Figure and Ground: Re-inventing Traditional Themes as Contemporary Tapestry
Presentation by Cresside Collette
As a tapestry weaver, for Cresside Colette drawing has always been an integral part of her
way of working, and her subject matter is inextricably linked to Art History. Her interpretation
of the figure re-conceives the Classical body in contemporary textile form. Landscape, literally
the ground, is the inspiration for "en plein air" (outdoor) weaving, bringing a fresh perspective to
a traditional process. How do these disparate themes coalesce into a convincing body of work?
In recent years my thoughts have turned back to a childhood spent in Ceylon and its impact
on my development as a visual artist. Acknowledging a link to the '43 Group through my
father I am seeing my own art in a richer, cross - cultural context. My recent work explores
the linking of two lands, juxtaposing the features of the Sri Lankan and Australian landscapes
in unlikely but comprehensible form through collage. These are extended into abstract tapestries
that explore the sensations of colour and light in comparative commentary.
Cresside Collette is the daughter of painter and cartoonist Aubrey Collette, one of the
founding figures of the 43 Group. Born in Ceylon in 1950, she migrated to Australia in
1962. In childhood her father's art and her mother's writing were part of daily life and
almost inevitably her own future career path seemed a natural choice.
Originally trained as a Graphic Artist at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
(RMIT), she worked as a book illustrator and advertising artist whilst developing large
embroideries and exploring the textile arts. She was employed as a foundation weaver of
The Victorian Tapestry Workshop in 1976. In 1980 she undertook post-graduate studies
in the Tapestry Department of the Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, and subsequently
completed a Master of Fine Art (by Research) at Monash University in Melbourne in
Cresside has exhibited in both individual and group shows consistently since 1971. In
2003 and 2004 she was awarded residencies at Bundanon (a beautiful estate left to the
nation by renowned Australian artist Arthur Boyd) where she pioneered working "en
plein air" in the medium of tapestry. Over the last 25 years she has combined her own
exhibition practice with designing and producing community tapestries for schools, city
councils and universities. She has tutored in drawing and currently teaches tapestry
weaving in the Studio Textiles and Design Course at RMIT University.
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