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Australian Contemporary Textile Artists

During six weeks based in Melbourne as an artist in residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop, I had the pleasure to meet tons of contemporary artists working with textiles. It seems the medium is everywhere, demonstrating the curiosity of the Australian public for the material and the stories it provides. Galleries and museums seem to be supporting textile art from the major museums to the not-for-profit galleries and artist-run project spaces. Here are only some of the incredible women working with textiles in the art world of Australia.


Kait James uses humor and vibrant colors to address the way colonial culture has dominated Australia’s history, how Australia and the world perceive First Nations’ people, and her personal reflections on her Indigenous heritage.

First Nation 2019 - Koorie Heritage Trust Collection; Advance Australia Not Fair 2019, 42 x 75cm - Wool, cotton on printed cotton. Permanent Collection - National Gallery of Victoria; Invaders, Game Over 2019 - Private Collection

Jennifer Robertson is known for her innovative approach to complex woven structures in her dimensional art. She works with double weave techniques with her digital handloom. Thematically, her work explores environment, science, human form, interior space, and materiality through the use of weaving metaphors and analogies. Her incredible CV demonstrates the impact she and her work have had in many countries and a variety of institutions including in the university(s) where she has taught.

Tracing the Heart, stainless steel, copper, patinated, woven in one piece, each @ 8cm x 8cm x 12cm.

Jennifer Sharpe is a tapestry weaver exploring themes in nature and environment. She tells stories with her weavings and utilizes the process as a way to meditate and reflect. In addition to her personal practice, she works collaboratively with other weavers at the Australian Tapestry Workshop to realize projects by commission on grand scales.

Red Bush Carpet, 1m x 70cm; Blue Bush Carpet, 1m x 70cm; Om teapot, 44cm x 59cm

Irene Barberis works between art, science, and design from both conceptual and material vantage points. In addition, to being a maker working with a variety of materials including but not limited to textiles, Barberis is also a researcher, educator, and facilitator working with institutions internationally on a variety of projects.

The Tapestry of Light: Intersections of Illumination, at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.

Jacqueline Stojanović is a textile artist and educator exploring themes of material research and culture. Working with tapestry weaving and other fiber manipulations, her large-scale wall and installation works explore what a material can be and how the ways that we use and see it can influence its function.

Concrete Fabric 2019, installation view, UNSW Galleries. Photography by Jacquie Manning

Natalya Hughes, based in Brisbane, was trained as a painter explores depictions of women and iconography in visual imagery. Her recent work applies acrylic paints to polyester found fabric materials and she also creates objects reminiscent of the domestic including rugs and upholstery.

Sally Smart is a prominent artist and designer based in Sydney working between performance, textile design, and art. Her work incorporates so many materials and her recent projects include metal, video, and choreography.

Sally Smart, The Violet Ballet, 2019,

Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra resides on Laŋarra (also known as Howard Island) in Northern Australia. The minimalist aesthetic that is inherent to her Ḻiyagawumirr Garrawurra clan designs also informs the color fields and geometric patterns explored in her weavings.

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