Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Heart Amy Ahlstrom

Work by Amy Ahlstrom
NYC (2008) - 21" x 48" - Dupioni silk and cotton
(Courtesy of Amy's website at )

I stumbled upon Amy Ahlstrom's work and website the other day and WOW is her work absolutely amazing!  It is awesome to see an artist who is working with a very traditional art/craft form, such as quilts and giving it such a contemporary twist.  Her works have an amazing impact due to the use of colour and bold shapes and iconography.  

In her artist statement she says:

"My quilts are influenced by pop-art painters such as Mark Ryden and artists who have referenced a comic-strip drawing style such as Margaret Killgallen, in that I appreciate bold and graphic takes on images that are inspired by urban life.

Though it is textile art rather than drawing or painting, my work is most comparable to that of pop, lowbrow and graffiti artists. My quilts are modern art pieces that happen to be rendered in fabric. I take quilts out of a rural context and bring them into present-day urban environments.

My ReMix series of quilts are thematically and visually dense, full of sampled layers of meaning. They reflect the experience of city life, as seen through the graffiti, signs, and buildings present in every city. They serve as an anthropological record of an urban neighborhood, in that the images that I capture are constantly in a state of flux."

You should definitely check out Amy's website but if you are in the San Francisco area, you can check out her work as it is currently on show at a.muse gallery.  Visit for more information.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tiny Tapestries...

Well these are tiny for me!  They are about 20cm square and have been great fun to weave as they are so quick!  I did talk about my approach for these works here in this post but I thought that I would give you an update on how they are all looking! I should point out that they haven't been 'finished' as yet, they still need to have the warp plaited back and everything needs to be made, ready to hang.

Latest weaving
A sample of the tapestries and my studio.

I was on a size restriction with these works, they could be no bigger than 20cm by 20 cm.  In terms of a 'theme' I was investigating the use of shadow and silhouettes and how this plays out within the woven surface.  A shadow can look very flat when woven, how does the viewer translate this?

Small tapestry
'Onto the Shadow', woven tapestry:  wool, cotton and linen, 2011.

These works are also a little crudely woven.  Each of them were woven in one sitting each, which I believe was a must to keep the spontaneity of each piece.  The original images were crops taken from old collages that I had made.  Because of their age, I was able to work on these images without the initial attachment.  There was also many decisions being made on the loom, with new colours introduced, elements removed and in the 'Onto the Shadow' work, deciding to make it into a shaped tapestry.

'Stuck in the Silhouette', woven tapestry:  wool, cotton and linen, 2011.

The idea of shadow and silhouette is a play on ideas of vanishing and emerging.  What is hidden and what will come out of the shadow.  What is shadow and what is part of the figure?  Distortion is created through shadow, hiding parts to create a new identity.

'Vanish into Blue Shadow', woven tapestry:  wool, cotton and linen, 2011.

Working on such a small scale has been both refreshing and daunting!  The ability to work quickly and make intuitive decisions has been a delight!  However, working on a small scale, also makes it difficult to see how the final piece is looking and if everything is getting woven in it's right place.  With small works, I can weave in a way that isn't too precious and I think that the outcomes have been great.  I'm looking forward to pumping out some more small works when I need a break away from the large monster of a tapestry on the loom!

These small works are proposed for an exhibition, stay tuned for more information on this.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Sweet Gift from my Mentee...

Gorgeous thank you gift from my mentee! And courier'd to work!

The other week I received a small parcel couriered to my work.  When I collected it, I looked at the small box and wondered what was in it!  It looked far too small for any of the gallery delivery items that we get (printed goods, vinyl lettering, magazines or bubble wrap!)  You can imagine my surprise and delight that when I opened it, it was a noodle box full of delicious mixed sweets from my former mentee, Lou!

It came with a very touching card thanking me for my assistance over the last year.  I met Lou when she came on board at Town Hall Gallery to be my mentee and to curate an exhibition Weapons of Mass Consumption.  The exhibition was a fantastic success, very much to Louisa's credit and she was an absolute delight to work with and mentor over that time.  I was so pleased to see on the thank you note that she had been appointed to a new role!  It's so great seeing her go on to do amazing things.

Lou, Mardi and John at the gallery

One of the best things about my current job is the opportunity to work with emerging artists and curators and to share my experience and knowledge with them.  Most of the time these mentorships lead to long lasting friendships and I get such a kick out of seeing them succeed in their careers.  I think that I've been inspired to mentor others thanks to my own initial learning backgrounds when I was a teenager and how it affected what I wanted to do and really where I am now.  It's not a one way street by any means!  I definitely receive inspiration and ideas of new ways of working from all of my artists and curators.

Sounds gushy huh?  It really is a fantastic experience, sharing knowledge is a very rewarding thing to do!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blog Love...


My bestest, bestest girl friend and partner in all crimes of fashion has finally started a blog!  I'm super excited to have her on board the great blogger bus and to hopefully give her some tips and hints along the way.  Not that I'm a blog expert but my blog readers and I have been together for a few years now - thanks guys!

You should check out her posts at - she's awfully arty, funny and always has her finger on the pulse for all things cool and fashiony! 

Check it! (as you can see, she digs Matryoshkas too!)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yellow Obsession...

I remember as a child that my parents had bought me this bright yellow plastic raincoat.  I think it came from an army disposals and at the time I really hated it.  It was thick and chunky, definitely kept the rain off but I didn't think it was all that attractive and the other kids thought it was pretty hilarious and made fun of me.

Thinking about it now, maybe it was the start of my weird yellow obsession.  There is something about the colour which is so bright and cheery and if you have black hair like me, it definitely suits you without your skin going some weird colour.  I'd probably kill for that yellow raincoat now!

Yellow marimekko
Yellow Marimekko bag.
Studio day 26 may 2011
Yellow tapestry yarn in my studio.

The yellow thing has been seeping into my tapestries over the last couple of years.  I love the acidity of the yarn when it is yellow.  Something very desirable about it!  I almost can't describe how much I want to eat it! He,he!  And when it comes to desirable, I HAD to have the giant schlep bag that was released for Marimekko this spring.  It is huge!  It holds so much and adds such a huge block of colour to any outfit.  I love it!

The great yellow cowl
The Yellow Peril cowl that I recently made.

I had actually bought the yarn to make this cowl while we were in San Francisco, the Marimekko bag came after, so the 'yellow thoughts' were already there.  I jokingly called it the Yellow Peril here, a reference to the derogatory name of the Vault sculpture here in Melbourne... funny how when people don't understand art that they make fun of it.  I actually quite dig the sculpture with it's minimalist ways and triangular shapes.  It's quite desirable to me!

I wonder how much more yellow is to come into my life?  Are there any colour therapy people out there that knows what all this yellow means?
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