Anne Marie Power and Anne Wilson (Telos Art Publishing)

Anne Marie Power and Anne Wilson
Telos Art Publishing, 2001

Textile artists Anne Marie Power and Anne Wilson are the subject of the self-titled books 5 and 6 of the Portfolio Collection by Telos Art Publishing. Anne Marie Power and Anne Wilson continue the monograph format established by earlier volumes in the series, presenting mature work by each artist including detailed biographies and essays by prominent scholars and critics in the field.

Book 5 situates Power’s artistic work within an extensive career of research, travel and teaching. Janet De Boer, Editor of Textile Fibre Forum magazine, opens the book with a foreword that celebrates the breadth of inspirational sources that have fuelled Power’s career. Dr Juliette Peers then charts Power’s career, from her early contact with textiles in her family home to her extensive involvement in community arts and artist-in-residence projects. Peers outlines the crafts movement in Australia over the past 30 years, noting that Power has now transcended her early identity as the “quintessential” Australian (female) textile artist. The ongoing expansion and experimentation that have driven Power’s practice have created a mature voice which now stands beyond any preconceived patterns of visual investigation. Both essays echo the collection of images presented in the monograph but neither seeks to address, in Peers; words, ‘only the erudite or initiated audience’. Instead, the work collected for Book 5 reads as a celebration of both the kitsch and the complex, set in combinations that belie the layers of reference embedded in the work.

Book 6, Anne Wilson, opens with a comprehensive biography, list of exhibitions, collections and publications. With the facts out of the way, three writers, each distinct in voice and purpose, expound upon this artist’s work. Elizabeth A.T. Smith, Chief Curator of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, discusses Wilson’s work in relation to the materials she incorporates, concluding that it ‘poignantly and elegantly evokes private and social rituals’. Tim Porges, former editor of White Walls magazine, offers a scholarly approach to the work, situating Wilson within a broader art historical framework and the ambivalent terrain of post-minimalism. Hattie Gordon, curator of Anne Wilson: Anatomy of Wear, concludes the analysis with a series of provocative observations about Wilson’s chosen material: hair. Gordon focuses on the mnemonic properties of the material to weave a dream-like series of observations regarding the substance and its associations. The writing here leans towards the academic, replete with scholarly references and esoteric freehand; compelling reading, but not for everyone.

Book 5 and 6 of the Portfolio Collection Series offer two distinctly different visual perspectives from the world of textile art. In keeping with these differences, both books solicit very different styles of interpretative language. While the former is grounded in the recognisable and referential, the substance of the latter remains elusive, escaping concrete analysis. In each case, the voices communicate in a language entirely appropriate for the work at hand.

Craft Arts International (No. 55, 2002: 116-117)