Archive for the ‘textiles’ Category

Beaded Flapper Dresses

Friday, October 8th, 2010

While in Perth recently I was taken along to the WA Historical Society in Nedlands, where the display at the time was of 1920’s era beaded evening gowns,  collectively known as ‘flapper’ dresses.  I had my camera with me, of course, and was delighted with the display of beautifully preserved and conserved garments on display.  I don’t know when that display comes down but if you are in Perth you might inquire – it is well worth going to see if it is still up.I should have blogged this at the time, but time and will did not come together in a busy visit back to our home city. 

Enjoy these – and I will put up a couple more some time.  Every display I have seen there has been interesting, so keep an eye on what’s going on there.  Worth popping in if you are visiting Perth .

A Studio visit with Margaret Whyte, Montevideo Textile Artist

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

p3190010Recently I visited a prominent Uruguayan artist, Margaret Whyte, well known for her large scale fabric and stitch conceptual installation works,  featuring extensive use of recycled and salvaged materials, particularly textile-like materials.  Just by chance I met her a few weeks ago at a gallery in the Museo des Artes Visuales,where her work was then on show.  See picture right, photographed with permission of the artist, showing part of the exhibiton ” Belleza Compulsiva”    It was the second show of hers I had seen in several years, and to my delight she seemed very interested in our meeting.   I love meeting other artists and talking directly about what we each do.   She works in a studio located in the Fundacion de Arte Contemporaneo, www.facmvd.org  in the old city area of Montevideo, in a quite small room surrounded by other artists in other rooms on the several floors of an aged apartment block.   Some were working when I visited, all doing a wide variety of very contemporary 2-d and 3-d art with  a preponderance of painting.  In addition to Margaret’s work which had interested me for some time, I was especially taken with the paintings of Fernando Lopez Lage – check the above URL – go to the list of artists and scroll to his name.  His colourful paintings comprise bands and stripes/strips of colour,  wonderful combinations, quite reminiscent of some contemporary quilters’ works, and the Australian abstract landscape artist, Jules Sher. (one of my favs)  Very large portaits are painted by Maria Carla Rossi, who was  not around, but a striking work in progress was waiting for her return.  I was however puzzled by the art of Cecilia Romero, who presents objects she picks up on the streeet, such as a cupboard door handle or a piece of cutlery or jewellery, encased in frames where they nestle into backgrounds of padded fabric looking as if they are in presentation cases, and I wonder does framing them in some way confer preciousness, value ….I didn’t come to clear terms with that.  There was another young female artist  painting  an image of a clutch purse as if seen through cyclone mesh – from the pics around her work area she has a message about women being victims of the fashion industry. I liked her work, and will try to find out her name although she did not seem to be listed on the fac website. 

But back to my visit with Margaret.  She keeps another studio space where she stores most of her fabrics and threads.   In this room at the fac  was a big work table with a mezzanine storage area above her head height – of course, older buildings have very high ceilings.  Margaret herself has done a lot of  abstract painting but is currently working in fabric.  Her sculptural works are large panels of colour, texture and shape,  worked directly onto artist canvases, or  richly ornamented 3-d  large figures.  She uses a lot of paint on the canvas and then adds manipulated fabrics and other materials, perhaps more paint and large hand stitches and coils and drapes of wrapped stuffed tubes – the whole having a rather rich voluptuousness, a medieval costume quality, and yet sudden details disturb, such as fish hooks appearing from somewhere in the manipulated fabric…. 

I meant to ask more questions about the rationale behind Margaret’s work, but we also got talking about my work, too.  I took  ‘Maelstrom’ and Timetracks, 8, to show her what I actually do since she only knew my work from the website.   She commented my work was ‘neat’ and was pleased she referred to it as ‘art’  .  Even the tracks  works such as Timetracks 8 she thought is neat, too, and I was a little taken back at that, even with all the raw burnt edges and hanging threads.  Interesting.  Should I  be concerned about this?  Probably not.  Everything is relative, and her work is definitely not ‘neat’ – it is exhuberant,  almost wild, by some measures  ‘raw’.    We had  a conversation too about mixing with and working among other artists.  I have mixed views on this, it could be interesting and exciting, on the other hand loaded with potential distractions,  and I know, or think UI know,  that I do best when working on my own.   That conversation caused me to look at the various feedback structures I have access to, and consider their importance to me.  It also set me thinking yet again about the ‘quilt industry’ and its relationship with the realities of the C21.  On that note I am especially looking forward to the SAQA conference where someone will be speaking on this very aspect – where to from now kind of thing.  Contemporary craft and art will change to reflect to some extent the pressures the world is under, I am certain.  This was a thought provoking visit.

There’s Nothing New Under The Sun

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

In the Auckland Museum my first stop was the gallery featuring New Zealand design and finely crafted objects of all kinds including several textile numbers, among which is this gorgeous 1964 silk two- piece culotte cocktail suit, by designer Colin Cole. It was not made clear whether the fabric design was his, or not.

Anyone who has been paying attention to developments in contemporary quilt design will recognise this pattern in the fabric as having been done over and over, I wouldn’t say done to death but it has become a modern quilting classic, which I attribute to the development of freehand rotary cutting and piecing methods mostly – as well as being a totally natural way to divide a square by curved non-intersecting lines. Although many quilt artists have totally abandoned any suggestion of repeat or block design in their desire to avoid anything to do with the traditional quilting world, I have always found it fascinating to explore the nontraditional within structures of repeat blocks and units.

Several of my quilts built of blocks in this design including John and Sue’s Quilt, Mary and Joyce’s Quilt, Diamantina, Spinifex, and Tidal Shallows 1 & 2 can be found in the gallery pages of my website, www.alisonschwabe.com
The colours I really love.

30’s Textile Necklace

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

A beautiful day, not too hot, and a fresh breeze – perfect for a morning’s stroll through some of the Tristan Navaja street markets this morning. The market goes on and on for many blocks, the best stalls occupying the whole length of Tristan Navaja, but it then spreads many blocks westwards of that street, into shall we say lower rent areas, for all stall holders pay a fee to the intendencia for this.

The lady in the mid blocks of Tristan Navaja who often has interesting household linens didn’t seem to have much this morning, but just along from her was another stall I usually look carefully at, having found a couple of other treasures there previously. This morning my eyes lit on this vintage 30’s neckpiece. Around what feels like a soft rope? core, is some kind of mesh fabric I think, possibly canvas, and ecru silk thread has been darned into this, covering any seam there might be – the flowers at first glance looked like lovely carved bone or ivory but they aren’t – they are ‘early plastic’ the woman said – I can tell they have been set in a mould not carved. The flowers are sewn into place by hand, and these of course may may have been added later, perhaps in place of something else, but she was very firm that this from the 30’s, and I must say I have never seen anything quite like it. It could have had a lovely silk flower on it… My mother and maternal grandmother were both pretty stylish, and Grandma had a couple of very elegant sisters – between them all they had heaps of modish jewellery and accessories. “In their day” it was a big thing to have your photo taken walking along the street, and they all did fairly often – I have seen a lot of these photos for the record so to speak, and the gals were always dressed to the nines complete with hats gloves and fox throws over their shoulders. And parties, too, or big nights out – they dressd up and often had photos taken. I have always taken a great interest in changing fashions of jewellery and accessories – but saw nothing quite like this in the family photos. Of course, little old Launceston Tasmania is and always has been, a long way from the fashion centres of London, Paris and other european cities. Which is where I feeeeel it might have come from – inexpensive but chic.

Since it was rather grubby, I have washed it, it has come up beautifully, and as I said, I am sure I will enjoy wearing it sometime.

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