'Art as activism, mindful making and connecting to cloth for consciousness' says Jane Ziemons, designer behind 'Melaleuca Rise'.
Can you explain what 'art as activism' as indicated on your site means to you, and how you portray this in your cloth work?
Having come across Sarah Corbett’s book on Craftivism I began to think more deeply about the ways in which my work could have an impact on the wider community and this has led to one of my current projects which is to develop a Western Australia #craftivistcollective group. As an introvert living in an extroverted world it can often be difficult to belong to a larger group. Many people underestimate the strength and courage it takes to reach out and I want to develop a safe space for people to quietly share their ideas on how together we can create a better future for our planet whilst slowly stitching our change making thoughts.
I love how on your site your overarching message revolves around consciousness + mindfulness. Why do you think 'Connecting to Cloth' as you say, aids or supports a more present way of living?
During my Contemporary Fashion and Textiles degree at Edith Cowan University, I came across the innovative pattern cutting methods of Professor Julian Roberts, Royal College of Art, London. His ‘subtraction cutting’ method not only offered me the opportunity to build the utilisation of’ waste’ within my patterns but also had strong design elements with transformative properties available to the end wearer of my work. Another key influence has been Kate Fletcher who has written about the fashion industry’s consistent ‘churn[ing] out’ of pieces that offer the user no way of transforming the piece. This in turn creates the belief of continued consumption as the garment is seen as a static item without potential for the user/wearer to remake, alter and mend. This was the catalyst for me to create pieces that can be ‘used’ rather than worn and thoughtlessly discarded. I aim to create pieces of clothing that change along with the user, transforming in ways that may not at first be seen.
In developing relationships with the people who make our clothes we begin to see cloth as a bond, a way to continually reinvent and reappreciate in order that we can wear what works in the now for who we are in the present rather than a sense of something becoming no longer useful.
(This corset was created using a cross stitch that I had been working on for over 15 years. Every time we reached a new country it would be the first thing that I would stitch long before all our other belongings arrived. )
These images show how I often transform pieces. The silk and satin eucalyptus and tea dyed subtraction cut dress from Nomadic Nostalgia was transformed into a flowing skirt with delicate ribbon ties for my Fragmented Memories Collection.
As a person of Scottish heritage I have come from a tradition of connecting to cloth through the clan tartans and I explored this through my ‘loom dress’ where I hand wove metres of cloth using my own ‘Farquharson’ clan colours and then wove this into a multi layered dress via a tartan blanket that had been gifted to me.
Photo by: Jane Ziemons
Can you talk us through your mindful making classes and why - especially in this current world space - taking time to connect in this way can be so vital?
As a multidisciplinary artist and teacher it is my hope to create situations where people can take the time to simply be. Our Mindful Making classes are for small groups or taught individually and are a combination of mindfulness meditation and observational non-judgemental drawing. These workshops are for anyone who seeks to quieten their persistent negative chatter within a safe and supportive environment. This is an opportunity to begin to see what's really in front of you, a chance to connect your hands and your eyes and leave behind the unhelpful doubts that can hinder our progress. I have a feeling that too many of us are constantly plugged in and these mindful moments allow us to share in the here and now without hurrying or checking what’s happening out there.
Can you tell us the story behind your last collection entitled 'Nomadic Nostalgia' and what you wanted to communicate with these pieces?
My 2017 Nomadic Nostalgia collection was a personal exploration into my Scottish cultural heritage and the impact of this on creating new connections to people and place. It was a deeply narrative collection that visually demonstrated the transitional experience of the migrant. Aspects of my own association with Scottish tartan, the thistle (Scotland’s national emblem) and the kilt were explored. I also used deconstructed garments that, through movement on the body, demonstrated the awkwardness of arriving in a new country and I explored silhouettes that visually represented feelings of loss, grounding, belonging and connection.
Photographer: Songy Knox
Our 2018 Fragmented Memories collection brings together looks that were developed during a period of independent study where my focused research was based upon a deepening knowledge of ethical and sustainable fashion and how this sits within my contemporary arts practice.
The narrative throughout this collection began with my interest in the formation and retention of memory. What we remember throughout our lives and what others remember when they think of us: the significant events, the fleeting moments, the sadness, the conversations. There can often be a disconnect between what we would want people to remember about us and our inability to control which moments hold significance to others. After initiating a dialogue between myself and a select group of people I began to collect memories which formed the screen printed text within my work.
Gathered vintage photographs of family members were digitally manipulated to create more images for the fabric prints. An image of a mycelium underground structure was used to create an association with nature’s connected pathways. This visual offers an opportunity for the viewer to reflect upon human communication and the ways in which we may strengthen our understanding of individuals within a connected whole.
Photo by: Jane Ziemons
You can find Jane at Perth Eco Fashion Week this November, head on over to the Eco Fashion Week Australia website to learn all about the events taking place.