Linden EXTRA with

Carolyn Menzies

Carolyn Menzies, one of our studio artists at Linden New Art, is currently an Artist in Residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) in South Melbourne. Carolyn works alongside ATW’s master weavers to engage in an open exchange of creative practices, and recently welcomed members of the local community to an open studio day.

Working as a sculptor, I am concerned with the politics of the personal, creating works that explore the complexity of domestic (invisible) labour. Taking materials harvested from under the sink (stainless steel scourers and steel wool), I knit, wrap and bind them to create sculptural markers to this otherwise unrecorded sum of human endeavour. These are my personal monuments to the kind of fierce love often at the heart of domestic labour.

I’m drawn to my materials in part because steel is a hallmark of modern sculpture, but my use of steel wool and mesh gently subverts this legacy. My steel is unashamedly domesticated. My steel quietly slumps under the weight of its own contradictions: strong and abrasive but at the same time delicate, soft.

The ATW runs a residency program that is open to artists throughout Australia. As the current Artist in Residence, for six weeks I get to sit within the weaving floor of the ATW and make my work while I watch the weavers translate works of art into incredible tapestries. I’m especially lucky as the weavers are currently working on the Weaving Futures project that features artworks by Troy Emery, Eugenia Lim, Atong Atem and Hayley Millar Baker. In addition, I’m seeing all the preparations going into a major work that will be completed several months after my residency is over, with many weavers working on this single project.

I have brought the steel mesh (the kind that is turned into household stainless steel scourers) from my studio at Linden to ATW, which I have been knitting into coiled snaking forms. However, the ATW has these wonderful high ceilings so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create chandelier-inspired shapes to take advantage of the ceiling height and beautiful soft light of the ATW.

In terms of process, what I’m appreciating most about is the ATW is the palpable sense of concentrated energy. Turning an artist’s work from a painting, photograph or digital image into a tapestry is part-craft, part-art and part-science and as a result, the workshop is defused with a quiet focused energy. 

The other thing I love about being at the ATW is the colour. You are surrounded by colour all day long and it’s a major topic of conversation between the weavers, who are absolute colour experts. If you were to look at my studio at Linden, it could resemble a black and white photograph; it is all shades of grey, so one of my challenges to myself with this residency has been to bring colour into my work and I am at the precipice of spray-painting some of my knitted pieces… I’m teetering towards colour.

I am always looking at what is at hand to make art.

When I was younger, I was really influenced by the art of American artist Eva Hesse and Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto – artists making incredible works out of quite simple materials.

As I’ve gotten older, I appreciate the work of Louise Bourgeois more and more. I think the challenge set by Bourgeois is she that makes work at such a range of size, from small-scale work to her large room installations; but throughout, she is able to maintain this sense of intimacy with the viewer.

IMAGES [Top to bottom] >  Portrait of Carolyn Menzies. Photograph: Australian Tapestry Workshop.
> Carolyn Menzies at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Photograph: Australian Tapestry Workshop.
> Carolyn Menzies at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Photograph: Australian Tapestry Workshop.
> Carolyn Menzies at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Photograph: Australian Tapestry Workshop.
> Carolyn Menzies at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Photograph: Australian Tapestry Workshop.
> Carolyn Menzies, Untitled, 2020, steel mesh, dimensions variable. Photograph: Carolyn Menzies.⁠
> Carolyn Menzies, Coiled, 2020, knitted steel mesh & pastry cutter, dimensions variable. Photograph: Carolyn Menzies.⁠
> Carolyn Menzies, Untitled, 2020, steel mesh, 40 x 40 x 50cm. Photograph: Carolyn Menzies.⁠

+ More info about Carolyn Menzies + View our other studio artists at Linden


By Dr Marion Piper's essay. 

At various times throughout the day my hands and feet tingle. Nothing life threatening or anything, but noticeable enough to stop me in my tracks. It’s a sensation that runs along the surface of my skin...
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On Holidays at LINDEN

Art activities for children
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Linden Contemporaries

Member's visit to Ash Keating's studio 
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our volunteers

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What's coming
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Design Fringe

4 September > 21 November 2021

This year, the Melbourne Fringe Festival will launch 
Design Fringe, a program that evolves the 34-year history of Fringe Furniture to create a stunning new design exhibition and events program to reach design loving audiences across Melbourne. We are thrilled to be hosting the first Design Fringe exhibition, which will be on display across all of our gallery spaces.
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Linden Postcard
Show 2020-21

4 December 2021 > 27 February 2022 

The iconic Linden Postcard Show will return for its 31st year. With over 1,000 mini masterpieces to see - every work measuring exactly 8 x 10” - this exhibition will include work by artists at all stages of their career, from across Australia.    

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