Saturday, June 23, 2012

Artist Feature: Carly Altree-Williams

(I'm Still Here - 2012)

Our next feature is with Melbourne based textile artist Carly Altree-Williams. Mum to Audrey with another on the way, since returning to her arts practice last year Carly has recently had her first solo exhibition 'Feminine Realm' at the Brunswick Street Gallery. She has also been featured on the Frankie blog and Mr X Stitch blog's 'Cutting and Stitching Edge'. She was a finalist in the Buda Contemporary Textiles Award 2012, has work consigned to Graphis Gallery in Sydney and is also the curator and organiser of Needle Work Needle Play.

All images in this interview are provided by and copyright of Carly Altree-Williams.

Tell us a little about yourself and your arts/design background

My education into the world of art and design started in the home when I was a child, my mother was into absolutely anything and everything with a background as a textile designer, potter and sewer she was always experimenting with something new and still does. My Dad, although not obviously claiming to be an artist or artistic was also a great influence, crafting model plains and trains from scratch, executing beautiful technical drawings of shelving he would make from an old bed, and he also owned a leadlight business for a time which I got involved in.

Having this background led me to be somewhat of a dabbler for a while with things such as painting, leadlighting, ceramics, needle felting but never sewing - I was always bad at sewing! When I moved to Canberra after school it was for work, luckily one of my oldest friends Andrew Battye had started attending Canberra School of Arts and took me along to a grad show one evening and I was in heaven. I thought it was the best thing ever that you could spend your days at art school instead of my boring office job at the time!

(Otis - 2012)

I then spent the next three years doing my BA Visual majoring in textiles at the Canberra School of Art. After uni in 2007, my husband Andy and I moved to Melbourne and I commenced a Diploma in Studio Textiles and Design at RMIT as I was interested at the time in heading towards textile design. Half way through I fell pregnant with my first daughter Audrey and art was put on hold for a while! It took me three years to get back into making stuff again dabbling with stop-motion animation with Andy, doing an animation short course at VCA and starting a blog on stop-motion animation in Australia, to gradually building towards my first solo exhibition this year and now organising this group show. After all this time of getting back into my art I am now pregnant again - it will probably be another three years till my next exhibition!

What led you to using embroidery in your work

(Detail from Dream Series - 2005)

I started to be interested in embroidery in my final year at art school. I was researching dreams and the dream process and needed an illustrative tool that was quicker for me then screen printing. I had been given a sewing machine by my mum and started to experiment with machine embroidery combining this with recycled fabrics, degumming, screen printing and felt.

(Detail from Dream Series - 2005)

Since then I have always used some element of machine embroidery in my work. With my current body of work  I have started to use hand embroidery as a major focus, combined with elements of collage, machine embroidery and applique.

(Pollo and Buho - 2008)

Could you talk a little on the process of creating your work

(Spring is a New Beginning - 2011)

My work always starts with a sketch, and is built on from there. I will then use an air erasable pen to sketch my idea onto felt and then move forward to get the basics down with the sewing machine.  From there its a matter of cutting, collaging and embroidering along the way and testing out what I do and don't like. The works change alot during their creation as I find different fabrics or have different ideas. I always like to place them down at some point with the embroidery hoop to look at the composition and see how things are working.

(Spring is a New Beginning - process shot)

(Spring is a New Beginning - process shot)

Can you tell us a little about your inspirations?

I can't keep track, I am constantly inspired by many great artists, designers and musicians. But maybe in relation to my current body of work I could name a few key influences starting namely with the book "The Divided Heart" written by Rachel Power which was paramount in getting me back into making again.

I'm very inspired by particular bands where the visuals created for the album are as important as the music such as John Baizley and Baroness (Red and Blue albums), Paul Ramano and AJ Fosick for Mastodon (all of them) and 3D and Massive Attack (Heligoland).  Strong female artistic figures such as Patti Smith (especially her book "Just Kids" and the documentary "Dream of Life", PJ Harvey (the old and the new), Adalita (solo album is amazing) and Frida Kahlo (everything about her!). Also worth a mention are Directors such as Miyazaki, Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth esp), Federico Fellini (La Strada) , David Lynch and Tim Burton.

And to end animals, adornment, portraiture, life, my family and friends and my husband's insane love for music and his music knowledge!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Artist Feature: MaricorMaricar

This week's feature is with Sydney based MaricorMaricar, which is the work of two very creative sister's Maricor and Maricar Manalo. Maricor and Maricar work across a variety of mediums including stop-motion animation, print, illustration, web and textiles. They had their first solo exhibition in 2011 'Turns of Speech & Figures of Phrase' at Mart Gallery in Sydney and contributed to the 'Jim Henson Tribute Show' at Gallery Nucleus, California USA. Their work in 2010 was selected as a finalist in SOYA, and in 2011 were awarded a British Council 'Realise your Dream Award' which took them to London for a year and are now represented by Handsome Frank Worldwide.

In 2012 MaricorMaricar joined Jacky Winter who now represent them in Australia. They recently participated in the 'True Self' group exhibition presented by Jacky Winter at the Melbourne GPO.

Today they are both talking to us about their embroidery practice, inspirations and work together. All images in this interview are provided by and copyright of MaricorMaricar.

Additional note I forgot to add: Maricor and Maricar kindly designed and embroidered the beautiful font for the title of our show Needle Work Needle Play which you can see in the above header!

Tell us a little about yourself and your arts/design background


Maricor and I studied Visual Communications at UTS in Sydney, our interests and studies there were quite broad. We worked together on an animation for our final year but we were equally as interested in typography, print, photography and illustration. I guess it hasn't changed much since, as we still work across quite a few disciplines! Whilst we have focused largely on our lettering and embroidery for the last few years now and then we freelance as digital and motion graphics designers as well as create and direct our own animations.

What led you to using embroidery in your work


It actually came about from a music video we created while at the previous design company we both worked at, Mathematics. The concept was to create an embroidered animation and we actually hadn't done any needle work before that. But since we've always been drawn to hand crafted visuals it ended up being a natural fit!

It was a while before we started focusing on embroidery again (not until we stopped working full time and started working for ourselves). We love how we can work with our hands and combine it with our interests in lettering and typography.

Could you talk a little on the process of creating your work


We start with pencil sketches and will usually work these up to as close to final embroidery as we can, using watercolours or sometimes the computer to test out colourways. We've created a few commissions so we've found that we do a lot of pre-production to set the design before we even start putting needle to thread. Luckily we've managed to avoid having to unpick projects because of this, although there was one personal project that was based on a poem that I misquoted. We realised the mistake only after we had embroidered the majority of the piece, which was a large one too. Maricor was not happy with me that day!

Can you tell us a little about your inspirations

We're inspired by patterns, traditional textiles, unexpected colour combinations, stories and the sounds of certain words.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Artist Feature: Gemma Pobjoy

Today's artist feature is with Melbourne based jewellery designer Gemma Pobjoy creator of accessories label The Triangle of Bears (previously Candy Bandit). Since creating her label in 2008 Gemma has featured in The Age, Frankie Magazine and blog, Mixtape Magazine, numerous times in Etsy treasuries and as a Featured Seller on Etsy.  She has also co-ordinated several charity projects including 'heartFELT' involving 25 Australian creatives sold through leeloo and recently opened her own retail store Pony Boy Parlour.

All images in this interview are provided by and copyright of Gemma Pobjoy.

Tell us a little about yourself and your arts/design background

My name is Gemma. I am 26. My label is “the Triangle Of Bears.” (formerly "Candy Bandit"). I make jewellery and accessories and other little bits and pieces along the way.

I live in Melbourne in Box Hill, and it is beautiful because i have a giant park in my back yard that is full of ducks and possums and pigeons and rats that i imagine all play lovingly with each other in the dark, around the pond. I share my home with my boyfriend, Daniel. He is a musician and he is beautiful. I also have three pet rats (Daisy, Lula & Cobweb), and they are THE MOST beautiful creatures in the world!

I just opened a shop in Brunswick called
Pony Boy Parlour with two of my friends (an accidental dream come true!), and everything about that venture is both exciting & exhausting!

Daisy, Lula and Cobweb
I am in love with every creature, great and small, and sometimes I can barely fathom how amazing they can be! I am passionate about vegetarianism. Yum yum yum...

As far as my art/design background goes, it started when i was just a pup, and has grown and developed as I have. I studied as many art subjects as i could while in school, then went on to do my Bachelor of Visual Arts at University. I focused mainly on painting & photography at first, but then moved on to sculpture and then to jewellery.

By my third & final year of university, I knew I wasn't done studying. I had become obsessed with jewellery and adornment of all forms and decided to go on to study a jewellery course at TAFE. I did the first year of my "Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology" (metal-smithing, sculpture & jewellery making) and then decided to have a break. During this break, I started experimenting with felt - mainly because it was a cheap & convenient way for me to continue being creative while I took time off study and didn't have access to the tools & materials I needed to make metal jewellery.

Those little "experiments" have lead me to where I am today. I never went back and finished my TAFE course, I had found the thing I want to pour my heart and soul in to...

What led you to using embroidery in your work

The sole reason I started using embroidery in my work was because it allowed me to get the small details that I couldn't achieve with fabric paint or simply by cutting shapes out of different fabrics & stitching them together.

I use embroidery, fabric paint & sewing layers/shapes together to create my pieces, and each process allows for a different kind of detail & aesthetic. Combining the three techniques together is what brings my work to life!

I taught myself how to "embroider" and I guess I still don't really know what I'm doing, but it seems to be working, so I'll keep it up! I'm always defining my skills. They develop all the time, and when I look back at what I used to make I feel a little bit like laughing!

Could you talk a little on the process of creating your work?

I don't have a clue what I'm doing. I make stuff up as i go. I have a long list of unsuccessful techniques that I've attempted to use, and thankfully, a long list of successful ones too!

The "proper" methods and techniques I learned while at uni & TAFE do not particularly apply to any of the work I produce these days, though they are useful & helpful in some way, I guess.


I have taught myself pretty much everything I employ to create my pieces by trial and error. The most basic method of making a "the Triangle Of Bears" piece is;
  1. first to imagine it,
  2. draw it to size on paper,
  3. cut out the outline of the shape,
  4. pin it to the backing fabric (stiff felt),
  5. cut that out,
  6. then cut out the different layers/shapes from the paper and pin them to felt/vegan leather,
  7. cut out each individual shape,
  8. Sew it all together in order,
  9. paint/sew on the details,
  10. attach any jewellery findings.
Done! Easy! Haha
I use mainly felt & "fake" leather in each piece. I source as many of my materials as possible from op-shops, including my threads & chains. I love the idea of turning something unwanted in to something new & fresh. Yay! New life!

Can you tell us a little about your inspirations?

My inspiration is drawn from so many different places, especially the people I am surrounded by, but when it comes down to it, it is definitely an aesthetic thing. I need to spend time staring at images and objects, and also touching them - because jewellery is my "weapon of choice" and is the only art form made to be touched and handled.

Some things I do like to swoon over & draw inspiration from are; lace, shiny gold objects, animals (animals animals!), dreamscapes, subtle colours, strange hybrids, geometrical shapes, vintage dolls, unique fashion, cute sketches, kitschy ornaments, ponies, folksy patterns, doilies, miniature versions of almost anything, bears, tiny details and diamonds.

I am also in love with Jim Henson, the tv series "Futurama", Mel Stringer's art, Studio Ghibli films & Dr. Seuss's illustrations.

Something that inspires me to no end is looking at other peoples creations who work with the same materials/ in the same field as I do. Of course!