Meet Kylie Walsh: SCW Festival Coordinator and wrap artist

Meet Kylie Walsh, Sydney Craft Week Festival Coordinator and fibre artist. In the lead up to the festival we interview Kylie regarding her practice and the exhibition she will be hosting during SCW, The Next Iteration.


Tell us about The Next Iteration. What is it and what will people see? 

The Next Iteration is an exhibition of small fibre geometric objects, which will be on display in the window box of 107, Redfern.

This body of work was developed out of my continuous exploration of how best to present my wrapped work. As yarn is a multi-dimensional medium, framing and hanging my pieces on a wall has always meant completely losing one side, or being tied to a specific order and display. I have experimented framing my work with magnets, laser cut frames, dowel etc, but I am always striving to see what form is most interesting and complimentary.

I have felt a greater sense of freedom wrapping geometric blocks, as they are freestanding and don't need framing! With this latest ‘iteration’ of my work (in both form and style), there are more possibilities for creative play: You can stack my work, create your own patterns and play with various arrangements.
How did you arrive at your practice of wrapping? What is wrapping?

I saw a magazine article about how to DIY a 'vase' by wrapping it with yarn. I wrapped a jar and then started playing by wrapping all sorts of household items. I really loved the effect. I was into wearing/making brooches at the time, so I started wrapping yarn around cardboard squares and attaching brooch backs. The flat cardboard surface opened up more opportunities for wrapping experimentation. I was curious about what patterns I could create, so I started wrapping in different ways: diagonally, edge to edge etc, and thus came upon some fun designs. I then started to sell these brooches. I had one customer buy 5 of my brooches and he said he was going to the frame them as art, which really took me aback. Another maker friend also told me I should expand in to art. So I did, and haven’t looked back.

Over the last 4-5years I've done a tonne of experimenting and have now arrived at a place where I feel I have honed my technique, somewhat developed a style and found the optimum yarn for my work (KPC's Gossyp Organic Cotton yarn). I would primarily call what I do as wrapping, but as I tend to work with multiple strands of yarn at any one time, there are weaving techniques applied within my practice. It is still an evolving process, which I love, and there are many more patterns I would like to try and work out how to create.
It looks like quite a meditative craft. Is it a mindful practice for you?

Yes it can be. I usually sit listening to music or a podcast, or I may wrap while watching a show. And if it is a really lovely day, I like to take my work to the park. Because my work forces me to sit and stop, I really enjoy and appreciate the 'me' time it affords me. Sometimes I am not very good at being idle, so wrapping allows me to relax, but with purpose. 
The colours are so vibrant. Where do you get your inspiration?

I have always loved colour and have been drawn to artists that have a bright or rich colour palette, like Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper. When I was in the UK last year I saw an incredible retrospective of David Hockney's work and was in awe of his use of colour. I got home and made a few pieces based on his palette. 

I often find my surroundings subconsciously influence me. Just this last week, I realised a piece I made had exactly the same colours of a quadrant of a large puzzle that I had been working on. And the piece I made the other night had the exact same pigments of pink and teal as the blanket that was strewn across my legs keeping me warm as I wrapped away. I only tend to realise i've done this when I put my work down mid-piece, to see that it has blended in to the background.

By now I feel like I have tried all sorts of colour combinations, so sometimes I love to challenge myself and just randomly pull yarn out of my stash and see if I can make it work. I use KPC yarns as they have a really broad colour palette. 
Kylie, as well as being a maker you are part of the Seed Stitch Collective and on staff at Australian Design Centre (and part of the Sydney Craft Week team) – how do you juggle these various roles?

Yes, as we head in to Sydney Craft Week, these roles are all starting to bleed in to one! It is really nice to be part of the craft community and I am grateful that I have been able to work and gain experience from all sides of the production process - creating, curating and coordinating.

It has been really important for me to keep it balanced and I make sure I fit in time to do some of my favourite non-crafty things, like swimming and getting out for coffee with friends.

For more information:

The Next Iteration, fibre art exhibition by Kylie Walsh, 1 – 13 October 2018 at 107 Projects, 107 Redfern Street, Redfern

Seed Stitch Contemporary Textiles Award, 5 October – 14 November 2018 at Australian Design Centre, 101-115 William Street, Darlinghurst

Images: Kylie Walsh, sample work from The Next Iteration; 2017. Photo: Kylie Walsh; Kylie Walsh discussing her practice at the Meet the Seed Stitch Collective panel talk at ADC, September 2018. Photo courtesy of Australian Design Centre