6 June 2022

Crafty Canberra artists pay tribute to former member in new exhibition

| Sally Hopman
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Woman in art gallery

Canberra Spinners and Weavers’ Jean Lombard in front of the Fay Skyring plaque, honouring the former member. The silk shawl on the wall, made by Fay, was lent by Jean for the group’s new exhibition which opens on Saturday. Photo: Monique van Nieuwland.

During her lifetime, creative artist Fay Skyring contributed greatly to the work of the Canberra Spinners and Weavers group.

When the group’s 2022 exhibition, Warped and Twisted, opened to the public, Canberra’s crafty folk gave their posthumous thanks to her by naming their new Chifley studio space the Fay Skyring Canberra Textile Works Gallery.

Fay, who passed away last year, was a renowned artist and craftswoman. She learned to weave in Canberra and later created the fabric used to upholster chairs in the office of the Prime Minister at Parliament House.

Convenor of this year’s exhibition Barbara Cairns said the group wanted to say thank you to Fay, who had not only been a mentor to many of its weavers but had also made a bequest to the group. The bequest has allowed it to start a scholarship for young artists in her name and to buy new looms.

“This is the first time we have had a permanent space for exhibitions as a group, so we wanted to honour Fay and name the gallery in her honour,” Barbara said.

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“We hope to see her family at the inauguration of the gallery on Saturday.”

More than 50 diverse pieces of art will go on exhibition in Warped and Twisted, showcasing the best of the Canberra artists.

“It’s not just spinning and weaving,” Barbara said. “The exhibition will also display the work of some emerging artists … there will be some amazing pieces on display like a fine, hand-spun shawl, for example, that looks like it’s made from a spider’s web.”

Also on show will be the hand-knitting of Margaret Carr, with jackets and cardigans on display, a basket-woven bird by Nina de Caritat, pieces of silk eco-dyeing by Maggie Cooper and Jenny Hall, a sleeveless crochet jacket by Lynne Johnson and a winter tapestry scene by Christine Fushall.

Well-known weaver Jill Hopkins, whose work recently took out honours at the Royal Canberra Show, will also have a floor rug on show.

“Some of the pieces are truly amazing,” Barbara said. “The basket weaving of the bird was made from material left over from pruning the garden.

“There’s also another piece, a beautiful woven jacket, that was made from threads that Fay Skyring had dyed.”

Canberra Spinners and Weavers, which had its first annual general meeting back in 1967, today has more than 130 members, ranging in age from mid-80s to young students.

Art in gallery

Canberra Spinners and Weavers’ latest exhibition, Warped and Twisted, opens to the public this weekend. Photo: Monique van Nieuwland.

It also runs an Emerging Artist Scheme for Australian National University School of Art graduates as they move towards the next phase of their careers. The scheme helps them stage an exhibition as well as sharing knowledge with the spinners and weavers.

“What it also does,” Barbara said, “is to encourage people who may have an innovative interest in traditional skills. We had one young artist who was interested in working with waste clothing, using fabric to create paper. We’ve got other people working on the cutting edge of design doing 3D weaving.”

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The Canberra Spinners and Weavers shop, where visitors can buy works made by members, will be open adjacent to the gallery during the exhibition.

Warped and Twisted is open at the new gallery in the Chifley Health and Wellbeing Hub, 70 Maclaurin Crescent, Chifley – the old primary school site. It will be open from 10 am to 4 pm until 12 June.

A special exhibition open day will be held for out-of-town and regional visitors on Tuesday, 7 June.

More information is available on the Canberra Spinners and Weavers website.

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