See craft in a new light at Shepparton Art Museum

By Tara Whitsed

Striking colours, textures and provocative pieces make up the works featured in Shepparton Art Museum’s Craftivism. Dissident Objects and Subversive Forms.
The exhibition officially opened yesterday and guests were submerged in the collaborative and playful collection of works.
Among the pieces is the striking Archiloom installation by the Slow Art Collective’s Dylan Martorell and Chaco Kato.
SAM director Rebecca Coates said she had been eager to include the collective’s work in the gallery for some years after meeting the artists.
‘‘They are fabulous artists who I admire greatly,’’ she said.
Fitting in with the exhibition’s overall theme, Archiloom is a structure made from yarn, rope, bamboo, recycled fabric, cable ties and scaffolding.
The entire structure provides an undercover space which guests can interact with.
Ms Kato said they would be given small pieces of fabric which could be woven through the material surrounding the base of the structure.
‘‘Chaco has a really beautiful aesthetic,’’ Dr Coates said.
The piece will also become the focus of a children’s activity — Weave and Play — planned for January 23 next year.
Dr Coates said the entire exhibition had been a joint effort between herself, SAM curator Anna Briers and SAM curator Lara Merrington who recently joined the team as well as National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Victoria.
Featuring the work of 18 contemporary Australian artists and artist collectives, the pieces use craft as a means of evoking activism and social change.
‘‘Gender, representation and identity are ever-present, because the personal as political remains relevant today,’’ Dr Coates said.
‘‘Many artists are engaged with environmental politics and climate change, while others are concerned about contested borders, immigration and democracy.
‘‘Many embrace relational production processes that implicitly promote collaboration and social connection.’’
Ms Briers said the artists in the exhibition subverted and extended the various forms of craft-making traditions as vehicles for activism and social change, reflecting on the world in which we live.
‘‘While some respond directly to artistic or political movements, others encourage social connection between community members with works that require participatory activation through collective processes,’’ she said.
‘‘Craftivism reveals the myriad ways that these artists challenge our perceptions of craft materials and approaches within a contemporary context, inviting viewers to rethink craft in a new light.’’
Artists featured in the exhibition include Catherine Bell, Karen Black, Penny Byrne, Erub Arts, Debris Facility, Starlie Geikie, Michelle Hamer, Kate Just, Deborah Kelly, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Raquel Ormella, Kate Rohde, Slow Art Collective, Tai Snaith, Hiromi Tango, James Tylor, Jemima Wyman and Paul Yore.
Craftivism is now open at Shepparton Art Museum and will run until February 17 before travelling to various galleries throughout the country.