15th March 2024

Textile art is a broad church encompassing one off artist spun and dyed garments, sweet felted animals and sophisticated threaded sculptural installations. It is a simplification to state that its roots are in the female world of garment fabrication and recreational decorative stitching though that is one place to start.

The very opposite of digital contemporary art practice and the use of AI, textile art is often a celebration of the handmade. With various conventions such as using elemental materials or found object collage the products are rich and varied with a form and meaning only limited by the imagination of the maker.

June Hope has a background in ceramics and her past textile work has explored relationships between people using vessels as a metaphor. Like ceramics, the material is the thing and while the natural forms of clay are millennia old, June Hope’s current medium, felted merino wool, is relatively unexplored in the world of fine art.

Like many artists, June Hope is inspired by her environment. Living close to Ulverstone’s beach she explores the littoral, the intertidal zone, where the living flotsam and jetsam of Bass Strait washes up with the tide. This is a place of horizontals and pale rhythmic textures where seaweed bunches near the tough spiky grass and the water is variably fierce and gentle.

The construction of art from felted merino wool is a technique more energetic than squeezing paint from a tube. A watery and vigorous process that transforms long soft woollen strands and sometimes fabric and other fibres into a shapeable mat is the beginning before the collage of silk and/or paper adds additional texture and colour. Mark-making and occasional hand-stitching ties the work together, a manual trail of the artist’s hand.

What is remarkable about the body of work in Shorelines is the ability of the work to physically evoke the littoral. Softly tactile, the patterns of water on sand beg the viewer to run a hand along the ripples.

June Hope has successfully created a textural evocation of a shoreline, its layers and moods in a way that shifts felted collage into the realm of fine art.