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    Maker: Rona Ngahuia Osbourne

Blanket Stitch

03 December 2004 - 22 January 2005

Blanket Stitch, curated for Objectspace by Dr Carole Shepheard, features works by Paula Coulthard, Hannah Howes, Susan Jowsey, Katherine Morrison, Rona Ngahuia Osbourne, Beverley Rhodes, Suzanne Tamaki and Sue Weston. The works of these makers use the humble blanket as a vehicle for imaginative expression. While these makers demonstrate a wide diversity of approaches in their use of the blanket, they all share a strong interest in the nature of materiality and the inter-relationship of idea and making.

In today’s culture of ‘use and discard’ the blanket has been discovered and utilised by many contemporary artists as a challenging material for a range of art making. While acts of recycling, re-use, retrieval and revitalisation are part of the creative process, what has become apparent is how this material triggers past memories and recollections.

When European settlers arrived in New Zealand amongst the first objects they brought with them were blankets, items of necessity, trade and exchange. With industrialisation the New Zealand woven woollen blanket became part of every home. Produced in mills throughout the country, blankets were associated with specific localities and makers. Blankets are now collectable items.

The re-evaluation of everyday materials such as the blanket has seen an expansion of the usage and approaches to the use of cloth but also shifts in contemporary art practice. Some artists working within the mainstream have used materials such blankets because of their malleability, strength, symbolic significance, texture, volume, and varying degrees of opacity.  Others have used blankets for what they painfully and silently represent, sometimes loss, pain and sickness.

By positioning memories, understandings, assumptions, skills and usage alongside contemporary practices, the blanket acts as a metaphor for the transition from traditional cultural references, and economic purposes, to contemporary investigations, approaches and understandings about issues of re-interpretation and materiality.  The use of the blanket - which can never be deemed a neutral object - has opened up new creative territories which challenge traditional cultural and social hierarchies.