Online exhibition: Woven

Online exhibition: Woven

Welcome to the online home of Woven, an exhibition by Sonja and Elisa Carmichael showing at private BCM Crucible Gallery from 9 May - 16 June 2013. The exhibition is curated by Melinda Gagen, the current recipient of BCM and artisan’s Emerging Curator Mentorship.

About the BCM Crucible Gallery

Artisan formed a partnership with BCM in 2011 which involves the curation of a number of exhibitions in the Crucible Gallery space within the BCM office to showcase the best of Queensland craft and design artists, as well as an Emerging Curator program.

The Emerging Curator program develops the talents of an emerging arts curator under the guidance of the artisan team, and the program was recognised in the 2012 Australia Council’s Young and Emerging Artists category of the AbaF Queensland Awards. The artisan/BCM partnership is helping to develop future arts leaders, support Queensland’s craft and design community, and also provides exhibition opportunities for Queensland’s talented artists.

About Woven

Elisa Jane Carmichael and Sonja Carmichael are descendants of the Ngugi people, one of the three-clan groups of the Quandamooka people of Moreton Bay, located off the south east coast of Queensland. The Quandamooka people, known as Yoolooburrabee the people of the sand and seas, share a close relationship of belonging to the land called Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). Mother and daughter, Elisa and Sonja’s works explore traditional and contemporary techniques, reflecting their family’s spiritual connections with the land and sea of Minjerribah.

Elisa draws on inspiration from her Grandmother’s teachings about creative spirits and the importance of caring for country. Concerned with sharing her culture with others, Elisa’s works retell her family’s dreamtime stories and connection with the land, the sea, and the animals of North Stradbroke Island. These traditional stories are translated via a bold, contemporary use of colour inherent across her practice.

Elisa’s works demonstrate an insightful awareness of her family’s teachings in terms of the traditional methods of survival and a mindfulness of the careful balance of the environmental conditions of the land and sea. This is evident in During the burn 2014 and the series After the burn 2014 which represent the changes in the environment and the bush revegetating after the severe environmental conditions existent during the bush fires on North Stradbroke Island in early 2014. Elisa observed these conditions firsthand and uses her practice to depict the transformative stages of regrowth and rejuvenation of the natural environment.

Sonja Carmichael utilises traditional weaving techniques, creating hand woven baskets from often discarded materials. Like Elisa, Sonja’s brightly coloured baskets share a vibrant, contemporary use of colour whilst translating traditional techniques and processes. Her hand woven baskets are made using a diverse range of weaving fibres and materials gathered on traditional lands. Sonja gathers Un-gaire (swamp reeds) and grass fibres as well as nets, ropes, plastics and other materials such as marine debris that have been discarded into the ocean and found washed up on the beautiful shores of Mingerribah. Her works directly respond to current environmental concerns regarding the preservation of the natural environment by transforming the discarded materials into functional and contemporary artworks.

Plastic bed of seagrass 2013 by Elisa Carmichael also responds to the plastic pollution that is gradually destroying the ocean’s natural environment through the significant accumulation of plastic waste, carelessly discarded from fishing boats and the beach. Symbolising the ocean floor turning into a bed of plastic, Elisa has hand woven soft plastic fabrics to represent these pollutions. Taught traditional weaving by her mother Sonja, Elisa seeks to draw attention to the severity of the degradation of the seagrass and the daily consequences facing the natural environment on North Stradbroke Island.

The sharing of traditional weaving techniques, culture and connection with the environment forms a close bond between Elisa and Sonja’s works. Woven references this relationship, highlighting the physical, meditative art making process as well as the weaving together of many stories of culture and caring for country.

Artworks in this exhibition are courtesy of the artists.

Essay by Melinda Gagen

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