Briana Woolliams

Moving through my own language

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‘Moving through my own language’ is the bringing together of poetic text and objects. Poetry that is personal and self-reflexive offers a direct yet abstract form through which I can consider how gender is maintained through language. Poetry is employed as a method to consider how individuals speak depending on their gender, how they may be heard, what narratives are being told by the way they speak, and what we should be asking of the language that we use.

I am drawn to the curvature of letter forms; the intimate ways these shapes can exist in space and how they might relate to one’s body, including my own. The fluid, draping and collapsible nature of fabric reminds me of the way words can oscillate, carry weight or fall short in space. A visitor’s bodily behaviour is considered in the way Ruth Buchanan’s light fabric can move to create air for one’s body as they walk alongside her piece.

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Words, 2018, linen, ink, chain (poetry screen printed by hand)
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Tape, 2018, cotton, thread, satin (twenty seven metres stitched by hand)

By handmade processes, my body becomes entwined with each piece. Hand stitching twenty-seven metres of cotton is informed by the unruly ways it falls across my legs as I work. Just as conversations contain patterns and rhythms, my body focuses on the rhythms in sewing, embroidering or screen-printing processes. These processes enable time for me to contemplate the shifting contours of language. Unlike the fleeting nature of conversation, investing work with labour and material richness allows for a different pace of conversation.

Deborah Tannen suggests that each individual’s life is a series of conversations. My making is informed by the impact of socialisation, where each interaction is threaded together to form ways of thinking about ourselves and relating to others’ points of view. In this sense, gendered identities are unravelled, unthreaded and rethreaded into more inclusive and fluid ways.

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Persistent, 2018, linen, thread, steel (embroidered by hand)
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Directions, 2018, beads, thread, satin (bead detail by hand)
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Foreground: Persistent, 2018; Middle ground: Tape, 2018; Background: Every Inch, 2018
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Directions, 2018, beads, thread, satin
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Every Inch, 2018, beetroot, linen, steel, thread (embroidered by hand)

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