Late last year I made a gift for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – a Wagga quilt adorned with 121 hand stitched messages for the PM from over 100 Australian citizens who contributed to this project. When I reached out and asked people to contribute their messages for the PM my promise to them was that I would ensure the quilt gets to him.
Above are a few examples of the 121 messages hand stitched onto this quilt.
A few months ago I received a letter in the mail inviting me to take part in a letters exhibition at the George Paton Gallery at the University of Melbourne titled ‘f Genereation: Feminism, art, progression’ which was to be held between the 7-16 of October 2015 .
The letter explained that this unique exhibition will mark 40 years since International Women’s year in 1975 which was the year that the George Paton Gallery held a range of feminist art events including a pivotal lecture by renowned international artist and theorist Lucy Lippard. 1975 was also the year that the Women’s Art Register and Lip Magazine launched, two feminist resources that have played a critical role in the Australian feminist/art movement and which are still in operation today.
Co-curators of f Generation Veronica Caven Aldous, Dr Juliette Peers and Caroline Phillips looked to acknowledge, reflect and reconfigure this rich history as well as examine contemporary modes of provocation in feminist art practice. Needless to say I was thrilled to be asked to contribute and intrigued by the question we were asked to reflect on: How is feminism Important to you?
The curators received a huge response to their letter of invitation and in the end the show included the work of over 80 Australian and international artists who responded with work across many mediums including: photography, video, painting, drawing, text, textile works, artists’ books, printmaking and performance. I am very proud to have two of my textile wall hangings included in this exhibition, even more so as this is the first time my textile works are being exhibited in a group show and I could not imagine a more fitting exhibition to be part of.
Below are the two tiny appliqué quilted hangings I contributed and here is the letter I wrote in response to the question How is feminism important to you? titled: F-is-for-FREEDOM
“Girls just want to have fundamental human rights” 50cm x 50cm (2015) made using new and recycled materials, machine appliqué quilting and hand embroidery.
“Feminist Killjoy XOXOX” 50cm x 350cm (2015) made using new and recycled materials, machine appliqué quilting and hand embroidery.
Further information on the exhibition f generation: feminism, art, progressions, George Paton Gallery and the launch at MUDFest can be found via the following links: www.facebook.com/pages/F-generation-feminism-art-progressions/811027382324243 | www.umsu.unimelb.edu.au/what-is-on/gallery/ | www.umsu.unimelb.edu.au/what-is-on/mudfest/
This is a post about two contemporary artists that I am currently totally loosing my shit over:
Peru born artist Ana Teresa Barboza and, Melbourne based artist Lucas Grogan.
What I love about textile art is its ability to stop us in our tracks and look again at a work, considering not just the image but the materials, its construction, the labour involved, the way the work triggers associations in our minds. In my opinion, both Ana and Lucas incorporate textile and needlework into their practice in such a way that for me truly highlights the tantalising and sensual potential of textile art.
Ana Teresa Barboza
Ana Teresa Barboza, who studies to be a painter, uses needle and thread as an invitation for audiences to engage with her works not just visually but using touch and memory and their imagination. Many of her works explore the body, femininity and domesticity as well as our relations with one another and with a fantastical imagining of the animal realm. I’m really inspired by the way she incorporates figures into her works alongside flora, fauna and patterns of colour and texture.
Her bold use of colours, pattern and texture and the way she contrasts these against one another is so satisfying. Plus I love the playful way Ana incorporates her painting practice with her needlework in several of her body’s of work, such as these:
Sophie in her Blog Le Fil Conducteur has written a great post including an interview with Ana in which she talks about how needlework is something she learned from her grandmother, you can check it out at: https://lefilconducteurinenglish.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/ana-teresa-barboza-gubo/
Some of Ana’s more recent work has involved taking inspiration from natural landscapes, plants and she has started to stitch onto photographs as well as canvas. You can take a look at some of this work on Sam’s post on the Textile Artist blog: http://www.textileartist.org/ana-teresa-barboza-handcraft-nature/
Ana has got me very inspired to continue developing my own embroidery skills.
Lucas lives and works in Melbourne and really likes the colour blue. Like a lot!
He works across a whole raft of mediums including quilting, embroidery and cross stitch and I just adore everything he does. His body of work is so vast that it is pretty overwhelming, but here is a bunch of his textile work for you to drool over…
As you can see the way he incorporates text is really interesting and really compelling, for me they are little micro narratives, snippets into contemporary life, the thoughts that flash across our minds and then are gone – captured and memorialised in the use of this time consuming and thoughtful textile practice.
So yea, inspired!
Image credits: Unless stated otherwise all images are from Ana’s Blog: http://anateresabarboza.blogspot.ch/ and from Lucas Grogan’s website: http://www.lucasgrogan.com/ – please go check out their sites and acknowledge them if you share these images ❤
As promised here is my full PhD Confirmation Report, submitted in April 2015
as a PDF document: Confirmation-Report-Tal-Fitzpatrick-2015
Alternatively, below is the Title/Research Question/Abstract for all those of you who “aint got time fo’dat!”
Research Title: Craftivism and the Political Moment
Research Question: Can craftivism create Political Moments?
- How is craftivism different from other forms of activism?
- Can a material, craft based practice such as craftivism be understood as a socially engaged art?
- In light of a post-political critique of participation is it possible to initiate political moments through socially engaged artistic practices?
- How do feminist new materialist and post-humanist conceptions of agency and matter reshape our understanding of power and the potential of art to enact social change?
This practice-led research project is shaped by an artistic practice that plays in the spaces between craft, socially engaged art, activism, community development and autoethnography. It looks to explore how a particular style of figurative appliqué quilting might be used to initiate what philosopher Jacques Rancière describes as ‘political moments’ in a post-political environment. Through a series of creative case studies delivered in and with different community groups and organisations, this project will test the material-discursive potential of appliqué quilting to act as a socially engaged strategy for activism.
Importantly, this project doesn’t aim to develop a set of tools for leading revolutions or even to create a methodology where outcomes can be reliably repeated. Instead it looks to develop a practice based methodology for becoming more mindful of the patterns of consequential differences and of the overlapping ideas between: art, craft, activism, socially engaged practice, feminist new materialisms, post-political critique, post-humanism and community development theory.
However, if anyone actually does read my full report – I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback, reading suggestions, artists I should know about and constructive criticism. As always you can get in touch with me via email: email@example.com
Finally – just for fun, below are some of my powerpoint slides from my PhD Confirmation presentation.
Okay – So, I took a month off after my confirmation presentation and went to the Gold Coast to spend some time with my partner and my family… and now there is a bit of a backlog of things to fill you in on, including:
- How the exhibition at Emerald Community House’s PAVE art festival went
- The final PhD confirmation report in full
- A sneak peak of some of my most recent artworks
- Upcoming projects with Igniting Change and Emerald Community House
- Updates on artists and crafters who are inspiring me at the moment
- Upcoming projects
- Plus a bunch of thoughts about books I’ve been reading
In the coming weeks I will get to all the above, but for now let’s just focus on a bit of a show-and-tell about the opening of my exhibition at the Emerald PAVE Art Festival.
Above is a photo from the opening, you can see Mary Farrow pictured as she introduces our project. I would like to say a big thank you Mary Farrow and Noelene Blair from ECH – for all their generous support and encouragement during the development of this project and of course for having me at ECH. I’m really excited that we will be continuing the work we have started later in the year (more information on this will soon be anonouced).
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Bruce Esplin (below) and his wonderful partner Roz for coming to officially open the exhibition and for your ongoing support of my artistic practice and my community resilience building work. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us through your unique and engaging brand of story telling at the opening. Your support is invaluable to me.
Finally I would like to thank Katherine and Lisa who participated in the 8 week long workshops which I facilitated in Emerald and who made their own quilted hangings to exhibit as part of this exhibition. Ladies, it was a pleasure to get to know you and a real treat to see your textile works take shape week by week, keep it up! Here is a photo of what the full exhibition looked like in the space including the two works by Lisa (far left) and Katherine (third from the right).
Below is the finished quilt I made as part of my 2 week residency at Emerald, titled “Resilience, Resistance and Responsibility” (made of new and recycled material, 2m x 2m, 2015). I officially gifted this artwork to Emerald Community House and the Emerald community at the opening of the exhibition, this way it will always hang in Emerald where it belongs and where it can function as a story telling device for passing on local knowledge about the people and events which inspired me to make it.
Briefly, this work tells several stories about the resilience of the local Emerald community and its strength in advocating and preserving the things that are important to it; that is the natural and built environments that are unique to the area and which enable the community to come together and continue growing stronger. If you want to know more about the meaning behind this work you can read my previous posts about it.
This is a photo Bruce took of me at the exhibition opening in front of my work… that should help you with picturing the scale of it! In summary, it was a fantastic day and I’m really humbled by the turn out we got. Lots of people came to look at the work over the week it was installed and gave lots of kind and interesting feedback to the team at ECH. Thanks everyone!
Anyway, that’s probably about enough for now… expect to hear more from me soon 🙂
As promised, here is my full PhD Confirmation speech which I presented at VCA on April the 16th, 2015. If you read it I would love to hear your thoughts, so please don’t be shy!
Full presentation with slides: Confirmation-speech-TF
Here is an outline of what I covered in this 40min presentation: Once again thanks to everyone who was there, and for those who wanted to come but couldn’t be there. I am really excited by the fact that other people are interested in my research.
My panel meeting with my supervisors and assessors is on Wednesday so wish me luck!
This weekend is the official opening of the exhibition of my Emerald ‘Resilience: Stories in Cloth’ project. The exhibition, which opens on the 12th of April and continues until the 17th of April, is being held as part of Emerald’s annual PAVE Arts Festival. This will be the first public exhibition of the work I am making as part of my PhD research into ‘Craftivism and the Political Moment’. I’m very proud to announce that my good friend Bruce Esplin will be opening the exhibition, it’s worth coming just to hear that man talk about resilience and the Arts!
As well as the work I made during my residency at Emerald Community House the exhibition will also include two works by local community members who took part in the workshop series I facilitated at Emerald Community House. If you are in Melbourne or somewhere in nearby Victoria please come join us, there will be cheese and biscuits, plus lots more things to do around Emerald as part of the PAVE festival’s Fun Fest!
Here is the official invite, consider yourself invited!
Update: here are some lovely words about the project from Emerald Community House coordinator and powerhouse extrodinare Mary Farrow
Following on from my residency at Emerald Community House (ECH) and in the lead up to this years annual PAVE festival I have begun stage two of the ‘Stories of Resilience in Cloth Art’ project – a workshop series where I invite locals to make their own cloth-artwork that tells a story about resilience and what it means to them.
As I’ve mentioned previously ECH is an innovative neighbourhood centre that is highly conscious of the fact that they are in a disaster-at-risk area of the Victorian Dandenong ranges. ECH takes proactive action through their programming to build local community resilience, for example: they run an award winning program that entails making attending a bushfire safety training workshop mandatory for all parents who place their children with the ECH childcare servie. When I first met with Mary and Non (ECH coordinators) they identified that there is a gap in the programing which they wanted to address. They wanted to develop a creative program that targeted younger women who are new to the area and women who don’t have children (and therefore are not involved with ECH through its childcare services) and engaged them around the subject of resilience and disaster preparedness. So, it was around this mandate that I designed my ECH residency and workshop project which I am also using as a case study for my PhD research into how art cloth-art and the strategies of craftivism can enact agency.
The idea is that each of us will create our own cloth wall hanging to be exhibited during the PAVE festival in the Emerald Community Hall which we are working out of, which everyone will then take home and keep at the end of the exhibition. Bruce Esplin, former Emergency Services Commissioner of Victoria and a friend and mentor of mine has kindly agreed to be at the opening of the exhibition and to say a few words about art and resilience based on his own experience as a photographer and a sculpture. Three local ladies (and one of their dogs, below) have signed on to be part of the project, and over the past couple of weeks we have been meeting on Thursdays to talk about ideas and start sewing. Already I have had a really interesting conversations and positive responses from this engagement.
When I asked the ladies (who I won’t identify by name) what resilience means to them and why they chose to live in Emerald as both were relatively new to the area (by rural standards at least – where you have to be second generation to consider yourself a ‘true local’) they all responded with comments about the importance of the landscape and the natural environment. This led to a conversation about the risks posed by the natural environment in their area and we spoke about those and what experiences each lady had with disasters and what plans they had in place in preparation for potential future disasters. Each women will be working to depicting images of the natural environment into their cloth hangings and in her own way working to symbolise in cloth her relationship to the local community.
Alongside the importance of the natural world the women identified that their personal relationships and history are another critical factor for thier own resilience and well-being. Each woman will be in her own way incorporating figures into the landscapes of their hangings. Using old clothes and fabric given to them from their loved ones the women have started to constuct a picture of how they will represent their stories. We talked about how it is possible in this medium of cloth to tell a very personal story in a way that they feel safe having on public display because it is possible to tell it in such a subtle way, using signs that fully reveal their secrets only to the artist. For example, the artist might incorporate a piece of cloth that was once a dress that belonged to their grandmother and which they associate with a particular time, place and memory. In this way the artist will be able to read the work in a way that tells a very different story to what others might see. The hangings will therefore tell many stories – as each person who views them interprets them and projects their own thoughts, experiences and emotions onto the work.
The conversation then shifted to a focus on art making and craft practices. In our conversations we identified that having the time to make art is a luxury that many can not afford, and that many more do not allow themselves. The women identified a sense that this is somehow because taking the time to do something fun and creative feels selfish. This feeling of guilt for taking the time to do something for themselves is a feeling I’m sure many women experience – as women we are still expected by society and in turn we expect ourselves to focus on others, to be caretakers to be busy and selfless. Furthermore, the creative work women do is continues to be undervalued – seen as craft not art. Particularly when it comes to working in textiles. This is something that came up during my residency and during these workshops, it is something they I will continue to ponder and to research. Finally, we spoke about how the project had opened up time for them to reflect, think and make plans for the future and how valuable this is to them. This too is something I want to understand more clearly. I’ve asked everyone to keep a note of how they experience this project as it unfolds and to write a bit of a reflection about the journey at the end of the project – I’m looking forward to reading them.
In closing, I feel that the fact that the three participants fit exactly into the target audience ECH identified is a testimony to the fact the project was designed and marketed successfully. However, In saying that it would have been nice to have more people involved and the fact the workshops are being held during the day on a Thursday has been indentified as a barrier to some who would have otherwise liked to participate. I’m considering delivering a one day master-class in order to engage more women in these conversations and hopefully get a few more involved in the making of cloth hangings for the PAVE festival.
Oh p.s. there was a little story about the project in the local newspaper:
Today is Friday and I am not going up to Emerald. I needed to go buy a whole bunch more fabric and get a few things organised befor the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are both going to be super busy! On Saturday the community is taking over the airwaves in a localised pirate radio protest to keep the old local radio station in community hands, everyone is dressing as pirates! Plus, I’m going to be interviewed on the airwaves about this project. Sunday is the day of the monthly local markets which are held at the hall where I have been working. I am going to have a little stall and do some ‘performance sewing’ and continue my conversations with locals about what being resilient means to them.
Yesterday, which was day 4 of the residency was a busy day. I had lots of people come in and have a yarn with me.
It started with a visit from Graeme, who is on the Cockatoo Neighbourhood Centre committee and a long-time local to the region. Mary and Non joined us and the four of us had an hour long conversation about a wide range of issues affecting them on a local, state, national and global level. Graeme is the full time carer of his adult son who lives with a disability and needs constant care. I identified strongly with the challenges that Graeme faces as a sole carer as my older brother also lives with a disability and requires full time care. Currently my brother Guy lives with my parents, our long term plan as a family is that I will take over as his carer when my parent can no longer manage. Luckily for us we don’t live in a high-fire danger area and do not have to worry too much about what we would need to do if we had to evacuate the house on a high-risk day. Graeme does, and he told us that there is nowhere he and his son can really that he can go on a high-risk day; Frustratingly for him the nearby respite centres all close on high-risk days… So he got a car that they can sleep in.
It’s stories like Graeme’s, or like the story Non shared about another young (25year old) local man who has taken on a carer role for his brother after he was in a serious accident, that really strike home how important it is for us to operate as communities that look after one-another. That is the kind of society that I want to live in at least – one where we can rely on each other for help. They also reminded us that it is not only women taking on carer roles and that men also struggle with the same challenges of isolation, inability to get work that allows them the flexibility they meet to meet their responsibilities and the worry of what will happen to their loved ones when they are no longer able to care for them.
Later in the afternoon Suzanne, the ECH cleaner came over to have a yarn. We talked about some craft projects she has done in the past and then Suzanne shared a deeply personal story about what resilience means to her and what has helped her to overcome the challenges she has faced in life. She told me that what has helped her to live with the effects of trauma was learning how to get a critical distance from what happened. Adding that ‘fear might be all you get – we have to learn to listen to our intuition more’. Whether its on a high-risk day when you have to decide whether to leave, or whether you are feeling uneasy about being alone in a dark ally or in a domestic situation, sometimes fear is a red flag that we must listen to in order to save ourselves.
While Suzanne and I were talking another lady came in, she is a local artist that works in leadlight and glass. She wanted to know a bit about my practice and my process, and whether I was getting paid and fining a way to make a living off my practice. She said that despite the fact she has been living off her own practice for over 30 years people (mostly men apparently) still treat her like she is a hobbyist – not a real artist. we talked about the unfortunate statistics around how much less women are represented by professional galleries, exhibited in solo shows and how much less money they get for their art. She told me not to listen to people’s bullshit and to keep going with my art – generous advice. She also talked about how much Emerald has changed since she when she was a child growing up here; about how lots of building that should have been heritage listed have disappeared and how the culture of the area has changed. She’s going to be there on Sunday for the markets and I look forward to talking some more and having a look at her work. Finally another lady who makes bags to sell at the markets walked through and had a quick chat – we mostly talked sewing techniques, I’ll see her again on Sunday too.
Meanwhile Lee, who visited me on Tuesday and whom I wrote about in my previous post shared this on her FB page which was nice of her.
From all the conversations I had today the two main points that stuck with are issues that I’ve been exploring in my work in community/ non-profit sector for several years:
1) How can we address the crucial difference between equal opportunity and equal outcomes – so that everyone in society, even if the are somewhat disadvantaged/margionalised (whether that is because of class, race, gender, beliefs or ability) are able to achieve the same outcomes as everyone else?
2) How do we move from the -I- to the -WE-. From an isolated collection of individuals to a globalised community without loosing our hard-won individuality and the things that make us unique at a local level?
Between all these chats I did manage to get some sewing done. I’ve based the design of this quilt off a piece my grandmother made which is in her book “Folk Art Appliqué Quilts” (pictured below). I’ve been working for like a day and a half on the patchwork border and spent the afternoon trying to do the leaf border panels she has in her quilt but I failed miserably… I’ve got a bit of work to do before I can sew so many random curves together in such a way that they lie flat. Unfortunately her book isn’t very instructive when it comes to the finer details – Dawn was self taught and I get the feeling she just made things up as she went along.
So for now this is where I’m at,