This is a work-in-progress photograph from a piece that will be featured in The Australian Tapestry Workshop's Fertile Ground exhibition, featuring artists from their Artist in Residence program in 2014. You could say the work - completed after my residency - was a reflection on my time at the Workshop but also about the transition into the limbo of being a professional* artist. It jumbled altogether the ideas I have been working through since completing my undergraduate degree and my continual nit-picking of why I do, what I do. Here is my artist statment in all it's unedited glory...
"The act of making – how the process directly informs the outcome – has been a continual focus in my work. There is a pervasive human element to things made by hand. The tangible quality of the hand-made – it powerfully invites people to touch it – alludes to the fact we can somewhat imagine how such an item was created.
The Tapestry Workshop in 2014 was my first experience as an Artist in Residence. Having spent many years of my life always having some sort of formal education or work going on, I had newly transitioned into this odd limbo of being a "professional artist". Freedom, glorious freedom and I felt like pooping myself. In the face of having very limited restrictions, I suddenly wanted them all back. Please tell me how long to spend sitting here fiddling out a pattern! Dock my pay if I don’t arrive before 9am ready to work 3 days in a row. A deadline! My kingdom for a deadline! – I wanted to cry like a spoilt child given too much chocolate and complaining of a stomachache. Finally presented with a lack of formal structure, I wanted it all back.
In sobering hindsight, I can see that this makes perfect sense. With weave as a medium, my entire practice builds upon structure. Its basic confinements – in this case, the textile design format of 32x32cm - provide me with something to push against. Much like pushing an object down a hill, an immediate force is required. Initially a little uncomfortable, using elbow grease and grunt, it gains momentum. What originally feels like an effort starts to flow and take on its own shape. And it is what made and makes working at the tapestry workshop so exciting. As they still celebrate and value that a little bit (or sometimes a lot) of effort can create a beautiful outcome."
Fertile Ground opens Tuesday 24 March 6pm - 8pm. It'll run from Wednesday 25 March to Friday 1 May. The Australian Tapestry Workshop is located at 262-266 Park Street in South Melbourne and is open Tuesday - Friday 10am to 5pm.
*I'm still not that professional, I use poop in my artist statements and struggle to give my works serious titles. I'm working on it really, but the pays not much of a motivator.