Report on WAFTA Member's Meeting in February 2022

March 27, 2022

There was a good turnout for the first Members meeting of WAFTA for 2022, and a great start to the year. Lisa McFarlane Reid, the Manager of Tresillian, welcomed us to WAFTA’s  new home at the centre, outlining the history of the building, as well as its current use as arts studios, teaching space for workshops, and exhibitions.

Di Binns reported that WAFTA has 16 new members and there is great interest in the Twentyfive + Crossover exhibition.  The upcoming meetings will all feature artist guest speakers who work in areas other than traditional textiles, to inspire us to think laterally on the artworks we are making for this.

Pip Hoy reported that due to family commitments she is no longer able to take over as Wafta Chair at the AGM when Di retires from the role.

Gail Hawes, representing the Exhibition Committee for the 25+Crossover Exhibition, spoke about the exhibition including limitations on size and to use a maximum of 3 techniques.  There are no limits on materials and we are encouraged to really push our ideas and creativity.  It is a juried exhibition and the selection is made based on up to 6 photos submitted, so make sure they are very good quality!

Sarah Thornton Smith was the guest speaker for the evening and gave a very interesting presentation as well as bringing in three of her exquisite pieces.

Sarah's beguiling work is meticulously constructed.  Using 2 or 3 layers of paper, precise cutting and folding of tiny repetitive shapes, each painted in colour waves of gouache. When viewed, subtle variations within the repetition of form draw the eyes in, and colour leads your vision in different directions across the work, noticing the juxtaposition of colour and the effects of light and shade. New delights are revealed as you physically move from one side of the work to another.

It is the distillation of a great deal of observation, creative thinking, and planning.

Sarah’s presentation, ”Paper Curiosities” gave much food for thought. After a brief introduction of her creative childhood and her later study at Curtin University, she spoke of the importance of colour in her work.  Her slide show shared inspirations and photos of her own work and processes. Sarah shared quotes from other artists and thinkers, and she spoke of her admiration of Twyla Tharp, who notes that creativity requires hard work and the use of habit-forming rituals to anchor creativity.

Nature is clearly of great influence in the work.  Sarah spoke of regular practices such as tree hugging/bark stroking, “looking up” and daily sunset walks as disciplines that present both the source of inspiration through observation of colour, texture, light and shadow, and an opportunity to slow down enough to foster creativity.  She then abstracts these into shape and colour in her work.

Sarah’s work is delicate and beautiful, and a wonderful example of how observation and experimentation, regular practice and deep thinking, in combination with 2 techniques – paper cutting and painting, can result in something unlike the source material and yet evoking its essence in new and exciting ways.

Sadly, Estelle Dean was unwell but looks forward to giving us a presentation on her work at a future meeting.

WAFTA Reporter: Heidi Sumner

Sarah Thornton Smith speaking to WAFTA members and guests

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