A stitch in time

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on November 9, 2018

KATANNING’S newest art exhibition looks deep into the past at how the humble domestic sewing machine changed the lives of women at home.

Curator of Machines and Makers Jude van der Merwe said it was when she discovered her neighbour’s collection of 260 old domestic sewing machines that she learned about the impact the device had on women during the world wars.

She said her neighbour had been an apprentice sewing machine repairer during World War II and had maintained his passion for them ever since.

“That was the starting point, really,” Ms van der Merwe said of the exhibition.

“I didn’t realise that the domestic sewing machine had changed the lives of women so much…they could make a living, and make clothes for their family.”

Machines and Makers features the work of 12 artists, responding in their respective mediums to the notion that sewing machines changed the lives of women.

It is part of Art on the Move, a Perth-based organisation dedicated to touring contemporary visual art exhibitions across the country.

Ongerup-bred Susie Vickery is featured in Machines and Makers and has created embroidered smaller-scale sewing machines for the exhibition, which Ms van der Merwe described as “absolutely beautiful”.

Other artists have submitted works such as paintings of sewing machines, and even animations – Perth artist Tee Ken Ng has created an animation of mice, which is projected behind a real sewing machine, and the mice are hanging up washing and repairing machines.

Ms van der Merwe was impressed with the range of artwork created.

“It’s an extraordinary medium. It’s very flexible,” she said of textiles.

“I think we are all close to textiles, because we wear it, we touch it and we feel it, and so many people can express their love for it in many different ways.”

Machines and Makers is at the Katanning Public Art Gallery until November 24.