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Jennifer Robertson and Embracing Innovation Volume 6

Wendy Johnson

Who would have thought an artist would use stainless steel in a scarf?

And a scarf that can be worn as a statement piece and then shaped into an artwork for the interior of your home?

Canberra textile artist, Jennifer Robertson, has done just that and you can see three of her creations at Embracing Innovation Volume 6, on until 27 August at Craft ACT.

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“I’ve been interested in working with woven textiles that have multiple uses, which is a new direction and an extension of my work with silk and natural fibres,” says Jennifer. “The scarves are made from 50 per cent silk, 25 per cent linen and 25 per cent stainless steel. I used a very, very fine stainless steel thread, almost as thin as a sewing machine thread.”

Jennifer is fascinated by the complex blend of artistry and math and the dizzying creative potential that weaving encapsulates, which makes her a perfect fit for Embracing Innovation Volume 6. The exhibition displays 10 works created by artists and specialists from technical and academic fields, in some cases with up to 15 artists and experts collaborating on one work. Each one pushes the boundaries of tradition and convention.

Artist Jennifer Robertson

Artist Jennifer Robertson

But what does it feel like to wear a scarf created with stainless steel? Wonderful. They’re light, warm and you can sculpt them around your body however you want, in a theatrical kind of way—like a statement piece of jewellery.

“The scarves are a double cloth structure,” explains Jennifer. “They’re woven simultaneously on a digital loom with the stainless steel threads in-between. It’s an intricate process and a complex and innovative textile construction.”

The linen gives an earthiness to the scarves—an uneven organic quality that helps them retain their form. The silk adds warmth and softness. When not being worn, the scarves can be shaped into 3D sculptures that can be used as an interior décor element. How innovative is that?

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Jennifer holds a BAHons in Woven Textiles from West Surrey College of Art and Design, England. She then completed her Post Graduate studies at the Royal College of Art, London. Over the last 30 years, the artist has been developing innovative handwoven textile structures, patterns and textures for special, luxury textile products and projects.

Acknowledged internationally as a pioneer and world expert in weaving, Jennifer’s signature textiles have become contemporary collectable classes. The artist operates from her studio in Canberra.

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Jenifer’s work is held in key national and international public collections and the artist has been exhibited widely, including this year in China, at the 9th International Fiber Art Biennale, and in the Ukraine, at the 11th International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art ‘Scythia’.

Embracing Innovation Volume 6 is a fascinating exhibition, curated by Mel George at Craft ACT, a reputable artist in her own right.

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Also in the exhibition is a felt bag created from computer algorithms, by a young fashion designer from Israel, Tamar Efrat. Another innovative work to embrace is a Lego-like, hands-on assembly educational toy, to help Australian children learn Japanese. It’s the result of a cross-disciplinary research project involving linguists and industrial designers.

Embracing Innovation Volume 6 is on at Craft ACT until 27 August. Also on is Black Box: Life, walls and houses, a solo exhibition by internationally renowned Canberra glass artist Judi Elliott. Both exhibitions are worth a look and are free to the public.

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a few decades ago. She’s been living in Australia since 1995, having fallen in love with eucalypt trees and kangaroos. Wendy is passionate about Canberra and all the nation’s capital has to offer. She loves to write (about everything and anything) and owns her own pr and advertising business. More about the Author