Embroidery, Art and the Antipodes: “So Far Away from the Rest of the World"

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In the nineteen sixties, a group of Australian women, influenced by recent developments in Britain, set out to establish contemporary embroidery as a legitimate means of creative expression. Finding it difficult to gain acceptance from other artists, these embroiderers created an alternative to the mainstream Sydney art world. They operated according to shared conventions, which they adopted from Britain and adapted to Australian circumstances. They established systems by which to promulgate these conventions; organised activities that enabled them to distribute the work they produced and engage with an audience; and developed criteria to use in making judgments about the quality of works and the reputations of individual practitioners. In this paper, I give an account of this art world, assess its successes and failures, and consider the applicability of Becker’s ‘art worlds’ theory for the study of other communities of artists and craftspeople.

Keywords: Art Worlds, Women's Art, Modern Embroidery
Stream: Other
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Susan Wood

Lecturer, Faculty of Arts
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Charles Sturt University

Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Dr Susan Wood is a lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Charles Sturt University. She teaches about nineteenth century European art, the history of modern design, the history of photography, and the relationship between art and the book form. Her Phd thesis was titled 'Creative embroidery' in New South Wales, 1960-1975'. Her current research projects are a biographical investigation of Ann Gillmore Rees, an English/Australian designer and printmaker, and the cataloguing of the sketchbooks of the artist-embroiderer Pat Langford. She is also a practising visual artist who has exhibited in Australia and overseas.

Ref: A09P0013