Following on from her major installation Forest summons (for Lilith), included in Melbourne Now 2023 at NGV Australia, Hannah Gartside has created 11 wall-based works for her debut solo exhibition at Tolarno Galleries, using secondhand sequinned dresses, skirts and tops collected by her over a number of years.
Meticulously constructed from the material relics of all yesterday’s parties, these surreal and sensuous works are informed by a short story Gartside wrote about a young woman who is transformed into a moth after making herself a cocoon-like cloak. Gartside’s textile alchemy evokes the absent bodies that slipped on these slinky party clothes and the memories they might have made – the places they went, the people they met, the songs they danced to.
Gartside is drawn to found textiles because they retain the lived experience – “the energy, glamour and enchantment” – of those they once belonged to. “I use worn clothes as stand-ins for bodies – they are objects that have travelled through time and absorbed it,” says Gartside.
“I believe that along with absorbing the physicality of our bodies … clothes absorb our emotional experiences: yearnings, pains and delights,” she says.
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