Wednesday, August 3, 2011

M a v i s

Who here likes learning a new skill? Who here likes meeting amazingly talented artists', who are not just good at what they do, but are humble and willing to share their knowledge with the wider community? Who here loves being passionate about something and enjoys being surrounded by like-minded people on a random Sunday afternoon? {and yes this also includes all you sports mad people out there!} If any of this applies to you then you will know what kind of day I had, when I particpated in a Sydney Design 2011 weaving workshop held at The Powerhouse Museum last Sunday.

As a massive annual arts event, Sydney Design always tries cater for a diverse crowd by offering hundreds of exhibitions, talks, markets and workshops. And this time round a handful of us were lucky enough to score much sort after tickets to Mavis Ganambarr's master weaving workshop at Sydney Design HQ.... aka The Powerhouse Museum.

In 2010 I wrote a post on an Object gallery exhibition entitled Yuta Badayala: In a new Light, which was a beautiful exhibition showcasing the collaborative lighting project of Mavis Ganambarr who is from The Elcho Islands arts community in the Northern Territory, and Sasha Titchkosky  from the Sydney design company Koskela. 
{The image below is from that show and if you would to view more images, have a click here}

Lucky for us this collaboration continues, and a new light design by the duo is on show now in the Love Lace exhibition at The Powerhouse... and well worth a look! We went down to see the show after the workshop and it was more amazing than I had realised. At the entrance there is also a documentary on Mavis that is worth an entry ticket in itself....

But back to the workshop and Mavis. 
We started the day with Mavis' assistant Cathie Martin giving us a podcast demonstration of Mavis harvesting the Pandanus leaves from the Pandanus plants that grow on the Elcho Islands in the Northern Territory. The leaves were prepared, dyed and assembled by hand, and then we were given the fruits of this intensive labour by being presented with a big table, filled with the Pandanus all ready to weave. The image below is a shot of the table before we were let loose...
I just wanted to drink in the colours!

We then all sat down around Mavis, like planets orbiting the Sun, and tried to quickly absorb her technique. Those hands of hers move pretty fast and after a few hours a few of us felt like we were getting somewhere...that was until she tried to show us a new twinning technique. And then I was lost.
So I thought I would stick with one piece and one technique for the day, as these opportunities to have a professional sitting over your shoulder, giving you instruction, do not come around often!

So after two days I got it. And finished my large bowl filled with all the colours of the outback. It's not perfect, and my technique needs alittle more improvement, but I'm happy. And this image above is the central core of the piece, where you can see, I went completely mad with colour, trying to squeeze in every kind of Pandanus colour possible!! Can you blame me?
Now to take my new passion out of the museum, out of the city, and up to Mavis' homeland, as I feel like Ive only just scratched the surface of this beautiful indigenous art practice. 
Thank you Mavis.

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