6 February 2020

A pin here, a stitch there: The intimate art of exploring the self

Start the conversation
A patron admires Anatomical Yoga, with her newborn. Photos: BCS.

A patron admires Anatomical Yoga with her newborn. Photos: BCS.

At the Belconnen Community Gallery hangs caricature images of skeletons in yoga poses, a wafer-thin dress, and a crocheted anatomical depiction of a human heart.

These are explorative pieces made by talented artists who recently graduated from the Australian National University.

As part of Belconnen Community Gallery’s ‘Springboard Series’, Pinned and Stitched is an exhibition of textiles by Belconnen Community Gallery Emerging Artist Support Scheme prize winners Angela Coleman, Portia Lawson, Anna Roufogalis and Rosie Armstrong.

The four artists explore processes of the body, memory, growth and destruction, combining the deeply personal with a broader outlook.

Their individual work couldn’t be more different from each other but when laid out in the light-filled gallery, there’s a synergy to it that works almost effortlessly.

“It is clear that each of these artists is drawing on other things they know, things they have observed and experienced, and sense-making through their work,” Lucy Irvine, textiles lecturer at the ANU School of Art and Design, said in her opening remarks.

“There are central themes like innovative interfaces with technology and a healthy critique of forms of knowledge that traditionally sit further up in the academic pecking order.”

Visual arts graduate Angela Coleman’s work Dresses is part of an investigation into the social construct of the dress and its ability to communicate memories, narratives and emotions. These dress artworks represent the autobiographical journey of the artist into a history of making dresses from an early age, particularly small doll clothes as part of her developing identity.

Coleman's Dresses.
Coleman's Dresses.

Angela Coleman’s Dresses.

“Angela looks at how we adorn the body. [She] explored the dress as a site for memory and personal history,” Ms Irvine said.

Portia Lawson’s work Fibrocosm is a collection of scientific-like specimens created to explore the synergy of spontaneity and individuality, and order and uniformity in natural systems of growth.

“We could be witnessing a micro pox-apocalypse in a petri dish or a disaster unfolding at a global scale,” Ms Irvine commented, alluding to the captivating nature of chaos represented in Lawson’s artwork.


Portia Lawson’s work Fibrocosm.

Rosie Armstrong uses the techniques of laser cutting and watercolour paints to create a narrative of insect decline in Requiem for Insects.

“Rosie has extended her innate ability for sensing patterns in Requiem for Insects. With each laser cut iteration, Rosie gradually erodes each species until all that is left are unrecognisable fragments,” Ms Irvine said.

Requiem for Insects

Rosie Armstrong’s Requiem for Insects.

The fourth and final artist, textiles and science major Anna Roufogalis looks into the functionality and beauty of the human body through textile art, marrying her two academic worlds into a series of beautiful outcomes.

“[Anna] has tasked herself with making the visceral approachable,” Mr Irvine observed. “So through needle and thread we might better understand the connective tissue, the fabric of ourselves and be more curious rather than creeped out by what lies beneath our skin.”

anatomical heart
Anatomical Yoga, by Roufagalis

Anatomical Yoga by Anna Roufogalis.

Pinned and Stitched is on display at the Belconnen Community Gallery, 26 Chandler St, Belconnen, until 14 February. Free entrance. Gallery opening hours are 9 am – 5 pm, Mon – Fri.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.