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In Passing 2002

John Curtin Art Gallery, Perth, Western Australia


An audio-textile installation where the act of weaving is considered both as concept and as medium and the audience is integral to the work through their dynamic interaction. Influenced by the phenomenological ideas of Merleau-Ponty and the writings of Susan. K. Langer the multi-sensory installation considered weaving both in terms of the physical process and the metaphorical connection with the body, movement and space.


Series of 20 hand-woven structures each 35cm (w) x 250cm (h)


Sound - Breath

In Passing

For most of us, cloth may seem an inconsequential part of our lives. We clothe ourselves, cover our furnishings and drape it about our houses. While colour, pattern and texture may affect our choice, very few of us take our consideration of fabric much further than its surface appearance. Yet, for Ainsley Hillard, cloth provides a rich source of inspiration. Through her exploration of its processes of construction. Hillard reveals a network of interrelationships between people, memory and space.

In Passing, Hillard’s exhibition, highlights her deft ability to weave together intensive visual arts research with adroit technical skills to produce an evocative installation that locates the viewer within the very spaces of cloth production. As a trained tapestry artist, Hillard fully understands the intervals between warp and weft, the passage of threads, the repetitive rhythms of shuttle and loom. This intimate knowledge of the bodily experiences of weaving provides the basis for exploring the poetics of woven moments. Indeed, the very title of the exhibition is drawn from the pass, a term used for one line of weft when it moves between the threads of warp.

In the space of the gallery, the viewer enacts the pass as they move between the twelve finely woven three metre lengths of monofilament that constitute the warp of the installation. By walking through the installation space, the viewer not only traces and retraces the passage of their own weft but they start to weave together their own memory of the work.

The first impression of In Passing is of minimal abstraction. The barely white monofilament lengths set against a backdrop of white gallery walls present a pared down, quiet space. While the proportions are not monumental, there is still a sense that the viewer is framed by the work. Hillard creates a calm reflective space in which there is a need to pause and reflect on your relation to the free hanging forms. It is as though the lengths both enfold you but also entice you forward.

As you move between the warp you begin to sense a presence amongst the threads. Delicately woven into the structures are almost imperceptible photographic images. There’s a fleeting glimpse of something not quite in reach, a memory of some past event. Occasionally, you move into a space where you almost perceive the whole gestalt of the image, yet, a step in either direction and it is lost again. The image calls to mind the blur of someone seen at the periphery of vision, a spectral form that’s present but not fully in view. Here Hillard cleverly brings to the fore those moments that touch people – memory and space. The viewer is caught between the actual reality of transacting pass and the virtual impressions of past movements and times. Indeed, it is through passing between the zones of experience that the work becomes alive.

In her reconsideration of the weaving process, Hillard draws meaning from the production of cloth that allows the viewer to make connections between the passage of time and their own experience of space. For the viewer engaging in the installation, the act of weaving becomes alive, not just as a physical process but also one that enables them to contemplate their place within the world.

Dr. Ann Schilo

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