Friday, July 22, 2011

Collaborart Project

I have been participating in a community art project, Collaborart, which is an initiative by the Youth Network of Tasmania to bring together artists and high school students from the Southern Midlands, Derwent Valley and Central Highlands of Tasmania to form a collaborative art work.  The project will culminate in an exhibition showcasing the collaborative efforts of artists and students.

As a starting point we were given the general theme of "a sense of place".  For me this meant both a geographical and psychological place, that is, I had long dreamt of living in a remote and rugged place, but was bound to the big city by work and education commitments.  Big city life did not suit me.  I felt trapped by the endless noise and chaos of such an environment.  It stifled my creativity and I was not a happy person.  Moving to the Central Highlands changed all that.  Peace, tranquility and the mental and physical space to create has transformed my life, both practically and, although not meant in any religious sense, spiritually.

For my partner, Casey Day, her life journey is really just beginning.  She lives in the lovely hamlet of Tyenna and while she enjoys the beauty and freedom of the countryside it can seem a rather lonely and remote place to a girl in her teens.  Inevitably she looks towards all that the greater world has to offer.

So, how to combine our collective experience into a cohesive and meaningful artwork?  We decided to do 2 separate but thematically linked works.  My title:  From There to Here; Casey's title:  From Here to There.  We then explored potential imagery to communicate our themes.  Casey developed a theme of a flower growing from a large seed.  After several preliminary drawings she settled on image below.

Next she dyed the fabrics she planned to use to create her image.

Casey arranges her fabrics in the order that they will appear in the completed work

  Drawing and fabrics side by side.

Threads dyed and ready to begin stitching.  The spots on the fabric are not very clear in this photo, but they were block printed on the fabric using gold metallic fabric ink.

Casey hard at work in my studio

Casey using the two-handed technique of embroidery that I taught her.

To depict my title of From There to Here I am working on an image of bird flying free of what is both a cage and a depiction of city skyscrapers.

The work is mounted onto a frame to keep the fabric taught so that puckering does not occur during stitching.  The cage/city motif along the bottom of the work was achieved with block printing with a geometric wood block printed first in black and then turned 90 degrees and overprinted in metallic gold ink.

Work in progress.  The block printing is more obvious in this shot.

Close up of the bird (in progress).  Note I have used the same block that Casey used in her work to print the background of the sky (reminiscent to me of a star filled milky way.

The bird figure has been adapted from a traditional batik motif know as "the sad bird".  Very appropriate to my theme.  In the finished work there will be a series of tail feathers drifting to the bottom of the work, indicative that although the bird has escaped there was a price to pay.

This post has also been published on the Collaborart blog.

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