3rd November 2020
In the SEWNUP project five artists have produced artworks that respond to their investigations into the tension between the beauty, comfort and social identity provided by textiles and clothing products on one hand and either questionable aspects of the product cycle or a reassessment of the handmade on the other. In Stage 1 April 2020 three artists exhibited and sought audience engagement as an incidental art experience additional to shopping at Lyttleton Stores or passing by on the street. That first group of artists was Linda Adair, Eloise Maree and Tom Isaacs. They are joined in this second stage by the collaborative team of Rachel Peachey and Paul Mosig and the textile artist TessRapa.
LindaAdair (located in the downstairs workshop)
BehindClosed Doors 1 and 2, (from right to left) each work 82 x 106 (h) cm, found objects and digital prints. Not for sale.
Enslaved labour – so called Modern Slavery – is instrumental to the global economic paradigm of capitalist consumption. Over the past 30 years, enslavement of vulnerable workers has spread throughout the world in a wide range of products to fit the demands of first world consumption.
The garment industry has become one of the main offenders and Dhaka in Bangladesh is the garment making centre of the world. Fashion businesses from prestige to bargain basement brands have depended on cheap labour and just-in-time supply chains using outsourced labour which is hard to monitor and control. The exploitation and coercion of women and children to work for slave wages is rampant in the garment making industry. As a poet and an artist, I am committed to raising my voice to discuss issues impacting those people without a voice, especially where gender inequities are at play which cause women to suffer. In this work I want to draw people’s attention to the ongoing struggle for transparency in supply chains and compliance to be required of companies sourcing garments from vulnerable people in the poorest nations such as Bangladesh which desperately needs the industry but in safe conditions for living wages.
Behind Closed Doors depicts the collapse of the Rana Plaza Building on 24 April 2013. This was the worst event among many disasters where garment workers were injured or killed due to appalling working conditions in poorly built factories, which lack even adequate fire exits to allow people to escape in an emergency. In recognition of 7th anniversary occurs on 24 April 2020, I have taken an image of the collapsed building and manipulated it, combining it with my drawing of one of the millions of women who continue to work in sweat shops to support their families, just like the 1,132 Bangladeshi women who lost their lives that dreadful day. The heavy steel door framing the work is symbolic of women’s enslavement in an industry where the owners of factories are men who frequently abuse them. Alongside this door is frame of the door from a demolished building, which holds the poem of the same name and signifying that the only way out of enslavement is via the support of first world consumers to call for mandated transparency to comply with Modern Slavery legislation.
Eloise Maree (located on the right hand side of the wall behind the till. )
Caducity’s Daughters 1-3(left to right) each work 10.15 by 12.70 (h) cm,aluminotypes, framed ($880 each or $2,500 altogether)
Caducity’s Children connects Eloise’s photographic art practice to the needlepersons’ practice Within putatively innocuous garments past as well as present are chemical toxins purposely used in their manufacture.These toxins can cause illness if not death.
In 1824, Giacomo Leopardi (an Italian philosopher and poet and literary romanticist), wrote Dialogo DellaModa E della Morte (Dialogue Between Fashion and Death). Within Dialogue,fashion’s personification calls out to death’s personification; “don’t you recognise me?” she says, “I’m Fashion, your sister… we are both Caducity’s daughters”. Caducity means the quality of being transitory or perishable. Even in 1824 Leopardi was well aware that fashion could be fatal.
Within Caducity’s Children, a maker and wearer of textiles and or clothes fashion has been photographed using multiple exposures. The sitter is transitory, perishable (perished?) and cadaverous yetalso seductive, just as fashion and its front people are.
To make her aluminotypes(camera-original, wet plate process positives) Eloise used a silver nitrate sensitising solution. This 7% solution is toxic (it’s corrosive), as are mercury, arsenic, perchloroethylene and other chemicals used historically as well as now to groom fur, dye fabrics, dry clean and more. Eloise’s aluminotypes are suffused with silver nitrate artefacts, a bi or secondary product of the photographic process used. Artefacts are invisible until the final stage of fixing a photograph, just as contaminants are to makers and wearers of textiles and clothes fashion.
 See Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past andPresent by Alison Matthews David for a comprehensive analysis.
Tom Isaacs (located on the right handside of the wall behind the till. )
Top row from left to right Reverse Alchemy, I began defeated and La Petite Mort
Bottom Row from left to right Anamnesis (Remembrance),Milk and Judgement.
40 x 40 cm, Felt and thread Reverse Alchemy $430, All others$285 each
My mother is a quilter. She has been making quilts for as long as I can remember. She has made numerous quilts for me and other members of my family over the years. There’s one on my bed right now that my mother made for my wife and I as a wedding present. It keeps us warm at night. These quilts are tangible expressions of love and warmth. They are works of art, but they are also made to be used.
The six quilts I’ve made for this exhibition(with help from my mother) are a way of thinking through my experience of depression as well as an expression of my desire for healing whether medical or spiritual. Living with depression can feel deathly – as if you're not really alive. Having been depressed for so long, and tracing it back to my childhood,in some ways it feels as though I was stillborn. It’s as if I never successfully came into life in the first place.
My mother belongs to a group of quilters who make small quilts for stillborn babies so that their family have something to wrap the babies in. Inspired by this idea, I decided to make quilts for myself as a stillborn baby. In these works, I have combined references to psychoanalysis,medicine, spirituality, religion, and art to speak to themes of depression and healing, death and resurrection.
Although these works are very personal, I hope they speak beyond the particulars of my situation. I don’t know if I’m the only person with depression who does this, but I tend to have a pretty pessimistic view of life and I often draw parallels between my experience of depression and the human condition more generally. In particular, I think these works speak to the burden of mortality that we all share. As Samuel Beckett wrote in Waiting for Godot, “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.”
Tess Rapa (Located on the wall to the right-hand side of the door to the fruit and vegetables)
Bringthem Back No’s001, 002, 003 and 004, 2019 – 2020, thread, found objects and fabric. Size variable.
These worn jeans are upcycled by the creative use of visible mending to layer additional decorative patterns and narratives onto the patina of use evident in the base denim fabric. I think there are enough jeans already in the world to clothe the whole human race without making another single pair.
Price$250 plus commission per pair of jeans. These jeans are retailed under a product stewardship system. This is an environmental management strategy where the artist takes responsibility for minimising the environmental impact of the artwork at all stages of its life cycle. When the purchaser has finished with the artwork, the jeans, the artist offers to take the artwork back at no cost to the purchaser. The purchaser is not responsible for disposing of the artwork. The artist will ensure that the artwork is repaired,revitalised and its effective lifespan extended to allow further use.
Paul Mosig and Rachel Peachey (Located in the window gallery space )
Grave Goods I, Converse shoe, thread, $95.50, Grave Goods II, Volley shoe, thread,$29.99, Grave Goods III, Adidas shoe, thread, $149.95
In the series of works Grave Goods, Peachey & Mosig alter the value of waste material from something disposable to something refined and cherished. As in the production of the original shoes, the ultimate value of the finished object is established by the market, which does not adequately reflect the labour and resources involved in the making of the work.The shoes new forms take inspiration from talismans and Memento Mori objects.Talismans have been used for thousands of years as a way to impart strength and dispel fears, to confront adversity, misfortune and death. Memento Mori jewellery is a symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death.
Memento Mori - ‘remember that you will die’. And may we seek to die well.
Split into two stages by COVID-19 isolation requirements, the five artists commissioned by SEWNUP have produced artworks that respond to their investigations into the tension between the beauty, comfort and social identity provided by textiles and clothing products on one hand and either questionable aspects of the product cycle or a reassessment of the handmade on the other. Stage 1 was shown in April 2020.