Hannah Gartside, The Sleepover (2018 – 2019). Image courtesy of Ararat Gallery TAMA, Ararat Rural City Council, the artist and Louis Lim.
Continuing Ararat Gallery TAMA’s long-standing focus on textile art practice, Fantasies by Melbourne-based artist Hannah Gartside is a visually captivating exhibition that explores the material and conceptual possibilities of cloth.
Fantasies follows from Gartside’s previous exhibition of the same name at Metro Arts in Brisbane in 2018, and continues the artist’s use of time-consuming sewing techniques with found items and women’s clothing to explore broader ideas related to femininity, subjectivity and the body.
At the centre of the exhibition is The Sleepover, a large-scale sculptural installation made from 30 colourful repurposed night-gowns and slip dresses all painstakingly shredded to the waist. Suspended from the ceiling, visitors are encouraged to walk underneath the work and feel the touch of the cloth upon their faces, breaking one of the golden rules of art galleries as spaces where one ‘does not touch the artworks’. The implicit connection between clothing and the body furthers this intimate encounter.
In this way, Gartside invites audience members to bring their own experiences and memories into a gallery viewing experience. Fantasies is an emotive and immersive celebration of the tactile and material properties of textiles as something to be not only seen but also physically experienced.