Author: Ruth Halbert

Visual artist using textiles to research and respond to contemporary life.

30 Works 30 Days Week 4

Day 22: untitled

Pale grey feather with a safety pin through it on black background

‘Untitled’: assemblage.

 

Day 23: untitled

Closeup of handwoven cloth. Thick purple threads weave through thinner undyed threads. The pattern is geometric, the photo is partly out of focus.

‘Untitled’: textile

Day 24: fallen

Hasty sketch in purple ink of a body lying on the ground in front of a post & wire fence. Text says 'Broken tree fallen & piled by side of road to'

‘Fallen’: drawing

Day 25: burn

Load of cut & split red-brown wood is stacked neatly against a corrugated metal wall.

‘Burn’: woodstacking

Day 26: untitled

Silver pins poke through white paper, casting shadows.

‘Untitled’: assemblage

Day 27: blow

Lace-edged white hanky spread out on top of a larger pink hanky, stitched together with a large diamond shape in dark thread. A fragment of pale blue silk is caught in the stitching.

‘Blow’: textile

Day 28: Remember

Two photos side-by-side. The left one is of a page of an old album showing a black-and-white photo of young children, their Sunday School teacher and a baby in a pram whose head is just visible in front. There is a typewritten caption underneath listing the year, 1963, the names of the children and ‘Baby Ruth Halbert’. Onlooking adults are just visible reflected in the window behind the children. This photo was taken today at the decommissioning service of the church where the b&w photo was taken. The right photo was taken today in a recently renovated café bathroom showing the artist’s face visible in part of a circular mirror ringed by a fluorescent tube set in a black wall above a white circular basin.

‘Remember’: performance/duration

 

I drove a 500km round trip today, ate deviled eggs and homemade sponge cake, joined a 5-hymn service with a group of 80-100 people to decommission a 106 yo church where I had been christened, married and where my father’s eulogy was read. There were lots of flies. One of the old people asked me what I was doing now and visibly recoiled when I said I’m a full time artist. I put my name on the list to buy one of the pews. I stopped on the way home at a flour mill that has been converted into a café. It still smells of grain.

Time passes. Almost everything gets forgotten. Make art, look at art, anyhow.

30 Works 30 Days week 2

Day 8 I am not a racist but

Image description: Two postcards blutacked to an old tea towel with the text ‘I am not a racist b’ stitched into the cloth between the postcards.

The upper postcard is a reproduction of a painting by Bella Kelly, Noongar elder and founder of the Carrolup school of painting. Her painting depicts the Stirling Ranges, which were the centre of the land in the SW of Western Australia stolen from her people by the English invaders.

The lower postcard is a photo of metal security mesh, with a red rectangle drawn onto the image to highlight a bullet hole in the mesh. The photo was taken clandestinely by one of the refugees imprisoned in the former Lombrun detention centre on Manus Island, PNG. It was taken after the Good Friday 2017 shooting when drunk navy and security officers fired more than 100 bullets into the compound where more than 1000 men were kept locked up by Australia.

Day 9 not ever finished

A sheaf of papers lies on a wooden desk. The top sheet has personal writing about grief and memory found on Instagram and an academic reflection on a book titled ‘Vibrant Matter’. Lying on the papers is a piece of partially completed crochet, with the wooden hook attached. Also attached is the rest of the ball of yarn which is made of many shorter lengths of hand spun yarn that had been worked and presented as part of the graduation exhibition of the maker, seven and a half years ago.

Day 10 rebound

Yesterday’s piece of handspun handcrocheted cloth was unraveled and remade, using up the whole ball of ‘calendar’ spinning. October 2011 recurs in April 2019.

Image description: Lying on a crumpled piece of white paper is a crumpled piece of woolly handmade cloth bound roughly with red thread.

Day 11 touch

Image description: close up of pieces of lace, torn paper and frayed pink blanket which are layered on each other to have their edges parallel and offset. A pink thread from the blanket extends and penetrates one of the small orifices in a woody seed head from a casuarina. Shadows from the frayed edge and the seed head are cast on the background paper.

Stitch, pierce, repair

I have been using stitch for lines and for texture and have been thinking about how the stabbing of the needle into the cloth brings something extra – it expresses a kind of violence, perhaps a kind of necessary pain which simultaneously pierces and repairs. Stitching, as in mending, strengthens. But it also perforates and weakens. A piece which has no functional purpose except to be displayed on a wall can be very fragile, unlike a garment or serviceable cloth which must withstand handling and use. As I stitch, I damage, I restore.

Closeup snow walk

Stitched handkerchief from Instagram image. Work in progress for ‘Liminal’ exhibition, March 2016.