Research point 1 – Wabi-Sabi

I had already come across the concept of wabi sabi in the past and feel a strong affinity with it. After I saw this reference in the course material I also purchased Leonard Koren’s two little books and have read them both. I have previously been interested in the idea of entropy – the movement of all matter from order to disorder. I have made art works exploring this and looking for beauty in the complexity that develops on the way to degradation and disorder. Part of the wabi sabi concept includes acceptance of the ephemeral and transient nature of the world, finding the beauty in this transition from order to degradation. Embracing the organic aesthetic that evolves from this process. It is part of the reason I have come to textiles in preference to paper or paint. There is a certain resilience in textiles not found in some other mediums, but this is combined with an ability to manipulate the surface, or let time and nature manipulate the surface, so that trace and serendipitous marks can also be more fully explored. 

Wabi sabi is certainly in evidence in my textile collection – especially in regard to the futon cover, which is a heavily repaired piece of cloth, that is both stained and degraded. It was originally a working textile, providing warmth in a hostile environment, but has subsequently been sold as a collectors work of art. It highlights the boro technique of combining and repairing textiles, that was originally a practical technique, but is now more purposely used to create art textiles. 

After reading Koren’s book I thought that rather than being just a narrow aesthetic, wabi sabi felt more like a way of seeing and a way of living. Not dissimilar to practising mindfulness, where you really see what is in front of you, rather than living too much in your head. Wabi sabi aesthetic also often hints at the passage of time, and brings with it that feeling of pleasurable melancholy that I associate with that. 

Mumu Mike Williams and Robert Fielding exhibition

We were lucky enough to be in Melbourne when an exhibition by Mumu Mike Williams and Robert Fielding was on. These are aboriginal men who currently live and work in the area of Central Australia that we will soon be working in. The works are political works, which is not my preferred option, but the juxtaposition of the mail bag warnings and aboriginal and white history was so appropriate and ironic that it drew me to the works anyway. 

Detail of a work by Mumu Mike Williams, 2017, acrylic paint on canvas mail bag
Robert Fielding has burnt through the thick paper he has used from the bag, creating a wonderful textural surface with a secondary design that is highlighted when it is lit fro the side. I have spoken to Robert in the past and he mentions the layers of meaning, some hidden, that he creates in his work. 

Details of the burn holes in Robert Fielding’s work, 2017, acrylic on paper
Robert Fielding’s work showing the layered imagery, 2017, acrylic on paper

Hadley’s Art Prize

This prize was won by Peter Mungkuri. It is a wonderfully simple but complex drawing with ink on paper. I’m especially invested in this as it depicts the local countryside of the APY lands in Northern South Australia where we are going to be working for the next three months. ┬áPeter works out of Iwantja Arts which will be just across the road from the clinic where we will work.

The drawings shows a good sample of the range of marks that are possible with simple media of ink.

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Curvy and straight, sharp and fuzzy, big and small. All types of marks interact to produce a complex and evocative whole.

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I was asked not to take photos at the exhibition so these images have been taken from the exhibition catalogue.

Copyright Hadley’s Orient Hotel 2017