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Tradition Inspires Art

Emily Blom's exhibition Bound and Finely Woven at Handmark Gallery

Sarah Aquilina

Themes of femininity, purity and ceremony are entwined in Tasmanian artist Emily Blom's new exhibition, Bound and Finely Woven.

A fascination with Japanese boro textiles was the inspiration of Blom’s body of work, which is on display at Handmark Gallery.

Boro is an ancient tradition in which a domestic cloth is passed from one family member to the next, with each individual owner adding to the items wear and repair.

Each person uses fragments and scraps of rich indigo blues and traditional prints to repair and evolve the cloth’s form.

Our DNA, like the boro cloth, consists of many fragments, a genetic legacy which is constantly evolving and changing.- Artist Emily Blom

“I have begun to see many parallels between this tradition and the make-up of the human body and spirit,” Blom said.

“Our DNA, like the boro cloth, consists of many fragments, a genetic legacy which is constantly evolving and changing with each individual, a living link to the past that is woven into our very being.”

The colour palette Blom uses throughout her work is in reference to Japanese indigo textiles, and it is paired with traditional western needlework.

Femininity, purity and ceremony is embedded in the works through the gentle yet fiercely significant images of white lace.

“Each figure has been painted to evoke a sense of history and nostalgia, referencing early, hand coloured photography,” Blom said.

“Captured somewhat voyeuristically, as they braid, twist and weave their locks of hair, their private moments epitomising femininity and idealised beauty.”

This romantic notion of beauty is exposed as a facade when it is realised that the body is akin to a bird in a glided cage, bound to an unseen, uncontrollable genetic inheritance.

“The gilded threads act as veins that run through the paintings, weaving around and through the figures, mimicking braided strands of hair or the woven threads of the cloth from which the work is inspired,” Blom said.

“The strands ebb and flow around the figures, like the topographic lines on maps, perhaps mapping the past or the future.”

The meticulous glided patterns represent links to individual history, and the tie that binds people to their past. Bound and Finely Woven will be on the walls of Handmark Gallery until November 30.

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