Bernice has earned herself a reputation as a felt maker of enormous energy and joy. Bernice has written about her practice and inspiration below:
My relationship with felt began when I reluctantly went with my late mother to a national Creative Fibre exhibition. She had a long standing affair with wool and was delighted to start off my stash of NZ Merino and Mulberry Silk, hand dyed of course. I quickly embraced Nuno Felt in particular, and my own affair with wool and silk began and my stash rapidly grew. I find inspiration in the natural world and living on the foot of Mt Taranaki I am blessed to see the mountain with its colours and textures, ever changing with the seasons
Using the creativity which God has placed within me I find myself expressing the colours and textures of His creation in fashion art, which is both practical and fun to wear. I am fascinated with Felt as a medium, it is so strong, yet soft, drape-able or stiff and uniquely shape-able to create form without sewing. I also enjoy adding Botanical Prints to my felt using plant materials to print onto the felt items.
I love working with wool and silk to create beautiful and surprising felt garments, accessories and more. My pieces, especially garments, often start with simply a colour or a texture, I then gather a variety of colours of wool, silk fibres, fabrics and yarns and the garment evolves until I force myself to STOP!
I also love to teach, to inspire and encourage others to explore their own creativity and develop their skills in felt making, from ethereal scarves and wraps, fabulous vests, tunics or jackets, to quirky handbags and hats, or articles for the home, like cushions, lampshades or wall art.
A little over 10 years ago I would have told you that everyone else in my family were the artists, and I was the practical sister, not the artsy type, but then I found FELT…..
Celebrating the wealth of the contribution of India to our textile community, this piece reflects Bernice’s longing to travel and experience India in the person. There are so many sources of beauty, colour, life, energy in this place of great textile heritage. Bernice draws heavily on materials sourced from India for creating her vibrant works. She supports the up-cycling of many precious textiles that have become remnants, fragments as the rest of the garments have been loved to death and worn out. Reclaiming precious silk velvets, sequin motifs, silk voils and throwster ribbons among other items empowers Bernice’s work with a depth of colour, texture and significance. What many would consider worthless is accorded a new status as part of a treasure.
Inspired by the beauty of glacial Ice Caves, this piece combines the celebration of this natural beauty with the effect of man’s hand or actions on its demise. The design reflects the flow of temperature and time and the resulting melting of the object of beauty. Challenges about remote location tourism and the environmental impact such travel has are explored here – the tension between value being added because of the personal experience but also by the very action of becoming more appreciative, destruction is being heightened.
Celebrating the ability we have as humans to take what is “obsolete” and “worn out” and to reinvent it into an object anew that has its own splendid beauty. This piece explores tactile surfaces as the interface of bonding between the object ( garment) and the person. It allows us to stimulate our senses across many levels.
Bernice maintains both a creative practice and a very active teaching practice. She has a strong social media presence if you are interested in seeing more of what this creative is up to currently. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BerniceMitchellFelt/. Instagram: Bernice.Mitchell.92
Here is a small review of some of Bernice’s accomplishments.
- Awards : Merit, 2018 Taranaki CF Nuno Felt Award,
- Merit 2017 NZ Alpaca Accessory Award,
- Winner 2016 NZCF National Black & Coloured Sheep Breeders Award,
- Winner 2015 NZCF Nuno Felt Award ,
- 2013 Merit awards in E-Sensually Silk and Modified Fabric, Fibre Frenzy .
- 2012 3rd Sensational Silk, Fibre & Fleece Fashion Awards, Opotiki
- NZ Winner 2011 Taranaki Art Awards Fibre Art,
- 2010 Fibreworks Accessory Award & First Time Entrant Award
Bernice’s works are for sale through the gallery web shop, or contact the gallery if you want more details.