Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Magic of Colour - Gerda van Hamond Exhibition Review

The Magic of Colour - Gerda van Hamond
Hawthorn Studio & Gallery
635 Burwood Rd Hawthorn East
Victoria, 3123
October 10 through November 2, 2013 
The Hawthorn Studio & Gallery is a beautiful, light-filled gallery space situated in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn East. The gallery has a strong focus on supporting a variety of artwork and styles, particularly supporting mid career and emerging artists from across Australia. The Magic of Colour is a solo exhibition of 16 of van Hamond's recent tapestries.
Gerda van Hamond studied tapestry at South West Institute of TAFE and then went on to graduate in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (painting) from Deakin University, Warrnambool, Victoria. After developing an allergy to turpentine, van Hamond now uses oil sticks as her preferred medium for tapestry design. The ability to push, blend, and translate an image using this method is seen in each of the resulting tapestries. Her ability to translate colours from her drawings to colour blending on the bobbin is second to none. 
In her artist’s statement van Hamond writes, “There is magic in creating art. It challenges, questions, struggles, and transforms. Why do I spend hour after solitary hour in the studio? The answer is the magic.” And magical they are, you feel instantly transported into the artist’s world. Though abstract in design, the viewer feels an invitation to seek their own translation to van Hamond’s images. 
The exhibition is a mixture of small and large tapestries, explorations of five different themes, grouped into series: Mind Gardens, Memories Grow, Cloud Day, Walk Talk, and Journey of the Thorn. Ten small tapestries, each measuring 30 cm x 30 cm, are mounted and framed behind glass. Although woven on a 12/18 warp, van Hamond achieves remarkable detail. 
The Mind Gardens series is comprised of three tapestries, including “Mind Gardens 3,” 30 cm x 30 cm.  This tapestry is a particular example of van Hamond's mastery at blending colours. Soumak, or flying shuttle technique, are used to outline shapes with the addition of half hitches with the knot brought around to the front of the tapestry for small details in the design. All culminate in a richness and fine detail in these small tapestries. 
'Mind Gardens 1' 129 cm x 127cm
A stunning large tapestry.
'Mind Gardens 1' detail Alive with van Hamonds signature details and colour blending.
'Mind Gardens 1' detail.

The Memories Grow series also includes three tapestries, one of which is “Memories Grow 3,” 30 cm x 30 cm. In this tapestry, van Hamond experiments with blending complementary colours, red and green in this case. The resulting play of colour is a vivid grouping of floating shapes, rich in colour, and made especially compelling by van Hamond’s signature colour blending. 
'Memories Grow 1' 135 cm x 135 cm
A large tapestry, alive with the combination of warm and cool colours.  
'Memories Grow 1' detail.
Another example of the use of half hitches to gain fine surface details.
'Memories Grow 1' detail.

A larger work, depicting the artist’s fascination with clouds and red roof tops, as seen out of her windows each day, inspired three works in the Cloud Day series. “Cloud Day 1” 120 cm x 130 cm, sends the viewer’s gaze to the upper edge of the tapestry, to articulate representations of floating clouds. Intricate colour blending creates a beautiful reminiscence of van Hamond’s daily interchange with clouds 

 “Cloud Day 1”  detail.

 “Cloud Day 1”  detail. Beautiful seamless clouds show van Hamonds mastery of subtle colour blending.

“Walk Talk 1” 128 cm x 132 cm.    
Similarly, the Walk Talk series is inspired by van Hamond’s daily, early morning walks, during which she
gathers views around the inner city of Melbourne to weave into her tapestries. The Walk Talk series also reflect a particular focus on the seasonal changes in the cityscape, and surrounding landscape. 
 'Walk Talk 1' detail
'Streetwise' 129 cm x 191 cm was displayed free hanging in the front window of the gallery. Allowing visitors a rare view of both the front and the back of the tapestry. Inspired by the artist early morning walks around inner city Melbourne. This tapestry is a response to the peeling paint and the torn paper found on old bill boards.

'Streetwise' detail with  striking blended colours.                                                  

Journey of the Thorn 1 131cm x 139cm
Her Journey of the Thorn series is a highly personal set of three tapestries, drawn from memories of the artist’s late father who had a passion for growing roses. Bands of thorns fall in jagged, red, torn, wound shapes down through the tapestry. The viewer is invited to ponder family memories, both positive and not.

Glorious details.

With delightful colour surprises of colour when one gazes around this beautiful tapestry.

A loom on display in the gallery gives visitors insight into the process of weaving a tapestry.

It takes tenacity to weave tapestries, with long solitary hours spent at the loom. Gerda van Hamond’s large tapestries are very detailed, taking between 500 to 600 hours each to weave. To hold a solo exhibition is a monumental achievement and it was wonderful to see so many of the artist tapestries displayed in such a friendly and inviting gallery space. The number of red dots representing sales in the exhibition of this scale, is a testament to the quality and appeal of the artists work. Each of the tapestries from this exhibition can be viewed on the gallery website here.  

 A less extensive review of this exhibition was published in 'Tapestry Topics' Vol 40 No 1 and is reprinted here with permission from the American Tapestry Alliance and Gerda van Hamond. All images are copyright to Gerda van Hamond, please respect her copyright.  


  1. Thank you for sharing - these are beautiful.

  2. Thanks Debbie.....I have shared this article with several people here in the west. Gerda is giving a workshop in Perth in June which we are all very excited about. It was great to be given the opportunity, through this article, to see her recent work. Thanks for bridging the gap between 'east and west!'

  3. Hi Else, Gerda's work is beautiful!

  4. Hi Stephnie. Wow! what a lucky group to be able to do a workshop with Gerda. I am certain that you will all have a fantastic time. Shame our east and west are so far apart. I hope that everyone enjoys seeing Gerdas work. Debbie.


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