The collaborative duo known as the Golden Wattle Hookers was established in 2015 by mother and daughter Jill and Holly O’Meehan. The Hookers’ practice attempts to engage audiences through the use of mass crochet and soft sculpture to question the stereotypes of crafts, particularly throughout regional Australia.
We caught up with the pair to chat about their installation in our upcoming exhibition, Animaze: Amazing Animals for Kids.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you came to collaborate under the Golden Wattle Hookers name?
Holly: I’m Holly O’Meehan. I work with ceramics and textiles. The Golden Wattle Hookers is a collaboration with my mum and it’s very much crochet driven. There has been a real movement back towards handmade goods in recent years and to us it’s all about the recognition of old craft techniques. I find crochet really soothing and a lot of positive things come out of textiles and making in groups.
Jill: I’m Jill O’Meehan. I’m an installation artist and a collector. I have always been drawn towards using recycled materials and items I can find on mass for example, many bottle tops can make a piece of art. I like doing big installations. Holly and I are mother and daughter and we learnt to crochet together and we enjoy the process. We call ourselves The Golden Wattle Hookers, we got the idea from the Country Women’s Association group and their Golden Wattle Cookbook, which is a collaboration of women’s recipes. It fits because we’re from the country, we’re country women. It’s about allowing these crafts and skills to be recognised as art, which is important. We are both into natural environments, nature, natural organisms. This project is immersive, it’s all about children and adults allowing themselves to play.
Can you tell us about what you’ve been working on whilst in residency here at FAC?
Holly: We are producing a soft room that will be part of Animaze: Amazing Animals for Kids. We’re creating an underwater environment, much like a coral reef. Reefs are really quite amazing organisms in their own right with all the various animals, corals, sponges and sea cucumbers. I enjoy the idea of creating a space where kids can interact with the works. It’s about putting yourself in the shoes of the marine life. It’s bright and colourful. I would say it’s inspired by coral reef, not an exact replica.
Jill: We made all the the items enlarged too, so that kids will feel like Nemo in the space.
You both love crochet, can you share any crazy facts about the practice?
Holly: Crochet cannot be manufactured by machines just yet. If something has been crocheted it means it’s been handmade and not mass produced.
Jill: It’s thought that crochet came from the technique of fisherman making their nets.
Holly: There are a few different areas that it could have come from. It’s still unknown.
After you finish up here at FAC, what’s up next for you both?
Holly: A little break.
Jill: We would love to see this installation installed in other places and have it travel around to other spaces in the state, even if it was in a marine museum or as part of a travelling exhibition to coastal towns or even inland towns. That would be great!
You can view The Golden Wattle Hookers installation at Animaze: Amazing Animals for Kids running Sat 17 Nov – Wed 23 Jan.