Breathing Routes is an eight-metre-long wallpaper, created specifically for the Northern Festival Centre by South Australian artist Sera Waters. Across her practice, Waters uses traditional craft and home-making techniques to examine Australian histories, celebrate the knowledge and creativity of ‘women’s work’, while interrogating colonisation, settlement and shifting ecologies.
To make this work Waters has transformed an embroidery by photographing, enlarging and printing it at a scale 16 times larger than the original. The embroidered artwork of this wallpaper is stitched using thread found at second-hand shops in Port Pirie during a research trip Waters made in November 2020. During this trip, Waters met members of the Port Pirie Embroiderers' Guild, who inspired her use of the blackwork embroidery technique, as well as free-form embroidery.
Drawing upon the rich history of Port Pirie, Breathing Routes uses stitched layers to focus upon the unique topographical and ecological features of the region; from the mangroves, to the inlet, and the Flinders Ranges. The overall impression resembles a cross-section of a cliff face, of stacked and staggered layers built up from the multifarious pasts this region has accumulated.
Through this work Waters draws attention to the importance of natural and human-made routes and roots, which map past and present activities and sustain this community for the next generations.
This artwork has been commissioned by Country Arts SA as a complementary outcome to the touring exhibition Sera Waters: Domestic Arts, currently on display at the Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery from 6 February - 14 March 2021.
Image: Kathy Gould