Textile Artist


Transparent Reflection

Andrea McCallum

Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell, Victoria
22nd August 2020 to 14th February 2021
Gallery open from 14th November 2020

In my current arts practice I am exploring the themes inherent in transparency and reflection and how to meld these concepts using textile media to create unique fibre art. I am especially drawn to creating artworks that challenge people's understanding of the nature of textile art.

Making buildings appear transparent can give a sense of dissolving the solid walls, as well as making some features appear to float within the water reflecting landscape. Illumination can create transparency, cast shadows and highlight the beauty of natural fibres. I mainly work with silk and wool, with felt making and free-motion machine embroidery my preferred techniques. Numerous workshops, particularly through The Australian Forum for Textile Arts (TAFTA), have enhanced my skills. Some artists I am inspired by are Liz Maidment (England /France), Phillipa Rooke (Australia), Fiona Duthie (Canada), Moy Mackay (Scotland) and Olga Finkel (Australia).

Felt making has endless potential, with my vessels and wall hangings showcasing the beautiful qualities of wool and other fibres. Cast shadows can develop a different sense of depth, with fine felt and free-motion machine embroidery both producing delicate shadows.

I also love the opportunities that silk organza offers. Being able to transport the viewer through my photos of building facades to close up and distant water reflections, creates both a shallow and deep sense of space within the one artwork. Free-motion machine embroidery enhances the foreground facades and surrounding details, that often gives a three-dimensional illusion to the piece.

Some more recent work includes concertina and carousel books printed on transparent silk organza and cotton. Inspiration for these came via a workshop with Carol Barton (USA) on pop-up books. Using my personal photos, these create a form of travel diaries. The concertina artworks both have transparent tonal building facades and colour water reflections. By limiting the number of images used, I found I could reverse the facades, so they had a different background reflection photo behind them. Looking from above, behind and through each building facade gives different perspectives and senses of depth. The carousel piece has a series of building facades and reflections used together. The process of opening the carousel piece, and also changing the order of the concertina artwork images, can generate intrigue.

My current series of artworks are of reflections that appear from a distance to be painted. However, instead of using a brush with paint, small pieces of coloured wool and silk fibre are carefully placed and then finally wet felted. Layers of free-motion machine stitched black tissue silk are reverse appliquéd creating window and door designs over the felt scene. This again makes the facade appear transparent over the felted reflection, and in some instances the architectural features appear to float within the landscape.

I still have more artwork ideas I am yet to explore within my theme and look forward to the next challenges.

  • Staircase to the Sky (2016) transparency artwork for Andrea McCallum 2017 Exhibition
  • Water, water everywhere... not a drop to drink (2016) transparency artwork for 2017 Andrea McCallum exhibition