Guest Artist Niki McDonald
aka Tapestry Girl
“ Creativity was with me from the beginning and I began to give it form from a young age. As I became more conscious of being in the world I began to see my art as an extension of myself. I see my textiles work as a prayer to the feminine within us all.
I completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts with a Major in Textiles at Wollongong University in NSW. It was three years of weaving, dyeing, spinning, stitching, printing, creating and falling in love with textiles as an art form.
After having children, textile art in the form of needle point tapestry became my main medium. I needed a clean, portable art form that required no studio and could accompany me to all my kids’ activities. I spent hours sewing while they did swimming classes, kicked a ball, attended birthday parties or played in the park. All the activities turned into perfect opportunities for me to create.
I’m often asked, ‘Why the name Tapestry Girl?’ My response is that it’s playful. It’s easy to get bogged down in the routines of life but when I remember to be light hearted, grateful and playful as I can through tapestry, it feels like magic happens.
My art practice continues to evolve, I experiment and it ignites my curiosity and results in a practice that is engaging and industrious. The constant is that I’m using the tools and techniques of domesticity to capture the places, faces and attitudes of our urban landscape and I make them permanent with wool.
Colours and shapes from our streets empower our urban women and give them strength, sass and individuality. It’s about embracing it all with courage, industriousness, curiosity and creativity. It’s the sass of urban life balanced with the pace of needlepoint tapestry.
I’m inspired by the ephemeral and drawn to the mechanical nature of my textile arts practice. Within the repetition and toiling is a space that allows me to connect with my intuition and inspires me beyond the daily grind.
For hundreds of years needlework was considered women’s work and was described as craft. Words like, spinster, actually represent a woman who is unmarried and does manual textiles labour for an income and it has a negative overtone. Textile art has evolved and is now a leading creative medium. Artists such as Grayson Perry, Sheila Hicks and Tracey Emin have demonstrated the merit of using traditional mediums to express new themes and ideas.
For each piece I start by taking photos of our vibrant and ephemeral urban landscape and I use them as inspiration to paint the tapestry canvases. I am drawn to colour, ply and texture and seek the wool that will best represent my intention. I try to limit my colours to around six and bring the image together with key black lines. Sometimes I use the repetition of the half cross stitch to emulate the pixilation in dot matrix and at other times I try to create a more chaotic experience by changing the cross stitch size. When everything is sorted I pack my wool, needle and painted tapestry canvas in my bag and sew where ever I go. Each stage is unique and essential to the final piece but I have to say that stitching is my favourite bit.
Over the years I have been fortunate to enjoy wide recognition for my work through awards, commendations and sales. My tapestries can be found in most states of Australia, New Zealand, the USA, the UK, Africa and Europe. My work has been published in Holland and France. Thanks to modern technology people from everywhere can see my tapestries on blogs, websites, Instagram and Facebook. Every year I have participated in exhibitions that have allowed me to continue to evolve as an artist. I am part of a textile group, The Seed Stitch Collective and we facilitated the Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Award this year for NSW textile artist. The finalists work was exhibited at the Australian Design Centre and celebrates textiles as a medium of expression.”
Meet Niki and see her incredible work
“I feel honoured to be a guest artist at Sydney Stitches & Craft and I look forward to show casing my needlepoint tapestry work, demonstrating the processes and inspiring a love of stitching on tapestry canvas. “
February 14 – 16, 2019
ICC Sydney, Exhibition Centre,
Thursday to Saturday | 9.30am to 4pm