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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fiber art from the Land Down Under...

I've always found writing about myself a bit awkward. So at least once a week, I will be featuring someone else and their work. This week's artist is cerublu; I met her in the Etsy chat rooms, and the first things I learned about her is that she is Australian, and she is an expert horsewoman. Her specific locale is Barrington Tops; it is near several World Heritage locations, with both rainforest and sclerophyll forest nearby.

Her expertise in crafting is crochet. I've never been all that big on knits and crochet work myself, as I get too warm easily, but her work is an exception. Her hats are not merely for warmth, I think, but a sculpture made to be worn. She does capes as well; see them here -- the names, like Wren Fairy and Flame Fetish, give you the idea these are art capes. Each of her works is unique, and made entirely free form. She works without patterns, relying on her understanding of how her materials and techniques work to invent them as she goes.

The love of fibers runs in her family; her mother spins yarns that cerublu dyes and incorporates into some projects. This site shows work by both mother and daughter Like many fiber workers, cereblu also collects yarns that have a strong appeal. With the structural and textural qualities of her work, you can tell the right fibers for the right piece are important. As she says, "Natural fibres such as wool are fantastic for shaping themselves to fit their owner with wear and I tend to use such fibres in places where they'll be needed for their properties. I tend to take a long view of wearing things- how will it wear, will it stay in shape, will it mould itself to it's owner with time and such concerns. Different yarns have different properties and I exploit those properties as much as possible."
And that's what I love about her work. There is so much richness of texture and detail in each piece.

Her etsy store, talks of her inspiration from nature. As the examples I was seeing referenced cotton candy (fairy floss) and Impressionist art, I thought I'd ask for more detail. Her store really only scratches the surface of what she's created. Also, given that I'm NOT Australian, I'd failed to catch some of the nature references that were there, so I will finish this feature with her own words again.
The vast majority of my work is directly inspired by where I live and my perceptions of my environment. There's often some added "twist" to a concept, such as in the "Wattle Homage for Carmen" hat, but I'd think that if one knew this area, one could tell what the seasons are doing to the forest around me, which animals and plants are most in evidence at any given time that a piece was made. It's quite simple- I see stuff and make things which are my reaction or tribute to what I experience.

The place where I live, Barrington Tops in Australia, is a very beautiful and unique area with World Heritage listed areas nearby. My home high on a ridge looks out over the most incredible view- at times I watch eagles flying below me- I can't help but be inspired by what I see every moment. The forest around my house is of two main classifications, rainforest and sclerophyll, so there's a great amount of diversity in the flora and fauna. To be able to live here, solar power was most sensible option and it's nice to be able to live a somewhat environmentally-conscious lifestyle while making things inspired by the area's beauty.

Specifically, there are lots of my pieces which are inspired by trees and plants- "Amazing Angophora", "Bush Orchid", Bluegum Breeze", "(Native) Raspberry", "Native Hibsicus" are just a few. Fungus fascinates me. There are so many really interesting fungi here and I have to pay tribute to them. You can always tell when we've had lots of rain, a week or so later, up pops something like the "Star Fungus" scart or "bracket Fungus" pieces. Various birds and animals are resident here and are more in evidence at some times of the year. Pieces like "Kool Kookaburra", "Festive Frog", "Velvet Gecko" and "Go Anna Goanna" all take inspiration from the little guys who are often sitting on the side of my house, climbing up the windows, popping out from behind curtains in the house or stealing the dogfood!

The seasons themselves and how they change my surroundings is another ongoing theme in my work. The "Flame Fetish" cape and "One HOT Hat" both describe the terrible beauty, drama and threat of bushfire, even though the two pieces are completely different.

I get a lot of fun from little things and have a slightly odd sense of humour. Pieces such as the "Wren Fairy's Wingwrap" and "Red Belly Black Dragon" cape, which were made for Jonelle of SWTC from her beautiful soysilk, maize and bamboo yarns describe my personal, firmly-tongue-in-cheek Australian mythology. I love the juxtaposition of the mundane or everyday and the outre. For me, what is everyday- quolls, goannas, large snakes and birdeating spiders etc- are bizarre or even perhaps disturbing to others, so that means that I come up with what some might see as some unusual ideas at times, I suspect. But it's always, always FUN. "

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