Art at the Library – “From My Garden”

An opportunity arose to create some work to display on a board 1.2m by 2.4m in my local library.

My proposal was accepted and I created a collection of 18 objects entirely out of materials from plants growing in my garden.

From my Garden – Artist statement:

This installation combines two of my passions: gardening and fibre art basketry.

I have a large garden surrounded by native bush which is an ideal and inspiring environment for my creative art endeavours and I am always looking at how I can use the plants growing around me in my creations.

For the past twenty years, I have been weaving with harakeke (NZ flax – Phormium tenax).  Most of the material has come from plants growing in my pā harakeke and are cultivars from the National Flax Collection. My introduction to this amazing plant was a weekend community class at Westland High School tutored by Veronika Maser – I was hooked. I then spent some time weaving with the late Tungia Baker. A few years later, a five-day course with Deb Price introduced me to other basketry techniques and plant fibres which I have been gradually incorporating into my work. 

I have expanded from weaving small containers and traditional kete (baskets) to creating art pieces such as wall hangings and sculptural work. I also weave on a loom, make handmade paper from plant fibres, create land art such as beach sculptures and create work from recycled materials.

Whenever I am working and walking in my garden, I keep seeing the potential for turning more and more of the plant material into sustainable art creations. Last summer, especially during lockdown, I began to seriously collect material and this is ongoing.

The opportunity to display work in the library provided me with the motivation to start exploring what I could do with the materials and this installation is the result. It is a collection of small objects created entirely from plants growing in my garden. These include: harakeke, kōhūhū (Pittosporum tenuifolium), pōhuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis), day lily, Kniphofia (hot poker), daffodil, Monbretia, hard rush, lancewood, corn husks and strawberry. This is the first time I have used many of these materials.

I used a range of techniques including: raranga (plaiting), weaving, twining, coiling, looping, netting, random weaving and stitching;  making cordage and paper; dyeing with plants – blackberry leaves and stems, onion skins, harakeke pods, seeds and stalks, and kāmahi wood.

While I may start with some idea of what I want to produce, the work evolves as I am creating and is the product of the materials, the techniques and my hands, heart and eyes. All my work is very much influenced by nature and my surroundings.

Not unsurprisingly, this project has opened my eyes to a whole new creative world.  There are many concepts swirling around in my head and lots of plants and techniques that I still want to explore.
I see the library as vehicle for learning and I certainly have learned much while creating this installation. My hope is that it will encourage other people to look at plants around them in a different way and inspire some to start creating with them.

Below is a slide show of the individual objects.

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