Entering the Mechanics Institute, Moruya for the Friday night opening of our 2018 Exhibition ‘Warped’ (before our guests had arrived) – the freshly curated space, textile works beautifully and artfully arranged, unsightly elements covered with new calico covers, re- painted plinths gleaming white, drinks at the ready to be served with a healthy palette of nibbles, the stage set…the new exhibition team – like a band of elves – had worked their magic!
Pausing at the entrance hall, scanning over the visual spectacle of multi-layered shapes, forms, and textures and then wending a path through the works was a delight to the senses. This year’s exhibition theme – ‘Warped’ – gave our members plenty of opportunity to dig deep and embrace the challenge. It was really evident that our work has been taken to new places as we have loosened up, and played with new ideas, concepts and techniques. This year’s works were imbued with qualities of joy, lightness and whimsy and it seemed that the whole space felt buoyant, alive and very energised.
Of course this is a reflection of who our members are and how we work. We have learnt much from our tutor- led workshops and from the generosity of skill sharing amongst us, as we challenge and support each other to grow and develop our textile arts practice. This could not be achieved in a tight, judgmental and hyper-critical group. Our experimentation has required a playfulness of spirit, open enquiry and gentle, kind feedback.
In terms of the actual works, a huge range of (new and found object) materials and techniques were used and blended, including felting, stitching, weaving, boro, decoupage, paper making and printing on surfaces including metal, paper, cotton, tea bags (yes!), glass, polyester and canvas that were then moulded, stitched, waxed, sculpted, glued, painted, thermo manipulated and woven!
Do you get the picture? It was warped in all senses of the word – in form and perspective!
And if that wasn’t enough, we also set ourselves another challenge. Using cylinders as a shared form, our members again interpreted the theme, with wild abandon.
Over 100 people attended the first night (with another 270 flowing through our doors during the following 10 days) which was opened by Meredith Hinchcliffe, a Canberra based independent craft consultant, valuer and curator of textile shows. She remarked upon the quality of the work and gently admonished us for underpricing our pieces! We intend to explore this more fully in 2019.
Feedback from our viewers was very positive, complimentary and always much appreciated. Written and spoken words of praise included inspirational, uplifting, refreshing, talented and EFTAG never fail to impress.
Congratulations go to Julie Brennan – long standing EFTAG member, amazing conceptual textile artist and felter extraordinaire – who won BOTH our prizes. She walks away with a beautiful felt wrap (very appropriate!) made as a collaborative members’ project led by Michelle Slezak earlier in the year AND the Viewer’s Choice for her piece ‘The Ghost of the Great Artesian Basin’.
Big thanks go to wonderful Exhibition team, led by Mandy Hillson – Ruth Hassell, Steph Simko, Michelle Slezak, Joan Flynn and Nancy Brunton – for their excellent curation/administration of this exhibition. Thanks also (and once again) to the dynamic Celtic combo of Irene Berry and her husband Colin for responsibly serving good cheer on the night, and for help offered on the day from one of our newest members Karen Harper.
A final note (it has got to be said!): our guests on opening night really contributed such colour, flair, design and interest to our event. This speaks volumes about the quality of our knitted communities. Thank you for supporting us over the past 14 years.
Kerry Devine, EFTAG President