Artists Biographies

Soraya Abidin

Soraya Abidin is a Sydney Textiles based artist, whose works aim to materialise the in-between spaces within the bi-cultural binary. Resonating with the tensions that exist in this realm, Soraya uses vintage Asian silks to address cultural misconceptions often experienced by bi-cultural people. At the same time, for Soraya, this is a space where there are no rules to be broken and cultural boundaries can be traversed. Identifying as bi-cultural herself, Abidin’s works are inspired by her experience of being in-between both her English and Malay heritage. 

The work, Guardians of Wellbeing, was created from a mix of Asian silks, Peranakan glass beads, vintage hemp, raffia, and Swiss straw. This two-faced bird is described by the artist as a shamanic headdress worn by a Bomoh, or Malay spiritual healer.

Image: Guardians of Wellbeing, 2020, Soraya Abidin, mixed Asian silks, Peranakan glass beads, vintage hemp, raffia, and Swiss straw. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Gillian Bencke 

Gillian Bencke is an artist based in Newcastle, NSW. She works in photography, sculpture, installation, and fibre. Gillian has a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Newcastle and studied Photomedia at the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Her early practice was in photo media and included a small run of self-published artist books. She later went on to study digital media at TAFE in Newcastle and produced work in digitally drawn animations. In 2004 while living and working in Paris, Gillian began to use found fabrics to create small sculpture works and has been exploring form in this medium ever since. 

Image: Gillian Bencke, A Case, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Julie Briggs & Kelly Leonard 

Julie Briggs is known for working in poetry and art of many forms. Her work has been seen across the nation, with a recent work being displayed as a part of the Sunflower Collection Exhibition in Kandos. Now her latest work, Curation of Shadows, a collaboration with Kelly Leonard is proudly being displayed at Craft ACT. 

Kelly Leonard is an artist based in Broken Hill, NSW. As a teenager, Kelly was taught weaving by a second-generation Bauhaus weaver, Marcella Hempel, in Wagga Wagga, NSW. Since reactivating her practice in 2017, Kelly has been making work responding to the sight, sound, smell, and feel of the environment, where she places woven artworks in conversation with Place, to activate new meanings and relationships. Her work is always informed from her perspective as a regional/remote artist. Kelly believes that struggles for social justice and environmentalism cannot be separated from each other and are inextricably woven together. Themes such as trust, the importance of relationships, different evaluations of time, risk taking, and the ethics of care are important considerations in how she makes work and how work is shown to an audience. Kelly views weaving as an open-ended world making practice through which new patterns can emerge. 

Kelly walks in Wilyakali Country, part of the Barkindji Nation. She acknowledges that sovereignty was never ceded, what always was, always will be Aboriginal land. 

Image: Julie Briggs & Kelly Leonard, Curation of Shadows, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.


Armando Chant 

As an artist, my focus is on creating work that sits in-between image and surface, facilitating a sense of visual, material and experiential transformation. Through an expanded approach to the physical and gestural act of drawing the work explores the oscillation in-between embodiment and disembodiment where the inter-relationships between the drawn gesture, image and surface cross through and between sites of process. 

The inter-relationship between the creative act and visual residue is investigated by working within an inter-disciplinary and open context, including drawing, photography, and textile techniques to evoke and materialise a sense of atmospheric presence. 

The practice thereby opens up a dialogue for the visual image to be re-framed or re-presented within an ephemeral and transient context across site, surface and screen, be it an image, artefact or space and contribute to alternative ways of experiencing and seeing, both image and surface where one does not take priority over the other but become a hybrid form of experience. 

Through this exploration the image/artefact is seen not as a final outcome but as part of a visual and material landscape that is in a constant state of emergence and dissolution, evolving in response to the physical act of drawing, and the ethereal trace left behind. 

I have participated in exhibitions that reflect this expansive and explorative approach, held in London, Florence, Melbourne and Sydney. As an academic, I've worked as a lecturer across degree and Masters programs at leading universities in London, Sri Lanka and Australia. 

Image: Armando Chant, Topographical Reflections Day (detail), 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Craft ACT. 



Georgia Chapman 

Georgia Chapman’s Vixen label was much loved for more than twenty years. Now after a break to be with her young family, Georgia is bringing back her signature prints in selected products. It is the start of the Georgia Chapman label: the same design aesthetic, the same emphasis on quality, with more one-of-a-kind pieces and limited edition collections.  

Georgia’s style is to reinvent traditional motifs and patterns and combine prints in unexpected ways. She creates pieces with timeless simplicity, function, and beauty. Her passion is for design, colour, craftsmanship and handmade. 

Vixen Australia began in 1992, as a fashion and homewares label that used all original fabrics. Printed crepe de chine, georgette, velvet devoré and a full range of silks in rich colours and textures quickly became Georgia’s trademark.  

For twenty years, Vixen was sold through retail outlets across Australia, Asia, and London. The Vixen flagship store in Fitzroy opened in 2007. Georgia has exhibited her work widely, and her designs feature in the National Gallery of Victoria and the Powerhouse Museum collections. 

Image: Georgia Chapman, My place, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Linda Erceg 

Dr Linda Erceg is a multidisciplinary artist and lecturer at the School of Creative Arts and Media at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. Her creative practice spans a range of mediums, including photography, video, and installation. In recent works, Linda creates sculptural objects and large-scale installations that explore the connection between stitched artefacts, living systems and patterning. Using a range of recycled and repurposed plastics, her work is a timely exploration of the impact of anthropogenic change and the imagining of future ecologies. Her artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally with support from Australia Council, Arts Victoria and Arts Tasmania. 

Image: Linda Erceg, Biomorph, 2020, mixed plastics. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Anne Ferran  

Anne Ferran is an artist whose work questions representations of femininity and history, particularly the legacy of colonial histories. Her feminist and philosophical approach to photography in the 1980s and 1990s reframed the medium as not only a means of documentation but a form of cultural mediation, with its own history and blind spots. She has worked in analog and digital photography, installation, video, photobooks, and performance to address absences and erasures at sites of historical significance in New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia.  

Ferran received a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University, attended Mitchell College of Advanced Education (now Charles Sturt University), and received a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree from Sydney College of the Arts in 1985 and a postgraduate diploma in 1987. In 1994 she completed an MFA at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. She is an honorary fellow at the University of Wollongong. 

Image: Anne Ferran, Field Haunter from Birdlike Series, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.


Dianne Firth 

Although educated as a landscape architect Dianne had early training with textiles at Newcastle Technical College and Glasgow Art School and was involved with textiles for fashion, theatre costumes and interiors. She discovered quilting after seeing a collection of Amish quilts at the National Gallery of Victoria in the early 1980s and undertaking a masterclass with American art quilter Nancy Crow. 

Her works have been selected for major juried international and national exhibitions, publications and for public and private collections. Since 2001 she has been one of six artists in the Canberra based tACTile group with the objective of expanding the boundaries of the art quilt and mounting exhibitions to travel. 

Firth is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. She holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, a PhD, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and advises the ACT Government on issues related to landscape heritage, trees, and urban design. 

Image: Blown by the wind, Dianne Firth, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.


Sai-Wai Foo 

Sai-Wai Foo is an emerging artist and graduate of RMIT, Melbourne. Her practice focuses on the manipulation and folding of cut paper to produce sculptural volume and structure from a 2-dimensional medium. Her works combine organic paper with other pieces of collected ephemera to create vignettes and still points in time.  

Exploring the use and repurposing of discarded unwanted items, Foo aims to seek out a new aesthetic. The materials used are discarded but once treasured items that have outlived their usefulness or owners. She subverts their use through repurposing and with the additional artisanal, to imbue an item with a new value. It is a way to question how things are used in our over-curated and insatiable consumer society. These interwoven elements marry the past and present to create an object that transports the viewer into another realm; an intersection of the nostalgic and the contemporary. 

Image: Sai-Wai Foo, Children of the Sun, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Tina Fox

Tina Fox trained as an architect at The Bartlett School and the University of Westminster in London and went on to complete an MA in Art in Architecture at the University of East London. After working for over 10 years in architecture and interior design, Fox moved to Sydney in 2011 and expanded her private practice into visual and public art.  

Her current work explores hand crafted techniques to reflect on digital printing and manufacturing and the future of craft in the modern age. She has exhibited large public textile sculptures in Sydney for Vivid, The North Sydney Art Prize, Harbour Sculpture, Sawmillers Sculpture Prize and The Sydney Architecture Festival and is currently one of the resident artists at the TWT Creative Precinct in St Leonards.  

Image: Tina Fox, Crochet Machine, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist 


Erica Gray 

Erica’s lif.e.quatic series is inspired by the natural aquatic environment and the creatures within. Her interpretation of the complexity of structures, vivid colours and intricate patterning is observed in a variety of marine creatures as well as a reference to man’s influence over the environment. This meshing of aquatic and terrestrial influences forms a symbolic representation of how coral and its surrounding ecosystems, once autonomous, must now cling to us in the hopes of maintaining their continued existence.  

Erica’s work has been a finalist in numerous painting and sculpture prizes, among them she was a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in both 2019 and 2013, she was a finalist in the 2015 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize as well as the Glencore Perceval Portrait Prize in 2012, 2016, 2018 and 2020.  

With her sculptural work, she has been a finalist in the Tamworth Textile Triennial in 2014 and 2020, a finalist in the Gold Coast Swell Sculpture Festival in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016 as well as North Qld’s sculpture Festival - The Strand Ephemera in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2019 and was joint winner of the Artistic Award of Excellence in 2011 and the 1st prize winner of the Award for Artistic Excellence in 2017. 

Image: Erica Gray, Immortal coil, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist 


Elisa Markes-Young 

Elisa Markes-Young was born on New Year’s Eve 1964 in Gorlice, Poland. In 1981, she moved to Germany with her family, then to Western Australia in early 2002. With her cross-cultural biography, Elisa’s identity is punctuated by the question of how Polish or German she really is. It is also very much defined by the feeling of being caught between two worlds.  

The excitement of living in a foreign country is accompanied by an intense feeling of displacement. Being a stranger and ‘different’, having to master another language and the mentality of a new place creates a feeling of insignificance and inadequacy. Trying to navigate between the Polish origins, German influences, and Australian surroundings, Elisa recognizes that self-reflection is crucial to her identity: It is a reflection on the variations of her ‘handed-down’ identity. 

Image: Hugs and Kisses, Elisa Markes-Young, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.

Julie Montgarrett 

Julie Montgarrett is a textile artist, curator and former lecturer whose practice includes over 100 solo and group exhibitions, site specific installations, public art commissions and ground breaking community-based arts projects in Australia and internationally. Her works are represented in major Art galleries and Museum collections nationally and internationally. Her main interests are in the areas of drawing and embroidery to extend the conceptual and spatial possibilities of the textile as narrative questioning dominant Australian histories; to explore doubt and fragility via visual narratives in complex installations. 

Image: Julie Montgarrett, Grim Harvest Plundered Wealth and Squandered Plenty, 2020. Photo: Miranda Heckenberg. 


Deborah Prior 

Deborah Prior’s art practice navigates the complexities and pleasures of having and being a body, via craft practices including knitting, stitching and embroidery. Using salvaged, stained, and damaged material(s) from the domestic sphere, she crafts soft sculptures, installations, and performances that explore ideas of bodily agency, disgust & desire and the personal and social histories of domestic work. 

Most recently, Prior has been investigating the shared visual language of body fragments in medical illustration/modelling and religious iconography, positioning her textile pieces as profane relics to invite conversation around the contested knowledge, histories, and mythologies of female corporeality. 

Based in Adelaide, Prior has been crafting strange anatomies for thirteen years. She completed her PhD in Visual Arts at the University of South Australia in 2014. In 2016, she spent several months on residency in Italy as the recipient of the Helpmann Academy British School in Rome Residency, which continues to be a rich vein of inspiration for her practice. 

Image: Deborah Prior, 2020, Easter in the Anthropocene. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Margarita Sampson 

Margarita Sampson works predominantly in soft sculpture & contemporary jewellery. Her work is strongly influenced by her Norfolk Island background, referencing natural forms, patterns & textures, in particular underwater lifeforms.  

“I’m interested in the idea of colonisation, growth, opportunistic expansion, the organic versus the inorganic, taking over spaces and recontextualising them. I don’t like to be too specific with the forms in my work, I like them to be suggestive enough of any number of possibilities so that the viewer brings their own story and imagination to the party.... then the work starts to resonate, through that conversation. If a work answers, its own questions it’s dead.” 

Image: Margaret Sampson, Olympia, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Mark Smith and Dell Stewart 

Working across painting, ceramics, mixed media, video and soft sculpture, Mark Smith’s primarily figurative works are concerned with how the physicality of the body relates to human nature and the human condition. Smith considers the body a nonnegotiable starting point for existence, using the primitive vessel to explore the truly distinctive characteristics of being human. Within this framework, Smith addresses the experiences and complexities of the individual and of humanity as a whole, as well as examining the ‘language’ of a subtle movement or position. Working purely from feeling or emotion rather than a model or image, Smith’s works possess an intrinsic nature or indispensable quality that imbues them with a deep sense of character. 

Dell Stewart’s work combines various processes often regarded as belonging to the world of craft (ceramics, textiles, animation) with a deeply embedded personal history. These practices and references assemble in immersive environments, often offering no clue to the boundary between the artwork and the space it occupies. A personal, subjective symbology pervades the work making each iteration another chapter in a narrative of a life lived doing.  

Mark and Dell came together in artistic collaboration to create an artwork especially for the Tamworth Textile Triennial Tension[s] 2020. The resulting Love mobile was created in the spirit of learning and working together, and celebrating the complications and tensions implicit in any relationship. Love mobile uses soft hand-stitched forms, oversized stuffed letters and sculptural fabric elements linked through a complex web of handmade ropes to represent connections, networks and relationships The work takes the form of an oversized mobile; continually moving and changing, it embodies the role of chance in encounters, understandings and the formation of connections between people. 

Image: Love Mobile, 2020, Mark Smith and Dell Stewart, ice-dyed cotton, polyester fill and trims, cotton rope, dimensions variable. Photo: Courtesy of Tamworth Regional Gallery. 


Jane Théau  

Jane Théau develops sculptural installations, such as her on-going series of large-scale embroidered Threadworks. Jane said,  

”Given my conceptual concern with sustainability, I enjoy the fact that these textile works use very little material, and weigh but a few grams, even as room-sized installations… I particularly appreciate the metaphorical qualities of textiles: the ravelling and unravelling, the weaving and fraying, the mending and rending.”  

Jane has a Master of Art (Sculpture) from the College of Fine Arts (COFA), University of NSW, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Technology Sydney. She has actively exhibited in solo and group exhibitions since 2009, was a finalist in the 2011 Powerhouse Museum International Lace Award and curated 2015’s Y Fibre, an exhibition of male textile art at the Ewart Gallery in Sydney. 

Image: Jane Théau, Anca (detail), 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist. 


Tjanpi Desert Weavers | Dianne Ungukalpi Golding, Judith Yinyika Chambers, Joyce James, Charlotte Golding  

Tjanpi Desert Weavers is a social enterprise of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council, working with women in the remote Central and Western desert regions who earn an income from contemporary fibre art. Tjanpi (meaning grass in Pitjantjatjara language) represents over 400 Anangu/Yarnangu women artists from 26 remote communities on the NPY lands. 

Tjanpi artists use native grasses to make spectacular contemporary fibre art, weaving beautiful baskets and sculptures and displaying endless creativity and inventiveness. Originally developing from the traditional practice of making manguri rings, working with fibre in this way has become a fundamental part of Central and Western desert culture.  

Tjanpi embodies the energies and rhythms of Country, culture, and community. The shared stories, skills, and experiences of this wide-reaching network of mothers, daughters, aunties, sisters, and grandmothers form the bloodline of the desert weaving phenomenon and have fuelled Tjanpi’s rich history of collaborative practice.  

Tjanpi has a public gallery in Alice Springs showcasing baskets, sculptures, jewellery, books, merchandise and more, while Tjanpi artworks are also found at stockists around the country. Tjanpi regularly exhibits work in national galleries and facilitates commissions for public institutions. 

Image: L-R: Joyce James, Charlotte Golding, Dianne Golding with Pitja Nyawa Kulila Pampula in Warakurna, WA Photo: Courtesy of the Artists.


Yinarr Maramali Gomeroi Community 

Yinarr Maramali (YML) is a Gomeroi women’s business based on Country (Tamworth, NSW), who support the wellbeing of their Community and Country through the continuation of their ancestral weaving culture. Bringing together generations of yinarrgal (women) and miyaygal (girls), who connect and share their stories through hand-woven creations and artworks. Using only natural materials collected by hand from the Country and ethically sourced materials that are gentle on the environment. Yinarr Maramali is 100 percent owned and operated by local Gomeroi Yinarr. Every weaving purchase supports the YML Weavers and their cultural community programs. 

Image: Yinarr Maramali, Weaving Warrabah, 2019. Lomandra, water vine. Photo: Miranda Heckenberg.