Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles
Resource Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles is located in the Maitland area, Hunter Valley NSW (Australia). It was founded by Nell Pyle after a public meeting in 2005 generated enough support for such a museum. It is the only public museum in Australia that is devoted to clothing. The museum has a strong membership and stages displays, presents parades and hosts talks to various local and community groups.

Its founding member, Nell Pyle, was interested in period fashion as long as she can remember. Her mother had preserved many of her and her family's garments and stored them in an old cabin trunk that Nell would often visit. In fact in 1938 when Nell was in junior high school, a period fashion parade was held in the school grounds to raise money for the War effort and Nell wore a net dress that was made in the 1910 decade.

After her training at Armidale Teachers' College (NSW) she taught at schools at Stroud (NSW) and Wyong before being transferred to Beresfield in 1947 She joined the Maitland Repertory Theatre and so combined her two passions: acting and costume. Soon after she became the company's wardrobe mistress, a position she held for over fifty years, caring for and providing costumes for actors.

Her personal collection grew as many garments were offered to her, because over time they became too precious or fragile for theatre use. While Nell staged parades and gave talks for charities on the aspects of costumes and the social history behind them, it was during a display "Garments and Gadgets" that a viewer made a remark that - "These things should be in a museum" - that prompted Nell to hold a public meeting in 2005 that formed the Museum.

Nell married Neil Pyle. She has written a wonderful account of the costumes and social history of some of the collection held in "The Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles". Her book - "History Hidden in Hunter Wardrobes"[1] - is a must read! I have only given you a glimpse of some of the costumes held by the museum and a very brief social history behind them.

The Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles
This is just a snippet of the collection held by The Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles.

Matilda Vile's 1900 Farm Bonnet
Comments[1]: The bonnet was a sensible and serviceable work garment of cotton, in a paisley design. The ties made sure it stayed on the head in windy weather or when caught in a branch. The front of the bonnet provided protection from the sun and wind when worn forward. The length of the 'skirt' gave protection to the neck.

Annie King's Afternoon Tea Apron and Cap
Comments[1]: The apron and cap are made of voile with edging and trim of Valenciennes lace, or "Val" lace as it is more commonly known. The apron is knee length, slightly gathered at the hem. The cap, gathered behind the turned back edging has draw strings of silk card at the back.

Linda Way's 1950 Dance Dress
Comments[1]: The war was over. Materials were no longer rationed and Christian Dior introduced his "New Look" in 1947. In the 1950s, full skirted dresses were the fashion, worn with gathered, roped or wired half petticoats. This dress, which Linda wore to the local balls, is of nylon, a fabric introduced at the time, and is watermelon pink, flocked in grey and silver.

Betsy Arnold's Navy Blue Coat of 1910
Front and Back.
Comments[1]: The shorter length jacket was popular in this era, either on its own or with a matching skirt. This garment is made of pure wool in a fancy twill weave with buttons covered in a lighter fabric. It is decorated around the hem and cuffs with fancy braiding.

Emily McDonald's 1915 Cream Net Dress
Front and Back.
Comments[1]: After 1910 fashions became more relaxed for women. The ankle could be seen, necklines were lower, sleeves no longer covered the wrists. The organdie panels are hand embroidered.
Photograph Courtesy of Eloise Crossmann.

Essie Cant's White Dress of 1920
Comments[1]: This dress is in the typical styling of the 1920s. It has a lowered waistline, is mid-calf length and made on straight lines. Machine pin tucking and filet lace were often features on dresses of the time, and white was popular. The dress was suitable for receiving visitors or for outings.

Mary Russell's 1920 Black Coat
Comments[1]: The coat was made by Mary Russell in the decade 1920-30. Braid edges the collar and opening of the coat. The collar itself has two more rows of the same braid. The cross over front is fastened with two buttons and braid ties. The coat reaches about fourteen centimetres below the knee.

Dame Florence Austral's Georgette Blouse
Comments[1]: The georgette blouse is in the "blouson" style popular in the 1930s. A red and black patterned overlay covers the top half of the garment and ties in a central knot. The sleeves are double with the top sleeve patterned and the lower red with patterned edging.

Fran Gregory's Curtain Fabric Gown
Comments[1]: Fran had made a cotton dress in the typical style of the war years, when material was rationed. The bodice is simple, the skirt is slim and there are no decorative gathers or pleats. A black neck flounce was added for wearing to a ball in Maitland Town Hall (NSW) later in the forties.

Beryl Baker's 1960 Evening Jacket
Comments[1]: Hot pink was a favourite color for 1960 female garments. So too was the "empire line" featured in this lacy evening jacket. The fashion dates back to early Grecian times. Lord Horatio Nelson's mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton, a dancer and entertainer, designed garments of this style for her performances.

Eva Giles' "Pumpkin Dress"
Comments[1]: The sleeveless "pumpkin" dress is in the 'over the top' style of the 1980s with a very full skirt. Black spotted net completely covers the lime green dress, but, though the dress has a bee shaped neckline, the net covering extends right up to the base of the neck. The neckline, the shawl collar, and the frill at the base of the skirt, are edged with narrow black and gold lace.

[1] Nell Pyle, History Hidden in Hunter Wardrobes, The Australian Museum of Textile and Clothing, Maitland (2015).

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Ink Fern"
A New Collection of My Digitally Designed Fabrics
Fabric Lengths

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
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

I have been designing my hand dyed and hand printed fabric lengths using a range of fabrics and multiple surface design techniques. As a professional senior graphic designer/illustrator in a previous career, I have always had an interest in creating imagery, prints, illustrations, posters and publications using digital processes. This interest has led me to some fascinating explorations in the field of digitally created fabrics and textiles. I have uploaded my new digitally designed fabric collection - "Ink Fern" - to this blogspot.

"Ink Fern"- A New Collection of Digitally Designed Fabrics
The "Ink Fern" collection of digitally designed fabrics is a unique series of contemporary fabric designs based on printed images of ferns and grasses employing my signature Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) technique.

My low relief LRSP mono prints are imbued with a painterly, multi colored, richly textured and organic aesthetic and have been screen printed using pigment paints on cotton fabric. The imagery was then scanned and digitally reworked in Photoshop to create a superb complimentary colorways suite. The colors have been sensitively and painstakingly created to encompass the mysterious, deeply rich abstract fern shapes playing in the inky shadows of modern design aesthetics.

These deconstructed, contemporary, botanically influenced designs can be used for interior design, clothing items and other decorative purposes. There are five color-ways in the "Ink Fern" collection that are available for purchase - email me at Marie-Therese.

The printed designs are available in the following natural fibres from Spoonflower - basic cotton ultra, Kona® cotton ultra, cotton poplin ultra, light weight cotton twill, cotton spandex jersey, linen cotton canvas ultra, organic cotton knit ultra, organic cotton sateen ultra, heavy cotton twill and silky crepe de chine. The printed designs are also available in the following Spoonflower polyester range of fabrics - satin, performance pique, poly crepe de chine, silky faille, performance knit, modern jersey, fleece, minky, sport lycra, eco canvas and faux suede. 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 giftwrap paper - see Spoonflower for more information.

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 designs can be used for wearable art, accessories, furnishing and interior design projects. If you would like to purchase fabric lengths from my "Ink Fern" collection please email me for pricing and/or any other information.

My "Ink Fern" collection - for wearable art, accessories, interior and other decorative design projects - are shown below. Each work in the collection below shows a fat quarter (21" x 18" or 53 x 46 cm) view of the printed fabric design and a one yard length (36" or 91.5 cm) view of the printed fabric design.

To view more of my Digital Fabric Collections please click the following url Spoonflower

Ink Fern 1 in blue, gold, cyan and black colorway (swatch).

Ink Fern 1 in blue, gold, cyan and black colorway (fat quarter).

Ink Fern 1 in blue, gold, cyan and black colorway (one yard).

Ink Fern 2 in lime, blue, grey and black colorway (swatch).

Ink Fern 2 in lime, blue, grey and black colorway (fat quarter).

Ink Fern 2 in lime, blue, grey and black colorway (one yard).

Ink Fern 3 in blue-violet, warm gold, red and black colorway (swatch).

Ink Fern 3 in blue-violet, warm gold, red and black colorway (fat quarter).

Ink Fern 3 in blue-violet, warm gold, red and black colorway (one yard).

Ink Fern 4 in red, pale grey-blues, myrtle green and black colorway (swatch).

Ink Fern 4 in red, pale grey-blues, myrtle green and black colorway (fat quarter).

Ink Fern 4 in red, pale grey-blues, myrtle green and black colorway (one yard).

Ink Fern 5 in orange, myrtle greens, olive and black colorway (swatch).

Ink Fern 5 in orange, myrtle greens, olive and black colorway (fat quarter).

Ink Fern 5 in orange, myrtle greens, olive and black colorway (one yard).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Art of Costuming - Historic (Part I)
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Clothes can be designed to be functional.

Fly fishing outfit.

Clothes can also be designed to appeal to your aesthetic.

Skirt - grunge 1990s.

Perhaps the least understood or for that matter, the most quirky concoction with respect to design and moreover, with no regard for acceptance, comfort, maintenance, durability and expense is the costume. It is an art form aimed to stretch the imagination beyond normal human bounds.

"To Believe in the Good Man." Gaiea (shown above) in her organic earthly splendour, confronts you the viewer as a representative of mankind (not shown), portrayed in a harsh synthetic garb.
Design, Construction & Model: Animal X.
Photography: Linda Sweeting.

The art of costuming falls naturally into three categories - historical, fantasy and futuristic. Historical costuming brings back historical designs but usually in the context of modern fabrics, colors and techniques of construction.

"Court of the Peacock King."
Design, Construction and Models: Kathy & Drew Sanders, Barb & Reg Schofield, Martin Miller, Caroline Julian, Carl Ontis, David Graham & Neola Caveny.

Role playing becomes part and parcel of the look, the style and the demeanour. You are noble not only because of the art of costuming, but because of your adopted mannerisms.

Fantasy may have out of context combinations. The constructs of an insect becomes the constructs of a costume. It is like Kafka’s Metamorphosis except you do not wake up and find you have become an insect, rather you dress and so you have embodied one.

Theatrical Costume.
Photograph: Paul Jeremias.

Futuristic is the most difficult to characterize since we are using today's technology for tomorrow's world. Here we must rely on where we want tomorrow to be rather than where we could be if tomorrow's technology was known to us now.

"When the Medicine Woman Weaves her Spell, the Snake Charmer Begins to Dance." Construction: Carol McKie Manning & Christen Brown.
Model: Jean Olson.
Photograph: Tom Henderson.

All images shown below comes from a book, The Costume Marker's Art, edited by Thom Boswell[1].

The Art of Costuming - Historic[1]
Historic costumes have a hidden romantic component built within them. The designer/constructor loves the era of fashion that they have created. It is not just dressing-up for the sake of it rather it is dressing-up because of the empathetic love for it. During the day the designer/constructor may be wearing jeans or a mini skirt but when they wear their own historic costumes they are transformed and are driven back to an era, where their psychology would love to reside.

"Sir Colin" - cavalier court suit.
Design & Construction: Adrian Butterfield.
Model: Tim Bray.
Photograph: Stephen Jacobson.

"Georgian Robe Française."
Design, Construction & Model: Victoria Ridenour.
Photograph: Stephen Jacobson.

"Elizabethan Court Gown."
Design, Construction & Model: Victoria Ridenour.
Photograph: Stephen Jacobson.

"Early Victorian Day Dress."
Design, Construction & Model: Victoria Ridenour.
Photograph: Stephen Jacobson.

"Postillion" ca. 1855.
Design, Construction & Model: Victoria Ridenour.
Photograph: Stephen Jacobson.

"Gentleman's Suit" ca 1820.
Design, Construction & Model: Adrian Butterfield.
Photograph: Stephen Jacobson.

"Ascot Dress" from the movie "My Fair Lady".
Design: Cecil Beaton.
Construction & Model: Janet Wilson Anderson.
Photograph: David Bickford.

"Napoleonic Court Dress" ca. 1806.
Design, Construction & Model: Janet Wilson Anderson.
Photograph: John Youden.

"The King and Queen of Swords."
Design and Construction: Gail Alien, Robin Lewis, Joao Soares, Stan Hits, Charlotte Davis, Jackie Cabasso & Rosmarie Bolte.
Photograph: Peter Villums.

"The King and Queen of Swords."
Design and Construction: Gail Alien, Robin Lewis, Joao Soares, Stan Hits, Charlotte Davis, Jackie Cabasso & Rosmarie Bolte.
Photograph: Peter Villums.

[1] The Costume Maker's Art, Lark Books, North Carolina (1992).

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The South Pacific is broken up into a number of sub-regions: Polynesian, Micronesia, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

South Pacific regions.

Each Polynesian culture is unique, yet the peoples share some common traits. Polynesians share common origins as Austronesian speakers (Austronesian is a family of languages). The first known inhabitants of this region are called the Lapita peoples. Artists were part of a priestly class, followed in rank by warriors and commoners.

In all these distinctive cultures, gender roles were clearly defined. Gender played a major role, dictating women’s access to training, tools, and materials used in the arts. For example, women's arts historically utilized soft materials, particularly fibers used to make mats and barkcloth. Cloth made of bark is generically known as tapa across the region, although terminology, decorations, dyes, and designs vary through out the islands and Papua New Guinea.

Hawaiian tapa (barkcloth), 1770s (Te Papa Museum, New Zealand).
Size: 64.5 x 129 cm.

In Samoa, designs were sometimes stained or rubbed on with wooden or fiber design tablets. In Hawaii patterns could be applied with stamps made out of bamboo, whereas stencils of banana leaves or other suitable materials were used in Fiji. Barkcloth can also be undecorated, hand decorated, or smoked as is seen in Fiji. Design illustrations involved geometric motifs in an overall ordered and abstract patterns.

Masi (tapa cloth), likely used as a room divider, Fiji, date unknown (Te Papa Museum, New Zealand).

The most important traditional uses for tapa were for clothing, bedding and wall hangings. Textiles were often specially prepared and decorated for people of rank. Tapa was ceremonially displayed on special occasions, such as birthdays and weddings. In sacred contexts, tapa was used to wrap images of deities. Even today, at times of death, barkcloth may be an integral part of funeral and burial rites.

Barkcloth strip, Fiji, ca. 1800-50, worn as a loin cloth, decorated with a combination of free-hand painting, cut out stencils and by being laid over a patterned block and rubbed with pigment (The British Museum).

Barkcloth Art of the Ömie[2]
The Ömie live on the southern slopes of Mount Lamington in Oro Province in Papua New Guinea.

Oro Province in Papua New Guinea.

Mount Lamington is an andesitic strato volcano in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea. The forested peak of the volcano had not been recognized as such until a devastating eruption occurred in 1951 that caused about 3,000 deaths. The volcano rises to 1680 meters above the coastal plain north of the Owen Stanley Range.

Barkcloth is the customary textile of the Ömie with women wearing "nioge" (skirts) while men wear "givai" (loincloths). Ömie barkcloths are still worn today by men, women and children during traditional ceremonies which can involve feasting and spectacular performances of singing, dancing and kundu-drumming. Barkcloth also serves important purposes in marriage as offerings to the ancestors, bride-price gifts, as well as in funerary and initiation ceremonies. It is an integral part of everyday life for the Ömie and plays a critical role in defining their unique cultural identity.

Filma Rumono barkcloth (detail).
Size: 100 x 194 cm.
Photograph courtesy of D. Baker.

Barkcloth is prepared by women who harvest the inner layer of bark from the rainforest trees. They then rinse, fold and pound repetitiously the bark on flat stones using black palm mallets until a strong, fibrous sheet of cloth is produced. The cloth is left to dry in the sun. The barkcloth is dyed using a rich and earthy palette of natural bush dyes including red, yellow, green and black pigments, which are created from fruits, ferns, leaves and charcoal. Ancient clan designs are painted in freehand onto the cloth or the cloth is dyed in river mud and the designs are appliquéd using a bat-wing bone needle. Common painting implements include strong grasses, fashioned wooden sticks and brushes made from frayed betelnut husks.

The Ömie women spread the nyog'e (double skin designs) on the mat.

Artists inherit clan designs as young women by birthright or marriage from their mothers, grandmothers and mother-in-laws, and in some instances from their fathers and husbands. Most designs are generations old but some elderly artists who have attained a level of mastery, usually Duvahe (Chiefs), are free to paint their uehorëro (wisdom), creating new designs.

Ömie barkcloth - detail (2005).
Size: 112 x 130 cm.
Photograph courtesy of D. Baker.

The Ömie’s female Chief system is primarily based upon a woman’s barkcloth painting talents and the cultural knowledge she attains over a lifetime. All painting designs originate or are derived from traditional Ömie culture and the natural environment, maintaining and communicating artists’ deep connection to their Ancestors and country.

An Ömie painting on barkcloth of custom fish skeleton by Jean Margret Hoijo.

Vivian Marumi, barkcloth.
Size: 65 x 108 cm.
Photograph courtesy of D. Baker.

Filma Rumono barkcloth.
Size: 100 x 194 cm.
Photograph courtesy of D. Baker.

Since the first exhibition in 2006 the barkcloth art of the Ömie women has been highly celebrated, culminating in the National Gallery of Victoria’s landmark exhibition Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie in 2009.

Fate Savari: Gardens (with yams, red pandanus, white yams, beaks of the parrot, pig hoofprints, bees, boys chopping tree branches, beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill, spots of the wood-boring grub and old animal bones found while digging in the garden) - 2013.
Size: 104 x 73 cm.
Courtesy of Ömie Artists.

Botha Kimmikimmi - Ömie mountains, eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill and spots of the wood-boring grub - 2012.
Size: 113 x 93 cm.
Courtesy of Ömie Artists.

Ömie Artists is fully owned and governed by the Ömie people. Five Art Centers service artists across twelve villages and each of the centers play a vital role by ensuring that the ancient tradition of barkcloth painting as well as traditional culture remain strong and provide economic returns to their artists. For further details of their work and their collective - see their website: Ömie artists

[1] Dr. Caroline Karr,