Monday, July 05, 2004

Wangaratta Weekend

I went away on the weekend with some friends and had a very enjoyable and inspiring time.  We went to Wangaratta to the "Stitched-up Festival" which is a month long event showcasing the regions textile artists.  There was a lot of the traditional quilts and knitting and crotchet, but there was one exhibition which I was absolutely enthralled by.  It was the "3 A3's", an exhiibtion of 3 textile artists, who worked on A3 size.  It is the result of a challenge they set themselves whereby each week they selected a technique, style or topic to interpret in textiles.  There are several things that I took from this exhibition, apart from having the opportunity to drink in the talent of people and their ability with textiles. 

Firstly I was inspired by the simplicity of their designs and their work.  I find that all too often with my work I try to do "too much" and find myself thinking (about my own work) "it's too simple to be put in an exhibition".  What I realise when I see exhibitions such as these is that simplicity is not a bad thing.  It's a bit like food.  Too many flavours can result in a not being able to really appreciate the food (muddling flavours and tastes).  This exhibition reinforced for me that an idea can be simple, the techniques can be simple, but as long as the design has been well thought out, then the results can be outstanding!  I need to stop being so critical of myself.

I was also inspired by the method that these artists worked by.  Setting themselves a weekly challenge and sticking to it.  It is something that I would like to do when we reform at the end of this year.  It is also something that I could take on personally.  Setting myself challenges and sticking to the deadlines. Apparenlty last year their challenge was to do a sketch a day.  This is something I really need to work on.  I recall that I set a challenge last week to do a Visual diary entry each day and didn't do too well in achieving that.  Perhaps I need to go back a step... Keep it simple, and just do it.  A visual diary is just that, a record of ideas, images and thoughts, not an accomplished piece of work. 

Again I set myself the challenge to do at least one VD page each day, but this week I MUST KEEP TO IT!!!

The artists also had their journals on display.  These showed the inspiration, techniques and materials used for each piece, and in some cases a short story about their work.  Each was kept to a pages, with the facing page containing a photo of the finished work, a close up or progress picture and samples of fabric and techniques used.  It was a great way of presenting the processes and techniques without bombarding you with information.  I have made a mental note to self of this for future use.

Finally I was enthralled by the ideas and concepts that were used in these pieces.  Standing there admiring each piece I was just itching to get back and get into some of my own work.  Too bad I had to come to work instead of spending the day (or week) at home where I could play and design to my hearts content.  Perhaps this inspiration will help with the VD challenge.

We also visited a mill shop where they sold wool by the kilo.  There you could buy bags of bits and end balls of everything from plain to tissy wool.  Of course I bought a collection of tissy stuff, although now I'm not so sure why, as I haven't done any knitting for so long.

Another shop we went into had some more gorgeous wools and once again I was sucked in.  They were very well set up, they had a wall of scarves and samples and each one had the tag/s from the wool used attached, along with the quantity used and the number of stitches. I have made up one of my scarves already, completing it in the car on the way home, and I am wearing it today (1 ball of wool, 12 stitches and 10mm needles makes for a very quick scarf - I love it!).

The exhibition that I did enjoy was by two sisters from Melbourne who worked in felt and what we think is mostly found (op-shopped) knit fabrics.  They had some fabulous felted and knit (combo) wrap skirts (could be work as either) and wrap jackets (with large sleeves and held with a decorated kilt pin at the front).  This exhibition also inspired me, and I found myself waking early the next morning with thoughts and images of how I could use felting to create my next piece of work.  This is truly odd as I have toyed with felting once and have never actually made anything with it.

Of course we also found out that Kazari (a Kimono warehouse from Melbourne) was in town on Saturday and made a mad dash to get there.  We were just in time as she had everything packed back into boxes and was about to start loading into the car.  The lady was really lovely and allowed us to rummage through them and an hour later we left having purchased 5 kimonos, a scarf and a roll of fabric between us so at least it was worth her while.  I also found a silk scarf on the way out.  It's not a colour that I would normally pick up (or wear) but it felt so soft and when I discovered that it was only $6.50, I handed the money over without taking it off my neck.  I wore it that night when we went out to dinner and the girls were right, it does suit me!

So that's my weekend in a nutshell.  Now I'm off to find some paper to start jotting down some of the ideas that keep popping into my head.

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