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Beyond the Bale : September 2014
OFF FARM 27 In her parent’s shearing shed nestled by Clear Creek north-east of Bathurst, textile designer Grace Wood is admiring the newly shorn fleeces from the flock of Merino sheep run on the property. Grace is here to source wool for her newly established business as a designer of hand- made felted homewares including cushions, throws, blankets and bedcovers. She recently graduated from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, majoring in textiles, and says she is building up her skills and experience with the aim, ultimately, to produce large felted- wool art installations to be used by interior designers and architects for homes and public spaces. Grace says the incorporation into her designs of wool from the farm at Clear Creek is an instinctive and natural progression. “I was brought up on the land, originally at Barry, an hour or so south-west of Clear Creek, where my parents at that time had an orchard and also farmed sheep. I’ve always had a strong affinity with the beauty of the natural environment – its colours and textures – and those early influences carry through into my work. In particular, I am a big devotee of wool, which I use in all my products. “I’ve been interested in art and design, and textiles in particular, since I was a child. My university degree exposed me more broadly to traditional textile and craft techniques, but I fell in love with the art of felting during a four-month internship with Dutch textile artist Claudy Jongstra.” Claudy Jongstra is a renowned designer whose work is on display in the United Nations headquarters in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Claudy has been a participant in the Campaign for Wool’s Wool Week in Amsterdam for the past two years. She also exhibited two commissioned tapestries in London last year at the Campaign for Wool’s ‘Wool House’ event which was the world’s largest showcase of wool, attracting more than 15,000 visitors during its two week opening. Grace’s design philosophy is inspired by the old Aboriginal proverb: “Touch the earth lightly”. She describes this as using the earth’s resources gently, by only taking that which leaves no void and is replenishable. Consequently, as a biodegradable and renewable fibre, wool is the predominant fibre in Grace’s designs. In her studio at Woodford in the Blue Mountains, she crafts her high-end design pieces which she says are “a crossing between art and design”. “The objective is to provide the audience with a context through which to encounter feelings of curiosity, delight, comfort and connectedness. I hope to stimulate an emotional response as well as a sensory impression.” Grace goes on to call herself modestly “a maker of things”. In reality she is a true craftswoman, showcasing the versatility of wool through design pieces that can best be described as uniquely beautiful – just like the fleeces in the shed by Clear Creek. UNIQUE DESIGNS Young textile designer Grace Wood has created a unique range of hand-crafted felted homewares including cushions, throws, blankets and bedcovers. GRACED WITH WOOL MORE INFORMATION www.gracewooddesigns.com etsy.com/au/shop/GraceWoodDesigns facebook.com/gracewooddesignsstudio Textile designer Grace Wood in front of the ‘Burnt Bush’ bedcover, created by felting wool from the family farm. Grace is a big supporter of the Australian wool industry, sourcing most of the wool for her designs from the family farm near Bathurst, NSW. She values the natural and renewable aspects of wool production which she carries through into her designs.