Hey Bold Soul! Welcome to this fresh interview with the wonderful Kathleen from Textile Warrior, a political collage artist from Adelaide, South Australia. I happily met Kathleen when she was giving a talk about her artwork and motivation at the etsy / Heartsy Market day at Flinders Street Market, and am honoured she agreed to join us for this interview. ~ M
How & why did you start doing craftivism, making political art? How do you use your art to express yourself?
One reason. Tony Abbott. It was the fact that everything that came out of his mouth horrified me and the anger that I felt in defense of the world my babies will have to live in that started me down this road of gentle protest.
I feel deeply about issues affecting their future, but the process of researching the subject and developing an admiration for those individuals and groups contributing positively to their future produces positive and hopeful statements rather than an interpretation of the often violent emotional responses I first experienced. There is a positivity, quiet absurdity and occasional levity to my images that barely even hints at the moral outrage that has inspired them.
My first political protest piece call(ed) “Minister for Sheilas” wasn’t really very clever, in fact it was bit mean and the only positive thing about it was that there was a bit of humour to it. It was negative and antagonistic and it was only a public vent of my feelings and I didn’t feel better after making it. Not long after, Tony and Joe tapped into the demographic that believe that wind farms are a blight on the Australian landscape, even when compared to an open cut coal mine. So I made another collage, a sunny Australian coastal landscape with a windfarm in it and rather than what Tony thinks, I just showed everyone what I think. The idea is that people see it and think ‘oh, that’s lovely – maybe they’re not so ugly after all. Hopefully people will see the beauty in it.
This is the person I want to be.
Can you tell us about how making your artwork relates to living in alignment with your values and priorities?
Its actually my work history which reflects the development of my personal value system. I formerly worked in corporate environments and later sought out not-for-profits and charitable organisations. Now, I care full-time for two young children.
The latter half of my career exposed me to the vastly different lives people lead and the inequality in the world. The experience has fueled my admiration for my heroes; those who work to save the world in whatever way they can, and those who reach out to protect and fight for those closest to them or on the opposite side of the planet. This is the motivation for the most personally expressive of my works.
Manually intensive methods have been a theme throughout my life and this process is vital to my connection to the work, whether it’s digging out tons of soil by hand to complete a renovation vision or working with tweezers and an exacto knife while creating micro-collage. I work with a range of media and often blend textiles, paint, print and paper while preferring to re-use materials, and hand paint my own papers. The techniques and materials I use, as well as my creative experience, have their basis in craft. The supportive and inclusive nature of the crafting community appeals to the ideals I hold for my life in general and for society at large.
How does making artwork help you process your anger and other emotions? Do you feel once you are less angry, that you are less of an activist, or, how do you combine the 2 aspects?
The journey from concept to completion is largely personal, and my own knowledge and understanding of the subject, as well as my feelings and opinions about the issues surrounding it develop and mature before I’m ready to begin working on the piece. The piece is a visual representation of what I have found hopeful and inspirational about the subject, and the making of it is a creative exercise in matching it to the conclusions of my own personal journey. If I made art that was simply a statement of my anger, despair or internal conflict I would feel unresolved and resentful. Creating is a way of getting these negative emotions out of me in a way that may inspire rather than challenge others’ thinking.
Do you feel as though you could live anywhere, or is it important to your artwork that you are located in South Australia?
I’m open to living anywhere but I have never felt demographically challenged by living in Adelaide so I don’t see any reason to move. I like the culture and its size and I think the future will have a lot to offer my children here. Adelaide offers me a lot of freedom I otherwise wouldn’t have if I lived cities with a higher cost of living and smaller spaces. Its home, its easy and it gives me the headspace I need to be creative.
How do you care for your creative self?
This is an area where I definitely need to improve, I could be doing a lot more self care than I do! Things I enjoy doing and regularly squeeze into life with two young children are pilates, gardening and spending time alone with my thoughts. Healthy eating and time with family and friends is also vital for me feeling balanced.
Where to find Kathleen from Textile Warrior
Reconstructed – 2016 SALA group exhibition with the Adelaide Collage Collective held for the month of August at Gingers Coffee Studio, 109 Goodwood Road, Goodwood, South Australia.
Thanks for coming by and sharing your passion, Kathleen! I love to learn more about people with political views, creativity and self awareness! Meg x o