Celebrate the `F' Word @ Left Bank Art Gallery
4 May - 12 June 2012
West Coast Artists Celebrate the F Word
Notes in square brackets added by Mary Celeste
15 May 2012
Some people express their thoughts and feelings in poetry. Others carefully stitch, weave and bind their thoughts together. A few achieve fibre poetry in their creative works where colours, textures and tactile messages come together in original ways that continue to satisfy with each viewing.
From the moment you walk in the door you know you are drawn into an exhibition with a difference. Don’t be misled by the seductive domestic pinnies on the wall ahead [made by Mary Celeste]. They are as subversive as they are beguiling in their modern messages about women’s lives.
Eighteen West Coast women artists, from Granity to Haast, have contributed a variety of work to the current exhibition at the Left Bank Gallery. The provocative title of celebrating the ‘F’ word – that’s the cue for fibre in various forms - fulfills all the expectations of a stimulating art exhibition. As promised, there are both fabulous and fun fibre art works that tease, please, inform and provoke.
What is interesting is that, without any collusion, many of the artists have drawn upon traditional forms of female handwork skills such as crochet and stitchery and used them to embellish very different stories incorporating modern themes and issues. Flax fibre is exquisitely woven [by Aroha Timoti] into a fine fishing cloak; elsewhere it is lovingly folded to make a wedding bouquet, and again differently as a strong tribute statement to the awesome Tane Mahuta. Cameo creations [by Lindy Roberts] encapsulate a contemporary social history commentary on the interweaving of different cultures and colonialism using a mix of representative fabrics and images. The doilies of our grandmother’s day are still present [in the work of several artists] but they are given a new role and place.
Women have a long history of weaving and stitching conversations and family history into their quilts and handwork. The simple pleasure derived from joyous colours in the quilted wall-hangings [by Barbara McQuarrie] evokes instantly recognizable feelings and associations, as the titles affirm. The guest artist [Caroline McQuarrie] takes us on an intergenerational home and the heart journey by combining different mediums in new and unexpected ways. Instant photographic images of places and favoured memories seem to be made more permanent and personalized in the story-telling when carefully enclosed in a hand-crocheted border. And the family history photographs that are unexpectedly recreated within linked crochet cameos tell us as much about their meaning to the artist as about her excellent technical skills in the creation of this very distinctive heirloom work.
Within the small vault space you’ll find an interesting subject mix, drawing us into visual reflections on life and death. Carefully moulded fibres are sympathetically linked together to create 29 bowls in a memorial table runner [by Mary McGill]. Alongside [also by Mary McGill] is a collage that poignantly comments on another recent disaster of our times and our perceptions of solidarity and permanence. Another work both confounds and confronts in its messages. When the familiar art of knitting is wrapped around dead skulls [by Marg Sexton; not shown on website] we are further challenged to think about traditional roles and arts of men and women. Is hunting or shooting of bird and beast merely a different art form, we might also ask? As in real life, these contemplative works are juxtaposed with smaller pieces that give us welcome pause for a sigh of adornment pleasure, and admiration for the playful quirkiness of the themed character folk. Every office desk should have one of these unique ‘touchy feelers’ [by Jo Keppel] to put a smile in the work day.
There’s something for everyone to relate to in this collective exhibition. Beautifully executed folk art style representations of classic New Zealand images [by Monica Haddock and Sue Roper]; wire thread art [by Sheryl Brooker] that says as much in its reflections as in the foreground essential skeletal imagery; landscapes [by Janet Gawn] with stitched highlights that skillfully capture the simplified elemental measure of the familiar in the physical environment of interest; and delicate mood scenes [by Colleen Eason] that capture the exquisite essence of outdoor moments and memories that we all recognise.
Do allow enough time to linger and discover the many layers of meaning reflected in these works. The exhibition continues until 12 June.