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Exploded textiles at Tamworth Regional Gallery

Pushing the boundaries of fabric and form with an innovative regional arts partnership

Jonathan Monk Dessins Isométriques (Afrique Cubique) D5 and Dessins Isométriques (Afrique Cubique) A3 2017, Art Gallery of New South Wales © Jonathan Monk

The Art Gallery of New South Wales and Tamworth Regional Gallery are delighted to announce Exploded textiles, a new exhibition of leading international and Australian artists drawn from the collections of both galleries.

Presenting an evolution of the understanding of textile art the exhibition celebrates Tamworth Regional Gallery’s famous focus on textiles and coincides with its 100th anniversary.

Home of the Tamworth Textile Triennial, this year the city also hosts Artstate 2019, the four-year forum by Regional Arts NSW highlighting excellence in regional arts practice. Exploded textiles forms the centrepiece of the forum’s diverse arts program.

Art Gallery of NSW deputy director and director of collections Maud Page said the exhibition is an inspiring opportunity to further the Gallery’s engagement with regional New South Wales.

“Supportive and collaborative relationships are vital in helping us connect with diverse Australian audiences, and we’ve long enjoyed a strong partnership with Tamworth Regional Gallery.

“The centenary of Tamworth Regional Gallery and the Artstate Conference makes 2019 a particularly fitting time to for us to celebrate its nationally significant textile art collection with Exploded textiles,” Page said.

Director Bridget Guthrie said since the 1970s Tamworth Regional Gallery has built a textile and fibre art collection of national importance, acquiring works from Australia and beyond that showcase the possibilities and power of the medium.

Exploded textiles offers regional audiences an exciting, engaging and meaningful art experience,” Guthrie said.

“We’re delighted to partner with the Art Gallery of NSW for this exhibition, strengthening our existing relationship and opening up further opportunities to work together in the future,” Guthrie added.

The exhibition brings works by some of the most esteemed names in contemporary art to Tamworth, including Tracey Emin, Mona Hatoum, Jonathan Monk, and Ronnie van Hout.

Curated by the Art Gallery of NSW’s special exhibitions curator Jackie Dunn (The Lady and the unicorn, 2018), the selected works explode the standard notion of textile art, challenging and expanding its potential as a medium to make connections, create dialogue, and speak of memory and identity.

“These works reveal the endlessly fascinating capacity of artists to explore the material and formal properties of textiles and also their socially, culturally loaded ones,” said Dunn.

Some works will be displayed for the first time since their acquisition by the Art Gallery of NSW, including a major sculpture by the late John Barbour that explores the opposition of two distinct physical materials: lead and gossamer voile fabric.

Two works from miniaturist Rubaba Haider’s 2017 series The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine! Feels at each thread and lives along the line (Alexander Pope) give a magnified view of rips through open-weave fabric, alluding to the vulnerability of communities torn apart by warfare.

Key works from Tamworth’s national textile collection joining those from the Art Gallery of NSW include three – by Linda Lou Murphy, Anita Larkin and Martha McDonald – that are both sculptural objects and artefacts of performances staged by the artists as part of previous textile triennials. All three explore memory, experience and language through textiles.

The potential for textiles to convey such richly layered concepts is investigated through a range of materials with sculpture, installation, performance and painting all adding to the fabric of the exhibition.

Visitors to Exploded textiles will also see works in which Indigenous weaving traditions are honoured for their strength and story including three handbags by Datiwuy speaker Mavis Ganambarr (AGNSW), one of Australia’s leading fibre artists. Alongside these is a major work by Gamilaroi artist Amy Hammond (TRG), which adds augmented reality to a traditional lomandra grass weaving, activated through dance and language.

Exploded textiles will be showing at Tamworth Regional Gallery from 28 September 2019 – 1 December 2019.

Media contact

Hannah McKissock-Davis
Tel 02 9225 1671