|Sailor’s daughter explores the sea in new exhibition
As the daughter of a sailor, the sea was a dangerous and mysterious place to artist Amanda Donohue, home to wondrous sea creatures and gods. The works in her new exhibition Undercurrent, opening next month at Newcastle Timeless Textiles Gallery, explore women’s role in society against a backdrop of oceanic cultures, myths and legends.
“The oceans have always been the barrier between the known world and the exotic, which sailors were driven to explore in search of treasures and new lands,” Amanda says of her relationship with the sea. “They were home to the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey and many of the works in this exhibition allude to the popular mermaid fantasy; the saccharine-coated female waiting to lure men, by means of enchanted singing, to death on the rocks.”
|Although Amanda’s works explore the femme fatale role, they also reflect her desire to be Marina in Stingray when growing up.
The artist deftly uses a broad range of techniques in creating the rich works in the Undercurrent exhibition including dying, screen-printing, lino-printing, hand stitching and collaging. Fabric, trims and buttons collected from family members and friends or recycled from op shops are included, evoking meaning and memory for the artist that resonates in the work. Fabrics have been dyed and stitched, reformed and crafted to be presented as a cohesive body of work.
|Amanda Donohue has an Honours degree from Sydney University’s College of the Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design from the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. She was a finalist in the Manly Artist Book Award (2013) and in the prestigious printmaking Silk Cut Award (2012).
While the focus of her studies was printmaking, her love of textiles and interest in the ‘genderisation’ of embroidery have been strong influences on her. Her practice is influenced by multiple themes including domesticity, innocence and popular media, to create works that weave together issues of gender stereotypes and sexual commodification. She works as a printmaker and textile artist.
|Little is wasted in Amanda’s works with button holes integrated and old stitching lines featured. Soft, torn edges are preferred over neat turned hems, the selvedge becomes a feature. And is there a right side to fabric?
Hand-stitching is predominant in Amanda’s textile works, where fabrics are dyed and stitched, printed and reformed. Various stitches are used, but simple, honest, running stitch is favoured.
“Freud said the practice of hand-sewing facilitated hysteria but the meditative state induced by the slow, repetitive action is welcomed in today’s fast-paced life” Amanda explains. “In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope buys time waiting for her husband’s return by secretly undoing the weaving she completes each day.”
Undercurrent began with a series entitled Water Maidens in which Amanda questioned women’s role with regards to that essential life force ‘water’. Many of the works explore the mermaid fantasy, seen in several places in contemporary society, including beer advertisements, brides trashing their wedding dresses in water-based photography sessions and Pirates of the Caribbean, where a mermaid’s tear can provide eternal life to the drinker.
Undercurrent exhibition will be opened from June 18 at 6pm – 8pm by Lisa Who, Creative Director, Curve Gallery.