InterLaced: an exhibition of works by Belinda Rosee. Gallery One, Strathnairn Arts Association. Until August 6.
In her opening remarks at Belinda Rosee's exhibition at Strathnairn, Monique van Nieuwland, herself a weaver of note, mentioned that Rosee was largely self-taught. This is remarkable when viewed in the light of the skill displayed in the woven textiles on exhibition. It is the artist's first solo exhibition although she regularly exhibits with the Canberra Spinners and Weavers.
Rosee had followed another career path until physical injury caused her to look for some form of creative expression. Van Nieuwland and Kay Faulkner introduced her to weaving and she attended a weaving workshop at the Sturt Craft Centre in Mittagong. In 2014 she took the decision to become a serious weaver. From that time Rosee has continued to teach herself the complex skills of weaving through experimentation and practice and has embraced the changes that have occurred in the practice of hand weaving.
Technology using digital programs has enabled artists to design and plan patterns, which is a less time-consuming method than drawing them up on graph paper. Computer programs also mean fewer mistakes are made in working out intricate patterns. Rosee's work is alive with colour testifying to the new colours available for dying fibre. New yarns such as Tencil (a sustainable fibre derived from wood cellulose) are also available and Rosee also weaves with natural fibres of silk, bamboo, alpaca, chenille, linen and wool. The floor looms she uses have designs ranging from four to 16 shafts. All her yarn is pre-dyed before weaving.
For this exhibition, which is the result of 12 months' work, Rosee has woven scarves, wraps and throws. The work is grouped into a number of themes – summer and winter being the two main colour groupings. Predominant among the winter wraps are two beautifully patterned and coloured works – Malachite and The Moors. The Malachite wrap with its butterfly wing patterns and colours of soft greens and yellow brown tones is inspired by the malachite butterfly, itself named after the mineral malachite because of the vivid green colour they both share. The choice of colours in this work are beautifully designed to suggest the kind of repeat and tonal patterns found in nature. In the same way The Moors, a weaving in a palette of soft muted browns and yellows, conjures up the colours of heather and gorse of the highland moors – a tribute perhaps to Rosee's Scottish heritage.
Other works are more geometric in design – Boxes in Boxes and Fibonacci Blocks are made up of a pattern of squares and cubes where variety in size and the lively interplay of colour has a dramatic impact. Morse code was the inspiration for two other smaller scarves that have more of a structural design. Cleverly woven into their pattern is, in Morse code, the message "I weave with a happy heart". Their striking asymmetrical patterns marry well with the predominant strong colours of reds and black.
In contrast to the warm winter colourings, the theme of summer is expressed by a shimmering palette of Indian pinks, reds, oranges and yellows – mostly woven in hand dyed silks. This is a visual antidote to the cold wintry Canberra skies at this time of year. In these works the colours are free-flowing – seemingly moving across the pattern woven into the fabric instead of being contained within it.
Not all the works were so dramatic – softly coloured shawls in pale blues, apricots and creams were serenely draped and displayed while a group of three blue and white scarves Mono 1-3 seem to echo a Japanese love of indigo blue and white.
Belinda Rosee is to be congratulated on this exhibition that reveals her love of colour and pattern. The variety of the works and her investigation of many different weave structures demonstrates the artist's willingness to explore the technical aspects of her craft. Her lively and expressive use of colour and design does indeed testify to her intention of "weaving with a happy heart".