Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Crosscurrents: Land, Labor, and the Port. Textile Society of America's15th Biennial Symposium. Savannah. GA. October 19-23. 2016.


Copyright 2016 by Belinda Von Mengersen.


Slipstitch, an Australian exhibition of contemporary stitch artworks was discussed in a panel session titled, Allegory and Subversion: contemporary stitch narratives, cross-cultural influences and international perspectives. This presentation situated the exhibition as one example within a broader view of contemporary allegorical, speculative and provisional stitch practices emerging within Australia and Internationally. Slipstitch is an Ararat Regional Art Gallery and National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Victoria touring exhibition (2015-2017), curated by Dr Belinda von Mengersen. Slipstitch presented an Australian perspective on the contemporary uptake of stitch and embroidery practice by a new generation of artists. Long overdue, it was the first national survey of contemporary stitch or embroidery touring exhibition to be undertaken in 29 years1. The exhibition included work by emerging artists contextualized alongside the work of established artists to offer an insight into the historical progression of practice, ideas and cross-pollination, especially between the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia. In particular, Slipstitch2 considered the occurance of figurative embroidery in recent visual art practice. The exhibition also explored a perceived ‘slippage’ occuring between art and craft; drawing and stitching; concept and execution, and technique3 versus intuition. Instead of describing pieces included within the exhibition or individual artists’ work in detail, a series of observational questions was proposed in the presentation that emerged from the curatorial development of Slipstitch act as a catalyst for a broader discussion of stitch practice. Firstly, selected Slipstitch exhibition works were discussed in relation to the historical evolution of contemporary stitch in Australia as informed by educational practices in the UK. Secondly, a series of speculative questions that emerged from the conceptual curation of Slipstitch which apply to contemporary stitch practice. Thirdly, a set of terms developed in response to these questions is outlined and the work of a relatively unknown Australian artist John Barbour4 whose liberal practice and provocative conceptual ideas have challenged stitch practice in Australia introduced. Exhibition: Slipstitch5 was a curated group exhibition developed in collaboration with Ararat Regional Art Gallery, and NETS Victoria. The exhibition opened at Ararat Regional Art Gallery in March 2015 and toured five galleries in Victoria. The tour continued through 2017 and included two New South Wales regional art galleries. The exhibition images and details about each artists’ work are available here: http://netsvictoria.org.au/exhibition/slipstitch/