Kate Just and Tamara Marwood: You Make Me Feel

Stephen Gallagher
Artists form contemporary objects from the legacy of the hand made in Central Victoria
Alluvial Gallery
81 View Street Bendigo 3550
Ph: (03) 5442 8116
July 14 – August 12

Kate Just My Daphne 2007, hand-knitted, machine knitted, and hand rug-hooked acrylic yarn & wool, wire, tape, fiberglass, papier mache, cardboard, wood, plastic. Dimensions variable.

With every stitch, in fabric or with the increasing and decreasing of knitting yarn, Tamara Marwood and Kate Just choose one way or another to form an object. In the etiological myth of Apollo and Daphne, Daphne ducks and weaves a trail in flight from Apollo's pursuit, eventually leading to her future existence as a laurel tree. Apollo called to Daphne ‘It is for love I pursue you' so too do we find a driving fascination with the hand made in the crafted objects by Marwood and Just.

Born in the Central Victorian town of Dingee, Marwood now lives in Eaglehawk. She draws deep upon her present environment and that of her upbringing. The impact of the human's assault upon the environment, the constant carving up and division of the open flat grass plains with vast straight stretches of lonely road systems are reflected in the subtle pattern of the fabric's grain in ‘Paddock Division'. Comprised of small horse hair canvas panels joined with a loose basic stitch, its subtle blue thread exposes the making process. The panels expand like the subdivisions of land—intersected with a network of roads, visual paths, along which we alone travel. ‘Paddock Division' takes on the practicality of the decision making process—rigid, black and white, left or right. The use of horse hair canvas, a fabric used as interlining in a suit, takes on a somewhat masculine role.

Linear elements occur again in Marwood's ‘Wallpaper Fountain' a simple repeat of the bold. Striking red threads play upon the positive and negative space of the original floral design. Further developed from a residency at Tutes Cottage, Castlemaine, Marwood has adapted/recycled one wallpaper pattern of the many layers of luxury added to this modest miner's cottage. The four canvaswork panels of ‘Wallpaper Fountain' are joined and reminiscent of the ‘homeliness' one tries to achieve with limited resources. They evoke a feminine quality historically associated with the traditional home-decoration skills of patchwork and quilting. Marwood's embroidery skills are self taught in the traditional manner. These skills are shared by grandmother, mother and daughter.

Drawn to historical associations, ‘My Daphne' marks new directions in Just's work. She interprets mythological tales in knitted sculpture, in particular the Greek myth of Apollo and Daphne. Just focuses on the last moments of Daphne's transformation into a laurel tree as a metaphor for personal struggle and the awakening of sexual and creative powers. ‘My Daphne' is Just's first attempt at self-portraiture and explores the notions of gender, family cultural/self- identity and the connection between women and nature.

Just captures the final moment of transformation from the human to a natural form. A knitted arm represents the last human vestige of Daphne. It reaches out feeling for the place where Daphne's head existed. It is a touch of recognition, of things lost, devoid of panic, sexual provocation intertwined with a love of nature. Just comments: ‘My Daphne has no man in chase, or discomfort in her changing state. She chooses transformation, not as a form of escape, but for the change to become ‘one' with nature.' This moment of creation is reinforced by the volcano/oozing stump beside the newly transformed Daphne.

Just is interested in the hand as a sensory tool. It displays the language of gesture and mannerism, even in its power in advertising to highlight or sell a product. In ‘You Make Me Feel #1 and #2', Just constructs a collage from hands cut out from fashion and decorating magazines. Of differing skin colour and scale when placed together, they are transformed into images of elk's horn, a scythe and exotic birds. Rather than knowingly replicating these forms, Just lets each piece guide her to their arrangement.

What draws Marwood and Just together are the quintessential notions and associations of craft to nature. They evoke the revival of the hand made and how the simple motions of a crochet, knitting or sewing needle form contemporary objects.


Last modified 29-Aug-2007

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Craft Victoria.