Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Join me for a textile workshop - Saturday 5 November

Detail of process wall objects

Installation view

As part of the exhibition I have on at the moment together with artist Nicole Barakat, we are holding a workshop this Saturday November 5th from 3-5pm. There are only 4 places left so book now if you are interested!

Gifts of Exchange sewing workshop will be held at the Cross Art Projects, 8 Llankelly Pl, Kings Cross. Join contemporary artists Nicole Barakat and Paula do Prado for a hands-on workshop with fabric, paper, stitching and handcutting, inspired by works in the current exhibition Adiafa/Diyafa: The Gifts of Exchange and Arabic and Latin American cultural traditions. Participants will take home their unique handmade gift and gain valuable insights into methods used by contemporary artist for collaborative projects.

Materials and tools will be provided but you are encouraged to bring in the following: a basic sewing kit, any gorgeous fabric scraps you are happy to donate for use in the workshop, and an object – such as a souvenir from your travels – to be used as a reference/inspiration in the workshop.

The workshop is limited to a maximum of 10-15 participants, so get in early as bookings are essential. Workshop runs from 3-5pm. Fee: $20, $15 (concession). Enquiries/bookings: or 9357 2058.

Tamworth Opening - Part 2

Anton Veenstra, detail of Sailor Boy, 2011

Lucy Irvine, detail of Continuous Interruptions, 2011

Michele Elliot, detail of hemispheres: drawn to you still, 2011

Meredith Hughes, Mantra, 2011

Meredith Hughes, Portal, 2011

Carly Scoufos, detail of Panels from the Interlaced Manuscript, 2011

Tania Spencer, Would you like some cake?, 2011

Julie Montgarrett, if 'if' is a question, these are the answers, 2011

Esther Paleologos, Framework, 2011(detail)

Esther Paleologos, Framework, 2011(detail)

The beautiful shadows cast by Esther Paleologos', Framework, 2011(detail)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tamworth Opening - Part 1

Brook Morgan 
Cecilia Heffer

Belinda von Mengersen

Demelza Sherwood

Detail of Demelza's work

Install shot

Almas Gemelas/Twin Souls

My twins

Great crowd for the series of artist talks

Martha McDonald

The official opening of the Tamworth Textile Triennial was last Friday 30 September. A group of us in the show drove for 6 hours from Sydney to be present for the opening and series of artist's talks over the weekend. It was a wonderful experience to meet other exhibiting artists and engage with a wonderfully supportive local and visiting crowd.  The show looked amazing and it was immensely valuable to hear other artist's speak about their work and discover the subtle interconnections between all the work.  The triennial has been curated by Patrick Snelling a practising artist and educator at RMIT.  

It was a very inspiring weekend but it wasn't just the exhibition that struck a chord. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Australian landscape driving through various country towns - it felt both familiar and very foreign. It reminded me that within the confines of my bubble in metro Sydney, my experience of place is very narrow. I took lots of photos on the trip and collected bits and pieces as souvenirs.  I'm still trying to digest it all *sigh*. I will also add that Bendemeer pub, 45 mins drive from Tamworth has an awesome old school jukebox right next to the pool table.

Part 2 of this post will include more pics and some notes I took during the talks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tamworth Textile Triennial 2011

Pictured: Article appearing in the current issue of Textile Fibre Forum Magazine, Volume 30, Issue 3, No.103, 2011, pp.52-53

I am very pleased and excited to have been selected in the inaugural Tamworth Textile Triennial, a national touring exhibition focused on contemporary textile practice in Australia.  The exhibition is curated by Patrick Snelling and selected artists include Martha McDonald, Elisa Markes-Young, Cresside Collette, Rodney Love, Cecilia Heffer, Brook Morgan and Belinda Von Mengersen amongst others. 

The exhibition opens on 30 September 2011 at 6pm at the Tamworth regional gallery. There will be a series of artist's talks over the opening weekend on 1st and 2nd October.  I will be giving a talk in the morning of Saturday the 1st October. The show will tour nationally through to the end of 2013 to the following regional galleries:

RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
Goulburn Regional Gallery
Manning Regional Gallery
Albury Regional Gallery
Broken Hill Regional Gallery
Stanthorpe Regional Gallery
Manly Regional Gallery 
Ararat Regional Gallery VIC

To keep up to date with the touring exhibition and events check out the Tamworth Regional Gallery website here

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I'm trying not to panic.  I have quite a few exhibitions coming up plus I am working towards a big solo show which is also part of my Masters degree examination. I'm feeling like things are starting to happen, momentum has been building and I'm grabbing the opportunities as they come.  I am confident I can make work. Making in the studio is never a problem in the sense that even when things I try aren't working out, I know its all part of the process.  I've even come to (almost) liking that frustration and tension that comes when you have an idea in your head but it just doesn't quite replicate in the materials.  I work in short frequent intense bursts.  I am trying not to panic at the moment because I get into the studio and want to do five things at once.  

There's a huge amount of work in progress. At that crucial stage where I've worked out how I'm going to resolve things but its just about spending the necessary time working towards completing a piece.  I'm at the stage where I will make significant headway with one piece and what I've learned working on that will help with resolving another piece of work.  What I have been finding hard is drawing the line between different projects.  Work for the solo show versus work for the group show versus work for the collaborative show. I'm conscious that my work is starting to take on a very definite 'signature' of sorts.  Even though I work across a few different mediums there is a distinctive set of recurring motifs, themes and modes of making.  Sometimes though doubt creeps in and I feel paralysed by the thought of either starting something that I'm not confident about or wrecking a piece by doing further work on it. I usually get myself out of a rut very quickly by going off to flip through some art, design or interiors magazines, having a cuppa and a cookie or putting on a load of washing and seeing what I can do in the hour I have before I have to go and hang up the clean clothes. 

I've given myself until the end of October to finalise work for the solo show next year, so I have a couple of more months of focussing on the process as well as making progress. In between I'm having my first show in Sydney at Cross Art Projects so look out for a post on this soon.

A new series of cloth figures is in progress

An extension of my 'Flag' works from last year, this piece is on linen

Another large wall piece, there are about 5 large pieces in progress

More cloth figures, the new series includes 'upside down' and 'loop' figures

Piles of work in progress at my studio at COFA

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Exhibition: Play at the Brooklyn Textile Arts Centre

curated by Joetta Maue

May 13-June 24, 2011
Opening: Friday, May 13, 8-11pm

Play- fun or jest...a game? a toy? a bully? a tease? a hair pull? a game of tag? a snowball fight? a kick or a pinch?
Play is an experience we all know- one that can bring us laughter and perhaps at times bring us tears. The dualities that exist within play are what make it a rich subject for the 2011 spring exhibit at the Textile Arts Center.
Most everyone has happily played on the playground but also been left out, made fun of, and teased. Through the exhibit this complexity within play is revealed. In addition to the thematic thread of the exhibit, we also celebrate the extensive risks and playfulness that emerging fiber artists are exploring in their medium and techniques.
Bren Ahearn, Paula do Prado, Ricki Dwyer, Di Ellis, Julia Elsas, Mallory Feltz, Linda Frost, Mira Gelley, Kathy Halper, Maggy Rozycki Hiltner, Jan Johnson, Eunkyung Lee, Tyler Mackie, Mary March, Amanda McCavour, Sophia Narrett, Robert Reed, Lydia Reinhold, Magali Rizzo, Julie Roch-Cuerrier, Daniaelle Simonsen, Carol Sogard, Kathryn Greenwood Swanson, Mariangela Tan & Justin Alan Volpe, Candice Thompson, Vadis Turner, Katya Usvitsky, Kathy Weaver

Artist Talk: Monday, June 13, 7pm
Play workshop, Sunday, June 12, 1-5pm

Textile Arts Center is located at 505 Carroll St, Brooklyn, NY 11215.
Mon - Friday: 10AM - 6PM Sat - Sun : 11AM - 5PM

Friday, April 29, 2011

Field Notes: Brighton, UK

I was honoured to present at the Picture This: Postcards and Letters Beyond text conference at the University of Sussex in Brighton UK. The conference was a fantastic two day event and accompanying exhibition curated by Nicola Ashmore, which included my piece A Big Adventure (pictured above). It was my first time in the UK and I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and meeting fellow presenters who discussed postcards and letters from a range of perspectives. My paper was titled Writing from the Margin: Letters of resistance, the conference website will soon be updated with copies of conference papers and other resource links.

I particularly enjoyed the following presentations:

Des Barry on the use of found postcards from the Tristan Narvaja market in Uruguay as a starting point for creative narrative, click here to see more of his project with Uruguayan Diego Vidart

Rachel Flynn presented a paper titled Using the written letter as a fine-art source to inform and stimulate a creative practice-led enquiry, she is currently undertaking her PhD at the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland. I found her discussion on practice led research within Fine Art practice engaging and insightful.

Robyn Creagh a fellow Australian based in Perth and London delivered an original paper combining postcards she has written to herself with a discussion of the interconnected nature of place, experience and memory

There were also fantastic keynote speakers including Ann Dumas, curator at the Royal Academy of Arts in London who spoke about the groundbreaking exhibition Vincent Van Gogh: Artist and Writer. The exhibition is particularly significant as it brought together a number of the letters that Van Gogh and his brother Theo exchanged, the letters are more akin to a visual art journal including sketches and insight into his creative process.

I was also profoundly affected by Professor Marcus Wood's paper titled Obscene aesthetics: Posting the lynching postcard. His work is concerned with cultures of slavery, you can read more about his practice here

The conference provided me with a wonderful opportunity to present my own ideas and expose my artwork to a new audience. The presentation panels were followed by a group discussion which provided an opportunity to both receive and provide presenters with feedback and more importantly highlight places of cross-over and valuable insights gained from current practice and research from divergent perspectives. The opportunity to exchange ideas with other arts and cultural practitioners was truly the highlight of the conference and made the effort very much worthwhile.

I would like to acknowledge the generous assistance of the conference organisers Katie Reid and Bethan Stevens in awarding me with a travel bursary and to the College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales which assisted in funding my attendance to the conference through a COFA Travel Grant.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Writing from the margin: letters of resistance

A Big Adventure, 2009. Acrylic on bemsilk lining, Australian souvenir pins.

Handwritten note from my paternal grandparents, Elsa and Fermin. The photo is of my grandfather. This is one of the few surviving letters that includes my grandfather’s signature. He didn’t write much. He only made it to the equivalent of year 3 in primary school before he began to work.

This is the title of a paper I'll be presenting at the Picture this: postcards and letters beyond text conference at the University of Sussex in a couple of weeks. The paper explores the work of two Latin visual artists, Eugenio Dittborn’s Airmail paintings and Cecilia Vicuña’s ‘circular’ letters. Dittborn’s Airmail paintings specifically engage with the letters ability to cross multiple geographic locations. Vicuña’s literally circular shaped letters were a direct response to a Chilean government mail out following the death of President Allende. The focus of my research are Latin American artists and makers drawing upon their experience of exile, migration and culturally diverse heritage to challenge notions of the centre and periphery. My research also explores my own personal experience of migration through collected family letters exchanged during the first year after migrating to Australia from Uruguay (including the handwritten note and photograph above).

The forms in which these letters are written, delivered and exchanged are explored as strategies of resistance and survival. Through making visual artwork in response to collected correspondence, I am attempting to tease out the politics of the experience of letters across borders. How can the individual and collective narratives, shared knowledge and experiences embedded within these letters impact on our understanding of established and unexpected borders or places of cross-over?

As part of the conference, I will also be exhibiting a work titled A Big Adventure which recalls my experience of migration. The combination of text (in both Spanish and English) and textile features predominantly in my work. The choice of materials also references the tradition of 'making do' and using whatever materials are available to convey a message.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Abuelo's treasure

I found this old wooden chocolate box at my Abuela's house on my recent visit to Uruguay. She said my Abuelo who passed away just over 10 years ago had a habit of collecting all sorts of little bits of seemingly useless things. I found all manner of things in this box including bits of elastic, little religious medals, buttons, coins, old telephone tokens, chains, needles, magnets, nails and even a set of cufflinks. Abuela said she had kept a few of his little treasure collections which he would put into old jars, tins and boxes like this. He didn't sort any of his collections. He was a bit of a hoarder but whenever someone was looking for a spare button or nail or piece of chain or elastic he always had just the right thing handy. Because most of the family thought it was just rubbish that he kept round, none ever really touched his collected items and so they've survived relatively untouched. Only he knew exactly where everything was, which jar or tin had what.

My grandparents grew up poor and went through much hardship throughout their life. They made a living by cleaning, cooking and looking after well-to-do people's homes and children, whilst raising 5 children of their own. I find it interesting to look back at the lives my grandparents lived and compare that to some the material remains and traces of their experience. I wonder if they ever got to eat the expensive fine chocolates that came in the Felfort box or if the luxury for them was to have found or being given the box once the chocolates had been enjoyed by someone else.

I'm still trying to work out why it is that I am attracted to these things, why I seem to place such significance on what to someone else is just a box of rubbish. I'm not sure its as simple as putting it down to nostalgia. I have seen so much of myself reflected in these material traces, that I cant help but think they are instrumental not only my to my sense of identity but my ability to then process and articulate my experience. I feel as if I again need to revisit Susan Stewart's book On Longing to find better understand my relationship to these objects and how they in turn inform my art practice.

I left the box behind in Uruguay in Abuela's safekeeping, but she encouraged me to take something with me. I have brought back with me the small religious medallions of various saints and places. I'm not quite sure how or if I will use them in my artwork, or if I will see them differently now once I unpack them and see them in a new context. I suppose for now they'll just be added to my own collection, which is very similar to my Abuelo's: messy and un-categorized.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Take you on a tour: Montevideo to Minas

Roadside beauty salon

Roadside bakery offering the typical 'bizcochos' which are small croissant like pastries

Signboard advertising sale of log wood for parillas (bbq's), there is also graffiti
in the background in support of one of the main national teams Peñarol or Manya

The 'Disco' is one of the most common supermarket chains, similar to Coles or Woolworths

Political party murals such as these are very common, painted signs are also used by businesses

More political murals and banners near a public park

Many street corners are taken up by pizzeria bars and diner style cafes

Monday, February 14, 2011


(Thank you)/Special Services

For rent/in an instant

More secure/More of More/Free gift

At the best price/Jackpots today

Our pride


Nearest you always

When I travel I feel very conscious of the fact that at some point in the trip, I have crossed from one place to another. The difference having crossed a border isn't always immediately recognisable until you get off the bus, plane or boat. I have been criss-crossing many borders lately, mostly by bus and on each trip I have been taking photos of the road and signs. There is always a similar pattern, we tend to leave from an urban area and the further we go the more sparse the buildings and houses become, the signs larger and or small and rustic. People must think I'm crazy taking photos from inside the bus. Most travellers just sleep or talk to each other or even listen to music with their earphones plugged in. Most of the bus trips I've taken last from between 2 hours to 10 or more hours travelling overnight. No one seems to care about the journey in-between, its all about how to pass the time until the destination is reached. Sometimes, I enjoy the 'boring' part in-between more. Could be because the getting on the bus or getting off on time or making sure you are on the right bus or having to go through customs or find seats tends to stress me out a bit. I much prefer the part where once you are in your seat you can relax and just look out the window.

Looking back on all my photos from the bus trips I started to copy some of the text on road signs, murals and posters. This started the Signposts/Letreros series above. They seem to form a nice little narrative as a collection. Looked at together they give an insight into some of the social preoccupations in South America; housing, cost of living, politics and personal security.

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signpost |ˈsīnˌpōst|
a sign giving information such as the direction and distance to a nearby town, typically found at a crossroads.
figurative something that acts as guidance or a clue to an unclear or complicated issue : there are few unambiguous signposts for doctors facing ethical issues.
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