Bundanon

 

These miniature tapestries were woven outside directly from the landscape with no intermediate drawing. This "Plein Air" technique, whilst common in painting, to my knowledge has never been used in Tapestry weaving. I wanted to try this technique to capture and translate the immediacy of what I was experiencing.

 

"Bundanon Valley", Tapestry 9 x 9.5 cm
"Pulpit Rock", Tapestry 10 x 10.5 cm
"Towards the River", Tapestry 9.5 x 8 cm
Valley View, Tapestry - 6.5 x 28 cm
Singleman's and Grass
Horizon Suite
Arthur's Hill
Verdure Suite
Valley and Road

About the work

Background

In 2003 and 2004 I was privileged to be awarded two residencies at Bundanon, the Shoalhaven property where Arthur Boyd lived and painted in his later years and inspirationally left as a legacy to Australian artists and the Australian people.

As an artist and tapestry weaver of thirty years experience I have always been fascinated by the connection between tapestry and landscape in an interpretative sense. My first exposure to Boyd's work was as a teenager visiting the Australian Galleries in Melbourne where I encountered and never forgot his Lovers and Nebuchadnezzar series.

In 1990, whilst a weaver at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, I wove a tapestry based on a painting of one of Boyd's Shoalhaven landscapes, gaining a strangely intimate knowledge of its features through myriad marks. Being resident at Bundanon became, for me, a moving and spiritual experience, privy to the sacred places and spaces of his prolific art.

Methods

As a representational artist it became apparent to me that I had to make these landscapes my own, and to imprint my personal stamp of observation on the abundant vistas that were offered up to me at every turn. Responding to the openness, vividness of colour and sheer beauty of the surrounding bush I started to work “en plein air” with a small frame propped on my knees, weaving the scene before me directly onto the warp without any preparatory sketches.

This is a very immediate way of working in tapestry – normally a very painstaking process – with aesthetic decisions being made constantly with the changing patterns of sunlight and passing clouds. The endless choices gave an exciting fluidity to the exercise, imbuing the pieces with a fresh vitality in their reflection of light, colour and atmosphere. As far as I know this technique has not been adopted by weavers before.

The drawings were inspired by viewing Arthur Boyd's collographs, housed in the Bundanon archive. In my studio I found an old table that had served as a palette for generations of painters, ridged and furrowed by accretions of paint that had built up on its surface and with a rugged, gaping slit at one end. I used its textures as a starting point for my drawings by taking rubbings with charcoal and pastel and was delighted by the variety of marks it rendered as I burnished and re- marked my sheets of paper. With judicious positioning I was able to use particular features of the surface as part of my visual repertoire. I also used a printing press to emboss dried grass into my drawing paper onto which I layered pastel to make a series examining the colour and marks inherent in depicting grass. As a tapestry artist I am very aware of texture being an intrinsic part of my work and I found the creation of drawn textures through these tactile processes both rewarding and exciting.

 


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