Thursday, October 2, 2008


Coming up on Wednesday, October 15 is the opening of Entanglement at the Manningham Gallery in Doncaster, Victoria. I won't be able to make it to the opening, but if you're down that way, pop in and have a look. It's an exhibition of textiles and glass. Here's the invitation, and below that are images of my work, plus an excerpt from my book regarding that series of work.

The other artists in the show are Cheryl Clark Thornton, Des Fankhauser, Hilary Green and Rachel Hine, Jennifer King, Susan Reddrop, George Aslanis, Brook Morgan, Nadia Mercuri, Amy Cornall, Yhonnie Scarce, Kelly Leonard, Graeme Orridge, Sara Lindsay, Ruth McCallum-Howell, Ilka White and Bethany Wheeler. Kelly Leonard and Hilary Green are both also in Momentum: The 18th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial.

This first image is of the installation as I imagined it, and as I wrote about in my book. This hang was never an exhibition, though. It was just set up to be photographed. The gallery space where I had my MFA grad. show didn't have the ideal configuration to set up the installation as I envisioned it. The whole work is called I Am Because We Are, but only 4 of the long, coloured panels will be in the Entanglement show.

This is a side shot, and only possible because of the movable walls in the gallery I used for the shoot. The pink, purple, and white panels in this shot are in the show.

The pale blue panel is the 4th work in Entanglement.

This is a series of detailed shots of the 4 panels:

Below is my contribution to the catalogue. I'm not sure how much will be used. It's a conflation of different parts of my book. I thought this work particularly apt for the theme of Entanglement because of the connections that I was drawing between the individual and the group, and the way the weaving process indissolubly joins the materials together.


“When René Descartes said I think therefore I am, he had stumbled across a profound philosophical truth. But, of course, it was not the whole truth, and when taken alone it rings of self-sufficiency and individualism. For a more complete understanding of the self I draw on the wisdom of an African proverb: I am because we are. The emphasis here is on our interdependence and connectedness. Our very existence depends upon those around us, and the people in our lives shape who we become.”

Matt Lawrence, Like a Splinter in the Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy

When I read this quote, it helped to clarify ideas that I had been working with in my art practice. I had been collecting hair from people, and using it as a metonymic representation of the donors. I was assembling groups from these individuals, with the group and the individual being equally important. I was including the names of the donors so that they were known, distinct individuals and not an anonymous mass. The donated hair was being spun and woven, and I was creating groups that were indissolubly joined together. These woven forms were an embodiment of the metaphor of “the fabric of society.” The proverb mentioned above encapsulated the concerns that I had - the idea that I am because we are - and provided the title for an installation, and for my book.

I Am Because We Are, 2004-06, an installation of woven forms all made from donated socks, developed out of the hair weaving works. It began with the desire to collect something from people that could be used to represent them, while continuing to explore the relationship between the individual and the group. I was happy with the textiles I had made from hair, but I was frustrated at the necessarily small scale (because of the amounts of hair I was able to collect). I needed a material that would enable me to get more participants and make pieces on a larger scale. I was familiar with art works that used clothing as a metaphor for human beings, so that was a possibility, but I also wanted to avoid clichés. I decided to solicit for socks because almost everyone has them, most people have some that they want to get rid of (for example, odd socks or socks with holes), and they’re small and easy to post. I sent out emails; advertised at university; posted ads in a number of magazines, bulletin boards and craft groups; sent letters to journalists, art world people, politicians and everyone in New South Wales with the surname ‘Love’. I also badgered every friend and acquaintance as well as people at art openings. In all I had around 350 people donate socks to me, but the quantity of socks numbered in the thousands, as some people took the opportunity to clear out their sock drawers.

In order to make this piece, I had to cut the socks into strips before weaving them. This is a standard technique for making rag rugs, but the textiles I produced were for exhibition and not for utilitarian use, so didn’t need to be as sturdy. The fabric I produced is a twill where the weft threads are the focus and the warp threads are only of structural importance. This also allowed me to weave ribbons with the donors names typed on them into the fabric. The first part of the installation I made was an abstracted kimono using only white socks. I then made black panels to go behind the kimono and a rug to go on the floor. By this stage I had been researching memorials, so the form of the installation began to mimic that of a memorial. I had in mind a war memorial with panels on the walls and a statue of a soldier at the far end of a corridor. In my installation, the series of woven wall panels form a corridor leading through to the kimono. The socks, like the hair in my earlier weavings, are used as signifiers of the people who have donated them.

Artwork details

Title: I Am Because We Are

Materials: Socks, cotton, polyester ribbon, on wooden frame

Dimensions: 200x50cm

Price: $1000 each

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