Meet Sydney maker Vanessa Ion and 'Cynthia the Ibis'

Vanessa Ion's 'Cynthia the Ibis' graces the cover of the Sydney Craft Week 2019 festival guide. Cynthia is the creation of Sydney based crochet artist Vanessa Ion.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your practice?
Hi I’m Vanessa Ion and I’m an artist who uses crochet to create lovably unusual characters, in the form of sculptures and usable items such as tea cosies and egg cosies.

Where do you get your inspiration for all your quirky characters?
So many things inspire my work; rudimentary wax dummies from low budget museums, the misunderstood, the outsiders, day to day interactions and observations. I’m interested in the story behind a facade, how someone got to be where they are. I like the idea of making up a story about a character that goes against a viewer’s first impressions.

Who is Cynthia?
Cynthia is a crocheted ibis tea cosy by fact, but the story goes that she is the wonder of her ibis friends, the wonder of all the animals she comes in contact with. For her feet have the dexterity of hands and the ability to open things such as discarded sandwich bags and takeaway boxes from the park bins. There's always someone asking Cynthia for a favour, from haircuts for possums to picking locks for pigeons.

What is the best thing about making?
I enjoy the process of working out the puzzle of how to make my idea turn into the object. I love the trial and error and seeing it take shape.

What is the hardest thing?
The hardest thing is to know when something is finished. Is it ever finished?
Another hard thing is making a duplicate of a piece. As the process is less experimental and more structured, it requires a dash of discipline.

Can you tell us a bit about your event during SCW, Zoo Life?
Zoo Life is a crocheted art installation in Knox St Window. The window is 65cm high and 85cm wide. I love the idea of using a set space to tell a story about a koala-woman I made called Gloria. Her story is that she lives out of town and doesn’t have her finger on the pulse. She wishes she knew how the other koalas got to live in the zoo, having their photos taken with humans. Was it through connections or can anyone apply? She hangs out in the Knox St Window, hoping that people will snap a selfie with her. #gloriadidazoo

The installation will be in the window for the duration of craft week and the opening night is 17th October, 6-7pm. Come and see Gloria in the window and have a drink at the Knox Street Bar!


Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Images: Cynthia photo shoot in Hyde Park, 2019. Photo: Australian Design Centre