*Featured photo: East Gippsland Art Gallery
Now celebrating its second edition, the International Art Textile Biennale brings together some of the brightest international artists working in the textile medium and whose practice often involves a combination of different disciplines, artists whose research is guided by the common thread of innovation, experimentation and professional practice.
Thirty-five works will be on display from January 23, 2023, in several Australian art galleries, the event will involve a wide area and will last until mid-2024. All this testifies once more the fact that textile art is now recognised as having an artistic legitimacy capable of expressing itself at the highest level in the contemporary art scene.
Glenys Mann, a fibre artist but also a teacher and coordinator of numerous art projects, is the founder and CEO of Fibre Arts Australia. She is the promoter, curator and organiser of IATB since its first edition in 2021 and, in this exclusive interview for ArteMorbida, she tells us how IATB was born and how it is rapidly growing.
How did the IATB Biennale project come about? Can you tell us more about its history? Why a Biennale of Textile Art?
GM: my art practise with fibre/textiles started in the late 1970’s and the passion has never waned.
It came to me that I could share my love of these mediums when I attended a workshop to hone my practice. Over the years the sharing become more when I realised that I could invite other passionate textiles artists to share their skills at my Fibre Arts Australia events.
During that time, it became quite clear that Art Textiles were not on the high list of priorities of mainstream galleries within Australia and the decision was made that I coordinate and exhibition that mainly focused on “Art Textiles”.
The inaugural Biennale started in 2021 after 2 years of setbacks during Covid.
To have this exhibition every two years, enables the entrants time to develop new work. A well resolved concept combined with exploratory and expert use of a chosen material will be paramount for this Biennale.
How will this second edition of the IATB take place? Where will the works be exhibited, what will be the program?
The second Biennale has expanded from 3 galleries in 2021 to 8 galleries in 2023/24.
With this number of galleries participating, it means that Art Textiles will have a higher exposure throughout Australia.
The opening night with the announcements of the winners will be held at East Gippsland Art Gallery, Bairnsdale in Victoria. We open in this gallery due to the generosity of the director Crystal Stubbs and her team showing a willingness to highlight art textiles.
|East Gippsland Art Gallery, Bairnsdale Victoria
|20 January – 18 March 2023
|Emu Park Art Gallery, Emu Park, Queensland
|15 April – 10 June 2023
|Toowoomba Regional Gallery, Queensland
|8 July – 26 August 2023
|Roxy Gallery, Kyogle, New South Wales
|23 September – 11 November 2023
|Moonah Art Centre, Moonah, Tasmania
|9 December 2023- 20 January 2024
|Australian Design Centre, Darlinghurst, NSW
|2 February – 22 March 2024
|Geelong Art Space, Geelong, Victoria
|5 April – 18 May 2024
|Fabrik, 1 Lobethal Rd, Lobethal South Australia
|late May – mid July (dates TBC)
Let’s get into the heart of the Biennale and talk about the works and artists eligible to participate in this 2023 edition. Can you tell us about the criteria that guided the selection process? What works will we see on display?
The International Art Textile Biennale seeks to exhibit the best of contemporary art textiles and invites submissions that reflect a wide range of works related to the textile/fibre medium.
In 2023, Fibre Arts Australia has an opportunity to open this extraordinary textile event for the 2nd time.
INTERNATIONAL ART TEXTILE BIENNALE 2023 will present a broad spectrum of phenomena in the field of fibre/textiles, which for a few years has invariably become more popular amongst artists all over the world.
The goal of the exhibition is to include innovative work rooted primarily in textile as well as art that explores unexpected relationships between textile and other creative disciplines and not having a ‘theme’ attached, allows artists who work in a ‘series’ to enter without having to break their concentration to make something that is based on a prescribed theme.
From intimate reflections to huge environmental issues, the works will vary in concepts, techniques, material and presentation. There will be a common thread of innovation, experimentation beside professional practice with a focus on contemporary as never before. Fibre Arts Australia is committed to developing this significant award with an original vision and intention so that Art Textile practitioners continue to expand, grow and inspire.
“Art Textiles” is a term derived to express emotions and feelings using a media that has been used since the dawn of time. With many working with cloth and fibre, the subtle marks of stitch show an extraordinary diversity of methods that are applied. Traditional and non-traditional techniques being utilised in a contemporary practice, with the repeated touch within the work, is very gratifying.
You are obviously an expert on textile and fiber art. What do you see as the role that fiber art/textile art plays today within the broader contemporary art scene?
From the work of one’s hands, these works are from artists who present themselves in varied ways as Masters in a technique that is so inherent within their art practice.
There is a common thread of innovation, experimentation beside professional practice with a focus on contemporary as never before.
Textile-based art has been enjoying a renaissance after decades of being derided, ignored or ghettoised for being ‘craft’ or ‘Women’s work’, both terms of which are dismissive artworld shorthand for ‘not art’.
Now textile-based art becomes a powerful and accessible agent in the examination of identity, society and politics. Textiles have grown to command a significant following, offering its own complex and distinctive mark, as capable of expression, as any other media. This exhibition begins by taking textiles’ artistic legitimacy for granted, a point proven many times over throughout its long history, bringing together some of the best and brightest artists working in the world today.
As a curator, what are the critical issues you faced in planning and organizing the event?
I wanted this Biennale to travel to as many galleries as possible within Australia.
The logistics of moving the artworks is huge and to coordinate that process it is imperative that the galleries work closely with each other to ensure that works arrive in time for the next opening. This is all reliant upon the Australia Postal service.
Another issue that had to be considered was that gallery running spaces are different to each other, so, the number of art works that were selected, 35, had to fit into the smallest gallery space without cramping and taking away the power of individual work.
What do you see as the potential of IATB and what are the prospects for the future?
IATB to be recognized around the world as a benchmark that documents trends and innovations in the art textile field. The goal of the exhibition is to include innovative work rooted in traditional fibre materials, structure, processes and history, as well as art that explores unexpected relationship between fibre and other creative disciplines.
Work has already begun for IATB25. This extraordinary medium needs to be showcased widely and one day to exhibit outside Australia
What do you expect and what do you hope as curator will remain with the observer who visits the International Art Textile Biennale 2023?
The viewers to be captivated and engaged by the rhythm of the maker and excellence that will be exhibited. These works push previously held notions of textile/fibre, opening a dialogue about what it is to be a textile artist that makes an expression and commentary on content and concept in the 21st Century.