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Textile artists follow WOW awards north

30 January 2006

Textile artists follow WOW awards north

Top international textile artists are to hold a five-day series of workshops at Whitireia Polytechnic in Kapiti later this year to share their knowledge and skills with New Zealand artists.

Timed to coincide with the World of WearableArt Awards (WOW) in Wellington, the Aotearoa Textiles Forum will be held at Whitireia’s Kapiti Campus at Paraparaumu from 3 – 7 October. The WOW Awards take place the previous week and forum participants will have the chance to attend one of the shows.

The textiles forum has been held in Nelson for the past two years, but with the move of the WOW event to Wellington, the Australian organisers, the Australian Forum for Textile Arts (TAFTA), have decided to move north too .

Whitireia Polytechnic invited them to consider either its Porirua or its Kapiti campus as a location – and “Kapiti, which combines a peaceful rural environment with excellent facilities and purpose-build studio space came out on top,” says the co-ordinator of Whitireia’s Visual Arts programme Prue Townsend.

Forum co-ordinator Glenys Mann says, “I came out and had a look and found that the facilities and the support from the campus were amazing.”

“It’s proven to be much more popular than last year.” Glenys says enrolments nine months out from the forum are double what they were in 2005. “We are hoping to have at least 120-150 students.”

TAFTA had made a commitment to run the event in New Zealand for five years, says Whitireia Visual Arts tutor Deb Donnelly.

“It wasn’t going to work in Nelson, given that Wellington was co-operating with WOW,” she says.

Among the northern hemisphere artists coming to the forum are American hand weaver Randy Darwall, who is a specialist producer of dye-patterned silk cloth, and Heide Stolle-Weber, from Germany – one of Europe’s foremost textile artists. She is a fabric designer and dyer of specialty fabrics for quiltmakers.

Canadian Dorothy Caldwell, whose workshop is already full, will demonstrate the use of the running stitch using the traditions of Indian Kantha Embroidery. Quiltmaker Susan Schapira, from Alaska, will be demonstrating her layered “reverse appliqué” technique that gives her quilts the appeal of “Persian” carpets.

Australian artists will be bringing their expertise in felting, doll-making, artists’ books and knitting. Phillipa Rooke is a feltmaker from Brisbane, whose primary focus is on hand-dyeing fine fabrics, wool and silk fibre, and threads for the making of nuno, or lightweight, felt often used for garments.

Liz Jeneid’s workshop “Secrets’ in Print and Paper” will use simple printmaking techniques in combination with text to create an artist’s book. A doll-maker from Tasmania, Susie McMahon, will demonstrate how the doll form can be used as to tell stories. Lynne Johnson, from Canberra, is a trail-blazer in new knitting techniques. In 1994 Lynne’s “Bird of Paradise” coat was selected for the finals in the NZ WOW awards.

Local experts include Aucklander Susan Holmes, who was the supreme WOW award winner in 1996. She has made thousands of dyed and hand-printed garments since the 1970s.

Jeanette Macdonald, who has recently returned to New Zealand from Australia, works mainly in sculptural mixed media using fibre, paper, fabric, metals, wire, and sticks stones, bones. Her workshop will encourage participants to experiment in their choice of objects for artistic expression.

Tina Wirihana, a weaver from Rotorua, will focus on Harakeke (New Zealand flax) and show how it can be used to create functional or sculptural forms.

Both Tina and Jeanette have previously run master classes for Whitireia students and the polytech will be encouraging students to attend the forum. But Prue Townsend, who is working with the forum organisers on the event, says cost will be a barrier for many students.

Paraparaumu sculptor Owen Mapp will be guest lecturer at the forum. Owen, who teaches sculpture and design at Whitireia, will speak on the distinctive and traditional style of New Zealand body adornment.

Each workshop is limited to 15 participants, and organisers are now calling for registrations from local artists and those with a passion for textile craft. The $510 fee covers tuition, lunches, slide presentations and lectures. Course materials are extra.


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