Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cecilia Heffer- Lace Narratives

I managed to get to Cecilia Heffer's exhibition at Damien Minton's gallery in Redfern on Saturday and was certainly glad I'd made the effort. The gallery is not much to look at from the outside, as fine art galleries often are but inside there was so much light - a really lovely space.

The gallery rarely has textile exhibitions but Cecilia's work suited the area beautifully. Her work is largely monochromatic in creams, and shades of brown, by virtue of her natural dyeing with vegetation and rusting. This colour scheme was echoed by the pale wooden beams of the ceiling, weathered and worn, from which lengths of printed cloths hung.
She explained that this exhibition had developed over many months and consequently was made up of several groupings each with their own identity but linked in a common theme - their own form of lace as it were. 

One particular series of around 12 small framed works contained fragments of dyed and treated cloth linked in an open patchwork by lace bars.

These miniature lace works (above and below) are intended to be viewed as a "series of paragraphs, aerial views of landscapes".  In referencing Rosemary Shepherd's definition of lace as "an openwork fabric whereby the pattern of spaces is as important as the solid itself".
This work relates to the experience of plane travel. (Cecilia herself has moved country 8 times and changed house 27 times).  As she says "we travel from one solid land mass to another we view patterns of landscapes below us in a capsule suspended in space."
In some of these pieces Cecilia had incorporated pieces of her old Chilian passport to give a sense of herself in each work.

Another group was made from heirloom lace fragments, donated to Cecilia, which she linked together in free form contemporary lace using water soluble material.  These particularly delicate fabrics were then ombre dyed using natural dyes (eg. eucalyptus, some with mordants and rust).  A range of subtle colour changes were produced in these hangings.

A section of the Government House lace was hanging in the exhibition too so that was great to see up close.
The flora detail in the design was lovely - a tribute to the Scott sisters of Darlinghurst, Sydney and their botanical drawings of the 1900s.

After Cecilia spoke, some of her colleagues spoke of her work from their own perspective: one from  visual arts dwelt on her simple design ethos and one, a poet, who gave her own rendition of narrative lace.  I have to admit my expectations of the poet were not high but I was blown away by the experience, a ver clever musing!

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