Textile show by Norton Fredricks
After receiving both the Commendation and the People’s Choice Awards, in the Institute of Modern Art’s 2022 Churchie Emerging Arts Prize, Aboriginal Art & Co welcomed Norton Fredericks for his first solo exhibition in the Vault Gallery. The title gatherer, highlights Norton’s slow textile process of collecting plant materials from various places of significance.
Norton Fredericks, also known as retrius, is a queer, sustainable, fibre artist who’s work explores the art of slow textiles. Norton says that his life changed in 2016 when he attended a lecture by Jane Milburn at World Environment Day. After learning about how fast fashion creates and pollutes our environment with microplastics, Norton decided to change the way he creates art to be more sustainable – starting with the experimentation of natural dyes, and hand felting soon followed.
Extracting natural dyes is a process that involves plants and leaves being tightly bundled between cloth and exposed to heat for a period of time. During the heating process dyestuff is extracted and printed onto the cloth. Many factors can affect the dyeing process from seasons changing to the quality of water. Norton describes botanical printing as a “fine line between natural artistry and organic chemistry.” Norton also uses ancient techniques to create his felt by matting wool in soapy water until the fibres bond.
Many of Norton’s pieces are a reflection of country and the memories which country holds for him. Identity Landscape, Commendation and the People’s Choice award winner for the 2022 Churchie, is a biographical map of Norton’s life and art journey. The plants used in this piece were collected from places with personal significance to Norton. For Norton this piece signifies his growth, “the work features botanical monoprinting and topographical lines forming a biographical map that demonstrates my growing connection to country and self.”
Hung either side of Identity Landscape are Protectors, “Protectors represent family that have come before me. Often I feel guided in my art as I am on a predetermined path. Protectors represent this path – from the beginning, to now and beyond.”
Grounded is a floor based work that sits in the center of the Vault. This work encourages visitors to slow down and directs them around the gallery to view the exhibition from various angles. The felted fleece rug invites the viewer to take in their surroundings as well as to ‘watch our step’ and contemplate our footprint on the land we walk on.
This exhibition combines different techniques to highlight Norton’s deepening understanding of self and country. Norton imbues story into these fibres by connecting to place and identity. Gatherer is about telling his story, a collection of memories in cloth.
Norton Fredricks also ran a workshop in our courtyard; Bush dyes and native foods. Norton led a bush dying workshop where he spoke about the chemestry involved in the process of dying but also how special and unique each item is because of the endemic natur eof the materials. Participants dyed a silk scarf and also some paper. While the textile wraps were in the boiling pots, Chris from Three Little Birds Catering served lunch and spoke to people about the
Aboriginal Art Co is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Australian Government through through Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS).
Blog written by Logan Bobongie, 2022.
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