‘treasures’ that the ocean contains.

For concept/item (x) Silky Faille was the fabric chosen to reference both the fragility of ocean species and the movement of waves.

Images of the ArtCloth Work - Fleeting

Fleeting - Full View
Marie-Therese’s digitally designed and printed fabric length, silkscreened and hand stitched employing gold foil, lutrador and cotton thread on silky faille.
Size: 60 cm wide x 306 cm high.

Fleeting - Top Section View.

Fleeting - Bottom Section View.

Fleeting – Detail View of the top and bottom sections joined with a hand stitched lutrador panel.

Fleeting - Detail View of a silkscreened gold foil seahorse image.

Fleeting - Detail View of a silkscreened gold foil trilobite image.

[2] ‘Mass extinction led to many new species of bony fish’. Heritage Daily, independent online science publication by Heritage Gateway, December 2014.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Western Australian Aboriginal Fabric Lengths

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

During the 1980s the teaching of batik to Aboriginal women and men was on the move from its original source at Ernabella to other aboriginal art centers as far afield as Western Australia.

Northern Australia.
Australians called it the “Top End”.

The spread of printed fabric lengths in Western Australia has been sporadic with the exception of Ngunga Designs, which originated when in 1989 Bruce Skewes conducted a six week screen-printing course for the Ngunga women’s group in Derby (Kimberley region).

Alice Ntjamarra: Cattle Egrets
Note: Alice and her sister belong to a group of 23 artists and craft workers at the Ngunga Women’s Design Centre.

In the same year, six women from Ngunga Design travelled to Bathurst Island in order to acquire design and printing techniques from the well-established Tiwi Designs. They returned determined to establish a retail outlet for their own designs. In 1991 a group of Tiwi screen-printers from Jilamara Arts & Crafts visited Ngunga and conducted a series of workshops on screen-printing and dyeing. Soon afterwards a small garage was converted into a shop which also supported "Magabala Books" - the first Aboriginal publishing house in Western Australia.

Warren Brim’s illustration from “Creatures of the Rainforest”, Magabala Books, 2005.
Courtesy of the Artist.

The Ngunga Women’s Group began to create designs that were peculiar to the Kimberly region, using enlivened motifs of plants, animals, shells and marine creatures with decorative effects of hatching and dots. Ngunga Designs have also used designs by established artists, such as Louis Karedada from Kalumburu. Jan Dayman was actively involved in furthering the design development by conducting regular workshops on printing techniques.

A short burst of activity in creating printed textiles occurred in a number of other Ngaanyatjarra women groups in Western Australia, namely in such places as Warakurna, Kalgoorlie and Tjirrkali. After producing screen-prints as part of the Healthway Fringe Camp Project in Kalgoorlie, Pantjiti Mary McLean had some of her drawings transferred to screen and marketed as fabric lengths by Gregory Tuck in Perth (Australia).

Warakurna Women experimented with block printing on cotton fabric, and at Tjirrkali they produced a series of hand-painted aprons that were exhibited at "Indigenart".

Perhaps a more modern trend is to translate well-known artworks from Indigenous artists (such as Jimmy Pike) into the screen-print medium in order to created printed textiles for garments. For example, Stephen Culley and David Wroth of "Desert Designs" collaborated with Jimmy Pike in order to produce a range of dynamic fashion garments for a network of retail outlets.

Party dress - with a vivid design by Aboriginal artist Jimmy Pike - transformed into textiles under license by Desert Designs.
Courtesy Of Serendipity Patchwork.

Aboriginal Batik From Western Australia[1]

Painter: Janyka Ivy Nixon.
Title: Fabric Length (1993).
Technique: Batik On Cotton.
Size: 85 cm (width) x 211.5 cm (length).
Place: Fitzroy Crossing Batik Workshop, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

Painter: Jukuja Dolly Snell.
Title: Fabric Length (1993).
Technique: Batik On Cotton.
Size: 84.6 cm (width) x 187.5 cm (length).
Place: Fitzroy Crossing Batik Workshop, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

Painter: Jukuja Dolly Snell.
Title: Fabric Length (1994) – Detailed View.
Technique: Synthetic Polymer Paint On Cotton Duck.
Size: 45 cm (width) x 100 cm (length).
Place: Gregory Tuck Studio, Perth, Western Australia.
Collection: Available For Purchase.

Painter: Pantjiti Mary McLean.
Title: Mayi (1994) – Detailed View.
Technique: Screen-Print On Cotton.
Size: 150.5 cm (width) x 516.5 cm (length).
Place: Gregory Tuck Studio, Perth, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

Painter: Louis Karedada.
Title: Slates (1995) – Detailed View.
Technique: Screen-Print On Cotton.
Size: 116.2 cm (width) x 326 cm (length).
Place: Ngunga Designs, Derby, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

[1] J. Ryan and R. Healy, Raiki Wara, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1998).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Make Lace Not War - Part I
ArtCloth Exhibition

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

For your convenience I have added a link to the other post in this series.

Make Lace Not War - Part II
Make Lace Not War - Part III

According to a Bruges legend, the beauty of a spider's web inspired the first attempts in making pillow lace, so it is quite significant that the word "lace" comes from the Latin laqueus meaning a snare, or lacer to entice.

The oldest piece of lace I have encountered on the internet is this Pre-Columbian Peruvian knotted netting from the Chancay period, 1100-1350 AD.

Evidence of meshes made from twisted threads does, in fact, date back some 6000 years to the Egyptian "Mummy Lace" which was made on a frame. The free ends of the thread were wound onto small shaped pieces of stone, wood or bone, which served as bobbins.

Traditional lace making was thought to have developed from the ornamental plaiting and braidings of the Middle Ages, and it is possible that the similarity between ancient and modern bobbin worked lace is mere coincidence.

Detail from a late 19th Century.

Century French fan mount in black Chantilly bobbin lace, showing a garden scene with peacocks, inside an intricate border of flowers and leaves.

By the mid-15th Century, pillow lace - worked on a firm cushion or pillow, with pins to keep the thread in position - was established in Venice and Flanders and spreading to other parts of Europe. In England, lacemaking centres in Devon and the Midlands were set up in the 16th Century by refugees from religious persecution in Europe.

Collections of bobbins from different lace-making areas of Europe. The bobbin with beads attached is English and is made of glass. The one immediately below it dates from Henry VIII's reign (1509-1547), the three metal rings indicating that his third wife, Jane Seymour, was then queen.

The use of finer linen threads encouraged more complicated and decorative designs of leavers, flowers, sprays and birds, with a variety of fancy fillings. Some fine patterns entailed over a year's work to produce one yard of lace using a thousand or more bobbins!

Traditional Maltese lace.

Other interesting developments included the outlining of individual sections with a thicker thread or "cordonnet" as in Buckinghamshire and Lille laces, or working motifs separately and then joining them with bobbin net needlepoint or appliquéing them by hand.

A striking floral Buckinghamshire design, 5″ wide lace.

By the 18th Century there was enormous demand for the finest laces for shawls, bonnets, cravats, flounces, collars, parasols, fans, handkerchiefs and christening robes. Heavy taxes and import prohibitions were adopted in England and France to protect the home lace industry. As a result, smuggling became quite a common practice and laces like Brussels, which was especially prized, were sometimes taken across the frontier to France packed in coffins, with or without a body!

Handmade Brussels Bobbin Applique Lace Shawl ca. 19th Century.

Lacemaking was generally a badly paid occupation and conditions were tiring and hard. Valenciennes lace, for example, could only be made in damp rooms, as a moist atmosphere was necessary to prevent the gossamer threads from breaking.

Valenciennes lace pattern.

The 19th Century saw the introduction of machine-made nets and laces and cotton threads. Cheaper laces were in demand and the handmade lace industry tried in vain to compete with machines by using thicker threads and simpler Torchon, Cluny and Maltese patterns.

Snowflake Torchon bobbin lace pattern.

By World War I, Britain was producing very little handmade lace and the craft was gradually dying out in the rest of Europe. Thankfully, interest in lacemaking has now been revived and the art of lacemaking continues as an absorbing practice.

The "Make Lace Not War" exhibition exhibited 130 lace works by 134 artists from 20 countries. The exhibition was held in the Powerhouse Museum from the 30th July to the 13th October 2013. In this post I will only feature eight of the finalists, others will feature in future posts.

Make Lace Not War (Part I)[2]

Brigitte Adolph - Venezia
"I was inspired by a wonderful handcrafted Venetian lace collar that I discovered in a small shop in Venice during my honeymoon. Through its transformation into precious metal, the traditional rather unsophisticated lace collar becomes a dazzling accessory."

Venezia - necklace, cast sterling silver, 10 x 25 x 420 mm.

Anna Atterling - Rain
"I try to take the best parts of the past and place it in the present time. I want to visualize that fine vibrating permeability that sometimes makes people's eyes shine."

Rain - broach, chased sterling sheet silver, 175 x 110 x 4 mm.

Dina Baumane - Nightshades
"In my works I would like to express the fragility of existence and the delicate microcosm of life."

Nightshades - textile, colored, glued and machine embroidered using polyester thread, synthetic fabric, and leaf skeletons, 1350 x 450 mm.

Ulrika Berge - To Open Up
"My work is not traditional lace. Empty space is a very important part of my pictures. I find the construction of things beautiful. Beauty is a mystery in life."

To Open Up - animation, lace flowers using stop-motion technique (8.15 minutes duration).

Maria Biehn - Skin
"Rendering skin into lace clothing creates a discussion between the wearer and the garment. What does it mean to wear another's skin".

Skin - t-shirt: cotton lace with gold embroidery; jacket: cotton lace; trouser: wool with leather pockets and lace overlay.

Tessa Blazey & Alexi Freeman - Neo Lace Gown
"A departure from the tradition of lace as a delicate material, our Neo Lace empowers the wearer in an armour-like garment, evoking Joan of Arc leading France into battle or perhaps the opulence of Cleopatra's coronation. We are interested in the paradox of lace as armour".

Neo Lace Gown - dress: silver-plated links, chain and jump rings using jewelery and chain mail construction techniques.

Diana Brennan - Entre-Deux DB93
"Entre-Deux is a French term for a lace or embroidered ribbon that joins, or se parates, two pieces of cloth. It also defines a space between, or a state of being between two extremes. Entre-Deux DB93 is a work that focuses on the transition between a jumper and a long billowing skirt; and specifically, the space where this separation takes place."

Entre-Deux DB93 - bodice: laser-cut wool; skirt: machine-knitted copper wire and linen tulle, 2390 x 500 mm overall.

Joy Buttress - Skin Reveals Skin
"Vintage leather gloves are used as a canvas, mimicking the surface of human skin. Each glove explores the sensitivity and sensuous nature of the gloved hand through historical motifs, digital laser technology and hand stitch."

Skin Reveals Skin - pair of opera gloves: laser cut, hand and machine-stitched kid leather, 430 x 150 x 100 mm.

Kate Campbell-Pope - Bone
"Our bodies are composed of fibers, in our bones, muscles and skin. The precariousness of human existence, and our tenuous relationship with the natural environment, are issues which are at the heart of my practice."

Bone - sculpture: adapted basketry and lace-making techniques, using floristry wire, local and introduced grasses and raffia - 850 x 260 x 180 mm.

Vishna Collins - Soul of a Nation
"For Soul of a Nation I was inspired by Croatian folk dresses - embellished with hand-embroidered gold, silver and homespun silk threads - and festive caps and silk embroidered head scarves."

Soul of a Nation - skirt, collar, gloves and wrist bands: stripping, knotting, rolling, needle lace, buttonhole stitch, darning and crochet using raffia.

[1] A. Jeffs, W. Martensson and P. North, Creative Crafts Encyclopedia, Octopus Books Limited, London (1984).

[2] Make Lace Not War, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney (2011).

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Appliqué is the art of applying shapes cut from a variety of fabrics onto a different background material. As a form of needle work, it can be traced back at least as far as the time of the Crusades, when knights wore appliquéd heraldic insignias.

An early 17th Century example of a Spanish appliqué cloth. Part of a cope (i.e. a long, loose cloak worn by a priest or bishop on ceremonial occasions) the figure of John the Evangelist is embroidered on satin and applied to a velvet background with additional gold thread decoration.

There is also evidence of a much earlier type of decorative appliqué dating back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans.

An intact Roman appliqué of Alexander The Great.

Excellent examples of appliqué, which have survived in good condition, can be found on many of the early embroidered Church vestments; the appliqué was worked in velvets and silks and embellished with gold and silver threads.

Gold-work vestments for St. Therese of Lisieux. The chasuble is made from cloth of gold, and the “pillar” on the front and the cross on the back are made from an ivory colored velvet, intricately worked over with gold-work embroidery. The velvet is from the dress Therese wore when she entered the Carmelite convent. The lace at the neck of the chasuble is from the veil Therese wore on that day.

Appliqué was also used to decorate wall hangings: often linen was richly embroidered and then applied to a background of heavy velvet.

Mystic Lotus II - Appliqué art wall hanging. Hand-stitched Egyptian Khayamiya.

The art traveled with the earlier settlers – from Europe to America. Some of the finest designs can be seen on coverlets and quilts of the period. Women employed every scrap of material to create fascinating patterns, which reflected their homes and surroundings. Sometimes these bedcovers were made up in sections, each decorated with a different appliqué design.

This appliqué quilt’s place of origin is easy to determine since two of the chintz cutouts depict the figure of Liberty and the American eagle. It forms part of a friendship quilt, completed in 1862.

Australia’s appliqué history extends from the early animal skin wraps worn by Aboriginal women in the southern areas of Australia to the work completed by Irish settler women. Celtic appliqué developed from the complex line drawing designs found carved on ancient stones found throughout Ireland. Such decorations were used on Irish step dancing costumes. The appliqués are usually made with bias tape. Stained glass appliqué uses bias tape to emulate leading in stained glass windows.

Australian contemporary appliqué quilt designs have been very much influenced by traditional English and American designs. Today contemporary textile artists are creating modern appliqué designs enriched with new themes and techniques. A popular trend amongst artists is to create decorative appliquéd panels with freehand machine embroidery as embellishment.

Quilt, “Australiana Victoriana”, appliqué and hand embroidered, silk/lace/ribbon/braid, Wendy Saclier, Canberra ACT (Australia) 1987.
Courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum.

Appliqué is still very popular today, since it relies more on imagination and creativity than sewing skills. It can be used to decorate furnishings and any number of garments, and is an ideal way of rejuvenating worn or old items.

Dolce & Gabbana lace appliqué dress.

San Blas or Reverse Appliqué
San Blas appliqué is worked by cutting away pieces of fabric and for this reason it is also known as reverse appliqué. The women of the San Blas Islands off the Panama coast are experts in this art: their bold and vividly colored designs represent gods, animals and plants, local personalities and sometimes loosely adapted and apparently meaningless English words and letters. These gay and stylized designs are made up into short sleeved blouses known as molas.

A fine example of a traditional San Blas appliqué, made up into a typical mola and worn by a native woman of the islands.

Originally when the Indians moved to the islands in the mid-19th Century, these molas were simple garments made from dark blue fabric with just a narrow single band of color around the bottom. It was the arrival of traders who supplied brightly colored fabrics that led to the development of the elaborate multi-layered designs that are worn today. Molas have become an important status symbol and as such are often included as part of a young girl’s marriage dowry.

A Kuna woman displays a selection of molas for sale at her home in San Blas islands.

Appliqué Designs

Chintz appliquéd quilt, ca. 1835, Made by Mary Malvina Cook Taft (American), Possibly Maryland, Virginia, or South Carolina, Cotton.
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Five Appliqués in the Shape of a Cross, ca. 600.
Langobardic; From Castel Trosino, central Italy. Gold; L. of largest cross 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm). Purchase, 1895.
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tulip appliquéd panel, ca. 1883–87.
Candace Wheeler (American, 1827–1923), for Associated Artists (New York City, 1883–1907); ground fabric by Cheney Brothers (South Manchester, Connecticut, 1838–1955). Silk and metallic cloth appliquéd with silk velvet and embroidered with silk and metallic–wrapped cotton threads; 74 x 50 1/2 in. (188 x 128.3 cm). Gift of the family of Mrs. Candace Wheeler, 1928.
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Coat, ca. 1919. Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944). Black silk and wool blend with white leather appliqués and white fur trim. Gift of Mrs. David J. Colton, 1961.
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The history of use of this coverlet is unknown, but the fragile condition of some of the fabrics suggests it was well used - or that the fabrics it is made of were well used before they were made up into the quilt.
The quilt was given to the museum by the Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS) in 1983. No information about its earlier ownership has been available from the RAHS.
Courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum.

Quilt, “Balnarring Banksias”, hand piecing and appliqué, cotton/homespun, Jennifer Lewis, Melbourne, Victoria, 1987.
Courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum.

Bonnet veil, Honiton bobbin lace appliqué on machine made net, cotton, Honiton, England, 1850-1900.
Courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum.

Dress, cotton, appliqué, maker unknown, Guaymi, Panama, 1970-1979.
Courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum.

[1] Editors A. Jeffs and W. Martensson and P. North, Creative Crafts Encdyclopedia, London (11984).