SKY IS THE LIMIT

SHIBUI Issue - - MODERN MAKER - CU­RA­TOR BRISEIS ONFRAY THE MAKER SKY CARTER PHO­TOS HAN­NAH MOR­GAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AND SKY CARTER COUN­TRY AUS­TRALIA

WHERE ARE YOU BASED?

My home and my stu­dio are both in Syd­ney’s In­ner West, only 15 min­utes’ drive apart which is great.

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START WORK­ING IN TEX­TILES?

I was float­ing along in life try­ing to be a proper adult but was not en­joy­ing it very much. About five years ago I made the very big and scary de­ci­sion to leave full time work and fol­low my heart. I hired a stu­dio space and be­gan paint­ing. Cre­ative ex­pres­sion had al­ways been an ‘on the side’ pur­suit and I yearned to have a space that I could splash paint around in. It was a lot of fun and kind of like a self-taught crash-course in be­ing a pro­fes­sional artist. I was for­tu­nate enough to get com­mis­sions and sell my paint­ings so I could have stayed on that path if I hadn’t sud­denly dis­cov­ered fi­bre art one day which, ul­ti­mately, trans­formed my art prac­tice.

SKY CARTER EM­BRACES THE IM­PER­FEC­TIONS IN HER WEAV­ING AS A RE­MINDER OF THE BEAUTY TO BE FOUND IN OUR EV­ERY­DAY LIVES.

WHAT IN­SPIRED YOUR FIRST PIECE?

I tell this lit­tle story in my weav­ing work­shops about an epiphany I had one evening while watch­ing a movie at home that had a wall hang­ing as part of its set de­sign. When I saw it, some­thing just clicked for me, I went into the kitchen, ripped up a card­board box, did a quick bit of YouTub­ing, made a small card­board loom and then wove my first ever wall hang­ing. I used some old fab­ric and yarn left over from a blan­ket I had cro­cheted. I loved it, it felt like I had made the cutest lit­tle thing. Be­fore I knew it I had com­pletely con­verted my stu­dio into a fi­bre and tex­tile art space and had given away my paints!

IT’S A VERY TAC­TILE ART FORM. WHAT IS THIS BEST THING ABOUT HAND-MADE?

There is some­thing about be­ing phys­i­cally con­nected to my work that brings me a deeper sense of sat­is­fac­tion than, say paint­ing did. Be­ing able to hold some­thing in your lap that is soft feels so good and the process of hav­ing my fin­gers en­twined with yarn is hugely en­joy­able. I am a bit of a tex­ture freak so I love to em­pha­sise that side of things too, mak­ing very shaggy works, of­ten to the point where peo­ple want to plunge them­selves in and can’t keep their hands off.

WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR CRE­ATIVE IN­SPI­RA­TION FROM?

Gen­er­ally speak­ing in­spi­ra­tion comes from other cre­atives, study­ing, teach­ing my weav­ing work­shops and be­ing in new en­vi­ron­ments. Trav­el­ling and be­ing out of your usual space is im­per­a­tive to get my cre­ative process flow­ing and recharged. It al­lows me to view the world with fresh eyes. I tend to no­tice and ab­sorb more when trav­el­ling. How­ever I don’t need to get on a plane to get in­spired. My hus­band and I of­ten drive out to far away mar­kets to rub shoul­ders with lo­cals and find retro or vin­tage trea­sures. I am also a pack­ag­ing fa­natic and if I need a mo­ment of fun I will pop into an Asian su­per­mar­ket and buy some­thing su­per cool and colour­ful. There can be weeks when I re­alise I have not re­ally left my stu­dio so some­times I need to re­mind my­self to go roam­ing.

WHAT MA­TE­RI­ALS DO YOU WORK WITH?

Part of the joy of hav­ing a stu­dio is hav­ing the space to col­lect and hoard. I have yarns, fab­rics and other ma­te­ri­als that I have come upon in my trav­els. Plus a lot of ‘ref­er­ence’ items like ceram­ics and tex­tiles col­lected on trav­els. I don’t dis­crim­i­nate be­tween syn­thetic and nat­u­ral as I feel they both have mer­its and I par­tic­u­larly love res­cu­ing preloved yarns from an­other era as you gen­er­ally get colours that are no longer pro­duced. Be­cause my first wall hang­ing con­tained fab­ric this is a sta­ple in my wall hang­ings and I still en­joy us­ing fab­ric to add a chunky, raw and tex­tu­ral el­e­ment to my work.

WHAT KIND OF CUL­TURAL FINDS OR AR­TI­SAN WORK­SHOPS HAVE YOU EN­COUN­TERED THAT HAVE EN­RICHED YOUR TRAVEL EX­PE­RI­ENCE?

I have re­cently re­turned from an artist res­i­dency in An­tigua, Gu­atemala which was full of won­der­ful ac­tiv­i­ties and I am still on a high. I had the op­por­tu­nity to spend time weav­ing with the indige­nous Maya women and learnt how to use their tra­di­tional loom which is called a back strap loom. Per­son­ally I use sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of looms in my prac­tice and now I have an­other one I can add to the list! The in­tri­cate patterns and bright colours of the tra­di­tional weav­ing are so en­tic­ing and a small piece of cloth can take months for the women to com­plete, of­ten with a baby strapped to their backs.

“I AM A BIT OF A TEX­TURE FREAK SO I LOVE TO EM­PHA­SISE THAT SIDE OF THINGS TOO, MAK­ING VERY SHAGGY WORKS, OF­TEN TO THE POINT WHERE PEO­PLE WANT TO PLUNGE THEM­SELVES IN AND CAN’T KEEP OFF.” THEIR HANDS

TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE AR­TI­SAN CUL­TURE OR TRA­DI­TION?

I re­ally love the no­tion of the Ja­panese move­ment of Saori weav­ing which is about em­brac­ing mis­takes and im­per­fec­tion. I have to say this move­ment has only been around since the ‘70s but there are many much older cul­tures and prac­tices that en­sure there is a small mark that shows a prod­uct is hand­made (WabiSabi … look it up!). The Amish for ex­am­ple add a small mis­take pur­pose­fully to their quilts, the no­tion be­ing only God can be per­fect. While this is not my mo­ti­va­tion for the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of im­per­fec­tions I love this story. I am cur­rently work­ing on a col­lec­tion that ref­er­ences stri­a­tions which are con­sid­ered ge­o­log­i­cal faults, but iron­i­cally it is these faults that add beauty to a rock face or river peb­ble. A great metaphor for us as hu­mans.

DO YOU HAVE A MEM­O­RABLE, TRAVELBASED EX­PE­RI­ENCE TO SHARE?

I had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­hibit an in­stal­la­tion piece in Chicago last year, I made the work here and flew it over, hopped on a plane my­self to in­stall it and got to meet and hang out with a won­der­ful com­mu­nity of artists. I spent a to­tal of six weeks there which was the first time I had the chance to to­tally im­merse my­self in one place. I love a bit of slow travel as it al­lows you to get to the nitty gritty of a city and find its heartbeat. I got to see so many dif­fer­ent sides to Chicago, see how peo­ple live, know its smells and feel its sun. That was a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence and I will al­ways cher­ish it.

While I was there I also spent a few weeks at the Chicago Weav­ing School un­der the tu­ition of the very tal­ented and knowl­edge­able Natalie Boyett who has cre­ated some­thing spe­cial. I got to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent tech­niques that have gone on to in­form my prac­tice in a hugely pos­i­tive way. The school has over 80 floor looms (can you imag­ine) and it’s full of a mix­ture of oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans and mil­len­ni­als keep­ing weav­ing tra­di­tions alive.

IF YOU COULD BE WORK­ING ANY­WHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

I think the US is the place to be. Brook­lyn is a spe­cial place, part gen­tri­fied and part real. A com­bi­na­tion which means you can get a good cof­fee while still feel­ing grounded as a hu­man be­ing. In the US there is al­ready an es­tab­lished com­mu­nity and un­der­stand­ing and ac­cep­tance of fi­bre and tex­tile art as an art form, more so than in Aus­tralia, where I feel it is still con­sid­ered fringe and niche amongst the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. Also the huge pop­u­la­tion of the US means ev­ery­one has a ‘tribe’ they can find. Hav­ing said this I am cur­rently try­ing to con­vince my hus­band to get a job in Tokyo, I would love to live there for a while.

HOW DOES CUL­TURE, ART OR TRAVEL MAKE YOU FEEL?

Travel makes me feel priv­i­leged (so for­tu­nate to be born in Aus­tralia) and glob­ally minded with a broad per­spec­tive that al­lows me to feel em­pa­thy and truly ap­pre­ci­ate what I have in life. Art and cul­ture make me feel ‘fed’ and ful­filled, like there is a pur­pose to life.

“TRAV­EL­LING AND BE­ING OUT OF YOUR USUAL SPACE IS IM­PER­A­TIVE TO GET MY CRE­ATIVE PROCESS FLOW­ING AND RECHARGED. IT AL­LOWS ME TO VIEW THE WORLD EYES.” WITH FRESH

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