Recuperated Material Monuments by Rachael Wellisch

Rachael Wellisch is an Australian artist that uses natural indigo dye and textiles in response to environmental concerns. Salvaged textiles and indigo, both potent motifs working through ecological concerns, are used to form sculptures, wall hangings, paper-pulp paintings and installations. The broad underlying theme in the work is the relationship between human behaviour and the natural environment. Graduating with a BFA(Hons) in 2016 from Griffith University, Rachael is currently a doctoral candidate and tutor at Griffith University. Winner of the St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital Art Prize in 2016, she has exhibited in Australia, Ireland, UK, Austria, and Japan.

Recuperated Material Monuments

Household textile waste, already from paddock to product, worn thin and discarded, now diverted from landfill, has been hand-dyed with natural indigo, then layered a piece at a time, to form Monuments. The works take inspiration from Neolithic earthworks known as henges (such as Stonehenge), which are believed to be sites for sharing the vast knowledge critical for human survival. The Monuments offer connections between consumption, waste, and landscape, as sustainability advocate Jane Milburn states in her 2017 book Slow Clothing – Australians buy an average of 27kg of textiles each year and also discard 23kg into landfills – it is the second-largest contributor to landfill after food-waste.

The Beginning
Rachael Wellisch: These works began as material experiments, layering and shaping scraps of fabric. Once cut, the materials seemed to resemble layers of sediment built up over time, something like a core sample drilled from a landscape dense with textile waste. I was motivated by the statistics on textiles going into landfills each year and the impact the textiles industry has on the environment, also drawing inspiration from earthworks such as Stonehenge (sites for sharing vast knowledge critical to human survival). The household textiles, such as old clothes and bedsheets, already from paddock to product, worn thin and discarded, now diverted from landfill, offered connections between consumption, waste, and landscape. These textile pillars were already a type of monument to discarded materials and process, but the idea that we could use these objects for remembering that we are in fact deeply connected to and dependent on our landscape has turned into an ongoing, evolving body of work.

Process & Challenges
Rachael Wellisch: Sourcing used and damaged textiles locally is the first part of the process, followed by slowly hand dyeing with natural indigo, which for the darkest shades can take up to several days. Then the fabric is layered a piece at a time and formed into a solid block, then cut by hand and lightly sanded.

Rachael Wellisch: The works are quite slow and meditative to make, but it provides an opportunity to slow down and to focus on my materials. Seeing how much stuff is getting discarded as rubbish every day can be quite confronting and distressing, but is one of the things compelling me to make art, and to transform waste material into something of wonder, which may offer a sense of hope.

Available Works:
Title: Recuperated Material Monuments #1
Materials: Indigo dyed, layered salvaged textiles.
Dimensions: approx 7cm (w) x 7cm (d) x 26cm (h) | Price: 195€ (incl. insured shipping).

Title: Recuperated Material Monuments #2
Materials: Indigo dyed, layered salvaged textiles.
Dimensions: approx 7cm (w) x 7cm (d) x 26cm (h) | Price: 195€ (incl. insured shipping).

Title: Recuperated Material Monuments #3
Materials: Indigo dyed, layered salvaged textiles.
Dimensions: approx 7cm (w) x 7cm (d) x 26cm (h) | Price: 195€ (incl. insured shipping).

Title: Recuperated Material Monuments #4
Materials: Indigo dyed, layered salvaged textiles.
Dimensions: approx 7cm (w) x 7cm (d) x 26cm (h) | Price: 195€ (incl. insured shipping).

Title: Recuperated Material Monuments #5
Materials: Indigo dyed, layered salvaged textiles.
Dimensions: approx 7cm (w) x 7cm (d) x 26cm (h) | Price: 195€ (incl. insured shipping).

Title: Recuperated Material Monuments #6
Materials: Indigo dyed, layered salvaged textiles.
Dimensions: approx 7cm (w) x 7cm (d) x 26cm (h) | Price: 195€ (incl. insured shipping).

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