Culture Victoria


By Susan Mathews Posted Under Wangaratta Textile Project

Yesterday I finished the stitching on the outside edges of my piece and then cut some batting just a little smaller than it and layered those two with some black felt (for the backing). I safety pinned it to some extent (some areas are quite difficult to pin through) to hold the layers in a stable fashion. Free motion stitching through all layers around the dark lines and shapes was the next process. I attached the edges of the top stitched layer to the felt with zigzag stitch and monofilament thread which is basically invisible. After that I trimmed the edges of the felt to 1 1/2in beyond the stitched surface and then folded them to the back and herringbone stitched them in place. It only remains to make and apply a rod pocket and a label and I am done. Unless... I am thinking about stitching some more lines in the surface to suggest motion and the movement of the threads and subsequently the fabric's passage through the mechanical processes. I think I have decided to go with this but I seriously need a few days off as I have been slaving away for about 10 days straight. I consider the piece finished without that added touch in any case.


The finished work.



To recap what I hoped to show in this piece:- In the top right hand corner is a grid and this represents Bruck House specifically but also more generally the cultural contribtions made to the town directly or indirectly though the textile factories. Bruck House and the other Robin Boyd designed buildings in the vicinity of the Bruck factory are hidden gems of Wangaratta. The grid represents the arrangement of the wall of glass which faces onto Bruck Ave (and presumably north). Stanley Arms who managed Bruck over quite a long period was, it seems, an educated man who made great contributions to the cultural life of Wangaratta. Then there is the wonderful sense of family and belonging that was engendered in the workforce of the textile factories, social and sporting clubs being such a feature of the lives of the workers. Due to a large influx of migrants and other workers there was also a  need to build housing and this  lead to Co-Operative housing ventures in partnership with government and much building activity.

The circular shapes are derived from the huge metal warp rolls that we saw at Bruck. Enormously long warps composed of thousands of threads are wound onto these rollers and then the threads being the warp through which the weft is woven to create the fabric.


Photoshopped image of warp roll ends.


I have used the warp roll ends to reference the entire process of manufacturing the fabric from the making and preparation of the threads to the point at which  it is distributed to the wider world.

The shapes in the bottom righthand corner are derived from a photo I took of the time card holders at Australian Country Spinners . I have used these as a reference to the workers who are so essential to the factories and the town itself. I may add some lines of stitching to make them read a little more literally but  I quite like them as they are. When I printed them onto the fabrics I thought that they looked like spines or vertabrae. I felt that this was appropriate as the workers are really the backbone of the industry and to a large extent the town.


The vibrant colours I have used reflect the nature of the industry over time and what it has meant to the community of Wangaratta.


This has been a fantastic project to be involved in. As I have stitched I have sometimes imagined how it could be extended and "grown".


It would be great if, as an outcome of the interest this project has promoted, the the historic and archival materials could be properly collated, sourced and indexed. I'm sure there is some wonderful material hiding away in dark corners. I have become aware that so many of the artists of all kinds that I know in Wangaratta have personal histories that are entwined with the textile indusrtry in Wangaratta and it would be great if they had an opportunity or were inspired to make work which related their individual stories or expressed how they felt about the industry and it's part in their lives. The other aspect I thought about was that it would be interesting to see what some of the high profile textile artists who have work in the Wangaratta Art Gallery collection would come up with on this topic.


I still have plans to work with my collagraphs and linocut prints to create another work. I feel I have done a lot of groundwork in that area and would like to see it through to a finished piece of work in the near future.


Many thanks to those who have enabled this project, especially Dianne Mangan, Justine Ambrosio and Chris Dormer and also to my talented colleague Andrea Komninos.

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