Handstand: Sylvia Watt

16/07/2017

‘Handstand’ exhibition traces artist’s recovery

Handstand, a new exhibition opening at Newcastle’s Timeless Textiles Gallery in July, is an emotional record of recovery by artist Sylvia Watt from a bad fall.

The Brisbane-based fibre artist’s fall resulted in months of operations and rehabilitation. Handstand, her fourth Newcastle exhibition, reflects her experience.

Sylvia had used her dominant left hand to create extraordinary artworks over her 30-year career. She lost 70 per cent of movement in her left-hand when she smashed her wrist and fractured her spine in the fall. She was filled with despair and fear at not being able to continue with her passions – feltmaking, stitching and her daily practice of drawing.

“My art has been my savior during my recovery,” she said. “I was able to let go of my previous approach to making art to create a true work in progress.”

Sylvia began drawing faces as a small girl, doodling on scraps of paper in an attempt to capture her subjects’ feelings. Handstand includes works capturing the faces that she drew whilst recovering and other vibrant experimental works made in the weeks and months post-fall, often with a full cast or splint on.

The artist’s passion for textiles and textures have continued to inform this work.

“The eye is the most important for me, the rest I can let go,” she realised during her recovery.

Sylvia has been a felt-maker for over 20 years, exploring surface textures, mixing up materials, while retaining the clarity and integrity of each material used. Exploring organic forms, using mostly fibres combined with paint and ink, has been at the heart of her work.

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