Time & Love: The Handcrafted Bedroom
11 December 2003 –6 February 2004
Time & Love: The Handcrafted Bedroom was an exhibition that showcased handcrafted textile artworks for, and found in the bedroom. It incorporated artworks made by 90 professional artists, hobbyists, guilds and community groups and displayed the range of over 200 textile works through extensive community outreach work. Items that were found via community consultation included handmade bedspreads, bedsocks, pillowcases, quilts, rugs, blankets, sheets, baby clothes, toys, nightdresses, children’s toys, cushions and embroidered jewellery boxes.
The exhibition also showcased the range of textile work such as appliqué, crochet, embroidery, knitting, lacework, patchwork, tapestry, weaving and quilting currently being practised in the Penrith area and the Blue Mountains and to celebrate the virtuoso artists found within the local communities. It also achieved built inter-community and cross regional links and networks.
The exhibition represented the cultural and social diversity of makers from a diverse age range from mid 20’s –80 years old and included artworks made by Aboriginal, Italian, Bangladeshi, Chinese Dutch, German, East Timorese, Samoan, Indian artists and communities.
Works ranged from the traditional to the contemporary and often displayed visual and aesthetic connections to bring together artists of different generations in one display/installation (e.g. either through colour, technique or style). Whilst the majority of makers were female the exhibition also included work made by four male artists and highlighted the diversity of techniques, personal taste, tradition and design.
To share the focus of the artistic inspiration and associations by the makers of their artworks, contextual panels included selected personal stories by the makers and the commemorative meanings the pieces had that were made for the special friends and relatives.
The exhibition was developed over a 10-month period working with a community curatorium of seven women ranging from late 50’s-70’s to research, develop and present the exhibition.
The curatorium members were selected from the Friends of the Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, and an invited curatorium member from a previous TAFE project with the Gallery. The community curatorium comprised of Kay Anderson, Lynda Henderson, Jan Lewis, Elizabeth Miller, Reena Mitra, Jan Needham, Mireille Viviani,
The project coordinator was the Gallery Audience Development Manager, Cheryle Yin-Lo, who was chosen on the basis of her extensive experience in CCD projects and intimate knowledge of the region.
Regular monthly meetings for the curatorium were organised and increased to every two weeks as the project progressed and grew nearer to the exhibition presentation phase.
The community curatorium were also involved in extensive community networking and outreach visits to identifying artworks and finding information about the history of pieces and building up their knowledge of the different medium and techniques.
Due to the scale of the research and geographical spread some curatorium members worked in pairs or small groups on their visits to follow up their prospective community contacts and networks in their personal homes or community centres often making several visits during the week, at nights and on weekends according to community group’s meeting times and venues.
The Project Coordinator also attended a number of community visits to get a general ‘cultural map’ and scope of the work in the community. This also served as an opportunity to build in aspects of promoting of the Gallery profile and the project and to ensure that the community curatorium members were supported and equipped in working with people in the community appropriately and observing community protocols.
This community outreach process also highlighted the different social, cultural and economic contexts in which the artworks were produced and ranged from groups such as the Bilpin Quilters who were well established and resourced and making works for leisure to the Samailo Samoan Womens Group based at St Marys Community Centre who were formed under a skills development and employment program.
Thus, the diverse range of exhibition contributors created a ‘rich tapestry’ and reflection of the social and cultural diversity of the region. The community curatorium made a group visit to meet the Samailo Women’s Groups and this proved to be an important meeting point for cross cultural interaction learning e.g. Samoan culture and design. (This also led to an important contribution by the women’s group who made their unique bed cover and set that combined Samoan and Western design and loaned to the Gallery a display of Samoan accessories as part of their training and employment project).
All of the community groups were extremely generous with their time and interest in the project and were very cooperative in organising their groups work for viewing by the curatorium to make the preliminary selection process easier as we found the work was dispersed amongst individuals and groups and to cover a great selection from across the region.