Textiles, paper, glass, ceramics

 

Just like the cupboard that everyone has that is chock full of things you can't bear to cast aside, the range of my work, seems on the surface, to be a jumble of diversity. It is one of the problems with having an artistic career that spans four decades. However, the connecting thread, although tenuous at times, does exist.

To the question 'what sort of artist are you?' I always hesitate and then say textile artist, because that is where it all began and the richness and diversity of textiles is what continues to inspire me - that and my garden.

 

In the early 70's I studied an (even then) obscure form of silk painting in a Kimono factory in Kyoto, Japan. My year in Japan was only just enough time to explore and understand the mixing of colours for this exquisite technique of Uzen Zome. The 'true to nature' dye colours were applied to the silk with hand sewn hair brushes to interpret traditional Japanese designs on Kimonos that were then further embellished with gold and silver metallic thread. The initial design was sketched onto the silk with an ink made from the petals of a blue flower and the resist used to hold the dye was made from rice paste which was squeezed from a mulberry paper cone that had been soaked in persimmon juice. How can such an exotic experience not impact your whole life?

 

Since that time I have used variations of that technique to paint everything from tiny bags to a 70 panel (each panel 2.7 x 1.2m) children's exhibition that toured Australia for 6 years courtesy of the Adelaide Festival Theatre. I have exhibited widely, represented Australia in Batik art, travelling to SE Asia and Indonesia to conduct workshops and accepted commissions of large scale public works in museums, galleries, schools and civic parks. 

 

As time has passed and children have grown up, I have found more time to fall under the spell of the wonder and endless beauty that a garden can provide. How to marry the two? Botanical illustration is not my forte but my designs are inspired by the natural and mythical world of nature. Textiles in themselves are not designed to spend a lot of time outdoors in strong light but the colours and flow of dyes on silk are beautifully replicated in translucent glass. With Anni Luur Fox and Suzi Windram I have created large glass and ceramic panels for hospitals and as outdoor public art pieces and continue to blur the art/garden divide as co artistic director with Arts Excentrix, a hills based group of dancers, musicians and visual artists. 

Physical limitations have meant that I have been unable to continue producing a lot of one off silk pieces but instead I am designing woven fabric for ties, digital printing for fabric and cards and inspired by my grandchildren, returning to themes I explored with my own children.

 

© 2014 by Lynn Elzinga-Henry 

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