Meet the Maker: Gill Brooks

Gill Brooks (Feltwilde) is a Sydney based textile artist. Her work is featured in the Australian Design Centre's Object Shop and she is part of a group exhibition A Handmade Life as part of Sydney Craft Week. The ADC team chat with Gill and get the inside scoop on her creative practice.

Gill, please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

I attended my first felt-making workshop in 1994 and was immediately struck by wools extra-ordinarily unique properties and handmade felts amazing versatility. The use of felt pre-dates all other textiles - steeped in traditions and customs of many cultures. The technique of felt-making has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years. Handmade felt is a strange and unique textile. Moisture, heat and friction applied to wool fibres over time creates a versatile and utilitarian fabric which can be adapted to many applications. I am continually surprised, delighted and/or challenged by the seemingly unlimited possibilities of this amazing medium, that a lifetime doesn't feel long enough. By continuing to immerse myself in my craft, make unique works, and teach, I wish to introduce other's to the remarkable and sustainable properties of wool and the ancient craft, with a modern twist, of felt-making.

Can you elaborate more on your 'origin story', and how you got in to textiles?

I have been mad keen on textiles from an early age, dabbling in making clothes for my dolls, macramé, rug-making, weaving, knitting, dyeing, sewing. A true child of the 70's. In 1994 I happened upon an article in a craft magazine about a women in Gerringong teaching 'felt-making' workshops. At the time I was making things out of industrial felt and had no idea you could actually manufacture your own felt. Intrigued, I signed up to do the workshop, and found my medium. It had everything I loved about other textile mediums and none of the things I didn't. I was immediately hooked!! I loved the process, the versatility, the raw materials, it's history, it's eco-cred and it still intrigues and inspires me, some 20 odd years later.

Describe the last thing you made?

I made a series of vessels (soft pots) for the Australian Design Centre.

What part of the making process do you enjoy the most?

I love the designing process, sorting through the different wools and thinking about what will work best for the piece but I also find the laying out and the felting process quite meditative and good for calming a sometimes frazzled mind.

Who should we be following on Instagram? Who are your favourite local makers?

SepiasirenNicole JakinsSoraya AbidinEmma PetersRomana Toson and Fiona Roderick.

What's next on the horizon for you?

I'm exhibiting in a show coming up in October with 5 other female Inner West makers, called A Handmade Life. It runs from the 11th to 22nd October at the Chrissie Cotter Gallery and is part of the Sydney Craft Week. So, I'll be busy making til then. Can't wait!!

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Find Gillian Brooks' felted vessels in store at Australian Design Centre's Object Shop and see her work on show A Handmade Life at Chrissie Cotter Gallery.


A Handmade Life

Six Inner West makers showcasing vibrant, new work: Gill Brooks – feltmaker; Romana Toson – contemporary jeweller; Ro Cook – textile artist; Meryl Blundell – contemporary jeweller; Kim Davies – textile artist; and Lorri Evans – leather worker.

When: Wednesday 11 October – Sunday 22 October
Where: Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Pidcock Street, Camperdown 
More info: 

Images: Courtesy Gillian Brooks

Notes: Interview abstract from Object Shop maker profile, first published on the Australian Design Centre website.