IATB – International Art Textile Biennale 2023

Italiano (Italian)

Winners of the Awards:

Major Prize: Josephine Jakobi, Australia, The Huntsman and I

Glenys Mann Award of Excellence: Claudia Mazzotta, Australia, Labouring over Maternal Care

Australian Excellence Award: Brenda Livermore, Fire Brand

International Excellence Award: Katherina Sommer, Mug Women II

Artist’s Directory on the Fibre Arts Website

Glenys Mann founder of Fibre Arts Australia

Catalogue foreword

The International Art Textile Biennale 2023 seeks to exhibit the best of contemporary art textiles and this the second Biennale, reflects a wide range of works related to the textile medium. 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.

Art Textiles have been enjoying a resurgence after decades of being derided, ignored, or often referred as being ‘craft’ or ‘Women’s work’, in other words “not real art”.

The importance of textiles is being reinstating by way of incredible force and ingenuity, and an intelligent dismantling of established art world ‘rules’, Viewers will be captivated and engaged by the rhythm of the maker and excellence that is exhibited. The selected works in this biennial award pushes 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.

Now textile-based art becomes a powerful and accessible medium in the examination of identity, society, and politics.  

This exhibition begins by taking textiles’ artistic legitimacy for granted, a point proven many times over throughout its long history, selecting some of the best and brightest artists working in the world today.

Fibre Arts Australia and the founder, Glenys Mann is committed to developing this significant award and with it an original vision and intentions so that Art Textile practitioners continue to expand, grow, and inspire.

Opening night speech by Sue Wood, Finalists Judge.

It is an honour and privilege to be part of this wonderful project. Congratulations to Glenys Mann and Fibre Arts Australia for their vision in establishing the International Art Textile Biennale and to East Gippsland Art Gallery for supporting that vision. So many exciting arts initiatives originate in regional centres, perhaps because we are so willing to take risks. It is also great to see the number of venues the Biennale will travel to. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase art textiles to a broad audience.

It is a significant achievement to establish a competition and exhibition that attracts entries from across Australia and around the globe. As someone who’s been involved in the Australian textile community for a long time there’s something extremely satisfying about seeing international artists submitting and sending work to an Australian exhibition. For so long it’s been the other way around.

The artists in this show use textile materials, processes and sensibilities to explore a range of contemporary concerns, both personal and political. The works engage with questions of social justice, environmental concerns, the challenges of living in an increasingly fractured and unstable world. Nothing is off limits. For a maker, the medium of textiles offers unlimited opportunities for expression: colour, texture, multiple ways of working. I think you can see the pleasures of making in the works around you. But there’s another reason to use the textiles. They are central to the human experience. We all experience textiles in one form or another every day of our life. This familiarity is a reason why the medium has been sidelined in the past. But it is also a strength. It means that layers of meaning can be embedded in a textile work for the discerning viewer to uncover. Textiles seduce the viewer, drawing them in and inviting them to contemplate and respond to complex and challenging ideas. And that’s what the works in this exhibition do.

Nearly 20 years ago I wrote a doctoral thesis on embroiderers in NSW in the years between 1960 and 1975. They were women interested in modern approaches to embroidery. They played a role in the development of the textile community in Australia and one of their dreams was to see textiles in general, and embroidery in particular, accepted as art. Standing here, surrounded by such varied and engaging work in an exhibition of international standing there’s no question in my mind that their dream is now a reality.