Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Well,Well, Wellington

By far Re:fine was the biggest art event I've taken part in, and the wonderful part was we were all promoting Nelson to the rest of the country. I enjoyed that.

Because I was a novice, and because I was away at a crucial time, I kept in close touch with both the organizers and the curators. So it follows that I knew what Re:fine was meant to be, a cross between a trade/travel show and an art exhibit. To that end, I thought it was a great show, professionally and cleanly presented, and one that had something for everyone. It gave a glimpse into what's happening in Nelson's art scene, I hope. I was lucky to have had the chance to participate.

Having said that, I worked much too hard until the night before we left, was exhausted by the time we arrived at Wellington, so I didn't have head space to enjoy myself. And I don't like art openings at the best of times.

I also contacted four galleries/shops in Wellington to try to make an appointment, and two met with me. I know I sound like an old record, but handweaving is grossly underestimated and undervalued in New Zealand, and we are competing mostly with factory-made textiles, both domestically-made and imports. At best the weaver is made to feel like the outlets are doing a great favor meeting us, or sacrificing shop spaces for us, even though they may personally like what we make. There is little of the awe or respect for a handwoven textile that exist in Japan or the US, and according to Sue, even compared to Australia. It's back to where I was in January about how to change the public perception. Perhaps all the handweavers in New Zealand can unite and go on a strike, but I'm afraid nobody will take notice of us.

Having had my pieces shown with "real" (utilitarian) art made me wonder about the direction I want to take next. I like that people can wear/use what I weave, so I think I'll stick to shawls, scarves and such. When I think of art vs craft in the context of handweaving, I tend to think of more complex weave structures and more colors in finer yarns. Yet some of my favorite cloths are same-hue-different-texture in 2/2/ twill; my favorite furnitures are Shaker. So I'm not sure where I'm headed, but familializing myself with colors and dyes, and being adventurous in weave structures are good starts.

"Wave" behind Katie Gold and Owen Bartlett ceramics and in front of Tracey Smith costume. Beyond, from left to right, Scilla Young multimedia work "The Dance of Red", Catharine Hodson and Janet Bathgate paintings.

"Deep" and "Windprint" with Charles Shaw's pottery and David Haig/Lindy Harward chair. I'm not sure who bought it, but "Deep" was sold before the show opened, and now belongs to one of the curator of this exhibit.

"Bubble" and "Paua". I'm overjoyed to hear "Paua" is now accompanying a woman who is returning to Scotland; we went to Scotland for our honeymoon, and then revisited 13 years later.

My only regret is "Island" being excluded from the show at the last minute, because it was a breakthrough for me. These things happen; that's why artists need a solo show once in a while.

Every artist whose names appear in this post has been contacted re. permission to use the photographs; artists whose names appear in bold have consented to the use (and a big Thank You!!), others have not responded to date.

For details of how matters transpired (or not) in Wellington last month, may I point to a grumpier post in another blog here.

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