Interview with Stephanie Hicks
You have three different events in this year’s Craft Cubed, are you always so prolific?
I find that having a studio at home allows for my art practice to become enmeshed in my daily life and routines, which suits me entirely. I’m at my most productive in the mornings, and I love those days when I can roll out of bed, make a pot of tea and start working. Evenings provide quiet time for tinkering and reflection. So, perhaps I’m prolific in the sense that I’m regularly making.
Craft Cubed presents a wonderful opportunity to develop and work on different ideas and I’m thrilled to be involved in this way. It’s been a great challenge!
Tell us about your window walk installation, did the opals inspire you?
For the window walk I have constructed a shell grotto using paper craft and collage at Lightning Ridge Opal Mines. As much as the gems themselves, my installation was inspired by the circumstances surrounding opal mining and my personal experience of some of these remote locations.
Several years ago I travelled through Central and Western Australia. I remember arriving in Coober Pedy at dusk and feeling like I’d stepped onto a film set. The lights were unforgiving after a long day, the main street a mess of roadworks and disrepair. Buildings appeared temporary, a façade. Driving away, I imagined the whole town would be dismantled and shipped to a new location.
I was also interested in the people who come to live in these often transient spaces – perhaps for work, following a dream or compulsion, escaping – and how they create a sense of place. Particularly along the west coast I found caravans decorated entirely with shells, or objects crafted elaborately from beer cans. I wanted to create something beautiful too.
The grotto as a reflective or meditative space is connected to my practice more generally. The repetition of symbols and processes are ongoing areas of inquiry within my work.
You’ve collaborated with Demelza Sherwood and Margaret Goninon for your exhibition ‘Multiple Signatures at Toorak Library. What are the benefits of collaboration?
Gathering with friends for a series of creative retreats and crafty ventures really highlighted for me how enjoyable it can be to make with others. Our shared interest in making handmade books and zines became the starting point for something more formal. Demelza, Margaret and I developed the projects together, each contributing our diverse set of skills and ideas. In the most basic sense, collaboration is about sharing in this way – opening up yourself and your practice to others, and allowing them in.
Collaborating also offers a very unique set of circumstances for learning about your practice. I tend to work within a very rigid framework, but I’m not necessarily aware of that until I see how others approach their work. So I see that as a huge advantage!
Working through ideas together, it becomes apparent what you have to offer or contribute, what is most important to you, and what you are prepared to let go of. You recognise these things in others. You become open to alternatives, with an awareness that may not have existed before. You don’t know what you don’t know!
For me, the social aspect of collaborating is the main benefit – inspired conversation with gloriously creative people and the opportunity to work on projects I would not have conceived on my own.
You have a solo show of collages at Phoenix Park Library. What appeals to you about the collage technique?
Collage has become my unintentional obsession over the past decade – a technique I find endlessly appealing!
There is a certain joy in the discovery of new material, and I’m on a constant quest for vintage books, magazines and photographs. Sometimes it will be the smallest detail that pulls me in – a smudged note in the margin, a cocktail napkin carefully folded and forgotten, tucked between the pages – and I’ll find it nearly impossible to leave behind. I may hold onto these relics for years without recognising their significance. At other times there’s an immediate understanding of purpose. In either case, I feel a real sense of possibility when faced with new material.
I love the physicality of leafing through a book, tearing through the pages, making incisions. Noticing the subtleties of different types of paper, ink and printing processes allows me to really focus on what I’m doing at the time.
It’s such an incredibly versatile and accessible medium. Collage allows me to redefine and make sense of the world in a deeply personal way.
What other Craft Cubed events are you looking forward to seeing or have seen?
The Koorie Showcase is a really exciting feature of this year’s program. I’m also looking forward to seeing Akiko Nagino’s installation at Hotel Lindrum, and Alta Papercraft at the Sofitel. There has been a wonderful range of workshops this year including textile workshops by Ilka White, which I unfortunately missed. The Ladies of Letters Draw Your Drop Cap and Letterpress It is on my wishlist!