Owner and artist Viv Davy created ‘from out of the blue studio gallery’ in 2019 following her passion for textile art.
She works from the purpose built workshop that has traditional looms.
Viv grew up in the working class environment of1950’s New Zealand where everyone “made do”.The household’s textile items were home sewn from the bed sheets to the dance frocks with all the hand knitted sweaters and gloves in between.Not only were textile skills a domestic necessity in this era, they were also the established, albeit unacknowledged,female art form.
Techniques, pattern reading and material knowledge were learned from an early age, passed down through the generations. Viv’s very talented Mother, who clothed herself and five children with her trusty Singer sewing machines and her knitting needles, gave a love of fibre and its special qualities to her daughter.
On establishing her own family, Viv went beyond the private domestic textile practicalities to initially explore hand spinning, then weaving, developing a boutique weaving studio producing custom yardages for clothing and upholstery,floor rugs,wall hangings and other accessories. Teaching the skills to others was always an important part of this business.
Emigration to Canada triggered a deep desire for Viv to communicate her diaspora experiences and for her,weaving was the natural vehicle. Intensive study seasons at Banff Centre School of Fine Arts lead Viv to The Ontario College of Art,Toronto. Studying under the Master Tapestry Artist Helen Francis Gregor and Senior Multi Harness Weaver William Hodge Viv discovered the powers firstly of tapestry and then of damask weaving. This was the springboard for exploring more intimate messages in thread, to push the boundaries of these two traditional techniques, to convey the complexities of life as a constantly evolving passage. The normal grid format of the woven expression has lent itself to challenging-conveying life’s irregularities and unpredictability, while responding to the organic environment of the living world.
The two different woven formats-tapestry and damask-respond to differing aspects of Davy’s life. The scale of the tapestries is mostly small, intimate. They are woven on very basic portable frames that move with the shifts of life, allow for transporting through many changes. On the other hand, the damasks are woven on a very large, traditional, complex Swedish Draw Loom that takes weeks of work to assemble then thread and requires a large designated space to be set up in. These works can only be created in times of being ‘settled’.
In common both woven expressions use very fine natural threads predominantly silk, often hand dyed by Viv. Cotton is the warp thread for the tapestries.Using such fine materials Viv can build intricate details into her work so they resemble woven thread drawings. Working within the geometrics of the woven structure the fine scale of the weave enables the creation of optically curving and fluid lines-the hallmark of Viv’s work.
In the 1990’s Viv returned to New Zealand because of shifting family committments. Several years of being unable to set up a weaving studio led her to explore other textile expressions – paper and book making, botanical dying, stitching.
A return to studying coincided with this and for several years Viv worked part time to obtain her Masters in Visual Art and Design from AUT in Auckland. The area of research Viv focused on was the domestic, the mudane. In many ways this brought Viv’s textile practice back round in the full circle. For this research diaries were created that became installation works materialising the liminal spaces of habit, routine, and the creation of the home.
Having completed her studies Viv has been busy the last few years building and developing her new textile gallery and studio space, from out of the blue studio gallery. This has been developed as a venue for people to learn about all aspects of fiber and cloth.
A discussion about using one of the looms – Lady Sunflower – is in this Facebook post with a series of process images if you want to see more about warping on a sectional back beam . https://www.facebook.com/silktangles/posts/803962557036336
The large looms all have a new home now and Viv has been able to start her practice again in the new spaces. Invitational tutors also hold workshops ranging across anything related to fiber. Exhibitions in the gallery rotate every 6 weeks with guest artists and open calls for entry. Once we have established our new norm with Covid-19 Viv is hoping to establish a series of residencies for textile artists to come and live and work on site. This project has been a life long dream – a place to foster anything and anyone connected to anything fibre. All are welcome.