Wendy Stavrianos in Conversation

Image: Wendy Stavrianos, Celebration of the Palms, Darwin (detail), 1977-78. Pen, ink and acrylic on canvas. 213.0 x 409.5cm. Collection of the Artist.

LUMA curator Alana O’Brien talks to Wendy Stavrianos about the personal, environmental and literary influences informing her giant sculptural drawings produced in the 1970s. Following the discussion visitors are invited to enjoy afternoon tea with Wendy and LUMA staff.

Date: 2-3pm Friday, 12th August.

Venue: LUMA Latrobe University Museum of Art

Enquiries: 03 9479 2111 or www.latrobe.edu.au/LUMA

About the Exhibition


In recent times there has been growing use of craft ‘technologies’, frequently those traditionally considered female’s craft, in the service of artists. Wendy Stavrianos should be considered among the pioneers of such art in the Australian context. In the 1970s Stavrianos was living in Darwin, which she experienced both pre- and post-Cyclone Tracy. In this exotic and sensual environment Stavrianos recorded her experiences of the landscape, feminine energy, and the personal in detailed drawings scratched in pen onto bolts of Belgian linen.

Her use of cloth makes a deliberate reference to the connection between fabric and women, and to its familial and ritual contexts. The works of this period were frequently produced with the cloth draped across her legs, while her children played nearby. The huge swathes of fabric were stretched, folded and sewn into forms, sensual – labial or phallic – to create sculptural fabric drawings. The monumental drawings that resulted – ‘giant diaries’ that ‘recorded sites of meaning’ – were unusual for a time when fine drawing was generally produced on a smaller scale and formed a smaller, less important element in exhibitions.

When Cyclone Tracy visited Darwin on Christmas in 1974, it peeled open the corrugated rooves of the houses, stormed through lounge rooms and bedrooms, swallowed up and spewed out people’s lives and secrets from those private spaces. Returning to Darwin three months later Wendy Stavrianos found the landscape, the streets and gutters strewn with personal photos, letters, pornography – fragments of memories. Her experience of Darwin was a defining point in her art practice. This exhibition will present for the first time a selection of the resulting works produced during the 1970s.