Olivia Parsonage is stitching against the clock

STITCHED IN TIME: One of the works by Olivia Parsonage now on exhibition at Gallery 139.

STITCHED IN TIME: One of the works by Olivia Parsonage now on exhibition at Gallery 139.

THEY are intricately stitched works that take hours to create, but for fibre artist Olivia Parsonage art is about following a lifelong passion.  

Her love of fibres began in childhood. 

“My primary school was really into arts and crafts … puppetry, origami, painting,” Parsonage said.

“And when I was in England, when I was seven, we went to a weaver and she used the hair from her wolfhound dog. Joining the dots, that was an influence.

“We were always enrolled in free arts and crafts at local libraries.”

Parsonage studied natural history illustration at the University of Newcastle and took electives in fibre art on the side. 

Parsonage will hold her first solo exhibition The Clocking Tick at Gallery 139, after joining the gallery’s small stable of artists. 

The show will feature her “fabric illustrations” which sees the artist stitch cloth to paper to create figurative works.  

“I just work my poor old Janome, I know I am in trouble when she starts smoking,” Parsonage said. 

Parsonage hand-cuts small scraps of fabric into shapes which are then stitched together onto paper. The works are detailed and see her spending many hours to complete just one. 

“It’s very labour intensive,” Parsonage said. 

“All these scrap fabrics, I can’t throw it away, so by using it I am justifying my hoarding.

“It’s neuroses on paper.” 

Parsonage said she was unaware of another artist working in quite the same way.

“I’m not sure there is anyone else doing what I do,” she said. “There might be. 

“There are probably other artists who do the work, and then just glue it to paper or mount it another way.” 

One of the challenges of working this way was there was no give in the design. The works could not be adjusted once they were made, she said. 

“I have a thing with faces, they are not planned, they come out as I sew them,” she said.  “I am always amazed by the variety, the expressions. If I am in a dark mood they are all angry and if I am happy they are all happy.” 

She began producing her fabric illustrations in about 2009 and has since held several solo exhibitions. 

The exhibition will feature about 20 illustrations as well as some of the artist’s soft sculpture work. 

The Clocking Tick is on at Gallery 139 until August 27. 

Gallery 139 is located at 139 Beaumont Street, Hamilton. 


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