Going Organic

Kay Lawrence's 'Day by Day' is an ode to the dedication needed for a kantha style quilt with an accompanying journal

The act of methodically stitch is not that radically different to writing. One word, one stitch after another to create a whole. Given that we do both, it was no wonder we loved the new show Organic Intimacy at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Sara Lindsay acts as both curator and artist with her clever work

Tucked up in the Nicholas Building you have to really keep track of what is going on up there because the shows are often so quiet they slip in and out without us knowing. To my mind a textile based exhibition curated by textile artist Sara Lindsay should have a little more fanfare.

Rosemary O Rourke puts pen to paper to express movement in cloth through drawn stitches

The makers involved have created work of great delicacy, thought and finish. There is no rough and ready slapdash woolly tomfoolery on show here. It doesn't have the joy or playfulness of that sort of work. As a viewer you need to take your time, there is no 'speed reading' possible here.

Claire Collett's piece was delicate and robust at the same time, capturing the stitch as strength in her well balanced work

Accompanying the work is a fantastic essay by artist Ruth Hadlow that provides rich insight to the painstaking process of creating art with a needle and thread. It takes complete dedication to both process and end point. No one could accuse this group of artists taking any short cuts.

Michele Eliot adds sophisticated concepts to upcycling gifted clothes
Ema Shin's delicate woodblock and stitched work is seductive and serene

The over all palette is cool and serene, there are no neon triangles to wage war on the senses. Don't get us wrong, we love neon triangles (in fact I'm wearing one right now) but what we are after from textile based art on show is balance. We want to see it all, and it was refreshing to find work that spoke so articulately about the connections between stitch thought and word. 
Words RAMONA Pictures BECK

Wednesday - Saturday Open until April 12
Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
Room 816, Nicholas Building 



skill set rewind

My clan are obsessed with the day trip. There is nothing we love more than rising really early and having breakfast in a little town somewhere. We are so lucky to live somewhere that has dozens of great places within one or two hours drive. So if you fancy the mountains or the sea it is never beyond reach on a Sunday morning.

A couple of weekends ago we visited Kyneton's inaugural festival Lost Trades Fair. Regular readers will know I went gaga a little while ago for this particular book so this fair was right up my alley. Everything from fletchers, blacksmiths, rush chair makers to luthiers set up stalls on the grounds of the Kyneton Museum and demonstrated their crafts to attentive crowds. 35 in all, meant that there really was something for everyone. I came away wanting to do a knife making course!

I think I may have driven some of them a little nuts with my incessant questions but how else does one learn about the process of drying rushes or turning a biscuit tin into a banjo? It was a roaring success and is scheduled to return in 2015. We promise to tell you about it in advance so you can go. RAMONA



blink and you miss it.

Not much help telling you about a show that ends almost before it begins! A one week sneaky exhibition which is whisper quiet and will only leave strange traces of itself - in this case the purpose made spoon shaped grooves in the long wood bench that houses the work of Anna Varendorff and Eugene Howard.

To wrap this exhibition up in fancypants art speak would be a nutty waste of time. At it's heart it is very pure, very simple and doesn't really require flip sentences that talk about the act of feeding oneself (consumerism! west v east! poor v rich!).

At the end of the day, and really at the end of this week when the show closes it is simple spoons. Varendorff has made silver ones (privilege, first world, treasure, preciousness) and Howard has made wooden ones (earth, environment, primitive, poor). Hand to Mouth is a beautiful show. If you are able to catch this brief gust of gorgeousness at Mr Kitly then please do.  RAMONA



string theory

The ladies of hml have been bangin on about the work of artist John Brooks for some time now. We first saw his work back in 2012 at Counihan Gallery  and he has been on our radar ever since. You can image how excited we were to see his new show at Rubicon ARI in North Melbourne this past weekend. Brooks fuses weaving techniques into his textile based art pieces bridging that invisible gap between craft and conceptual art.

His work is playful, creepy, energising and anthropomorphic. Stare at these fuzzy wonders long enough and you would swear you saw a heart beat or a leg twitch. This small body of work packs a lot of punch both visually and conceptually. Starting with work on the left with the Pantone prediction 2013 of Emerald Green the work then slowly fades and evolves into 2014's Radiant Orchid. The work stands as a kind of strange timeline not just from one year of fashion to the next but a sort of endless amount of time in between.

This one is coming home with me at the end of the show. I'm going through some pretty serious stuff on the home front and I felt I needed a talisman of sorts. This was both a green forest portal and also a little creature/familiar that just sang to me. It's always a pleasure when that happens. The show runs until April 5 and it's highly recommended. It's and interesting space and it won't be my last visit. Brooks' work is also set to appear at this year's Fresh Exhibition at Craft. Supercool.

Artificial Selection by John Brooks
Rubicon ARI
309 Queensbury Street
North Melbourne
(best get the tram up from Elizabeth Street)



heads up on the radio...

Yes people its that time again - we'll be talking all things craft this morning on the RRR's Grapevine. While we've been elbow deep in the porcelain pit there's been a lot happening in the craftiverse. Pop up shows, new courses, upskilling workshops and venues as well as some pretty exciting new opportunities. Ramona will be back in the chair tomorrow (YAY!) and reporting on her trip to the lost trades fair at Kyneton and recent adventures in latch-hook, while I'll be waxing lyrical about our latest forays into the world of pot making. We're nothing if not busy beavers.


Hand to Mouth - show of the week and only on this week. Anna Varendorff and Eugene Howard have a super short term show opening  this week at Mr. Kitly's new digs. Both these makers are masters of clean clever understated style that speaks volumes despite its quiet styling. We're super exited about this one. Opens this Friday the 21st and closes on the 30th. 

Artificial Selection -  the new show by weaving wunderkind and HML pin up John Brooks also opens this week. Textile lovers beware... we cannot advise you strongly enough to get in quick and snap up some of Johns work. This guy is going to go global. Fast. Opens this wednesday the 19th at 6pm at North Melbourne's Rubicon Ari.

Botanical Calamity - Another great show opening this week (thursday March 20 at 6pm) is this new exhibition of botanically inspired two dimensional works by making multi-taskers Peaches and Keen at Modern Times. The works contained showcase their deft brush skills and keen eye for colour, two trademark elements of their growing collection of work. (and apologies to Lauren Bamford for pinching her brilliant portrait of the two lovely ladies). More info here. on until April 3.


Pukulpa Pots - Highly anticipated, this exhibition of ceramics produced by the Anangu women of the Iwantja Arts Centre (based in the central desert community of Indulkana)  is being presented in collaboration with Mr.Kitly and pot head ceramicist Kim Jaegar the exhibition. Opening Friday April 4 until April 26 and representing the kind of mark making, sturdy forms and bold use of colour the community is known for, the work looks mind blowing. We're calling this early as a definite must see. 

selected works by Fresh 2014 exhibitors Elise Sheehan (above) and Annie Gobel (below)

FRESH! at Craft - the annual showcase of the best graduate work returns to Craft in a new time slot this April. Twelve emerging artists have been selected this year, and the sneak peeks we seen of the works so far have us very excited about this years crop. We've both done our turns on the selection committee and know just how challenging and exciting the selection process is, especially given how much amazing new talent is out there . An annual pilgrimage for the ladies and highly recommended for anyone interested in looking at the future of contemporary craft. Opens at Craft on Thursday April 17 on until June 1. More info here.


ArtPlay - One of our favourite spaces in Melbourne, ArtPlay is currently looking for expressions of Interest for their New Ideas Lab - and is offering between $5K and $15K to support projects - BONUS!!! the first info night takes place this wednesday the 19th. Applications close on Friday April 4, click here for more details.

New Craft @ Queen Vic - dont get left behind - today is the LAST DAY you can apply for the first instalment of stalls at the new monthly Craft market at Queen Victoria Market being run by Craft Victoria. (that's a lot of Craft and Victoria's in one sentence!) This event is going to get bigger and bigger, especially with the activity attached to the new heritage development of the market 'precinct'. Easy online application here. Get in on the ground floor and book yourself a stall. 

International Craft - dinner and show. A new networking initiative by Craft is putting makers and industry leaders together in a uniquely intimate setting. The first of what will be a series of events for mid-career makers features fine food, good company and expert insights from two of Australia's most outstanding ceramicists - Robin Best and Kris Coad. Taking place between 6:30 and 9pm on March 27, seats are limited, find out more or book here


Pattern Play at Harvest Textiles - given everyone's current obsession with all things memphis related this textile pattern play workshop at Harvest should be just the thing to get future patternista's on their way to printed success. On this Saturday the 22nd and again at the start of April... get in quick and get inspired. more information and bookings here .

Find yourself at NC4 - Anyone interested in making their own jewellery or accessories should take advantage of this fantastic day long workshop. Learning to make your own findings is a guaranteed way of elevating your work and opening your eyes to new creative possibilities. Even we're seriously considering taking a seat at the bench for this one. April 5. more details here. 

Mood Indigo  - after two sell out sessions Vic Pemberton of Bind and Fold is holding her third indigo dying workshop in pascoe Vale in April. This is a day long course out in the open, loads of fun and very informative. We had loads of people asking about this course after we'd done it so if you're feeling blue get on board, bound to sell out fast (see what I did there...) more information and bookings here

Jeebus, that's a load of crafting. BECK



woolly wonders

We heard the sweetest of stories on the radio and we had to share. It's old news to many but it almost broke the internet with its cuteness yesterday as it got some radio coverage. There is a foundation based at Phillip Island here in Victoria that has been set up to protect and preserve the fairy penguin population there. In the event of an oil spill penguins are rescued washed, dried and dressed in a little jumper (OMG!) to protect them from the cold and also from ingesting any  toxic oil. It doesn't take much to hurt them, less than a thumbnail can be lethal to one of these little cutie pies. 

The jumpers are donated by knitters the world over and we are so on board this adorable express. Despite how busy the ladies of HML are (did someone say deadline looming?) we are definitely going to whip up a couple of these little jumpers, because we just cannot resist the sweetness of it all. You can find out more here and get the pattern (very beginner friendly) here. RAMONA



getting our hands dirty

Last night Ramona and I took the next step on our workshopping adventures by getting our hands dirty in a porcelain hand-building workshop with the lovely, funny and very talented Sophie Moorhouse Morris. Regular readers know we're big fans of her use of bold graphic mark-making and delicate textures and color work throughout her wearable and functional ceramics, so we were pretty excited to be able to join her in our first foray into clay. 

We were also secretly curious to have a look inside the new Harvest digs, because despite having intended to get there since they opened the doors we've either been locked into position in front of the computer or elbow deep in indigo. Cue sharp intake of breath as we were blown away walking in - lets just say its AMAZING, huge, beautiful, light and indeed gasp-worthy. Ladies we're pretty jealous of your new workspace!!!

Ramona and I are long time ceramic lovers and collectors, so we were both equally curious to see if we had any affinity with the material or process beyond our affection for the finished product. Thankfully Sophie did a great job of making both seem accessible and achievable and got us started making spoons from slabs and pinch pots from balls. 

Soon enough we both had a little production line going, in fact everyone in the room was so intent on their work that no one was talking, amazing for a room full of chatty teachers and graphic designers! While we might not have been the most talented students, we were glad to see that finally all our hours of play-doh play with the boys was starting to pay off! BONUS!

By the end of the session we'd amassed quite a collection of vessels and implements ready for the drying racks, and a level of excitement that had me thinking about new work for most of the night!  Great fun and so nice to be working in three dimensions! We also both have a newfound respect for ceramicists and see just how relevant the 10,000 hours concept is to honing the craft from amateur wonk to proficient professional. It's gonna take a LOT of practice for us to even get close to nailing this simple technique - lord knows how all you wheel throwers do it!

See more of Sophie's work here, check our first rave about her on HML here and read her interview on the design files here.here BECK



two hemispheres

Manon Von Kouswijk and Lucy Sarneel

The ladies of HML have been going down the rabbit hole of textiles the past couple of months, immersing ourselves in indigo, rope vessels, weaving, knitting, printing. Sometimes it's refreshing to come up for air to see what's happening in other areas and we can highly recommend a new jewellery exhibition currently on at Gallery Funaki.

Lucy Sarneel

Dutch jewellers Manon Von Kouswijk and Lucy Sarneel work on opposite sides of the globe (Manon here in Melbourne and Lucy in Amsterdam) but their work sits beautifully together in their new show 2 Minds 4 Hands. They both have a lightness and, for want of a better word, a musicality about them. 
Lucy Sarneel

What do I mean by that? Sarneel's work particularly even while in the stillness of the gallery implies movement and sound, I image the pieces would 'dance' on the body. The work is so well considered but it is no way dour or overly serious.
Manon Von Kouswijk
Von Kouswijk continues to explore shape, form and colour through interlocking porcelain shapes that are very pretty but also reminiscent of the industrial and on occasion the physical sometimes I think of cogs and machines, then I think of the discs of a spine. The look interlocking, they relate to each other. The work still looks exploratory to me and it will be interesting to see where it goes over the next couple of years. Von Kouswijk's work is always so inspiring. A great show, highly recommended.

2 Minds 4 Hands runs until March 8
Gallery Funaki
4 Crossley Street
Melbourne City