WANDERING – To move about without a definite destination or purpose. To go by an indirect route or at no set pace. Amble. Meander.
Wandering also sounds just like Wondering, which according to the dictionary, means fascinated, curious and enthusiastic.
And that is a perfect description of the art and artists represented here – 55 works by 35 members of FAN (Fibre Artist Network).
Although ‘fibre art’ is often perceived as a very narrow niche, with many limitations, the array of work produced by fibre artists is limited only by their imagination. With techniques ranging from hand and machine embroidery, felting, lace, and quilting, to printing, stamping, dyeing, painting, and beads, as well as knitting and crochet, mixed media, feathers, and basketry, a common theme can be interpreted in countless ways.
In this case, the limitations were the theme ‘wanderings’, the size of the artwork (max 24ʺ or 61cm wide) and a time frame of around 18 months in which to plan, design and produce the work.
Bev Bills (OAM), RSASA director and founding member of FAN, opened the exhibition with a short glimpse into the history books. The initiative came from Alvena Hall, who invited a group of fellow fibre artists to an informal meeting back in June 1994. The aim was to meet informally, without agenda, to promote local and interstate fibre art. FAN was born at that meeting and grew from strength to strength, with many significant South Australian textile personalities as past and present members.
Meetings were held at different venues and supported by galleries, guilds, and academic institutions. FAN meetings are currently held four times a year in February, May, August and November at Marden Senior College, under the leadership of Suzanne Gummow.
In the current exhibition, as the theme and the background suggest – the work on display covers a very wide spectrum of techniques and materials, and even include a few three-dimensional works. Wendy Redden’s WAVES and Margaret Carberry’s CITRUS VESSEL stood out for me.
A few of the works are by current Marden College textile students and I was excited by their eagerness for experimenting and playing with materials and techniques. Their wanderings are fresh and full of enthusiasm. I particularly liked the techniques used by Tanya Davies in WILD WEEDS: DANDELION and Chris Beardsley’s use of natural dyes in FLEURIEU MEANDER.
Then there are the works by established artists like Madeleine Hedges, Alvena Hall, Joy Harvey and Cathy Boniciolli among others, which delights with their years of experience combined with their confidence in exploring new unknown territory.
But I guess that is what wanderings is all about – to be sure footed even when the destination is unknown.