Two artists collaborate on a thought-provoking fibre art project inspired by the COVID virus image, but also by travel, escape, joy, and play. (Did you know Unravel and ravel both mean: “to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of”?
Laura Feeleus (left) and Elizabeth Carefoot work on "Ravel"
A joint statement from the two artists:
THE FIBRES THAT WE USE are mainly old and second-hand, worn thin by time—thrift shop finds, discards and remainders of previous projects. Stained, then laundered, then shredded, we forget where they came from. Previous shapes of garments and bed linen become threads and strips and knitted and braided strands, but the energy still remains.
Fabrics naturally want to become bodies and faces, all on their own. Each piece in the exhibition has a personality that we could see coming through as we braided and cut and stitched. All the while, the virus was in the air, and seeped into the work. This we offset with colour and humour, as a way to diffuse the pandemic around us. The ideas and shapes came from the materials themselves, guided by our personal histories and past traumas.
The essential element in Ravel is the transformation, the blending of colours and lines into new meanings and objects. The show has become a metaphor for our own blending as friends. The friendship was new in 2020, the year of lockdown and caution, but we collaborated and tested out our strong appreciation of colour and fibre.
Our ravel ball alludes to the familiar COVID image, but speaks also about travel, escape, joy, and play. Yes, our lives ravel as we wait for a vaccine and constrain our movements, but they are also coming together in new ways and through previously unexplored avenues.
Elizabeth and I joined the same art collective in 2020 in the thick of COVID restrictions. We were each drawn to the colour and playfulness our respective work, and then we became good friends.
We both paint, but where we really click is in a love of textiles, costume, and fibre art. I first conceived of Ravel, the exhibition for my spot in the schedule at arc.hive gallery, and then later thought it would be a great opportunity for us to collaborate.
The centrepiece of the show is a giant ball we have named “Ravel.” It is constructed of shredded and braided recycled fabrics and clothing. It is a burst of colour and personality. I took to driving around Victoria with it, stopping to photograph it at the beach or on the tracks. It brought some life to the drab winter we were still in.
"Ravel" on the beach
Other pieces in the show include a series of faces made of recycled textiles and a figure constructed of a hundred yards of zipper and a child’s coat.
My art is personal and self-revelatory, involved and emotionally charged. Process informs and shapes my imagery. It is process that dictates the conception, not the other way around. I allow chance, or rely on memory to play its part
For the “Red Hanging,” I knitted many yards of I-cord, a knitting technique that allowed me to stop and start at any juncture, thus permitting me to add to the cord during a quiet moment, sometimes only minutes at a time. My vision was to make something that is raveled and unraveled at the same time.
“Ms Ravel’s Travels” is a spoof on innocent, naive but adventurous tourists who yearn to participate in local culture, but without a lot of sensitivity or much research into customs or traditions.
Elizabeth Carefoot with the braided work that went into the ravel ball.
“String Theory,” according to scientists, keeps the secret of everything in the universe. My interpretation of this interconnectedness is expressed in the floating but attached rings which are about to unravel, setting in motion eventual entropy.
The nature of reality is plastic. Seeing the playful, the mysterious or the unexplained can re-energize our thought about the language of art. It is art that provokes us to question and debate.