Side-by-Side

Exploring the connections of art, craft and tech
I am interested in challenging the distinction between art and craft. My aim is to explore the connections between art, craft and technology and through this to focus on aspects of the human condition.
 
My influences are drawn from the history of art, other cultural traditions, folk art and iconography, focusing on textiles and embellishment. I am also interested in the relationship between women and needlework - the making of textiles ranging from being representative of domestic constraint and drudgery to being a means of creativity and self, social and political expression. 
 
While every culture has traditions of needlework, it has been widely viewed as little more than a hobby, typically produced by women within the domestic sphere and associated with notions of comfort and familiarity. My intention is to seduce viewers with this familiarity and to invite or encourage them to rethink their preconceptions.
 
One of my major inspirations is the material culture of death and the role of women associated with it. Most recently I have been working on a series of portraits. These are part of a body of work focussing on the connection between what we are and what we leave behind. The images are based on daguerrotypes from the 1800s, often deteriorated beyond recognition, the scratches and tarnishing producing a ghostly effect sometimes suggestive of strange landscapes and even auras. By superimposing fragments of images that suggest places, times and experiences, I want to make the audience think about identity and the ephemeral nature of life. These extra layers are evocative of corroded and oxidised photos but also suggest something about the subject. In addition these pieces reference lace, veils and the black of traditional western mourning clothes as well as the creation of mementos and keepsakes, that are important for commemoration and acceptance of death. 
 
Today textiles are products of technology which means that there is little opportunity to instill them with individual and spiritual values. I am interested in combining the technological with the handmade. Specifically, I use digital technology (Photoshop) as a tool to produce a pattern, which is then hand embroidered employing techniques that have been used for centuries. In this way I hope to imbue humble raw materials (mass-produced cotton and canvas) with a uniqueness, visual richness and excitement. I am particularly interested in the use of textiles as a medium because of their ephemeral qualities - it seems appropriate that a medium that embodies a conceptual idea should not be everlasting.
 
For more information visit www.yingchew.com.au.
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