Newcastle’s Timeless Textiles Gallery will mark International Women’s Day in March with an innovative and collaborative exhibition – Letting Go – which will include the placement of a large-scale art installation outside the Lock-up Gallery.

The installation, a 72-square metre fabric mosaic designed by local Aboriginal elder and artist Elsie Randal, will be placed on the footpath outside the historical gaol to symbolise the need for Australians, and people from other nations, to cleanse and heal historical pain.

The Letting Go installation is inspired by a community ritual held in a small Italian village each year, where townsfolk colour bark chips and scatter them in the square. A respected community elder then leads a walk through the chips, scattering them as a symbol of cleansing and letting go of old enmities.

Timeless Textiles Gallery Director Anne Kempton says the exhibition also re-connects to the gaol that houses both the Lock Up Gallery and Timeless Textiles.

“Awareness of the rising number of women in incarceration leads us to question what we need to let go of that no longer serves our communities and how we begin again,” Anne said.

Largely supported by a City of Newcastle’s ‘Place Making Initiative’ grant, Letting Go is a community based project, which is also supported by donations of artistic collaboration, time and materials. The International Women’s Day project aims to bring people together and expand awareness of the creative culture that is thriving in the city. Free workshops have been held at Timeless Textiles Gallery since October last year, offering people from all walks of life the opportunity to pick up a new skill in textile art or contribute their talent to the work.

The workshops, run by fibre artists Naomi Wild, Wilma Simmons and Ruth Spence, are held from 10.30-12.30 every Wednesday for the rest of January and February. They include a variety of techniques such as printing, mark-making, stitching and felting.

“Layers of stories have emerged as people explore their creative expression in the workshops,” Anne said. “Individual life experiences, a strong local sense of place and a collective of thoughts on the global issues facing women today have all been represented by group members.”

The resulting works will be on exhibition for a walk-through on Sunday, 8 March as part of the Letting Go International Women’s Day celebration at 2pm. Individuals, families and community groups are invited to participate in Letting Go – collectively, creatively and meaningfully.
For more information or to register interest, contact project curator Naomi Wild at Timeless Textiles Gallery (ph: 02 4926 5888). 90 Hunter St, Newcastle East