INTERVIEW: Artist Louise Meuwissen for Obus x Craft Cubed
For Craft Victoria’s annual Craft Cubed exhibition, artist Louise Meuwissen took inspiration from our NIGHT BLOOM collection colour palette and using reclaimed jewels, beads and sequins, created a beautiful custom piece for our City store window. Join us inside her studio to learn more about her process and inspiration.
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Tell us about your creative background. What led you to the work you are creating now?
I’m trained as a painter, and for a time was making a lot of paintings focusing on consumption and waste. By the third year of my degree at the VCA I was experimenting with embroidery, and now I work predominantly with textiles and found objects.
Essentially I started this style of work by ‘painting’ with found materials – collected yarns, beads and textiles The work I make still has painterly concerns like texture, colour, composition.
These works were really well received, and I enjoyed making them, and so this element of my practice evolved from there. For the past 6 years I have been experimenting with and refining sculptural textile works and wearable objects.
I’m also a collector by nature, and have always loved the treasure hunt of second hand shopping at op-shops and markets. I’m attracted to objects that contain a certain level of care, communicate something of a specific time or place, or otherwise feel particularly precious. I love things that are handmade, have bold or unusual prints, are made from luxurious materials, or evoke some sort of nostalgia.
The visual language of dress has always fascinated me, and is something that I had a lot of fun with in quite a performative way, with my extensive collection of vintage clothing and adornment. I still have a lot of fun with dressing – but now I direct much of this energy in to the work I make.
What I make now feels more sustainable for myself and the planet, while incorporating these other important aspects of my life.
Your work is so detailed and intricate - how long does it take to complete each piece?
Oh, thank you! I try to make them as detailed and intricate, and dense as possible. It really varies based on the scale of the work, the scale of the beads, and whether I am working in a colour palette that is more complex or subdued. I take a lot of care in the beads I select in each piece, forming the composition as I work. With the addition of every bead, I have to make a choice. But on average, I would say that to make a small wearable piece takes me between 4-30 hours, whereas the biggest sculptural piece I have made, Ecologies of Time, 2018, took 9 months to create.
Excitingly, the piece I have just made for the Obus City store in the Nicholas Building is the largest wall piece I have made! This piece took a couple of months to make from start to finish; from meeting with the incredible Obus team at their High St head office and looking at samples of the new collection, to conceptualising the piece, seeking materials and finally making the work. I hand sew all the sequins and fabrics individually. So, it takes a while!
It's sometimes difficult to tell the size and scale of a piece when we see images online. What is the smallest piece you've worked on, and the largest?
The smallest pieces I have created small stud earrings – little wearable sculptures – these measure about a centimetre across, and the very largest Ecologies of Time, 2018 has a diameter of a meter. At the moment most of the pieces I have been making are sculptures for the body. I have been making brooches and bangles, and these are usually about 7-15cm in diameter. I am excited to start some really large scale exhibition pieces in September!
Louise used textiles from our NIGHT BLOOM collection as inspiration for her piece.
You use preloved and reclaimed beads and accessories in your work. What draws you to working with these materials?
Beads are in abundance, and there’s the thrill of the hunt. I also get gifted a lot of them.
I’m drawn to objects that circulate in society and are targeted at women that are highly labour-intensive to manufacture, but also highly disposable – like jewelry. I’m interested in unpacking the complexities of the dynamic of how we sell images to people, of how we sell aspiration and notions of beauty. I hope to use these discarded materials, both high and low brow, to make works and sculptures that walk a fine line between ugliness and beauty - and have a sense of accumulation and weight.
Louise Meuwissen's installation will be on display in the Obus City store window at Shop 5, 37 Swanston Street Melbourne until the end of August, as part of the Craft Cubed Festival.