Australian fieldnotes: holding on

During the past week I interviewed sixteen women during the Fowlers Bay art camp titled ‘Artists form the edges of the world’ and an artist intervention with Fibrespace Incorporated at the Platform Gallery in Port Augusta, South Australia. All interviewed participants were makers. Some of the women identified as artists, while others identified as craftspeople or makers. The duration of the interviews was between ten and thirty-seven minutes.

During the semi-structured interviews with the women it struck me that all commented on time constraints and difficulties they experience managing their roles and schedules. Many interviewees commented how they juggle their roles and that they do not know how they get through their days, but that they often seem to manage seamlessly. ‘You just have to get on with it’ was how many women responded. Participants’ anecdotes were reflections on their lives, how crafts allow them to cope with difficult circumstances, but also how making crafts and art made them happy and proud.

Another perspective on creative practices are that some women said they felt guilty when they used their time to practice arts or make crafts due to the many responsibilities and complex roles they have as breadwinners, mothers and carers. Some women found it hard to find time for their creative activities in spite of the positive role arts and crafts play in their lives by serving as a coping mechanism in difficult circumstances. Some women acknowledged that arts and crafts practice allow them to solve all kinds of problems they face. The physical contact with, and holding on to materials, the creativity textilities evoke and the ongoing planning of, and problem solving during, making processes seem closely connected to real life situations.

img_4006Mandala installation directed by Satu Miettinen with more than sixty women, Platform Gallery, Port Augusta 2016.


Text and photography by Melanie Sarantou


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