threads the bind exhbition by the Warrnambool Textile Group (Ros Barwell, Kaori De Guchi, laurene dietrich, Monique Pope, Rachel Watt). The exhbition is open until January 26th at Backspace, Huyghue House, Alfred Deakin Place, Ballarat. I (Erin) had the honoured to be asked to open this exhbtion. Here’s my opening address, with pics after.
‘Today we meet on Waddawurung country. On behalf of everyone here I pay my respects to the elders past and present who have been custodians for thousands of years.
I am a visitor, now friend in this country, no idea of wearing out my welcome! As such I can do an acknowledgement of country, not a welcome.
A traditional welcome, unlike the ones we hear today, were affairs that went for days. The visitors arrived and were welcomed, then the women gathered to discuss women’s business, and the men gathered to discuss men’s business. Then they would come back together, hunt and cook together then share a meal together.
Only then the ceremonies would begin, corrobees, jumbas, dancing, singing, sharing with each other around the fire. Each element with a message, each with their own story. Sites of significance were shown, where stories about the spirit of this land were shared. The elders believed that once this was done, often over the course of days, the strangers then were friends. These new friends now had the spirit of the land in their hearts and would take care if it, love it and care for it as if it were their own home country.
Hidden Voice (detail) by Kaori De Guchi
Warrnambool textile group – with threads that bind – Rachel, Ros, laurene, Kaori, Monique. This exhibition feels like a welcome to the country of these five women from down the track in Warrnambool.
Neither am I part of this country, again a visitor, hopefully now friend who has no idea of wearing out her welcome!
However I am perfect! Perfect to draw your attention to the unique skill ability and artistry of these women. Why? Because I have such a close connection with textiles, knitting and sewing, my skill in legendary.
Since a child, I have had a mentor to share in a growing talent with all things knitty. A beautiful wooden woman I could hold in my hand. Knitting Nancy. Maybe you knew her too? Her skill was to make knitting easy, and entertaining. She entertained me for about three hours. I will never forget her.
My sewing skill is also legendary. My sister Kerry loves to tell the story about arriving early at my home for a dinner party she found me pregnant, one child crawling around the kitchen with potatoes and me sewing curtains. She doesn’t remember what we ate however the place looked amazing!
I decided to revive my knitting, to a unique scarf and a half. Another sister, Colleen arrived and I proudly showed her my casting on (its a knitting term). She asked what I was knitting, I replied a scarf, she responded that with all those stitches it was more likely I was knitting a blanket. She redid it for me.
So clearly i have an affinity with these artists. They met at tafe these women who are artists, runners, lovers, accountants, nurses, retailers, grand mothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts. Always seeking to balance art with life with work and where they all intersect! A lopsided balance laurene is perfectly valid!
They are also experienced exhibitors, their work being seeing by many across regional and metro areas. Their CVs are extensive, I urge you to seek out the artists here today to talk with them. Unlike the work I do in filmaking and photography where every edit is hidden, here all the work is on display, every stitch, every tear, every laugh, every thread that binds us.
These artists are doing more than claiming their country and opening it to all, they are also reclaiming these arts. Skills passed down from generation to generation and now being reclaimed as interesting, worthy, valid art forms and great for protest. Talk to Monique about her yarn bombing for love, colour, life and for community engagement.
Thank you for the opportunity to open your exhibition, this welcome to country for these most fabulous works, the sights, smells, colour, pattern, and texture of the minds and hands of these fabulous artists.”
Many thanks to Deanne Gilson for her advice on the Acknowledgement of Country. The exhbition is open until January 26th at Backspace, Huyghue House, Alfred Deakin Place, Ballarat.
Artist laurene dietrich and Backspace curator Deborah Klein
Memories of Madness 2012 (detail) by Monique Pope
Gallery punters enjoy the ambiance
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Ros Barwell
Gallery punter Suzannah Burton engages with an interactive work by laurene dietrich
Cotton & Silk Vest (detail) by laurene dietrich
Perky by Ros Barwell
Suitcase of thread
All images by Erin McCuskey.