A fascination with natural structures and an experimental approach to embroidery and thread has led to a fascinating exhibition by artist Meredith Woolnough that opens at Newcastle’s Timeless Textiles Gallery in April.
In the work prepared for the Natural Networks exhibition, Meredith has created elegant embroidered traceries that capture the power, beauty and fragility of nature in knotted embroidery threads. She explores the sculptural possibilities of a unique embroidery technique that utilises a domestic sewing machine and a base fabric that dissolves in water. By repeatedly stitching threads into dense structures Meredith creates intricate and complex openwork compositions that are then carefully suspended in space with pins, causing them to cast delicate shadows.

This exhibition explores the life and growth systems of various plants, animals and fungi in embroidery. Each piece is inspired by a particular natural structure such as the segmented growth of molluscs, the vein structures of leaves or the branching forms of coral.

Meredith, who has a first class honours degree in Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales and a Master’s of Teaching from the University of Sydney, finds inspiration in nature.

“I live close to bushland and coastal environments,” she said. “Exploring, collecting and drawing makes up a large part of the field work aspect of my practice and I like to research any plant or animal thoroughly so I understand it completely before I translate it into stitches.”

Also a scuba diver, Meredith loves to explore the world below the waves as well. She is fascinated by the structure of things, from the hard shapes of coral colonies to the minute arterial veins in leaves.

“I like to draw parallels between the growth and life systems of various organisms in my work commenting upon the interconnectedness of all living things.”

It was during her fine art studies at university that Meredith fell in love with textiles and freehand embroidery in particular.

On leaving university, she worked as a secondary school teacher for a time before making a decision in 2011 to devote herself to her art practice.

“I took a huge risk. I left my job, moved to Newcastle and began work full-time as an artist. It has been one of the scariest, but also the most satisfying choices I have made in my life so far.”

View Natural Networks from 13 April until 8 May, with an official opening on 21 April.

meredith timeless