Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Summer School 2012 interview series: Anna Browne

CEAC staff member Kyla Mackenzie interviews Anna Browne in the lead-up to her Summer School class Material Effects in January 2012. Click here for a full description of Anna’s class & enrolment details.

 Anna Browne

KM: In what way have some of your own works paid some sort of homage to your own family history and or domestic arts in that history?

AB: My own work does not directly comment on domestic arts in a post-modern, self conscious sense. Instead I see my work as a continuation of the crafting skills family members have/had. I have vivid memories of my maternal grandparents using wool (knitting and rug making). My mother taught me to sew and crochet. Craft techniques interest me as a mode of physically producing art work.

KM: When did you first get inspired by the concept of re-purposing/recycling/up-cycling secondhand or vintage fabric?

AB: Two things inspired me: My love of textiles and necessity (lack of money!). At secondary school a friend and I used to remake or modify clothes bought from the Sallies. At the time there were a lot of beautiful dresses from the 50's and 60's in the second hand shops. I also remember making a beanbag out of old school jerseys. I'm keen to make that sort of thing in the Summer School Class. 

Remnant Wool Cushion

Woven Blanket

KM: What do you think the trend towards re-using existing materials says about society today?  

AB: Hopefully it means a growing awareness of the finite nature of resources on Earth. Re-using materials is something humans have always done - a majority of societies in the world still do. In the west our prodigal use of 'consumable' items is predicated on cheap labour and commodities. A consequence of being removed from the production of goods is our ignorance of the toil and resources that go into making them. 

KM: Is the intersection between ‘craft’ and ‘art’ an interesting one to navigate, for you?

AB: I don't see art and craft as two poles on some sort of a spectrum - perhaps they once were? They are intertwined, particularly at the moment with the current popularity for 'craft-based' artwork. Just because something has an assigned function doesn't mean it's without 'art-content', and vice versa. Many pieces of art are carefully crafted. 
Looking at this issue in a political way (high-brow art vs. low-brow craft) is not an issue for me personally.

Jersey Pouffe

KM: What are your thoughts on the feminine history associated with 'home-craft'?

AB: It's easy to forget how limited the choices were for many women, even forty years ago. Home-crafting wasn't just about thrift, but an important way for women to express themselves, to personalise house-hold items and clothes etc. Home-crafts can also have broader significance. I'm very interested in the history of quilt making; the stories they tell, the evolution of the patterns and the social roles they played. The quilts from Gee's Bend, or Durham Quilts are wonderful examples of this.

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