The creative working partnership with my mother started last year in 2015. I have always been interested in historical costume and vintage fashions ever since I was little but only recently have found time to explore this with invaluable help from my mother. My mother has always been passionate with sewing and would sporadically, throughout her adult life, sew a dress or a jacket with store bought patterns, at first with Home Yardage or Lincraft in Sydney and now Spotlight in Perth.
My mother grew up observing my grandmother regularly sewing for her 11 children. Due to old fashioned views, my grandmother never taught my mother to sew and would forbid her from sewing at home. Being ingenious, my mother would find ways to practice the skills she observed by sewing with friends at their homes but always in secret. Due to her experiences with sewing during her formative years, she never thought of pursuing a creative career with sewing and never further developed her skills until last year.
2015 was an important year creatively. I joined an arts and cultural development organisation and it was there that I had my first experience with creative experimentation, self-expression through art, playing with colours and most importantly storytelling through art.
With my new found interest in storytelling, it was by chance and necessity that I rediscovered my passion for history and costume. By combining history, costume, musical composition, digital art, painting and performance, I discovered my own syntax and method for storytelling. I voraciously read and taught myself needle art, period costume pattern making and costume embellishments by reading old books mainly dating pre 1950’s.
2015 was a year filled with many new discoveries, excitements and challenges. My mother made the commitment to help me bring my creative ideas to fruition. In preparation for an exhibition, she helped me to complete a 1950s Dior inspired costume art complete with meters upon meters of tulle for the petticoat as well as wires for the hoop underskirt. It took her about a month with many temper tantrums and needle tortures before she rediscovered her buried sewing skills and her passion for sewing.
My Opus 1 was titled Zelda’s Resurrection. I wanted to interpret through costume art a lady who has resurrected from the flames of war like a phoenix. In order to achieve that, I used a combination of beading, painting, fabric origami, digital artworks printed on calico, variations of wool crochet and braids as well as the appropriate period costume foundation to express the emotion and to tell the story. My Opus 1 took both my mother and I on a challenging, exciting as well as exasperating journey of learning to paint by hand and digitally, crochet, embroider, pattern making amongst many other skills.
Having now approaching the end of 2016, both my mother's and my creative goals are now more defined, our skills are continuing to improve and we have experienced participating in three art exhibitions. I have during the year joined the Embroiderer’s Guild of Western Australia and in particular the textile conservation group. Now very recently my mother and I have joined the Sewing Guild of Australia which will help to broaden our knowledge and experiences manifolds. Through my passion for history, I have been invited to join the Melville History Society and it is with them that I will curate my first historical / art exhibition. The exhibition will be focusing on the lives of children living between the years 1900 to 1920. It will have a strong emphasis on children’s costumes especially storytelling through costume art.
My mother and I are now convinced that we have found our purpose and passion. To be able to share my passion and creative goals with my mother is truly a blessing indeed.