Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meet Your Maker: Alison Eggleton

Alison Eggleton produces sculptural works of a highly tactile nature, working predominantly with textiles and fabrics. For Within Patterns she has produced two wonderful pieces which take as their starting points the designs of carpet and wallpaper. In her hands she has summoned the complex patterns of these designs into three-dimensional forms, evoking landscapes and the dynamic interplay of repetitive symbols in our architectural adornments. I chatted with Alison about her work and the ideas that drive her.

Alison Eggleton, Wallpaper

Hi Alison, there's a very strong sense of tactility and dynamism in the textile materials you use in your work. The appear like fractured tectonic plates, as if the patterns are alive and moving out into 3-dimensions from flat 2-dimensional beginnings. What drew you to working with this material/medium?

It’s interesting that you refer to tectonic plates. I think the carpet work draws your gaze to it, like a gravitational force. The shapes appear to shift, advance and recede, creating a geography that is free of logic, where the viewer could imagine the shapes rising and falling and continuing across the perimeter of the installation. What l remember most of this pattern, is that while each shape is locked in by repetition, one colour - cream - leaps out and is made autonomous. It is often this illusionary quality of patterns that draws my attention or sticks in my memory. Particularly if the effect is sculptural. It’s how l’ve chosen to recall this experiential place of play while concurrently allowing it to hover in the space of the propositional.

Growing up on a poultry farm in a coast town, l was always outside. With my hands in the earth, making things, collecting eggs, or down the beach combing over rock pools. It was only cold and rainy days l would spend inside the house. Maybe this is why l think of carpet as the embodiment of the domestic realm. Carpet and fabrics to me have always been about the luxury of touch, the act embodying a sensual relation to material and form.  During the opening, I witnessed people stand and staring into the pattern and others squatting to run their hands over the material surface of the carpet. That to me, makes the work.

Why choose carpet to make carpet? Well the tactile quality and structure of the three kinds of carpet used was perfect for constructing the pattern and form of this work.

Alison Eggleton, Carpet (detail)

As you've hinted at, there's an element of nostalgia going on with the work. There's a feeling, especially with the carpet piece, of being young again and being down on the floor playing around with toys, inventing scenarios. And in a different way, with the wall piece, I'm reminded of 70s interior design, restaurant fit outs and crazy curtain patterns. What is it about historical legacy that interests you?

Nostalgia is not usually something l drawn on. But there is no denying it is the foundation for these works. The tactile and haptic nature of the carpet work is established within a place of play. Although the pattern allows for a sense of visual shift across its landscape, as propositional space is more about whether other people respond to this, rather than wanting to re-live the act of playing matchbox cars. The pattern reminds me of locks, groupings of lines turns inwards, inter locking with the next and running at parallels, the design of which lends itself to a grounded floor work.

I do tend to gravitate to 70’s pattern designs that have illusionary qualities. It is often the simplest designs that are transcendental. Moorish architecture and interior pattern design have a similar effect. The fluidity of the line in the wall pattern are from a dining room wallpaper design that l recall vividly. The pattern sent  my childhood mind to wonder, inventing scenarios. The physicality of the lines,  the shiny textiles and the explosion of fruit salad colours makes reference to  ‘otherness’; far way places across the sea, exotic fruit, exotic people. Hence the floating pineapples and pineapple boat motif.
I don’t think that my experience of growing up in a Anglo Australian family in  the 70’s was particularly unique.
Everyone has a history, a sense of belonging to their surroundings, that exists alongside ethnicity and cultural values. Tapping into these commonalities is what interests me.

Alison Eggleton, 'Within Patterns' installation view

You also work as a curator at the Horsham Regional Art Gallery, aside from your own art practice. Is there a cross-pollination of ideas and practice in your work?

I have found that working in an art related role has exposed me to so many more artists' work than time or inclination allowed previously. I am constantly spirited by what l see produced by other artists, particularly  in contemporary Australian photography. Although l have a sculptural-spatial practice, l am discovering that photography is as physically moving as any haptic response to a 3D work can be.

Documenting and writing comes more naturally now too and this has definitely impacted on how l approach a new body of work or collaboration. As a curator, writing about other artists work has given me the confidence to look within my own history for the germ of an idea and take it to full conceptual development (as in ‘Within patterns’) rather than only seeing value in the external.

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Big thanks to Alison for letting me dig into her thoughts and for being so eloquent and open with her information for us.

The exhibition runs until July 8 and if you are looking for some pretty amazing art for a big wall in your house or place of business (even Carpet can be mounted) - you know where to come!