Sunday, 26 October 2014

Wild, Pure, Aesthetic Wonder - Fibre 2015

This week was undoubtedly a fibre week.  We are preparing for a major fibre exhibition that will have two venues: the Craft Council Gallery and the Discovery Centre in Woody Point near Gros Morne National Park.  "We" in this case is Philippa Jones, my curatorial intern and myself.  She's got great curatorial instincts, a practical streak, plus a taste for both hard work and excellence.  I could not be happier.  Philippa was also successful in securing the events manager's job for the Fibre Conference that is being held in Gros Morne in October.  So, she is a one-stop wonder.  And yes, she is a kick-ass artist in her own right, who recently saw her work unveiled as part of a National Gallery exhibit drawn from their permanent collection.
Artist Philippa Jones (left) and Contemporary Curator of The Rooms, Mireille Eagan show off an epic ink drawing acquired by the National Gallery for their permanent collection.

The past week and this is an activity that will sprawl over several days, we have been doing studio visits or having artists bring in their work to discuss it with us at the Craft Council 3rd floor space.  Some of the artists have been quite apprehensive and I understand that they are eager to win our approval.  Their proposals were accepted but now the proof is in the pudding.  Have they made the right decisions? Will the art work bear out their ideas.  In many cases, they have about a month more to work before the next stage of documentation takes place.

Knitting, weaving, dyeing, etc are so labour intensive.  Add a good layer of research or experimentation and a month disappears pretty quickly.  I understand the investment that good art requires and good fibre art is a hungry monster.  I do not come from the motherly school of curating.  I am more inclined to hold an artist's feet over an open flame.  I have been called an art-nazi because I like to push artists outside of their comfort zone.   So, roast you over a pit and then feed you to the monster of process and ambition.  Hopefully, the result is a piece of work the artist had only dreamed about beforehand.

Philippa and I are encouraged by what we've seen so far.  The exhibition will enhance the experience of visitors to Gros Morne National Park but not by providing the merely picturesque.  I think viewers will come away with a greater sensitivity for the textures, sights and sounds of the park but also the fragility of the ecosystem and its biological intricacy. The spectrum of the proposed work includes soft sculpture, a "body loom" video work, an interactive carpet with sound and motion, masks that the public will be encouraged to try on, as well as more traditional use of weaving, doll making, hooking and knitting.

If you would like to know more about the conference, here's the link:

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