No. 44 “Fragile Earth I: Deliverance” by Lorna Crane

Craft / “Shimmering: The Mona Hessing Tribute Project”, at Belconnen Arts Centre until January 31. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

THIS exhibition is a tribute to one of Australia’s leading fibre artists, Mona Hessing, who died in 2001.

Barbara Romalis, a long-standing friend, had materials from Hessing’s studio – based near Tuross on the NSW South Coast – and gave them to members of the Eurobodalla Fibre Textile and Art Group.

Hessing was renowned for her large-scale wall hangings and free-standing fibre sculptural works, which were often commissioned for public foyers.

After a series of workshops, eight artists came together to use the materials and to create textile works, many inspired from Hessing’s work. The title “Shimmering” is the name of the property where Hessing’s studio was located. At the right time of day, one can see the lake and the light shimmering on the water – giving the name to the show.

Many of the works on display are evocative of Hessing’s well-known pieces, some more successfully than others. Hessing was mostly driven by the materials she used – their textures and colours. She said, “they activate ideas and provide a palette to visually speak my thoughts”.

No 11. “Fortis et Liber” by Alison Bogg

Three exhibits in particular speak of Hessing. No.11 – “Fortis et Liber” by Alison Bogg, No.12 – “Metamorphosis II – A Season of Fire” by Julie Brennan and No.42 – “Transference Form 1 & Form 2” by Roslyn Holmes.

All are free standing, two hanging from the ceiling and one standing on the floor. The fibres used – sisal, rope jute, silk, and others – are carefully laid out on the floor creating an installation to be viewed in the round. Bogg has woven rope to form a base for what might be a “crown” of jute. The rope cascades over the floor.

Julie Brennan, “Metamorphosis II – A Season of Fire” (detail) 2020 Photo: Stephanie Simko

Brennan has wrapped lengths of sisal or jute rope in wool and silk, and wound it around a dark, elongated and rounded, form, evocative of Hessing’s work. “Transference Form 1 & 2” is a group of five connected fragile cocoon shaped forms that emerge from Hessing’s “unravelled sisal rope” by Roslyn Holmes.

Holmes has inserted seeds, grasses, and twigs into the ethereal forms, giving the appearance of their having been blown about in the wind.

The artists in this show all live on the far South Coast and were caught up in the terrible fires at the beginning of the year. One had to withdraw, as her house burnt to the ground.

Lorna Crane, who curated the exhibition, is showing “Fragile Earth 1: Deliverance”. It tells the story of her experience of the fires, then the period she was forced into lockdown.

This has been a very tough year for many, and in particular visual artists from the far south coast. We thank them and commend these textile artists for their determination for creating works for this exhibition. I have no doubt that Mona Hessing would have appreciated both the tribute and the work. It is an exhibition well worth visiting.


Who can be trusted?

In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.

If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor