Anthony Browell, Portrait of Mona Hessing in studio(detail), 1973. Image courtesy of the Churchill Trust

Shimmering – The Mona Hessing tribute project
Sat 4 July – Sun 26 July 2020

Opening Hours: A Virtual Exhibition

Inspired by Mona Hessing – one of Australia’s leading contributors to textile art from the 1960’s to the 1980’s – a selection of artists from the Eurobodalla Fibre and Textile Artist Group (EFTAG) pay testimony in Shimmering: The Mona Hessing tribute project.

After receiving a donation of some of Hessing’s materials, each artist will use this to create an original artwork inspired by Hessing and her contribution to the textile medium. This exhibition will feature both 2D and 3D works made from natural braided sisal and hand-dyed and hand-spun wool with silk slubs.

Artists: Julie Armstrong, Julie Brennan, Alison Bogg, Lorna Crane, Cathie Griffith, Roslyn Holmes, Susan Jamison, Stephanie Simko, Mischi West

EFTAG formed in 2005 through shared interests and passion for textile art. Since then over 100 members have shared and learned skills, promoting fibre and textile arts with the aim of increasing awareness to future members and with the wider public.

Mona Hessing (1933-2001) was instrumental in moving the textile form from the constraints of fine cloth made on a loom to the freedom, scope and scale enjoyed by contemporary textile artists today; three-dimensional constructions and hand-woven forms in varied techniques. After traveling and exhibiting overseas, Hessing settled in Tuross Head where she continued to exhibit locally and nationally.

Public Programs

Due to the ongoing restrictions to public gatherings in place because of COVID 19, we are unable to hold an artist talk for this exhibition. So instead we have asked each of the artists about their own artistic practice and to tell us about how their piece in the exhibition pays tribute to Mona Hessing. You can read their responses by clicking on their names below.

Artists Profiles

Julie Armstrong

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing
The Sense of Place and Honour bowls series are personal tributes to my connection to Mona and a reflection of my deep respect for cultural connections to place. My work aims to reflect the sacred, respectful and natural aspects of interdependence, connectivity, fluidity and movement between all things.

Mona’s life, materials, voice, and her connections to place and culture have inspired me to make these series in honour of her. I have used Earth tones, sumptuous silks and rough textiles that both contrast and intertwine, reflecting the interconnected pathways of life.

Mona’s gifts and inspiration are multifaceted; she was a woman of her times, a creator, a pioneering textile artist rising during the 60s & 70s, embracing life passionately and creatively. The spirit of her materials and works all resonate with her voice, influenced by her travels through India, her multicultural awareness, and by nature itself as an artwork.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
I grew up within a family of makers: seamstresses, shipwrights, carpenters, photographers, and painters. So, I too am a maker with an innate love of colour, design and a creative passion that is backed by my philosophy that every day is an adventure of discovery!

Undoubtedly, my family heritage influenced my love of creating from an early age and fueled my fascination with fabulous textiles, textures, the discovery and repurposing of pre-loved treasures, as well as an appreciation of quirky or natural found objects. I have always delighted in ‘playing’, exploring, experimenting and combining techniques within a myriad of mediums. I love combining colours, textures, natural fibres, recycled and found objects to deliver a story, a sense of fun, or to make a social statement.

My inspiration is drawn from within my life, the people I meet, global cultures, history, music and stories as well as the natural and built environments.

Julie lives in Congo, NSW. You can see more of her work on Instagram: @globalvillageemporium or Facebook: Global Village Emporium.

Alison Bogg

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.
Exploring Mona’s textile forms, materials and colours has helped me map my own interpretation of her life’s work. Three distinct elements spoke strongly to me.

Materials: her relationship to the fibres she used and allowing them to guide the work.
Place: her sense of place and connection to her surroundings at her home Shimmering in Tuross.
Journey: the mapping of her life, an ‘endless journeying of the soul’. In responding to these elements, a theme she had delved into inspired and guided my artistic exploration. ‘Songlines – dreaming tracks, on land and water; a memory record.’

One work is a contemplation of the water and shimmering of Tuross, where she lived & worked. The other is a more emotional response to the power of the land. The bold strength in her work and her own determination to yield to the pull of her artistic endeavours and the materials she loved so much have been a great inspiration.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
Over the last 30 years I have in been involved in related areas of fibre and textile arts via my professional work in the performing arts in costume design, costume making, fabrication and art finishing.

I enjoy developing work that explores cross overs between wearable art, costume design, sculpture and painting. This has also grown from my involvement working with so many different visual mediums in theatre and events, ranging from large scale sculptural costumes to set painting and everything in between! I have always used dyeing and surface design techniques and I like experimenting with new ways of combining and incorporating these into my work.

Since joining EFTAG in 2014 I have extended my exploration of different techniques and inventive uses of different fibres and materials. Perhaps because of my theatrical soul, I also like to reflect on the connections that are made between the artist, artwork and audience, just as much as the making of the work.

Alison lives between Canberra & Bingie, you can see more of her work on her website www.aliartisan.com.

Julie Brennan

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.

Mona’s passion for exploring a range of fibres inspired Dare to be Different, which uses a wide variety of fibres, textiles and techniques, to highlight the beauty of uniqueness and diversity, a piece that explores the issue of female genital cosmetic surgery. It also inspired the incorporation of her sisal, a fibre I haven’t used in my felt work before, into the Season of Fire cocoon, albeit ‘reconstructed’ and in an innovative way.

Whilst the constraints of my medium prevent me from working totally ad lib as Mona did, her rejection of rigid planning, and her openness to allowing the materials to guide the evolution of her work, have given me a wonderful sense of freedom. Mona has increased my confidence in my own practice of ‘listening’ and responding to the behaviour of the materials as a piece evolves, and allowing a new direction to emerge, as happened in Generation: Regeneration. This piece began as an exploration into the transformation to motherhood, symbolised by birth itself, and ‘morphed’ to include contemplation of the coming regeneration, or rebirth, of the bush following the fire that burned through our property in January 2020.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
After a foray into fibre in the late seventies, a long hiatus ensued before my passion was re-ignited in 2006, when I joined EFTAG, and discovered felt-making. I was attracted by felt’s sculptural possibilities, its versatility, and history.

Workshops with excellent Australian and international tutors over the past 20 years have developed my knowledge and skills and given me a repertoire of techniques from which to draw. EFTAG has provided a nurturing and stimulating environment in which to grow as an artist. Feltmaking requires some planning: such as calculating shrinkage, and checking ‘feltability’ of materials. However it is full of surprises and flexibility, openness and resourcefulness are vital. I enjoy incorporating other textile-related techniques into my felt work, as well as working with recycled materials and found objects.

I love working conceptually. Working with ideas stimulates and challenges me. It engages my intellect, emotions and imagination. My work may be serious, or quirky and playful. Sources of inspiration include nature, political issues, wordplay, and life experience.

Julie lives in Mogendoura, you can see more of her work at her website juliebrennanfelt.com

Lorna Crane

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.
The Fragile Earth series of works chronicles a period of time in lockdown during the recent mega fire season. It wasn’t what I had thought I would make for this exhibition but it became more about the impact it had on the environment and the wave of deeply felt emotions that punctuated the eight week period. Working with earth tones in a raw and rudimentary approach, this narrative explores times of lightness and of darkness that are then cut and reshaped as a type of memory mapping, a record ‘of this time and place’.

The Petites are a series of 21 hand-coiled vessels represented as containers of hope and courage using Hessing’s donated materials.

It was from the Mona Hessing Trove interview by Hazel de Berg (1972) where Mona words resonated with me. Speaking about her process of working and her need to work in isolation, where ‘out of isolation you reflect on your past and move forward with huge learning curves’. Plus that as an artist for her, there was always that instinctual need to make and shape as an honest activity and that by ‘letting the materials speak’ the work evolves over a period of time as the essential part of the creative process.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
As a painting major with printmaking and textiles as my secondaries at art school in the ’80’s fibre has been an intrinsic part of my life as an artist for many years. In the mid ‘90s I was invited into a selected exhibition called Swanky Hankies for a Textiles Symposium in Canberra, this has experience challenged my approach to fibre ever since.

Fibre for me has that intrinsic connection to the human condition and the environment. It holds memories that touch the soul but also there is the tactile, textural quality that resonates so much for me as an artist today. My landscape inspired works are process driven and speak about ‘place and identity’ with a strong connection to my local environment.

The conceptual approach at present is investigating the language of materiality and how the push and pull of materials can create a narrative for the viewer. Where the materials speak in an intrinsic and authentic manner. This more experimental, process driven approach follows on from the past six years of exploring visual language through mark making and drawing.

Lorna lives in South Pambula, you can see more of her work on her website lornacrane.com.

Cathie Griffith

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.
I was first introduced to Mona Hessing through an offer to work with her fibres. After researching her career as one of Australia’s leading fibre artists, I found I identified with the way that Mona worked which had similarities to my own making methods. Mona primarily worked alone and in a simple manner, allowing the materials to dictate the pace. She had a notion of the feeling she would like her works to create and often constructed them in segments and collaged these together into larger pieces.

For this exhibition I have chosen to make works that I hope will reflect both Mona’s creative philosophy and her methods. The books have been made using recycled and hand-dyed papers and fabrics, conveying an atmosphere of quiet creativity and reflecting the earthy colours of Mona’s fibres. The sculpture has been created in modular units, as Mona did, using a variety of techniques and fibres, and assembled together into this larger work.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
I have been a creator since I was a small child and was always encouraged to ‘make’. My move into fibre and mixed media arts did not take place until later in my life when I had more time to devote to my creative pursuits.

I see myself primarily as a storyteller. My art practice focuses on my experiences as I interact with the world, the people I meet and their stories. Initially, my works may have origins in my own personal history, but I hope others will look into the work and find a story of their own.

With a love of design, my work explores line, pattern, texture and colour. As a dedicated recycler of materials, I look to include items that others discard. I see value in these cast-off objects where others may not and often they become an integral part of, or containers for my art works.

Cathie lives in Ulladulla you can see more of her work on instagram @cathie.griffith

Roslyn Holmes

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.
The creation of my work Transference has evolved through playing with donated materials from Mona’s studio, listening to her voice in podcasts, and looking at her work.

I have chosen to work with Mona’s natural sisal nine strand plaited rope and have come to love this strong and resilient material which when deconstructed to individual fibres becomes very fragile. It litters my studio and home and blows away on the wind. It encapsulates raw feelings of threat, exposure and the unknown, a reflection of the horrific Summer just experienced.

Mona’s work is architectural and the relationship to the space around it is very important. To honour Mona her rope starts at the ceiling, becoming the protective and transparent cocoons that have collected grass, seeds, feathers and singed leaves from the hill on my property. The forms are related to each other and are connected to the space with the rope falling to the floor.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
My interest in weaving plant material began when I moved to acreage at North Batemans Bay 15 years ago. It was there that I discovered the diverse and flexible plants growing on the property; sprawling Hardenbergia, Lomandra, Kennedia and beautiful native grasses such as the tall and elegant Kangaroo grass.

My forms, previously made from clay, morphed into larger textural pieces using vines and plant material. I began introducing other found materials into the forms. Used tarlatan cloth and etchings on rag paper from my print studio, feathers, linen rope, beach plastic, driftwood, seedpods, shells, Telstra wire and discarded electrical cords. The forms could be large, solid and dense, small, rough, smooth, and transparent depending on the materials and construction.

I have become a bowerbird, searching the landscape for any usable material. These materials inform the work of place and hold memory.

Roslyn lives in North Batemans Bay.

Stephanie Simko

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.

Inspired by Mona Hessings description of her life and work as an interior designer and weaver in the 1972 interview with Hazel De Berg, I decided to explore and experiment with some of the ideas discussed including: using a limited palette of materials, minimal equipment, undertaking my own dyeing, using tones of a single colour and to incorporate some fibre from Mona’s collection.

I was further inspired by a visit to Mona’s derelict studio by the lake in Tuross Head, where the light streamed through the broken window frames creating patterns on all surfaces. The studio sat beside a large majestic spotty gum tree. Mona acknowledged that she was an introvert with a rich inner life, she enjoyed working alone and found being in contact with people exhausting.

The artworks larger timber frame represents her private life and the smaller one her public life and can be seen as both windows to her studio and life. The felt band weaves these two realms together. The stitching of her fibers on the felt marks life’s journey; a thread with starts and stops, twists and turns, but one that flows. The use of spotty gum leaves for dyeing and the timber for the frame pays homage to the tree beside her studio.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
When I moved to the south coast in 2015 I began creating artwork through the exploration of new ideas, different materials and techniques, including felting, lino print, collage, stitch, drawing and painting. My wearable art pieces are often created from recycled materials.

My background in interior design influences both my textile and sculptural work through the exploration and juxtaposition of form, light, colour and space. I’m inspired by the natural and urban environment and my love of travel further stimulates ideas.

I also enjoy responding to a brief which may be a single word or a subject as is the case for this Exhibition. I enjoy research and tend to contemplate a subject for a while, exploring ideas, developing one and seeing where it leads.

Stephanie lives in Meringo.

Mischi West

Tell us about your work in Shimmering the Mona Hessing tribute project and how it pays tribute to Mona Hessing.
Mona often created works inspired by and designed for architectural spaces. I have been drawn to that wholistic approach of creating textile pieces that fit within human built environments. Mona’s work is mainly woven whilst and my strength is in knitting, felting and dying. The two works in this exhibition are derived from and guided by Mona’s sense of space and my own sense for colour and texture. They are an ode to Mona.

Homage is a huge suspended knitted sculpture with hand dyed wool. It took 7 months to create and I let it grow as it guided me. It relates to Mona’s work that often touched the ground and in that it also includes spun and un-spun fibre.

Gathering is stylistically my own work but was knitted in components as Mona’s work often was. It references Mona’s colours preferences and uses some hand-spun fibre from her time in India. It symbolises the gathering of women coming together to create this exhibition.

How long have you been working with fibre and textile to make art, and what has been your practical and conceptual approach to the medium.
My love and fascination with textiles started at a very young age when women of my village in Bavaria would rip up old clothes to turn them in to colourful floor rugs for the winter.

I have been a spinner, weaver and knitter for 50+ years. My passion for textiles has evolved to include indigo and shibori dying, eco printing, needle felting, felting, textile piecing and textile sculpture.

I derive inspiration from the environment I live in and the material at hand. I let it take its own path and am guided by it, rather than imposing my will upon it. As an artist I follow my own instinct in colour and technique that has developed over many years of practice.

I am a founding member of EFTAG (Eurobodalla Fibre and Textile Artist Group). The group was started for and by local textile artists who were looking to push the boundaries of conventional textile art and craft.

Mischi lives in Tuross Head

Virtual Exhibition Tour

Share this event

Share on MeWe Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on Google+

The Basil Sellers Exhibition Centre recognises Aboriginal people as the original inhabitants and custodians of all land and water in the Eurobodalla and respects their enduring cultural and spiritual connection to it. The Bas acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land in which we live and pays respect to Elders past, present and future.