The Dobell Drawing Prize 2019

I’m thrilled to share the news with you that my work ‘365 Days’ is one of 58 finalists in the Dobell Drawing Prize 2019. The Prize showcases the expanded field of drawing, celebrating innovation, technical skills and diverse media.

The National Art School in association with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation will present the Dobell Drawing Prize on 28 March 2019.

Over the course of 2017, I used a simple set of rules to generate a work where my hands and my memory made marks, without the intervention of my sight. The rules were stitch daily and stitch with my eyes closed. The year’s marks read as a map of my mind and hands finding their way across a bounded space.

The judges, Michelle Belgiorno, Simon Cooper and Ben Quilty, said of the submissions:

“We were amazed not only by the number of entries, but by their quality and sheer variety of approaches to drawing. It’s clear that today’s artists explore drawing’s full range of possibilities – from sculptural, performative and digital drawings, to extremely skilful works using classic materials such as charcoal and ink. We’re thrilled to see such technical talent and innovation reflected in this year’s shortlist.”

The exhibition of finalist’s works, will be held at the National Art School, running from 28 March – 25 May 2019

National Art School | Forbes St, Darlinghurst NSW

Work in progress

I am settling in for some long stitching sessions over the coming months. In September this year I will be having a solo exhibition at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space in Manuka.

The show is inspired by ideas that were developed and photographs that were taken during my Asialink Arts Residency at Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo in 2016.

Today I have a bit of a teaser for you from the piece I am currently working on. I am focussed on framing those in-between moments of our daily life.

Just because

I am currently working through some fairly tedious passages of mark making on one of my pieces, so yesterday I decided to give myself a break and have a play.

Stitching on a piece of bubble-wrap envelope presented itself. Apart from using different colours of thread, the other change I made between the two pieces was to have one that was stitched in a fairly regular pattern and one which was stitched as randomly as I could manage.

Stitching with my eyes closed 

Some of you will know that I have been participating in the #365handstitch2017 challenge where people are asked to stitch a minimum of a thread a day for a year. I thought it was time to show you the progress so far.

The ‘front’ of the piece 

As you can see I’ve already added several pieces of cloth together and am working on melding them together.  I made the decision up front to ‘stitch with my eyes closed’, (a process I have been using since I first started this blog). Working this way has meant that I do not visually self-censor. This choice has removed from me the necessity of neatness. I also find the process of leaving the decision about which thread and which stitch to use, until the moment I pick up the work, really freeing.  

Other people online have asked some very pertinent questions about the direction the work is taking. This has made me think about a number of issues, in particular whether I have a specific end in sight – no; and how much bigger the piece might become. 

So I have decided that the current size is where I will leave it (at present). The obvious question of what to do when I run out of space to stitch, was equally quickly answered -work on ‘the back’. I have started this process and not looking while I stitch has helped a lot. It is so hard not to be precious with my work.

The ‘back’, with two new areas of work in cretan stitch and herringbone stitch.

You can see from the photo above that the reverse side of the stitches predominantly resembles small running stitches. That’s why I’m currently adding some strongly coloured lines of stitching. You can see from the following photos that the reverse of even strong colours is not very intrusive. 

Blue herringbone stitch is quite strong when looking at the face of the stitch

The reverse of the stitch is quite unobtrusive

The ongoing challenge will be to stick with the process. It may be difficult to ‘spoil’ this work, but working against an established aesthetic is hard.

Lines of Inquiry

After last week’s workshop I felt that huge buzz that comes when new ideas and approaches are opening up. The Little Oxford dictionary’s succinct definition of inquiry is “asking; question; investigation”. I like the open endedness of that definition. At present I’m happy to ask the questions without worrying too much about specific answers.

I’m looking at how to develop physical layers in my work. I’m interested in trying out different ways of creating transparency and opacity in these ‘sketches’. Some of the techniques I’m thinking about are using meshes, such as the fly wire I have trialled here.

Cotton stitching onto fly screen mesh

Cotton stitching onto fly screen mesh

In this second sketch the inspiration has come from a photograph that I have drawn onto.

Stitching into fly wire with source material.

Stitching into fly wire with source material.

This next sketch has several layers. The bottom is a photograph, over which I’ve placed a piece of screen printing mesh which I’ve drawn onto and on top of that a piece of cotton embroidery on canvas.

Photograph overlaid with mesh and embroidery.

Photograph overlaid with mesh and embroidery.

The handy thing about this piece is that the layers are still separate so I can try out different configurations. Taking photos of the possible variations is an quick way of trying my ideas out.

Lastly I took one of my photos and played around with focusing in on one section, then scaling it up. I’ve also worked back into the photograph with coloured pencils.

From original photograph to scaled-up final image.

From original photograph to scaled-up final image.

I like how this detail has become abstracted. I could use it as a background or a feature element. If I focus on the lines then I could use it as a ‘mesh’ within a piece of work. The possibilities are still to be fully explored.

Off the Square exhibition 10 – 26 May 2013

Here is advanced notice of an exhibition, which will include my work, to be held at the Belconnen Arts Centre from 10 to 26 May 2013.

Off the Square, curated by Peter Haynes, consultant curator, writer and art historian, presents works by Craft ACT’s vibrant membership of craft practitioners and designer makers. Highlighted will be a variety of approaches to medium and practice.

The opening will be at 5.30 pm on Friday 10 May and there will be a meet the artists event at 2.00pm Saturday 18 May.

This is Us - detail

A detail of one of my works in the exhibition