Weaving Eucalyptus Project: Liz Williamson

Since November 2019, Liz Williamson has invited friends and colleagues in Australia, India and elsewhere to be part of her Weaving Eucalyptus Project, requesting them to colour two metres of silk fabric with locally sourced Eucalyptus leaves.

Liz states “I developed this project in response to an invitation from Dr Kevin Murray to participate inMake the world again: textile works from Australia’ to be shown in Vancouver, Canada in May 2020 as part of their Crafted Vancouver month. The brief called for exhibitors to rethink how they would like the world to be, to develop different strategies for making and how textiles have influenced our world. My proposal involved inviting artists in Australia and India to collaborate with me by colouring cloth with a local eucalyptus which I then wove into panel approximately 17cm wide x 120cm long. The installation titled Cultural Shadows interwove local colour, cultural connections and weaving traditions and represents a community of practice linked by an interest in the natural world, natural materials / processes, and the environment.

This work followed on from recent work which has referenced the rag rug tradition, weaving plant dyed silk fabric in strips as the weft and the Australian ‘making do’ and ‘wagga’ quilt tradition in using readily available, locally sourced colour; unfortunately, not repurposed fabric”

Make the world again: textile works from Australia’ showing in Vancouver was cancelled due to the pandemic but the exhibition was launched online on 21 May 2020 and at the end of 2020 was shown at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne until early March 2021. The Cultural Shadows installation included eleven panels from the Weaving Eucalypts Project all woven from silks dyed by Australian and Indian artists and although not comprehensive of the range of colours hidden in Eucalyptus leaves, the colours in these panels reflected each place, while the process and the finished work will represent friendship, community, exchange and expertise. All artists and the species used are acknowledged in the exhibition documentation. Click here for more information

An extended Weaving Eucalyptus Project (WEP) was exhibited at the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial (IOTA21) in Perth from mid-September to November 2021 with 70 panels each approximately 17cm wide and between 90 and 120cm long. This installation incorporated more artists from Western Australia and from countries around the Indian Ocean – South Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia and other countries touched by the Indian Ocean.

This project is informed by Liz’s research into the history of plant dye experiments in Australia since the colony was founded in 1788 to the present. One person of special interest is Jean Carman, the first to systematically document the colours of Australian Eucalypts, testing over 450 species. When reflecting on her dye experiments of the 1970’s, Jean Carman stated that she had found a ‘hidden beauty that was just so unexpected and so rich in the colour tones in eucalypts, wattles and other native plants; a beauty that she ‘never knew …… was hidden away in their leaves’. The idea that plant colours can reveal place and time, resonates with the exhibition concept, reflecting on historic connections to settler times, regional relationships and future possibilities.

Weaving Eucalypts Project: local colour from Indian Ocean countries, Liz’s paper for the IOTA21 conference, detailed eucalypts in each Indian Ocean country represented, when they were introduced, what the wood is used for etc. Click here for the link to the paper

In 2022 the exhibition will be at the following galleries in Australia

Castlemaine Art Museum, Victoria. 15 September 2022 to 12 February 2023
Ararat Gallery TAMA, Victoria. 4 March to 15 October 2023
Tamworth Regional Gallery, NSW. 25 August to 15 October 2023
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, NSW. 3 November 2023 to 4 February 2024
Wangaratta Art Gallery, Victoria. 2024 TBC

Liz Williamson is a weaver, academic and textile artist based on Gadigal and Wangal lands of the Eora nation in the Inner West of Sydney. She has been weaving since the late 1970’s and is still fascinated with the potential of interlacing two sets of threads at her loom. Her practice is diverse: designing for industry; exhibition artwork; weaving of wraps and scarves; teaching workshops nationally and internationally; and more recently engaging with artisan groups in India.

At the heart of her practice is an interest in innovative, experimental and unusual designs created at the loom, often in collaboration with other designers and artists. Recent weavings reference the rag rug tradition and ‘making do’ with readily available materials often coloured by locally sourced plant dyes. With qualifications in Textiles Design (1984) and Fine Art (2006), an award of Living Treasure (2008) and over 30 years involvement in tertiary education, Williamson is an Honorary Associate Professor, School of Art Design & Architecture, UNSW

With many thanks to Liz Williamson for the text and images.

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