The upcoming year looks exceptionally busy, beginning with a solo exhibition at CraftACT: Craft and Design Centre here in Canberra, Australia. (https://craftact.org.au/blogs/future-exhibitions/death-of-a-craft-sharon-peoples )The title is ‘Death of a Craft’.
The current work responds to an intensive time spent travelling in Italy (2015) and Spain (2017): accessing museum collections; travelling with traditional lace-makers; and meeting Italian lace-makers as cupboard after cupboard, drawer after drawer were opened and discussions ensued about lace both historically and technically.
Modernity and lacemaking have rarely converged. Lace is a purely decorative medium - it has little utility other than decoration. Modernity stripped away decorative elements to understand form, and from this perspective lace had little chance of survival. Nonetheless, in Italy there were samples of lace and lace designs ranging from the 1920s through to the 1960s that contrasted starkly in comparison with what lace practitioners are making now.
I have written an essay for the exhibition and will post that when the show opens. Although I have been working on this for nearly two years, it is the textiles produced in the last few months that will be in the exhibition. I have been constantly working with this title but it is really only recently that everything has come together as a cohesive body of work. I think it has been many unbroken hours in the studio, day after day.
My new year’s resolutions last year included a number of aspirations. Keeping a journal as I work has also been one. I noticed that when I didn’t reflect on the work, I was relatively uninspired. Another resolution was to make more samples rather than diving into the making. By the time I came to make larger works, I was so familiar with the colours and the techniques I was utilizing that I had very few total failures.
Although I must admit, before I embarked on the figurative works, I had made a huge piece that I thought I had resolved design-wise. I had made a couple of samples and a scaled drawing, but I hadn’t really tested out the piece. I made a few changes and additions as I worked. When I finished stitching, I felt very disappointed. I didn’t feel excited by it and doubted anyone else would. I still haven’t washed away the soluble fabric of this piece.
For now, the images I have been embroidering on soluble fabric are of plants that contain poisons – such as oleander, euphorbia, angel’s trumpet and toadstools.