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Fourteen artists joined me in a collaborative project a couple of months ago. It’s online at thehomemadexchange.com until 31 August and its participants are Alex Falkiner, Brook Morgan, Brigitte Bättig, Carly Altree-Williams, Emily Penso, Elizabeth Pedler, Emma Griffin, Emily O’Brien, Emily Penso, Olivia Sherwood, Rachel Pringle, Rozalie Sherwood, Travis Heinrich and Wendy Meyen (including my mother and two sisters).

The exhibition is part of Craft Victoria’s annual festival Craft Cubed (1-31 August). Here’s an extract of my interview with Craft Cubed about the project: (The full interview is here.)

Explain the concept of The Homemade Exchange

The Homemade Exchange is a collaboration and online exhibition. A couple of months ago I was new to Instagram and enjoying being part of a friendly network with a focus on shared images. The Homemade Exchange came out of a desire to build on this kind of connection and to collaborate with close friends living overseas. I wanted to create a playful task with an element of exchange and as my circle grew, I wanted it to be easy enough for people to manage alongside other commitments. Artists emailed me an image – something from a domestic setting – and I sent them back a photo from another participant (randomly chosen) to respond to. Everyone is making an artwork in a medium of their choice and documenting their work for our online exhibition. It’s quite a curious task to respond to someone else’s source material and I’m looking forward to the responses. 

You can see what each artist had to work with and how they responded here: thehomemadexchange.com. The responses include a felted vessel inspired by a stone-walled garden; a collage of dancers mimicking a shadowy line of silhouetted objects; a digital film with a beautiful sequence and crescendo of reflections, a sideboard laden with curios becomes a quilted pillow made from 250 pieces (!) and a drawing from gold leaf and mould inspired by the creased cover of a worn notebook. Divine! (I may be implicated here but I am sure I would be impressed with the variety of techniques and thoughtfully crafted responses on display, regardless!)

My response

I responded to Alex Falkiner’s photo of what I imagined was her workspace, with drawings and textile works in progress alongside flowers and objects. I felt the image was strongly evocative of her and her art practise so I decided to focus on her hands in action. The appliquéd pieces are kimono silk offcuts I brought back from a trip to Japan. The orientation changed a couple of times in the process of working out the image and I happily added a couple of embroidery stitches to my repertoire. (Youtube has such excellent demonstrations – see Mary Corbet.)

 

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The back of ‘Alex’s hands tinker’, embroidery and appliqué on cotton handkerchief, 25 x 26cm

 

 

Pass it on!  thehomemadexchange.com

These collages are from a flurry of magazine-chopping that I began as an attempt to work out what kind of poses/compositions I gravitate to, to lead me to some figure drawings. Posed model shoots can be a bit boring so I often find myself obscuring faces. (I’m not sure they helped my process much but I had fun with them.)

I often see Afghan Hounds with their seriously moody expressions and long limbs in fashion spreads. I have a small collection put aside for a half-started book. I’ve just noticed this one is from a Brisbane fashion label Soot shoot. Check out this knitted yellow jumpsuit! And I’m a fan of this Lemonade jumpsuit.

Another kind of horse

Ellis's Elephant

Bena's horse

Cards in the post. The elephant was inspired by my new circus book – Circus! An investigation into what makes the sawdust fly. This book has the most delightful woodcuts and etchings. I’ve just found Books (bookbay.org) has it to download – an audio version too! ‘Steve’ said it was the best book he ever read. I’ve only looked at the pictures so far.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been chasing the light to take photos around the house for a project. (More on this soon!)

Today I remembered this little package of Mexican folk charms – Milagros – made from tin, and caught them in the afternoon light. They’re sweet little busts (2cm high) and the arm and leg  (the leg my friend needed, and we rummaged through the bowl of charms for) were hard to find.

I also remembered to listen to This American Life (525: Call for Help, 9 May 2014) after a friend’s recommendation and the stories gave me waves of goosebumps. Especially the one about a girl called Maya making her first friend.

And I saw some excellent roll clouds after a bout of rain.

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I have two new manuals of home crafts bought for $2 a piece from a Saturday book fair. The projects are clearly illustrated with colour photos (I’m sure I could re-upholster a chair with these instructions) and there are a bevy of projects to be inspired by, under headings: Needlecraft, Colourcraft, Papercraft, Flowercraft, Woodwork, Ropework and Cane, rush and seagrass to name a few. I think it’s the fearless combinations of colour I love the most!

Some highlights:

  • Empire-style flower pots with plastic mouldings
  • Basic American patchwork
  • Fabric and tissue paper flowers (very popular at the moment)
  • Pop-up cards using cut-outs

The images are tempting to cut up for collages but I daren’t risk missing out on key instructions, in case I want to make a pyramid frieze (above) to or a lover’s knot.

Really these books are just the best inspiration for heading off in all sorts of directions but also give me the feeling I could pick up some serious new skills if I pay attention.

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