meet artist ruby berry
Name: Ruby Berry Medium: Textiles Location: ACT Website: www.rubyroseberry.com
Three interesting facts about yourself:
I travelled around Australia in caravan for a year with my family when I was 11. There was minimal school work and maximum adventures. Also the most tanned I have ever been.
I collect fairy tale books, mainly collections of the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. I loved them as a child and always after the unedited and beautifully presented editions. The original stories provide a juicy glimpse of Europe pre-industrialisation.
I was fortunate enough to be contracted to hand weave eight metres of silk and linen cloth for the costume department of a movie. I discovered new muscles in weaving to the deadline, but it was all worth it as the cloth became the loin cloth for Geoffrey Rush!
What are the main focuses of your practice?
My practice is about exploring how I can bring traditional textile materials and processes into the contemporary art world. My making revolves around traditional techniques, hand spinning and weaving, and transforming these techniques into sculptural art forms. I have recently begun experimenting with sensory work, exploring sight, smell and touch to create interactive and engaging spaces. My recent work looks at how I could evoke a sense of protection and comfort through textile associations and sensory engagement.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love collecting natural materials that I am drawn to and experimenting with them. I am constantly looking for new textile techniques and combine different techniques and materials to see what happens. I try not to over think it, instead being open to all possibilities.
I love holding onto sentimental objects and some of my work unconsciously reflects the objects that I have treasured.
I read widely, drawing inspiration from fiction, anthropology, history, folk tales and art and craft theory.
Do you have any key influences?
There are some amazing textile art pioneers who made amazing work ahead of their time – Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anni Albers and Sonia Delauney. Also contemporary artists Kiki Smith, Ernesto Neto, Ann Hamilton and Joan Livingstone constantly blow me away.
Traditional textiles are fascinating for all the detail and technique that goes into them. They are also important in how they can reflect the culture they come from.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished Honours at Australian National University School of Art and now starting to develop myself as an emerging artist. I have a solo exhibition at ANCA in December 2015 that I will be working towards and exploring possible public art projects in Canberra so nice and busy!
What’s the best part about working as an artist, and what do you find challenging?
The best part about working as an artist is being constantly surprised at what you’ve made. I find that there are many ups and downs through the creative process but when it works, it’s wonderful.
Yet the reverse is when you devote time and energy into a work only to find it comes out a bit of mess. My work is so labor intensive that it can be hard starting a project and not knowing whether it will be successful or not. Another downside is juggling time and money to dedicate to your work while still being a functioning human being.
Have you read any good books recently?
I haven’t read nearly as much as I want to in my Honours years but starting to fit in a few books now its summer. Just finished Dirt Music by Tim Winton and loved his honest and detailed snapshot of Australia. A big part of this year was books by Jeanette Winterson, for the poetic, lyrical journey that she takes you on. My summer reading list includes Oliver Sacks accounts of neurological conditions and John Steinbeck.
What part, if any, does feminism play in your art, and why?
Textiles is a still burgeoning art field and there has been some important feminist textile artists who have paved the way, especially in the 1950’s and 60’s. I recognise myself as a feminist but do not address feminist issues directly in my work. I recognise that I am a female working a feminine heavy medium with close ties to textile associations of domesticity. I admire women who work with textiles, whether for craft or art purposes, and feel that there is an underlying uniting strength that can be gained through textile practice.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
My dream place would be by running water, in an old stone house with a huge garden. Just like in the fairy tales! I am amazed by how green the grass is in Europe, however there is a beauty in the Australian bush that I would not want to give up.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up? If so, spill the beans!
I am off to Germany in March for TALENTE, an international competition for young craftspeople in the field of design and technology. It’s my first international exhibition so I am very excited!
I was awarded the ANCA EASS Exhibition so delighted to be having a solo show at ANCA in Canberra from the 1st of December. It’s a fabulous gallery space and it will be interesting to see how I will fill it.