Fleur MacDonald 'Based on a True Story'

Published by: Heath | 28-Mar-2022
A modern homage to the traditional craft of doily making is charming audiences at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
Venue: Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
Address: 70-78 Keppel St Bathurst, NSW, 2795
Date: 12 February - 03 April 2022
Time: Tues to Fri 10am - 5pm. Sat, Sun and public holidays 10am - 2pm. Closed Mondays.
Ticket: Free
Web: https://www.bathurstart.com.au/
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Call: (02) 6333 6555
'Based on a True Story' is an ongoing series of unique mixed media that explores and pays homage to the traditional craft of doily making, by NSW regional artist, Fleur MacDonald.

Sparked by her interest in social history, conscious collecting and working with reclaimed objects, MacDonald has reimagined the customary practice of doily making by painting renditions of vintage doilies on found objects - domestic wooden serving bowls, platters and trays. Through this process, the artist’s intention is to highlight the importance of this once popular needle skill craft giving it a contemporary twist.

‘I believe my current work sits within a conversation relating to the everyday, the domestic and the kitsch with cultural references informed by post-modern theory and discourse over afternoon tea,' says MacDonald.

Volunteering at Kandos Museum, MacDonald uncovered the story of the late Lucy Williams, a former CWA member famous for her needle skills in Kandos, (central west NSW), where Fleur has made her home.

Mrs Williams practiced the delicate craft of doily making from the age of seven to her 100th year. Categorised as women’s work, making a doily is a deceptively complex skill requiring sophisticated mathematical calculations, pattern interpretation and manual dexterity to achieve the complex pattern of the finished decorative item.

Fleur was intrigued by the lack of care or interest in doilies as an art form. Found in their multitudes in second hand and charity shops, they sat alongside other examples of crafts, to be discarded as relics of a bygone era.

MacDonald also chose to reclaim the ubiquitous wooden serving bowl (hand made from rainforest teak and monkey pod trees), sourced from various junk shops. By recycling and up-cycling, Fleur hand sands each piece, decides on a doily shape to fit the object, designs a pattern and recreates an original story or shadows of stories, through intricate hand painted details of the stitch work. The artist sees herself as part of the “make and mend movement”.

‘Based on a True Story’ is an exhibition with serious intent. In memory of Lucy Williams and her sisters for their skilled handiwork and their home making in an often harsh rural life, the series also communicates a tenderness and reverence for the masterly skills at the heart of a delicate craft, and the decorative elements we include in our homes, elements that are often overlooked and undervalued.

Exhibition Curator: Emma Collerton, Bathurst Regional Gallery (BRAG)

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