It’s a wrap for March!

March is fashion month in Melbourne. With the School of Fashion and Textiles showcasing our fashion practices to the local industry and community in many key events, including the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, so this month – it’s a Houndstooth Wrap-around these happenings…

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, March 2018

Precarious Bodies: Fashioning the Unstable, March 2
VAMFF started at the beginning of the fashion month with a number of students, staff, recent graduates and alumni involved in many of the Festival’s runway and cultural program activities. Lecturer and PhD candidate in Fashion and Textiles Jane Morley featured in the expansive VAMFF cultural program with her performative event ‘Precarious Bodies: Fashioning the Unstable’. The event, held at the Testing Grounds space at the back of the Arts Centre and the NGV, saw four dancers perform an installation of garment fragments draped over steel frames that invited interaction and participation. The project’s aim was to disrupt fashion’s traditional notions of glamour, beauty and perfection using expanded methods of fashion collage by allowing materials and bodies to perform with the interactive performance.


The National Graduate Showcase, March 9
VAMFF’s annual National Graduate Showcase is a platform for some of the most outstanding graduates from design institutions and universities across the country to present their work to an audience of industry and peers at a national level. This year Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) graduates Lucy Dickinson, Madeleine Jost, Rachel Louey and Xiangqiao Sheng represented RMIT with their creations as part of the event on Friday March 9. The students’ collections demonstrated exploratory approaches and diverse material understandings across men’s and womenswear. From Lucy Dickinson’s graphic Basquiat slogan ensembles, to Xiangqiao Sheng’s luminous dresses, meticulously constructed through textile decoration, such as sequins, the graduates didn’t shy away from colour and elaborate surface techniques.


WOWZZZEEE, March 14-25
Also on the pages of the VAMFF’s cultural program, lecturer Adele Varcoe presented her ‘WOWZZZEEE’ project. The event was held at Arts House in North Melbourne and spanned the week of 14 – 25 March in which Varcoe occupied the venue with a making team sourced from the public, sewing their very their own wearable onesies. Off the back of presenting her ‘Onesie World’ as part of Tasmania’s ‘Mona Foma’ earlier this year, Adele’s project invited participants to join the onesie-making team, and then wear their onesies until they went to bed at night.


Catwalk Club Presents, March 15
The RMIT Catwalk Club also participated in the program presenting a round up of the School’s student and recent graduate work from across various programs and year levels. The event was held at the RMIT City Campus and showcased men’s and womenswear garments in screen-print, knitwear, womenswear, menswear, unisex, swimwear, streetwear and everything in-between across over 120 looks, 25 models and 35 designers. Celebrating student work from across the School, the Catwalk Club is a membership-based organisation with over 100 members set up to support the independent designers of the School.

Catwalk Club Presents featured make-up by Amelia Mills with students from the Masters Institute and Deb Fabris and Jacinta Misevski.

 

Women @ Dior Mentoring program, March 9, Sydney
As part of the first Australian Women@Dior initiative, Dior Australia selected five RMIT students, three from the School of Fashion & Textiles, to participate in their mentoring program offered exclusively to RMIT. The RMIT students Hannah Purcell (Associate Degree F&T Merchandising), Johanna McLeod (Associate Degree F&T Merchandising), Kate Milburn (Bachelor of Fashion (Merchandising Management)), Judy Nidea (College of Business) and Lauren Hannan (College of Business) travelled to Sydney and were assigned Dior mentors who shared their experience and journeys to their current executive positions. The program aims to grow and mentor women in the creative field, the students will now have follow up one-on-one meetings with their mentor over the next twelve months.

 

Students at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, March, 2018
As part of the annual exhibition program in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, second year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students presented their unique flora creations within the Royal Exhibition Building. Under this year’s theme ‘Superflora’, RMIT students were given the opportunity to design and create a plant-based, organic garment as part of their studies, with their designs on display for the five days of the event. This year Angus McCormack took first place in the competition, with Elizabeth Gao in second place, and Madeleine Porritt and Sarah Jayne Musker tying in third place. Well done to all the students involved and to the guidance of lecturer Pia Interlandi in the project.

 

The Frankie Good Stuff Awards
Frankie magazine’s annual Good Stuff Awards this year awarded two F&T alumnis as part of their competition for innovative design and making projects. The program was created with the aim of giving artists, crafters, designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and socially-minded types a platform to showcase their work with a series of prizes and opportunities for winners across categories. Textile Design alumni Amanda Farncomba took the award for the ‘Fashion’ category with her project ‘A Gathering’, a screen-printed, hand-knitted and crocheted collection of clothing and accessories celebrating the handmade. The collection was made from locally sourced, natural fibres and using water-based pigments and dyes. Then, the category of ‘Craft’ went to Daisy Watt, 2013 Alumni of the Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development and the Bachelor of Art (Textile Design). Her project ‘Self Preservation’ explored ideas of comfort, visual and tactile luxuries, with knit textures that encourage rest, recuperation and time to refocus and rebuild.


In the next edition of the Houndstooth Wrap, the School of Fashion and Textiles visits ‘Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018’ at Bendigo Art Gallery – stay tuned for bold prints and vibrant colour!

Any suggestions for the Houndstooth Blog in this series would be appreciated! Please send any ideas to Laura Gardner at laura.gardner@rmit.edu.au.

 

The Houndstooth chats with John Brooks

This edition of the Houndstooth Wrap presents a new feature, with a profile about one of our colleagues – introducing John Brooks, a multidisciplinary textile artist whose practice spans multiple mediums. John teaches in the Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development.

Originally studying a Bachelor of Fine Art (Drawing) at Victorian College of the Arts and the Advanced Diploma of Textile Design & Development at RMIT, John has worked as a textile artist and exhibited at major local and regional galleries. As a textile artist, John’s work is preoccupied with the performativity, anthropomorphic and transformative quality of materials. John took some time from his new role as lecturer within the Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development program to talk about his practice and answer some questions for us.

What lead you to textiles and developing your textile design practice?
I originally started out studying fashion at a small school part time, but knew very little about fabric and had a really misguided idea of what fashion was, or could be. Somebody I worked with was studying what used to be ‘Studio Textiles’ and the course sounded more exploratory, while also helping me understand the nature of the materials I was working with. I changed courses and was determined to focus on print, but after a semester of weave, I connected with the process and working with an amazing teacher, I spent three years focusing on weave and graduated from textile design, moving to art school to push my practice even further for another four years.

What are some exhibitions and projects you’ve worked on?
Most recently I exhibited in the Third Tamworth Textile Triennial at Tamworth Regional Gallery curated by Glenn Barkley, and the exhibition ‘Every Second Feels Like a Century’ at West Space curated by Hannah Presley and Debbie Pryor, and ‘Materiality’ at Town Hall Gallery curated by Mardi Nowak. These were large group shows in 2017 and allowed the artists involved to develop a body of work that pushed the use of materials (often textiles) in diverse and innovative ways. At the moment I’m preparing to do a residency at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre, and working out the beginnings of a collaborative project to develop a ‘material clinic’.

You work across diverse mediums, from weaving to drawing to film, what is your working process?
My process involves a lot of back and forth between mediums. A lot of the time I’m getting a sense of what the material is capable of, leaving things up to chance and then refining them once I understand how we behave with each other. Research and reading generally come first, and lately I have been combining a lot of the mediums I work with into a larger installation. Some days I’ll be shooting video footage and recording sounds, and then I’ll be working between paper and the loom, or playing with materials on other days. Towards the end of a project, it tends to involve more studio time making structures and sculptural forms and mixing sounds and editing videos. I usually need to be working on several elements at the one time to make sure everything works together – if I make an installation object by object, the relationship between the work can be disjointed, and also if I get stuck somewhere, I can work on something else while I’m thinking through making.

What do you remember about being a student?
I remember working with a friendly yet slightly competitive cohort, and having access to amazing facilities. The competitive edge drove us to push ourselves and create more work in order to develop further, and also to take advantage of the time we had with the equipment and spaces on offer. Also it was great having access to a large range of staff with expertise in a variety of areas that were super helpful.

What were some of the major influences on your work as a textile artist?
Most of my influences come from things other than textiles. Lately a lot of inspiration comes from the writing of Timothy Morton, blobs, Pipilotti Rist’s video installations (I really appreciate that she gives her audience something comfortable to recline on to entice them to commit to a longer video), the moon, pearls, inter-connectivity, oysters, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films, ritual, sentimental objects, Merri Creek (and the compositions of rubbish that get caught in the trees when the water levels rise), rocks. A lot of forms created by chance are so appealing to me, so I’ve formed the habit of keeping an eye out for mounds, drippy paint, spills, anything that’s been manipulated by heavy rain, hairy textures, slime, soggy carpet.

What excites you about working with Textiles students at RMIT?
I’m excited about talking to people who are passionate about their work. It’s really satisfying showing someone a source of inspiration you think they might be interested in, assisting them with teasing out ideas, or helping them identify their strengths. When people are a bit obsessed with their work and are committed to their development it can generate a really exciting and productive atmosphere.


Any suggestions for new staff profiles for the houndstooth blog in this series would be appreciated! Please send any ideas to Laura Gardner at laura.gardner@rmit.edu.au.