Embroidery artist Kate Meade and Director of Wide Open Road and artist Helen Mathwin have undertaken a highly topical subject matter in presenting a multi-venue exhibition project THE HAND MADE HOUSE, focusing on the much mythologised 'Great Australian dream - home ownership. This exhibition posits the home as the ultimate object of modern super-consumption, with stratospheric market value and ultimate consumer desirability. THE HAND MADE HOUSE explores the trajectory of home ownership from generalised norm to become the ultimate emblem of status, inequality and ravenous consumption in western society. We spoke to Meade and Mathwin about how the handmade environment and community influence and inform their own practice and what other events they're looking forward to seeing during Craft Cubed 2017.
What’s the significance of the handmade to you?
KM: The handmade is central to my life. I have three young children so the handmade comes into elements of play with them. It also means I'm spending time making costumes, cubby houses, having crafting sessions with others etc. I'm lucky enough to be a Primary school art teacher so I get to be a part of facilitating the handmade in children's lives other than my own which is pretty fantastic. My partner and many of my friends are very creative, so much of our catch ups are based around making and talking about making. My partner and I are currently in the process of converting an old school bus into a home for us to travel in. This is kind of the ultimate in handmade for us. I spend pretty much every evening avoiding doing the dishes and choosing embroidery instead.
HM: In this day and age the Handmade is illogical, it is almost always cheaper and faster to get hold of the mass produced version of whatever you fancy than it is to make it. And that is why I love the Handmade.. because it flies in the face of logic, it places the process on a par with the product. And of course it carries the makers mark. Unique.
How would you describe your craft community?
KM: I am lucky enough to live in the thriving craft community of Castlemaine. There is always some project or craft event to connect with and be part of.
HM: Extensive! I live I Castlemaine. Every third person is a maker of some sort and there is a great sense of community, a sense of having chosen to be here to live a certain way that includes making as a life choice.
What is your earliest craft memory?
KM: My earliest craft memories are of making clothes for my barbie dolls. I have four sisters and we would spend hours using mum's scraps of fabric to make all the combinations of clothes we could think of. Also probably my favourite early crafting memory was when I was in kindergarten. My mum made me a costume entirely from newspapers. It even had a newspaper headdress. I really thought she was pretty incredible making something so magical. She definitely instilled in me the understanding that I didn't need special materials to be creative.
HM: Daisy chains
What is your philosophy or motto when it comes to creativity?
KM: I'm definitely all about the making. I try not to get too caught up in the purpose or final destination for my work. As a result my work is usually an intuitive process and I often won't know where it's headed until I'm there. I create because I love being in the flow and the meditative aspects that come from this place.
HM: Let it out.
How would you describe your studio or making environment?
KM: I live in the bush and have a beautiful studio separate to the house. However as I have small children I don't often get down there. I can usually only work at night or snippets of time during the day, so I have pretty much taken over the kitchen table and use the studio as a storage space for art supplies. Luckily everyone at home seems cool with that and we just push my work to one side when we need to eat.
HM: Busy, messy
Where do you go in Melbourne for inspiration?
HM: The museum...
What are you reading OR listening to at the moment?
HM: Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mattered by E.F Schumacher
How does good craft make you feel?
HM: Like humans deserve to be here
What is your dream craft collaboration - if history and geography and money was no barrier?
KM: I have had a dream for a little while now, to be able to travel and learn from embroidery artists. There are just so many great embroidery traditions from all over, I would love to one day spend some real time exploring these and maybe some kind of collaboration could arise.....dreams are lovely things!
HM: Meret Oppenheim
What other Craft Cubed events are you excited about?
KM: There are so many wonderful events happening and I'm hoping to go to many, but Stories of us presented by the Windsor Workshop looks particularly intriguing and Stitched presented by Douglas and Hope also looks pretty great as I am of course a sucker for embroidery and fibre arts of all kind.
HM: Complete Me, presented by Space Junior
FULL EVENT LISTING: EXHIBITION THE HANDMADE HOUSE