Elsewhere – Australia

Exhbitions in Melbourne and Sydney in early 2024 feature some exceptional textile works by celebrated artists including Sheila Hicks and Louise Bourgeois.

The constant unfurling of textile exhibitions throughout Aotearoa appears to be part of an international trend. And there are currently two in major Australian galleries that aren’t exclusively textiles but include some pretty exciting exhibits.

Installation view of Shelia Hicks’ work Nowhere to go on display as part of NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy Image supplied by NGV

Over in Melbourne until 7 April, the Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria bills itself as ‘100 extraordinary projects’ by ‘120 artists, designers and collectives at the forefront of global contemporary practice’. Of those 100, around 16 are either textile based or include significant textile elements or techniques. Some of the names are big, none more so than Sheila Hicks. Hicks is classified on the exhibition site as a sculptor, but her medium is textiles, most recently ‘large-scale, site-specific’ installations that communicate Hicks’s ‘attention to abstraction, colour theory and painterly gesture’. It’s stunning stuff.

Installation view of designs by Maison Schiaparelli on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy Image supplied by NGV

The textile category includes fashion design, notably a presentation under the Schiaparelli label by the house’s current director, Daniel Roseberry. This pick of the revived house’s recent collections nods to Schiap’s original signatures – surrealism, ornament, drapery and glorious swathes of shocking pink.

Installation view of Iris Van Herpen’s Look 14, Anadna-Maya, gown and shoes on display as part of NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy Image supplied by NGV

More fashion options include Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s avant-garde garments and South African Thebe Magugu’s decolonising practice. Colonisation, cultural techniques, and cross-cultural communication are a dominant theme: Raja Gemini’s Indonesian heritage-influenced drag costumes, Shakuntala Kulkarni’s ‘body of a bride’ in lifesize cane sculpture that captures ceremonial dress. Malaysian artist Yee-I-Lann collaborates with traditional weavers from northern Borneo. Diedrick Brackens weaves large-scale tapestries as a form of storytelling. Yinka Shonibare melds West African batik and African artefacts; Lin Fanglu’s installation highlights the traditional tie-dyeing techniques used by the Bai people of Zhou Cheng village, Yunnan province. The immense woven structure, Min-Darra, showcases the ancient craft of the Burarra women of the Community of Maningrida in Central-West Arnhem Land. And Franziska Furter makes extraordinary carpets.

Installation view of Franziska Furter’s work Liquid Skies/Gwrwynt on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Lillie Thompson Image supplied by NGV.

If a trip to Melbourne in the next few weeks isn’t on the cards, explore the Triennial pages on the NGV website to see more images from this vast and impressive exhibition. The textile works alone are an absolute rabbit hole. The whole thing’s a feast for the eyes. Thanks to the gallery for images and information.

www.ngv.govt.au/triennial/home

While the NGV exhibition ends in early April, over in Sydney, the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day?, runs until the end of the month. Bourgeois (1911-2010) is best known for her sculpture, but as the daughter of tapestry repairers, she grew up among fabrics and fine needlework. In the last decades of her life, she produced a body of fabric-based works that are shown together in the Sydney exhibition. Textiles are a niche part of the Bourgeois oeuvre, but as the catalogue essays make clear, this aspect of her work and life is highly significant. After all, Bourgeois’s signature work is a large spider titled Maman, with all its freight of symbolism.

https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/louise-bourgeois/

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