The Linen Project is an immersive installation which celebrates the materiality of linen while reflecting on its role in caring for home and community. It continues the artist’s long-term interest in elevating everyday needlework. The Linen Project: Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn from 27 October - 16 December 2018 and Wangaratta Art Gallery from 9 February - 31 March 2019. This project has been generously supported by the St Vincent’s Artist in Residence Program at Caritas Christi, Kew.
This body of work follows directly from the Sanctuary collection, which was exhibited at Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2012 and Gould Galleries in 2013. The focus of this exhibition WILD, to be held at Gould Galleries in November 2015, is the celebration of flora - its glorious variety, colour, form, its strength and fragility. I continue my use of reclaimed needlework (and other materials) to draw a link between the domestic archives of home and the public archives of the museum and, to draw attention to the loss of domestic art traditions and species in the natural world. This body of work, developed over two years, from 2013 - 2015, is more eclectic than the previous and includes works constructed from reclaimed paper (book illustrations) and a "porcelain garden" installation. There are several other three-dimensional works, including "Let the Jungle In" which won the Yering Station Sculpture Award in 2013 and a small group of works displayed within "glass pods" commissioned from Philip Stokes Studio Glass. Two works created for a 2014 group exhibition titled "Silhouette" are included and a commission for St Vincent's Hospital Cardiac Centre is also included to enable that work an opportunity for exhibition outside of the hospital's art collection.
Winner of the 2013 Yering Station Sculpture Award.
Taking its title from Rudyard Kipling’s tale of the jungle’s revenge on civilization, Louise Saxton's large scale assemblage Let the Jungle In employs domestic needlework, which is disappearing along with many plants and animals that inspired it, to create a delicately rotating 'jungle'. A human heart motif, extracted and freed from the bamboo birdcage, creates a cavity through which we can imagine letting in the jungle.
"Let the Jungle In, is my first large scale three-dimensional assemblage in reclaimed textiles. The elegant 1.5 metre bamboo birdcage, found in an Asian emporium, inspired this transition. Struck by the sculptural nature of the object, I envisioned its transformation from a cage into a nest - from a prison into a home."
The Sanctuary collection reinterprets a selection of natural-history paintings drawn from Museum and Library collections around the world. Initially exhibited at Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2012 as Sanctuary, the collection was further developed for exhibition at Gould Galleries in 2013 as Sanctuary too. 'John & George 2013 after John Hunter 1789' completes this body of work in Australia and; 'Bubo & Snow 2014 after Edward Lear 1832' and 'Sky Jewels 2016 after John James Audubon 1833" compliments it in America.
Everyday textiles, made in and for the home, are on the brink of extinction and many of the plants and animals which inspired them are today also vulnerable. Through the painterly assemblage of discarded textiles, the Sanctuary collection seeks to address this imminent sense of loss - of domestic art traditions and species within the natural world; and to re-evaluate the role of 'home' in contemporary art.
"The results of painstaking research and technique, Saxton’s reclaimed textile works remind us of the necessity of constantly observing and reevaluating the world around us—from the minute textile remnant to the fragile forest."
Jason Smith, Director & CEO Heide Museum of Modern Art, March 2012.
In 2009 Louise Saxton was invited by French curator, Jacqueline Govin to enter a work in the juried exhibition, Paysage/Voyage - the 3rd Biennial Pfaff International Art Embroidery Challenge.
The brief for creating a work in machine-embroidery was 'landscape and travel', which enabled the artist to continue her playful fantasy-insect collection of 2008. Playing with the idea of having the urge to travel, the artist created a pair of 'travel bugs' - Aviatus hemiptera and its companion Aviatus-maladeus hemiptera, the 'travel-sickness bug'.
The bugs were constructed largely from reclaimed machine embroidery and lace, as well as some hand-made needlework, collected in local opportunity shops, markets and on overseas travels. The extracted needlework was arranged and pinned into the form of each fantasy-insect and then painstakingly stitched to silk, using a vintage Singer sewing machine. For exhibition the 'travel bugs' were pinned to a length of translucent tulle, which allowed the work a sense of floating across the gallery wall.
The exhibition toured in Europe to Alexandra Palace, London in 2009, Bibliotheque Forney, Paris and Chatelaudren, France in 2010 and Museum de Kantfabriek, Horst, Nederland in 2011.
In 2009 a weeping-cherry tree was planted in the garden of Elsie Gallery in Malmsbury for the spring opening of Louise Saxton's solo exhibition, Salvage. Louise created Weep, her largest work in reclaimed textiles, in response to this gesture by the gallery's Director and artist, Janice Hunter.
"Weep was inspired by an intricate stone window carving in the 16th Century Siddi Sayyid Mosque in Ahmadabad, northern India. I visualised the tree-of-life motif as an inverted lung, representing the idea that trees are the lungs of the planet. The work was also made in memory of my father." Salvage catalogue PDF
dot-net-dot-au, a joint exhibition with Tim Craker, which travelled to Malaysia and Singapore in 2008, was the result of separate residencies undertaken in 2006 at Rimbun Dahan, a tropical garden estate north of Kuala Lumpur.
The exhibition builds upon shared interests in pattern and Asian decorative traditions, as well as using the 'net' as a point of connection between the artists and the two cultures. Weaving together eastern motifs with western handiwork, Louise Saxton's salvaged and reconstructed textiles, sat alongside Tim Craker's mass-produced and disposable objects. Dot-net-dot-au provides a cultural comment on the domestic and the public, the disposable and the valuable, the familiar and the other.
"For this joint exhibition responding to my time in Malaysia, I wanted to create a body of work which would be accessible to both South-East Asian and Australian audiences. Drawing on Asian imagery I constructed several large shallow-space installations from textile fragments, pinned precariously to swathes of bridal tulle. Within many of the outer forms there is a central negative motif, referencing endangered or vulnerable species, for example; the Malaysian Hornbill and Rafflesia flower; the Australian Koala and the delicate dragonfly found in both regions."
Since 2009 Louise Saxton has undertaken several commissions in discarded needlework.
Blue Wren 2009 and Blue-Willow-Dragon 2009 were both constructed from the personal textile collections of the commissioners. The Heart Garden 2013 was made for the St Vincent's Hospital Cardiac Centre (also known as the Heart Centre), as part of a year-long artist in residence program at Caritas Christi in Kew.
Louise is working towards her next solo exhibition and is currently only considering public commissions.
Gardenesque, held jointly with Carole Wilson, was an Art Gallery of Ballarat touring exhibition for which Louise created several framed works and a large wall-installation titled 'The Haberdasher's Garden'. Collected in op-shops or donated by friends and family, vintage wallpapers were painstakingly hand-cut by the artist using a scalpel, revealing intricate filigreed objects which reference both the home and garden. 'Famille rose' 2004 pays homage to the artist's mother and was made after Gardenesque.
"Taking her back a generation is her mother's interest in traditional women's craft such as; embroidery and knitting …. She does not simply romanticise and idealise a lost time, but retrieves such forgotten modes of representation, revivified by their assimilation into a current framework." Traudi Allen, writer & art historian
envelop is a wall-installation constructed from disposable, everyday business envelopes, collected and sliced open to reveal their 'secretive linings', which the artist responded to for their textile-like patterning and colour.
More than 500 blue and white, industrially form-cut, arabesques were created from the patterned linings, which Louise Saxton first embossed to rag paper. Arranged upon the walls of the gallery in a roaming grid, they reference both grand Islamic tiling and humble European quilting traditions.
In 2001 envelop 'colonised' the floor to ceiling space of Gallery 5 at Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, envelope catalogue pdf In 2004 a portion of the installation was exhibited in wall\paper at Australian Galleries Works on Paper wall\paper catalogue pdf
The unstable inks of the disposable envelopes eventually rendered the work ephemeral.