Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with Carolyn Rogers, Australia

 CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKERS(CWTM)Did you always envision a life as an artist?

CAROLYN ROGERS.(CR) While I have always had a creative spirit and determination, motherhood and nursing seemed to occupy around 35 years of my life before art and particularly textile art found a footing in my life. In the latter part of my nursing career, whilst working with aging in place residents in high care, my textile work became an important balance in my life. It was an outlet for my creative self that had to deal often supporting residents and their families through the end stages of life.

After damaging both shoulders through nursing I turned to my textile art and took it on as the next natural stage of my life, and I haven’t looked back.


CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

CR Like most people of my age it was at school but that was limited to painting, pottery and woodwork.

CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?

CR Yes I am lucky enough to now have a great studio where I can pursue just about all my textile practices. I have divided off my studio into a wet and dry section, separated by a steadily growing library. I love books, reference, coffee table, textiles, arts..........the list goes on!


CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

CR Get the house in order and off my mind by 9. Close the door firmly and head for the studio. I have a list of things I need to do for each piece of work which I work through and tick off once done.

I find this helps me make the most of my creative time, keeps me focussed and gives me a sense of achievement. A walk around the Lilydale Lake or Warburton Bike Trail to burn some calories as the weather allows finished off with a good coffee.

Adult children, grandchildren and husband make appearances from time to time as well!


CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

CR The process is important to me, I never stop learning. Learning to vary the process, push it in a different direction to see how the outcomes vary. Sometimes I start with drawings or notes and other times I work backwards beginning with the object that has magically appeared (when you have one of those AHA! moments and you just have to do it then and there!) and writing notes on how I arrived at the conclusion.  Sometimes I just let it happen and see where it goes and it's often surprising.


CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finishes look is what makes the process of creating so enticing.

CR Definitely! 

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

CR Sewing machines, embellishing machine, blocks of rubber for stamp creation and my imagination and the ability to work with different colour mediums! I have so many tools in my studio, it would take too long to list them.


CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

CR Depends on how many AHA moments I have...........and I have a lot! 

CWTM How do you know when to stop – when do you consider the piece actually finished?

CR When I feel the work is balanced, either by content or by framing.


CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration…

CR is living in the Yarra Valley, spending time sitting amongst the Mountain Ash trees on the Black Spur and  letting nature happen around me undisturbed. 

CWTM Favourite quote?

CR Yes You Can!


CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?

CR Annoyingly it is quite often when I am just about to drop off to sleep! My bush visits and walks also  afford me clarity of mind to create. I just have to remember to have a pad and pen with me at all times. 

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

CR Taking basic materials that form a blank canvas so to speak to work on and create something unique that has not been done before.  Working with colours, textures and concepts and making them all work harmoniously. The freedom and the privilege to be able to work as a practicing artist.


CWTM Best advice you ever received?

CR Be yourself and believe you can do it, whatever IT is. 

CWTM Worst advice you've ever received?

CR Nothing that was worth remembering!

CWTM Best part of your day?

CR When I am with family especially my granddaughters who are both very creative intuitive girls.


CWTM Who would be 6 people you would invite to dinner?

CR Annemeke Meine, David Attenborough, JRR Tolkien,  Jean Auel and my friend Gabriele and my husband. All these people have and still do inspire me to create and follow my heart. 

CWTM What inspires my creativity?

CR The perfect creation of winged insects, the dimensionality of trees, the feeling of silk under my hands, the movement of water.


CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

CR The fact that there are no boundaries and that the art world is beginning to get a glimpse of what is available in the in textile form out there, the scope, the variety and the stunning beauty of it and it is only in its infancy. 

CWTM You'd be lost without?

CR My husband Greg, my strongest supporter. Without him I would still be working a nine to five job and neglecting my inner creative goddess. 

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours in the day?

CR More textile art of course?


CWTM Your favourite luxuries in life?

CR Home grown vegies, smoked salmon and good coffee.

CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?

CR To a degree. I love my sewing and embellishing machines, they are like well behaved (usually) children. I am still getting to know Photoshop capabilities so there is still lots to learn there. The other piece of equipment I love is my camera.


CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work.

CR That it is creative. I spent much of my life caring and nurturing other people at all stages of life and in all conditions. It is so good now that I can nurture myself.  That nurturing then flows onto other people. Other artists inspire me with their work but I often wonder, what if I................... 


CWTM Is it important for us to be recognised by the art work and if so, how can we help affect that change?

CR By keeping on doing what we have been doing and making sure we let galleries know about our work. Getting it out there into the public arena and making a mark (pun intended) on the art-world and believing we have a right and a responsibility to ensure that textile artwork has a firm place in Australian Art History.


CWTM What is next for you?

CR To complete my Diploma of Textile Art this year.  Building the body of work I have set out for myself to take me through graduation (May 2014) and post grad exhibitions in 2015 and extend my student base to encourage more people, women in particular, who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental disorders to find and develop their creative selves.

I have combined my years of nursing with my passion for textile art into a form of therapy that I have found gives people back the ability to start believing in themselves again and unlocks forgotten/unrecognised doors.

 I also want to introduce textile art to children and teach them the basic sewing skills most of us learnt at our mothers or grandmothers knees These simple skills sadly seem to have lost their places in today's children's daily lives.