Teresa, you studied painting before becoming a self-taught leadlight artist and a self-taught textile artist. Do you think confidence is vital to creativity?
I have played with a lot of different art mediums and gained so much from each of them. I think that confidence is definitely required to put your work out there, but I do not think it’s the main requirement of creativity. I think that my creativity is more aligned to just being passionate about the making, with a strong connection to what’s around me.
What has textile art allowed you to express that other mediums didn’t?
Textile and natural fibres offer so much in art expression. The combination of texture, softness, shape, 3D, vibrant and earthy colours, strength, light and dark, and how it captures light. Then there is the integration of grass, sticks and leaves that I find in the bush. The possibilities and the combinations are endless.
With your husband, you designed and built the solar powered earth house you live in. Prior to that, you lived self-sufficiently in the forest. How does your experience with nature affect your choice of materials?
The materials that I use are often part of my natural surroundings.
They may consist of an incredible black fleece someone has given me, some wool dyed with gum leaves from a fallen tree, some recycled silk, and special rock, stick, or some fibre from the forest floor gathered during one of my morning walks.
Being close to the bush is a conscious choice, and our house reflects our environmental ethics. It makes for a quiet and simple life, working with the light of day, and enjoying quiet evenings.
How does it affect the theme of your work?
I am very conscious of light and dark, of seasons, and the sounds of the bush. There is a relativity to place that comes through my art. This series of vessels is very much about the strong forms found in nature; the strength of the ironbark tree. The theme of my work will always relate to place through how I live and interact with the landscape, vegetation, and the fibre closely observed and subtly utilized within my art.
Do you think the community is becoming more environmentally conscious? And as such does it show in their response to your work?
The response to a natural fibre vessel that is slow, organic and chemical free is pretty incredible from most people. The artwork carries its own message. I think that people are becoming more environmentally conscious in many ways.
In July your work will show, in collaboration with Petrus Spronk, in ‘The quietness of clay, the stillness of wool; a meditation’. The show explores the tall vessel. Do you see this tall vessel as a recurring metaphor in your work?
Exploring the tall vessel in collaboration with Petrus has been an amazing experience for me. In this exploration I have placed all of my focus on tall, strong vessel forms. The progression of my artwork has been in leaps through the technical elements that enabled the development of this collection of vessels. I have found that it is such an expressive sculptural form that exhibits elegant curvature, colour, and texture. I am not quite sure where this work will take me in the future.
One of your pieces is called ‘The evening light fading - accompanied by the song of a solitary bird’. It sounds surreal to a girl who lives on a major intersection in Melbourne. Was it important to show your work in regional Victoria as opposed to the city?
I think it’s vital that you are known and seen in your local region and that is why we have chosen the Stockroom Gallery space to show our artwork. It is a quiet open space. It is also incredibly quiet here and often my artwork titles reflect something in the making of that art. I remember the birdsong in the still evening I was working on this vessel; it was a golden whistler with a beautiful melodic song. It has flown to warmer weather now the days are cooler. Guess you would not hear many of them where you are.
Your textile artwork is versatile and has moved through felt making, natural vegetation dye, detailed stitch, and sculptural vessel art forms, how has this art journey evolved?
My art is always about the attention to making. I began my textile art making with scrap fibre from the local woolen mill some years ago. Through using this recycled wool, alpaca, silk, and thread I learned how certain fibre reacts through the technical aspects of wet felt making. Making many large rugs in modern landscape designs, I found that the commercially dyed colours from the local mill were limiting, and it was sometimes difficult to express the warmth of the land around me, so I started dyeing fibres with native vegetation.
The vibrant hues from the natural dyed fibres were and are very attractive. The dyeing of fibres and recycled fragments of fabric lead me toward random stitch and sculptural forms.
Much of this progression has happened in a global context through my website and blog where I talk to a wide circle of artists on a regular basis. I have found over the years that the art community is changing in a global way through the internet.
In the past my art work has been spread over a number of textile techniques, but felt, dye and stitch have now come together in this collection of tall vessels.
'The quietness of clay, the stillness of wool; a meditation' will show at Stockroom July 16 - August 14.