I have been working away on an exhibition called Trees to be held at the ANCA Gallery, Dickson, here in Canberra (http://anca.net.au/portfolio/trees/July 18-August 5). It is a group show with Wendy Dodd, Deborah Faeyrglenn Susan Hey, Janet Meaney, Marli Popple and myself. The group is a part of the larger umbrella Nets, a regional group of textile artists which has a ten-year history of exhibiting here in Australia and internationally.
I was a little reluctant to take on this theme of trees as it is not an area I usually work with. However, Deb Faeyrglenn’s enthusiasm of the book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees: What they feel, how they communicate’ by Peter Wohlleben made me curious enough to get me to read it. It was a fascinating read.
After much consideration I went looking for trees I could realte to, but I didn’t get far. I ended up on the front nature strip, under our Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta). It is an indigenous tree to Australia, so not really an oak tree. The timber has a lovely figure, in fact it is called lacewood. This snippet of research raised my eyebrows.
My first encounter with the timber was when I attended an auction up near Crookwell. It was the sale of old vicarage and its contents There were 20 chairs made from silky oak. Stunning chairs but I didn’t have a need for that many chairs. I was bidding for a large pile of table cloths.
The next piece of research indicated that the sawdust and sap can cause irritation to the skin. A friend also told me she used to sit under a silky oak and discovered that the pollen was having an adverse effect on her skin.
These two points were in line with my previous exhibition Death of a Craftin February 2018 at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. Highly toxic plants were used as motifs to make lace-like structures.
I began using the format of a mandala, used previously in work I made about our walk along the Camino in Spain. I also realised that this could also reflect a circular slice of timber with the growth rings. Later this year I will be exhibiting work on birds and decided to incorporate the noisiest birds that can be heard when the silky oak is in flower: red wattlebirds.
My next drawings had me revert back to using full sized bodies like the ones in Death of a Craft. I used the wattlebirds again.
I continue to make work in this vein for the exhibition.