Exhibition - gallery views

Gallery view

Left: Michelle Heldon, The music and the mountains
Right: Megan Yeo, Midsomer Murders
Left: Linden Braye, Fox, Strange kind of fiction, Abra-Cadaver, Diva
Right: Sahar Hosseinabadi, So feel my pulse

Left: Chrissie Ianssen, Tartan Wrap
Right: Michele Morcos, Friedrich (A story)

Right: Hannah Bertram, An ordinary kind of ornament

Kath Fries, Ariadne's Thread

Gallery view

Right: Sophia Egarchos, Funkadelic
Left: Melinda Young, Take a ball of thread…

Jade Pegler, The Decedents

Left: Kath Fries, Ariadne's Thread
Right: Shannon Johnson, Good Luck

Exhibition Opening & Invitation

You are invited to attend opening night drinks with the artists, Thursday 30th July 2009, 6-8pm
Gaffa Gallery, 1/7 Randle St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010

The exhibition continues to Tuesday 11th August

Le Fil (the thread) is an exhibition of new work at Gaffa Gallery organised by Sydney based artist Kath Fries. The exhibition brings together twelve visual artists who adopt and deconstruct materials, processes and designs commonly associated with the textile industry. Participating artists include Hannah Bertram, Linden Braye, Sophia Egarchos, Kath Fries, Michelle Heldon, Sahar Hosseinabadi, Chrissie Ianssen, Shannon Johnson, Michele Morcos, Jade Pegler, Megan Yeo and Melinda Young.

Textiles hold a prominent position within our society visually alluding to cultural, national or religious beliefs or ideals. Whilst we rarely consider the role of material objects outside of their practical use, fabrics are frequently imbued with personal and emotional significance. Dress can be used to communicate an allegiance to a particular group or to suggest a particular social position within society. Cloth items can also become private artefacts kept for their representation of memories rather than usefulness as functioning objects. In recent years, greater social awareness of ecological and ethical issues around the consumption and disposal of mass-produced textiles has ensured that fabric has taken on an increasingly political role within our daily lives.

Le Fil (the thread) investigates the personal, commercial and cultural value of textiles within contemporary and historical contexts. This conceptual thread connects the diverse practices of the participating artists which span video, performance, painting and installation. The works in the exhibition explore textiles from a myriad of angles which range from the examination of fabric as a metaphor for memory, the cycles of decay and renewal inherent in natural fibres, to the relationship between craft and traditional assumptions of femininity.

The exhibition opening of Le Fil (the thread) will feature a live performance by Sydney-based sound artist Mick James. During the performance the artist will aurally stitch together recorded and electronically produced sounds and samples to create a live tapestry of ephemeral soundscapes.

A zine publication has been produced to accompanying the exhibition and features a commissioned essay by Jane Llewellyn and texts from the participating artists.

Le Fil (the thread) is the current in a series of ongoing exhibitions that explore how concepts and materials associated with textile and craft production are being utilised within a contemporary artistic practice. Previous exhibitions in the series include Through the eye of a needle (2008); Quick Unpick (2008) and Lure, Allure, Illusion (2009).

Chrissie Ianssen

Chrissie Ianssen works across painting, installation and video, in both collaborative and solo circumstances. She recently completed a Masters of Visual Arts at the University of Sydney, supported by a UPA scholarship, and under the supervision of Professor Richard Dunn. She is currently working on a commissioned site-specific dance and installation project in collaboration with choreographer Kevin Privett. She lives and works in Sydney.

"My installation and painting practices seek dialogue between art-making and place. I use vernacular architecture, folk textile and digital video as structures for investigation into a synthesis of culture, technology and aesthetics. My work for Le Fil (the thread) uses a tartan pattern as its starting point and is formalist, yet pictorial. It subverts historical, illusory picture-making tropes by using contradictory methods of image construction." Chrissie Ianssen, July 2009

Michelle Heldon

Michelle Heldon grew up in Sydney, Australia. She recently graduated from The National Art School with a Bachelor of Fine Art Honours in 2007. Since then Michelle has travelled through South East Asia and New Zealand and participated in a number of group exhibitions in Sydney.

“My work explores my connection with the natural environment and a drawing towards expressing the feeling of a place not merely its physical appearance. These feelings come from the atmosphere of the place and the response to its history and the objects or materials that make up the landscape. Recently my work has been exploring the connectivity between places and thoughts. The choices of materials are found and reused pieces of wood, material, and handmade papers and pigments maintaining integrity to the environment in a consumer based society. The works have come together of their own accord and have found their place gently. My work for Le Fil uses the thread as a movement and rhythm through the landscape-physical and emotional. There is tension yet a holding, a flow and a sense of purpose.” Michelle Heldon, July 2009

Linden Braye

Linden Braye completed her Masters in Visual Arts in 2009 at Sydney College of the Arts. In 2001 she was awarded a BVA with first class Honours at Sydney College. Linden has exhibited in several group shows in Sydney and has been a contributing artist for several years in Sculpture in the Vines, a site specific sculpture event at Wollombi Valley north of Sydney.

"My work for Le Fil involves the development of the urban ‘rat’ as subject matter for an ongoing series of works. The original work Rats were made of upholstery stuffing that I saw on the floor in my lounge room. I took this ‘fluff’; recycled fibre, for a dead rat not unlike the kind which is washed up in gutters or in corners of the city.

These works are a combination of Diva in which a fur coat and fabric have been re-incarnated into a morphed version of a previous life. The linings of fur coats are always soft and shiny, they add to the sensuality of the fur and to the desire for luxury and status. My fabric linings emulate the organs that have been discarded from the carcass. Continuing in this vein are several rats which have discernable fibrous remains of internal organs and those that have developed into brightly coloured consumer icons.

This work reflects my interest in the construction of nature and built environments and the hierarchies that form our beliefs surrounding the object and ideas of value." Linden Braye, July 2009

Kath Fries

Kath Fries graduated from Cofa with BFA Honours in 2002, last year she completed her MVA in painting and installation at SCA, supversied by Lindy Lee. She has had three solo exhibitions in Sydney and participated in numerous group shows in Sydney and Melbourne. Over the past two years Kath has curated several group exhibitions in Surry Hills at Gaffa and Albion St Gallery, bringing together process based and conceptual artists who work with unusual and non-traditional materials.

“My installation for le fil (the thread) consists of numerous meters of recycled fabric woven into a rope, which then leads the viewer around the nocks and crannies of the gallery space. Titled Ariadne’s Thread the work refers to the ancient Greek myth of the Cretan Labyrinth navigated using a spool of thread. Extending this metaphor my installation suggests that to successfully navigate our way through our lives, our own personal labyrinths, we need to take on a sense of responsibility for the care of others and the world we live in.” Kath Fries, July 2009


Michele Morcos

Michele Morcos is a visual artist with a studio practice in Sydney. She graduated from the College of Fine Arts (UNSW) in 1999 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) and a BA Honours in Art Theory. After living overseas and travelling throughout Europe, Michele held her first solo exhibition in 2002 followed by over 20 group exhibitions throughout Australia. Twice she has been a finalist for The Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship and recently celebrated her 10th year of studio work with a second solo exhibition. She is has worked in several galleries and is currently a freelance arts writer while pursuing her artistic career.

“Friedrich {A Story} is a series of multi media works that I have been producing from the beginning of 2009. While trying to come to terms with a serious event in my life these artworks are beginning to form a visual catalogue of signs, symbols and landscapes of this personal and spiritual journey that I am now on … My needle and thread element reflects on how life can be broken down to the simplest of acts – and create a type of artistic meditation.”
Michele Morcos, July 2009


Sophia Egarchos

Sophia Egarchos is an artist from Sydney, who completed a BVA with Honours in 2004 and an MVA in 2007 at Sydney Collage of the Arts, University of Sydney. Since finishing her studies Sophia has participated in several group shows and held her first solo show last year in Sydney whilst completing an artist in residence at SNO Contemporary Art Projects in Sydney.

"Fabric, fashion, colours, geometric patterns, and the sewing techniques of shirring and pleating are the main aspects that inspire me, and present the fundamental basis of constructing a painting. These influences merge together to create paintings, which deal with surface, texture, space, and the illusion of movement in a two-dimensional surface. For this exhibition, I am shirring the surface of the canvas, which changes the appearance of the painted geometric pattern. Voluminous texture is created that diminishes the flat surface and a three dimensional painting is produced as the texture of the canvas is projected into the space of the gallery." Sophia Egarchos, June 2009

Megan Yeo

Megan Yeo was raised and resides in Sydney and currently shares a group studio in Petersham. She completed her Diploma in Fine Arts at Hornsby TAFE and her BA Fine Arts at the College of Fine Arts in Paddington. Megan started exhibiting her work through café’s and enjoys displaying her work in gallery group shows, zines, and as street art, believing that art should be accessible. After a trip to Northern Ireland, Megan started a string of works around Irish political history, terrorism and the image of the balaclava. More recent works cover issues surrounding the British Monarchy and the results of the Australian nation as it was deemed ‘The Experiment’. Megan remains flexible with her choice of media and works in painting, drawing, mixed media, digital, and embroidery.

"My current work is inspired by a recent visit to both Ireland and the English countryside. This a comment about the UK’s perceived internal terrorist threat crossed with my perceptions of British culture. Terror has its place on a global political scale but also a personal level to ones comfort zone. With the serious issues not to be overlooked, I took a\moment to create a scene of satire. My main choice of technique or media is embroidery, this being a traditional craft of the English, representing domesticity and a pleasant, quaint exterior façade… but what is lurking behind it all?" Megan Yeo, June 2009


Jade Pegler

Jade Pegler was born in Wollongong and has lived there ever since. Recent projects include ‘The Demonstrables’, an exhibition at the completion of a one year residency at Wollongong City Gallery, and ‘Holocene,’ a solo exhibition at Gallery 9, Sydney, which included Jade’s first stop-motion animation.

"Human existence is so interwoven with paper and textiles that their absence is almost unimaginable. I find satisfaction in constructing these 'curiosities' from materials that are so familiar, investing them with a life of their own. Like monstrous specimens from some far-fetched chronology, odd relics or beings from a future history; these fictions are meticulously crafted from the dross of the everyday." Jade Pegler, June 2009


Melinda Young

Melinda Young is a contemporary jeweller based in Sydney. She has a Master of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. She has worked in several galleries, curated exhibitions and currently teaches in the Jewellery and Object Design Department at the Design Centre, Enmore. Melinda has participated in over 80 exhibitions in Australia and overseas since 1997, her practice spans exhibition work and a limited edition production range.

"The work in this exhibition comes from my ongoing jewellery project titled Take a Ball of Thread... The works are all made using pink cotton sewing thread from a large, found industrial spool. The project grew out of a desire to push the parameters of my practice, exploring both materiality and technique whilst creating wearable jewellery. The material was selected as it offers limitless potential for both jewellery fabrication and the conceptual interpretations its colour poses. The body of work presents a significant development of existing conceptual concerns within my practice over the past ten years; these include the abject and social/cultural attitudes to the interior and exterior nature of the feminine body.

In order to set guidelines for Take a Ball of Thread... I imposed several constraints for making the work: each piece in the project must include pink cotton sewing thread from an industrial spool containing thousands of metres, the project will be complete when the thread runs out, the pieces can (initially) only be made using materials already available in my studio, the pieces made must be wearable.
Despite these restrictive guidelines, there is a definite sense of freedom to each work. The intention is to bring about spontaneous responses to found objects and existing materials. The project has become a vehicle for pushing and re-working jewellery and craft based techniques and the works themselves provide unexpected juxtapositions of the precious and non-precious alongside an exploration of meaning. Take a ball of thread… comprises numerous small series of work each with a different visual theme and material application. The work produced is mostly inspired by the interior landscapes of the body; however there are also other references at play - including marine life and botany. The common thread of pink in the project brings with it a consideration of the multiplicity of playful and serious significance attached to the colour." Melinda Young, June 2009

Sahar Hossenabadi

Sahar Hosseinabadi was born in Tehran, Iran, she studied art there as an undergraduate student and as an apprentice to contemporary artists. After migrating to the Australia in 1998, she was actively researching and working in art industry. Sahar is currently completing her MVA in painting and performance at Sydney College of the Arts.

So Feel My Pulse, 2009, video

"As an artist from a different culture I have been impressed by the contrast between my traditional eastern background and contemporary western living. I frequently feel that while the new culture professes to welcome me I nevertheless feel rejected. It seems impossible for me to be a member of both cultures simultaneously. This has led me to want to explore the issue of identity and how it is determined by cultural, psychological, sociological, physiological and ideological background. The general objective of my artwork is to discover and reveal these differences and bring greater understanding between one culture and another.

This film plays continuously with my own identity. It is almost impossible to see where my true character might be. What if I look in the mirror and see nothing? If a mirror looks into a mirror what is there to see? This is a comment on the combination of my background culture of east and west - Australian AND Iranian. Questions about AND which haven’t been resolved.

Goldfish is the central character in ‘So Feel My Pulse’ video show, based on a previous performance piece. She represents my own experience of cultural change and the difficulties associated with it both in Iran and in moving to Australia. This project explores the diversity of my own perception, delving into personal and lived experience through varied personal bodily experience in asylum seeker issues. ‘Knotted’ is the metaphor of confronting with shortcomings in daily life and how to deal with the gap between Serenity to accept the things I cannot change and Courage to change the things I can. The accompanying soundscape is perplexing, representing the tumult of my heart and personal grief." Sahar Hossenabadi, June 2009

Shannon Johnson

Shannon Johnson was born in Sydney. She studied at COFA, completing her Masters Degree. Over the last few years she has been exhibiting internationally, with solo shows in Paris and Finland, and participating group shows in China, Indonesia and Australia. Last September she curated the group show, 'Collage', at Sheffer Gallery in Sydney and another in Indonesia showing art made of recycled materials for the 'Festival Mata Air'. She is currently based in Erskineville Sydney, at Alpha House Artist's Co-operative.

Shannon is embroidering a portrait of a giant five cent coin for Le Fil (the thread). She draws our attentions to the smallest coin of our currency, often colloquially referred to as shrapnel - it is usually considered more of an inconvenience than an object of value or purpose. "I have a superstition that if i see a dead pidgeon bad luck is coming. If i find a 5c coin, it will be a good day. Sewing is an obsessive process. Repetition and focus, it is medetative. Perhaps this is a prayer to the 5c coin king." Shannon Johnson, June 2009

Hannah Bertram

Hannah Bertram is based in Melbourne, where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in 2003 and a MFA in 2005 at RMIT. In 2003 she was awarded the Siemens Travelling scholarship and in 2008 was AIR at the Gershwin Hotel in New York. She has exhibited in Australia and the United States and is represented by Dianne Tanzer Gallery in Melbourne.

"An Ordinary Kind of Ornament is a series of oriental carpets which are created from dust and ash. These worthless materials are salvaged from the overlooked remains of life in motion, Dust commonly settles as a patina over our domestic existence gently acknowledging the passing of time, or alternatively is washed away in an illusion of timelessness. Throughout my practise I explore the possibility of preciousness in that which is overlooked and fleeting rather than what is traditionally esteemed, conserved or revered as precious. I use the complex position of Ornament - that simultaneously adds value and is functionally superfluous – to transform banal materials into temporary installations. My work proposes an alternative experience of preciousness in which value is found not in the perpetuity and richness of ornamented objects, but within the subtlety of transient experiences." Hannah Bertram, July 2009

As part of Le Fil (the thread) Hannah will be creating a temporal site-specific installation in Gaffa Gallery, using dust and powdered pigments.

Le Fil (the thread) exhibition catalogue essay - written by Jane Llewellyn

Le Fil (the thread)

Gaffa Gallery, Surry Hills

30 July to 11 August 2009

At first glance one might assume that the artists in the
exhibition, Le Fil (the thread), are exploring the techniques of craft. However, they are using traditional craft techniques and combining them with contemporary media like video, sound and installation aesthetics, sparking the age old debate about where, and if, craft ends and art begins. By using traditional techniques the artists give their works the authenticity of being hand made – something which is becoming increasingly valued in our society – and delivery through contemporary media makes the works and their meanings more accessible.

Blurring the boundaries between craft and art is paramount for the twelve artists in this exhibition: Hannah Bertram, Linden Braye, Sophia Egarchos, Kath Fries, Michelle Heldon, Sahar Hosseinabadi, Chrissie Ianssen, Shannon Johnson, Michele Morcos, Jade Pegler, Megan Yeo and Melinda Young. These artists work across a diverse range of media, dispelling the idea that craft and art exist as separate genres.

For a few of these artists (Linden Braye, Sophia Egarchos, Kath Fries, Chrissie Ianssen, Shannon Johnson, Michele Morcos and Megan Yeo) it isn’t the first time they have come together to explore the ideas of reinterpretation of craft and the reassembling of found objects. In 2008 they were part of the group exhibition through the eye of the needle in which (as Megan Robson says in her exhibition essay) the artists similarly aimed to “...investigate the methods, ideology and forms associated with mass manufactured textile and domestic goods. Utilising the tools, techniques and structure associated with textile and domestic objects...”

In Le Fil (the thread) several artists directly reference traditional craft practices, such as Shannon Johnson who has used embroidery to recreate a giant 5-cent piece and Michele Morcos who creates an artistic meditation in her works, the needle and thread reflecting how “life can be broken down to the simplest of acts”. Sophia Egarchos’s focus is on sewing techniques such as pleating and shirring. When applied to her paintings (she shirrs the canvas), Egarchos transforms flat two dimensional works into tactile three dimensional pieces. Chrissie Ianssen on the other hand composes her paintings using elements of traditional Norwegian knitting patterns. She uses them to striking effect, some may say harking back to a past that is no longer relevant in contemporary Norway. Megan Yeo uses the traditional British craft of embroidery as a quaint and pleasant façade to mask the internal terrorist threat that lurks under the surface of modern Britain.

While the exhibition title, Le Fil (the thread), might suggest that artworks in the exhibition hang together precariously – that the connection is flimsy and delicate – it is used as a metaphor to reflect the fragility of the connections we create in our society which can break or fade away at any moment. As our world continues to advance at a lightning pace, and communication becomes key we question how strong these bonds actually are.

Much more than just a thread holds together the work of these artists, as they deconstruct and rebuild ancient and modern materials and processes, exploring the thread both in its simplest form and the more complicated web it weaves. In Kath Fries’ artwork she creates a literal web using woven strips of recycled fabric forming a rope which is woven through the nooks and crannies of the gallery. Based on an ancient Greek myth, Fries takes us on a journey through the labyrinth which reflects the web of life.

Whether it is the video work of Iranian born Sahar Hosseinabadi, Hannah Bertram’s site-specific installation, or even the wearable jewellery pieces by Melinda Young, these artists are connected by a conceptual thread that runs through the works addressing ideas on how we value fabrics.

This concept is further explored through the notion that we are constantly consuming and discarding large quantities of textiles. It’s not surprising then that the artists explore the renewal and recycling of found objects. These objects are embedded with history which when brought to the new work adds immense value. The cycle of discard followed by renewal highlights the object’s continual value and links the past to the present.

Jade Pegler plays with this notion, creating a future history with his “curiosities” crafted from everyday materials. Linden Braye takes materials with little value from urban or natural environments and creates constructions which reference "the natural world through the built one". Michelle Heldon is also inspired by nature and works with found objects focusing on how the different materials feel and react with each other. The tactility of the surfaces are of particular interest as Heldon explores the relationship between form, colour, texture and shape.

Le Fil (the thread) presents a selection of artworks that are pushing the boundaries between art and craft, a debate which is intrinsically based on value. Is craft a skill and is art an inborn talent? As we are entering a technologically advanced world and visual artists are working across several different types of medium, quite often in the one artwork, such categorisations no longer seem valid.

- Jane Llewellyn

Jane Llewellyn was previously the Editor of Australian Art Collector Magazine, she is currently based in Sydney, working as a free-lance arts writer and arts consultant.