Exhibition: Parallels | Sturt Craft Centre | Mittagong

The OCA Textiles Sydney Team (Kath, Judy, Claire and I) travelled to Mittagong, about 100km away, to visit the wonderful Sturt Contemporary Craft Centre.

I had heard so much about the great courses and workshops at Sturt, and it lived up to expectations. The centre is located in a beautiful garden setting, the air is so crisp and clean.

We first of all had a little peek in the Weaving Room – o.m.g. for a weaving beginner like me, it is weaving heaven. There were looms of all sizes, and bits of work underway in many of them, it was great to wander around. I’d love to do a workshop there one day.

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The main purpose of the visit was to view the exhibition Parallels, contemporary textiles by Barbara Rogers, which “explores the diversity and language of the stripe.” The exhibition blurb quotes Michel Pastoureau on stripes “not a natural mark but a cultural mark, one that man stamps on his environment, inscribes on objects and imposes on other men.”

I thought this was a rather strange quote to focus on – the exhibition blurb was very short and this was the only citation, and the main gesture towards tying the work to a conceptual framework. The work itself was quite lovely: light, translucent, and delicately hung, and the stripes were as unimposing and un-stamping as it is possible to get with stripes. The quote certainly jarred with me.

Most of the works were large-ish (around 2.5 m long on average) panels of silk, striped in different ways using Shibori techniques. While I found the work to be quite lovely, it didn’t really knock me out. I’m sure this is in part due to my lack of knowledge of the technique and skill involved, but also a personal preference for work that I connect with emotionally. I was drawn to the exhibition because I often find great connection with abstract works, but in the flesh I found the show merely pleasant.

The biggest highlight of the day was catching up with the rest of OCA Team Sydney, over a long long lunch. I’ve been a bit slow starting and it’s very inspiring to hear how everyone else is going.

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Exhibition blurb taken from article by Julie Ryder for Textile Fibre Forum magazine Vol 31:1, #105, 34-6

Quote from Pastorureau, M. The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric, 1991 p89

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