Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Introducing... Anita Cummins

With Anita Cummins' exhibition Pantone Pom Pom almost at the half way mark now, there's never been a better time to shine the light on the life and work of fabulous lady herself.

We all know that Anita is one of the loveliest staff members here at CVHQ, but did you know that prior to her textile-based artistic practice, Anita worked as a freelance stylist? This totally explains her amazing wardrobe and keen eye!

Anita, who many of you will also know as CVHQ's ever-capable Assistant Retail Manager, is a budding textile artist who is particularly skilled in the art of the pom pom. For her exhibition Pantone Pom Pom (which is on at Mailbox 141 until 22 August), Anita has painstakingly wrapped, wound and trimmed over 700 pom poms in a myriad of colours and tones.

If you haven't already, take a peek at previous entries on Anita which includes photo documentation of Pantone Pom Pom.

Happy Friday everyone, see you at the launch of Craft Cubed tonight (from 6pm!)

About Pantone Pom Pom
I started making pom poms years ago for a university exhibition. I tried to make as many as I could in the university semester, which ended up being about 350. Back then they were all white with a few red ones. Making pom-poms developed into a bit of an obsession, and it became a sort of meditation for me.

Pantone Pom Pom was a natural progression for me. I have always been in awe of artists who use explosions of colour, but never had the guts to do it myself. I had started making pom poms in every colour I could find and then it dawned on me that I could really play with colour by referencing the pantone colour chart in response to the Craft Cubed theme of CITYCOUNTRY. I chose two colour palettes, a really bright, fluoro scale for city, followed by a really earthy, natural scale for country. That is not to say that these particular colours cannot appear in both urban and rural environments, but for the purpose of this project I wanted to celebrate colour gradations. A simplified response to the word city is bright lights and neon, while I think of the words neutral and natural in relation to country.

About the process…
It was pretty hard to find the colours I wanted, in the yarn that I wanted. Different types of yarn produced very different results, so I had to choose my colours according to what was available in the yarn that I like. I wanted to use only natural fibres, but there were some colours such as the fluoro green and orange that you can only get in acrylic fibre, so I did have to make a few exceptions. My Gran thinks it is a shame to waste all that beautiful wool on making pom poms, but wool really does produce the best results. It would also be great to dye my own colours, but I have no experience in dyeing, so perhaps that’s something I need to try in the future.

I would often take my stuff to my mum’s and make pom poms in her lounge room. On a number of occasions her wayward dog Louis stole a pom pom that had rolled onto the floor, snuck under the couch with it and proceeded to ‘kill’ it. It was funny but annoying…

Five years’ ago I was…
I was studying Creative Arts and Arts at The University of Melbourne. I drank a lot of coffee, smoked a lot of cigarettes and wrote some very unworthy essays. I dabbled in all of the creative arts, my favourites being life drawing and photography, mainly because of my lecturer Barb. I majored in Italian, which was by far my worst subject but I scraped through and even ended up living in Italy for a semester. I saved up my pennies and travelled in South East Asia over summer.

…and in five years’ time I hope to be…
I don’t like to think too far into the future. I am not a career-focused person. I just want to keep doing things that I love and be open to any opportunities that may arise as a result of that.

A selection of Anita's scarves available at COUNTER

About making the move from being a stylist to textiles as an artistic practice…
I love fashion and photography, so styling seemed perfect for me. I should have known that nothing is as it seems. I really enjoyed working with all these creative people who were beginning to forge their careers as photographers and make-up artists and models, but a lot of these jobs were unpaid. The jobs that paid well were really boring, less about being creative and much more about being super-organized and getting everything done as fast as possible. I also stopped getting excited about putting outfits together, which is a bit of a disaster if you want to be a stylist. So I stopped.

Now I have time to say yes to opportunities that arise and put my own artistic practice as a priority. I get so much enjoyment from ‘creating’ and since making the decision to focus on my own stuff everything is just falling into place. And I am starting to get excited about fashion again…

My dream collaboration would involve…
I think Yoko Ono is a brilliant artist. I saw one of her exhibitions in Barcelona about 5 years ago and I have never forgotten it. The gallery was massive with about twenty rooms and in each room was an instruction. She orchestrated it so that her audience was a vital ingredient in the creation of the work. It gave even the most unlikely candidate a chance at being creative. She is so whimsical and particularly generous with her audience – allowing them to participate in her artworks. I think I would find it really hard to give over control to someone else but I would love to learn from someone like Yoko.

Having said that, I don’t really think about collaborating. It’s something that just seems to happen when two artists are inspired by each other and living in the same city.

I’m really looking forward to…
The Victorian Tapestry Workshop has asked me to share my love of the humble pom pom with others by giving classes. It is something anyone can do for not much money.

Tune in to SYN FM on Sunday for their Arts Mitten program from 3 to 4pm to hear Anita and Joe Pascoe (CVHQ Chief) talk about Craft Cubed and the exhibitions involved! Exciting stuff. We can't wait!

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