Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre


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Artist's statement

I draw inspiration initially from the beauty of intelligent design in the natural world. Vast landscapes or tiny details of texture and surface, the effects of light and shadow, the passage of time, the tide, the primary experience.

There is a saying Relationship is the essence of reality.
At the heart of the process is a journey of an intimate meaningful relationship, a sense of belonging to somewhere and someone, the poetic nature of thematic language through cultural and individual layered experience and knowledge.

I love to experiment and sample unusual combinations of weaving techniques with contrasting fibres. I am drawn to one of the richest artistic and technical historical periods of 13th-18th century European woven textiles. It is challenging to work through ideas that must be modified to produce on contemporary equipment. The loom I work on is purpose designed and built, 32 shafts, computerised and semi automated. It sits in a contemporary space between conventional modes of practice.

Working with ideas for both wearable and interior textiles, I enjoy different kinds of projects - exhibition, commission, research, experimentation, small scale production, miniature and large scale, with fibres including Australian fine Merino wool, linen, cotton, silk, camel, goat, yak, paper, metal and specific purpose synthetics. Any one of these materials possesses contrasting qualities depending upon the way it is prepared and spun. If used in combination with contrasting structures and proportions there is much scope for ingenuity, blending the best of traditional skills to create innovative cloth.

Recent work
Silk textile brocade with three pattern wefts and tufts
  • Silk textile brocade with three pattern wefts and tufts,
  • woven on traditional Jacquard brocade loom with Takemura electronic head, at Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, Florence, Italy
  • Dimensions: 1000cm x 65cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
  • Triplecloth,
  • Merino wool and cotton, hand woven on semi automated computerised 32 shaft loom, woven at Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Canada
  • Dimensions: 1800cm x 60cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Ant Hills
  • Ant Hills,
  • Merino wool and cotton, digital Jacquard damask
  • Dimensions: 100cm x 150cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Banksia Textile prototype
  • Banksia Textile prototype, 2007
  • silk, two pattern wefts, woven with Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio and Bianchi Textile Company, Como, Italy on Staubli power loom with 16,128 threads. Damask, basket and twill weaves
  • Dimensions: 150cm x 200cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the Artist

  • Pods,
  • felted merino wool and silk, networked on 32 shafts, doublecloth twill and plain weave
  • Dimensions: 60 x 185cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Brocade lampas damask samples
  • Brocade lampas damask samples, 2006
  • silk, three pattern wefts, woven on split harness Jacquard loom, Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, Italy
  • Dimensions: 20 x 25cm
  • Photo: Courtesy of the Artist

Jennifer Robertson was born in Somerset, England and studied woven textiles at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College and the Royal College of Art, London. Jennifer migrated to Australia in 1986 with her husband Christopher, a furniture designer and jeweller, establishing family and a weave studio in Fremantle, Western Australia.

In 1997 Robertson moved to Canberra to lecture in textiles at the Australian National University School of Art and re-establish her weave studio/research practice.

Jennifer holds an international reputation in the field of weaving and has worked with NUNO Corporation, Tokyo, Japan and completed residencies at Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Canada and Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, Florence, Italy. She exhibits widely including in Australia, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France. She has lectured in Canada, Denmark, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. Her work is held in many international private collections including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and many public and private collections in Australia. Robertson has been the recipient of many awards.

With Australia Council funding in 1994 and 1997 Christopher built a unique, computerised, semi automated 32 shaft loom. From 2001-2003 Jennifer, with an Australia Council Fellowship explored thematic language between landscape, wool and the body to create triple cloths; three layers of cloth woven simultaneously and technically akin to playing three-dimensional chess. An artsACT Fellowship in 2005 facilitated research into European drawloom and early Jacquard loom weaving to create new furnishing textiles.

Jennifer's central themes are to develop a visual cultural language, exploring new uses of fine Merino wool and working with the best of traditional skills to create innovative cloth.

Selected exhibitions
2008:   Threadbare, Manning Regional Gallery, NSW
2008:   Texture and Light, Narek Galleries - Tanja, NSW
2007:   Smartworks, Powerhouse Museum - Sydney
2007:   Lightweight, Travelling Exhibition: Dunedin, New Zealand; Australian National University School of Art Foyer Gallery, Canberra,
2006:   Freestyle, Object Gallery Travelling Exhibition - Sydney
2005:   Confluent, Narek Galleries - Tanja, NSW
2004:   Minniartextil, Arte and Arte, Como, Italy, Nule, Sardinia and Montrouge, France
2004:   City of Hobart Art Prize, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania
2004:   The Space Between, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art - Perth
2004:   Collect, Victoria and Albert Museum - London, UK
2004:   Trippleweave, Travelling Exhibition: Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, Canberra, Australia; Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Canada; Livingstone Studio, London, UK,
Selected commissions/awards/grants
2005:   Silk Jacquard Velvet commission prototye for production: Historic Houses Trust, Government House Sydney
2004:   artsACT Creative Arts Fellowship
2004:   Canberra Times Critics Circle Award
2003:   artsACT Project Funding, residency at Fondazione Lisio, Firenze, Italy
2001:   Australia Council Visual Arts Fellowship
2001:   Canberra Times Critics Circle Award


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