Stitching and crossing threads: Dana Harris’s Fancywork

Dana Harris’s practice largely revolves around her self-described ‘obsession with mapping’. Harris’s new project emerged from her experience of walking the deserted streets of inner Melbourne during the COVID–19 lockdowns. Exploring the city at a standstill allowed Harris to notice subtle shifts and spatial relationships in the built environment, inspiring her to explore this phenomenon through a series of intricately hand-embroidered panels which use repetition and complex patterns to express the new rhythms and connections she experienced. While the title of Harris’s project, fancywork, references the ornamental needlework of the Victorian era, she has adapted the technique in a contemporary format by using a vibrant palette of pink cord and cotton threads.

The Reverse Side

While the front of Harris’s panels showcases intricate and deliberate patterns, it is the reverse side that reveals an additional layer of beauty and meaning. Harris has generously shared images of the reverse sides of her panels, offering us a glimpse into the hidden world of her creative process.

In her own words, “These images show the reverse of some of the fancywork panels. In them you can see the hidden patterns of the language in thread that I’ve used to build the works. In the movements of stitching, crossing and transference there is another language that is about translation, invention and connection.”

This hidden side speaks to the underlying processes that often go unnoticed, much like the subtle shifts in the urban landscape that inspired Harris in the first place. The movements of stitching and crossing threads create a secondary, more abstract map—one that charts the journey of the artist’s hand and mind as she navigates the creative process.

SUPERsystems:Peter Atkins and Dana Harris curated by Anthony Fitzpatrick, is showing at TarraWarra Museum of Art until 14 July 2024.

Learn more about Harris’s work in the SUPERsystems exhibition catalogue

Dana Harris, fancywork has been assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body.

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Temporarily closed for exhibition installation. Open again 3 Aug