Melanie’s 3D weaving wins international award

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Detail of Melanie Olde’ ‘Hexagon Cellular Symmetry’.

CANBERRA weaver, Melanie Olde has been awarded first prize in the international exhibition, Complexity 2020, a biennial event held by the Complex Weavers organisation based in the US.

As well as that, her piece of three-dimensional handwoven cloth has won the Complex Weaver’s Award for excellence in design and execution. Olde says: “There are very few international weaving-specific awards, so winning this award is an enormous honour for me”.

Only 15 “complex” weavers across the USA, Canada, UK and Australia were accepted into the exhibition. Her award-winning piece uses hand-dyed monofilament threads about as fine as a human hair in the warp (lengthwise threads), and silk and stainless steel in the weft (width-wise threads). Olde weaves manually on her computer-controlled loom at her Canberra studio.

Melanie Olde weaving

Biological and mathematical structures inspire Olde’s work – the arrangement of plant cells that repeat in a not-quite-perfect configuration. The winning piece explores a hexagonal tessellation in different planes of the cloth. It is woven in multiple layers, much like origami, and even five to 10 centimetres in one day is considered a good day’s work.

Olde, who also has work touring in a European exhibition, says, “This is not the general perception people have when they think of hand-weaving or cloth. 3D weaving is a fascinating area of research, both for hand-weaving and industrial textiles internationally. I make cloth that is time-consuming to weave and I appreciate that it is difficult, even for industrial machines”.

Her plan is to do more interdisciplinary research in science and mathematics while studying for her Master of Design qualification at ANU and believes Canberra is “a supportive and innovative place to work from”.

The physical exhibition “Complexity 2020” was cancelled due to the pandemic and is now an online exhibition viewable at complexityexhibition.org until September 1.

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