Flora discusses Aftermath:
After we three had decided upon the theme for this exhibition, I went home & wrote a list of words that came to my mind with the word “Aftermath” and this is what I came up with : Tragedy, loss, trauma, drama, death, chaos, confusion, sadness, devastation and destruction.
Then more….. war, battle, cyclones, floods, bushfires, mud-slides and tsunamis!
All difficult, horrific occurrences.
I decided I was not just going down that path with my basketry so I searched for some “positives” that I could focus on when creating my pieces. Not an easy task!
So, twisting my thinking, I came up with “happier” ideas about “Aftermaths” such as :
Looking at Things Differently
Developing Inner Strength
Support Coming from Unexpected Places and
Feeling a little happier that I could come up with so called positives and negatives for “Aftermath” I then set to weaving.
I started seriously on this project over a year ago while on holidays with friends. I’d come up with the idea of using a slab of cedar for a base. I was going to drill holes in the timber and glue cane uprights into the holes having firstly woven a type of fabric over the uprights. The idea was to create a roll of fabric coming undone just as the fabric of our lives can unfurl after a disaster.
I made a prototype and quickly realised the idea was not going to work! I realised that I would not be able to drill all those holes and stand the uprights into them where I wanted them. Back home, I perservered with the idea, determined that there was a way to make it work and hand made 125 metres of cord out of various leaves, twined it in rows through cane uprights to make the fabric and attached the fabric to the cedar base as you see it now in “Coming Undone”. Perserverence paid off!
Having the exhibition theme to work to and constantly thinking about individual themes for my pieces, I pricked up my ears to whatever was happening in the world around me. The newspaper constantly had items about “the aftermath” of a flood; “the aftermath” of horrific bombings; “the aftermath” of earthquakes.
I listened to a radio interview with people who lost all their possessions in the 2015 floods in Dungog. Some of their comments gave me cause to think of the saying “Seize the Day!” I madly scribbled down what they said – such things as :
-“The floods were life changing”
-“My priorities are different now”
-“Get out and have fun with life.”
“Seize the Day” or “Carpe Diem” lead me down the track of researching the Roman poet Horace and the meaning of “Carpe Diem”. I felt this woven piece needed to be almost heraldic – dramatic- a call to arms. I discovered “heraldry” symbolises, amongst other things, “aspirations” and “show and ceremony”. Hence, the colours and shape of that piece.
Some of my works in this exhibition, show development in my methods. I made this small basket for an exhibition for Basketry NSW last year (using strips of bangalow palm leaf sheath) open twined with coral pea vine. I decided to make a larger basket using such strips for this exhibition. I had to find a way to make them longer. I did this by sewing them together with waxed linen thread. I then decided I wanted the edge of the strips to look much more finished than in my small piece – so, I proceeded to embroider all the edges using the linen thread and glove stitch and this became “Pulling It All Together”.
Moving right along, I then decided I’d like to try to define the edges of the bangalow leaf sheath even more for another basket and thus “The Turmoil Within” developed. Here, I’ve embroidered dyed, flat cane to the edges of the strips before randomly creating the turmoil.
And so…. my methods developed.
Often, the fibres available to me dictate my work. My piece entitled “Aftermath” probably uses three fibres I really love to work with. Coral Pea vine – which I love to twine and here depicts the dried scrub of the outback; bangalow palm leaf sheath – which is the most wondrous colour and when wet can be cut into strips or shapes and cane, which I must profess I really love using because of its flexibility, its ability to be dyed easily and its strength.
Personal events in my life have been an underlying factor in helping me truly understand and empathise with this theme of “Aftermath”. Very few of us are lucky enough not to have been affected by a tragic, life changing event of some sort whether it be to ourselves or someone dear to us.
I want to thank my husband, Gabi, for his support, his patience, his harvesting and photography skills and those near and dear to me (family and friends) who seem to have developed a love and understanding of my need to create.
Finally, this last 12 to 18 months has been a truly fulfilling ride working with Glenese and Meri. It’s been a time of learning and deep thinking and creativity. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be a part of this exhibition.
In 2004 I stumbled upon basket weaving workshops by Virginia Kaiser at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. After my first workshop I was hooked and basketry is now part of who I am.
I work mostly with plant fibres, which I harvest myself (or gratefully accept from friends). My favourite weaving plant is Coral Pea Vine (an Australian native) but I also use such things as bangalow and date palm inflorescence, palm leaf sheaths, wisteria, dodder, red hot poker and dietes leaves. In the last year or so I have introduced decorative wire inserts to some of my pieces.
Recently I have concentrated on cane work and teaching myself new methods such as wrapping cane and sewing it with linen thread.
I mostly weave by twining and waling, using traditional stake and strand basketry but aim for non-traditional shapes which require quite a bit of problem solving at times. I find I am really interested in the architecture – the structural shape of the pieces. Many of my sculptures are also randomly woven.
Great excitement for me in 2012 was moving from weaving over the laundry sink and a small bench to spreading out and making a wonderful mess in my own studio with a specially raised bath and a large work table.
Once my work is completed I get great pleasure in naming it. I have been told that my baskets’ names are like “poetry in basketry”. I would like to think the baskets’ names truly tell their story and bring an extra dimension to my work.
I share my love of basketry by teaching it via workshops and have shown and sold my work in several exhibitions. I am a founding member of Basketry NSW Inc. and have been a committee member of that group since its inception.
I strive to make beautiful, interesting shapes and as I learn more techniques I feel I’m creeping closer to mastering the crafting of wonderful baskets.
Small Mercies- joint exhibition with Meri Peach and Glenese Keavney
Aftermath-joint exhibition with Meri Peach and Glenese Keavney April 2017
20 February until 16 March 2014