Fremantle Arts Centre presents Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices

A major exhibition of experimental textiles and fibre practices by leading Australian practitioners.

The Fremantle Arts Centre is pleased to announce a major exhibition of work by twelve Australian artists who reimagine textiles and fibre art. ‘Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices’ runs from Saturday, 4 November to Sunday, 28 January 2024 and is co-curated by Karen Hall and Catherine Woolley.

It includes new commissions and recent works by Akira Akira, Sarah Contos, Lucia Dohrmann, Mikala Dwyer, Janet Fieldhouse, Teelah George, Paul Knight, Anne-Marie May, John Nixon, Kate Scardifield, Jacqueline Stojanović, and Katie West.

The exhibition takes its title from a 1957 essay by celebrated Bauhaus artist Anni Albers who sought to rethink weaving through the lens of architecture, interpreting textiles as fundamentally structural and endlessly mutable. The exhibition presents works that experiment with materiality, spatial fluidity, and process and features painting, assemblage, sculpture, video, sound, and installation. It reflects artists’ use of textiles and fibre to chart social and cultural change, respond to historical modes of production and representation, and test formal properties through weaving, embroidery, knitting, and sewing.

Fremantle Arts Centre Exhibition Manager Pete Volich commented: “We are thrilled to host major exhibition Pliable Planes at the Fremantle Arts Centre for our 50th birthday year. This exhibition features works which challenge and redefine the very essence of what textiles look like. Pliable Planes has brought together a diverse group of talented artists from across Australia, highlighting the many unique ways in which contemporary textile art can be created.”

Exhibition co-curator Karen Hall explains further: “The exhibition unites the work of practitioners who disrupt our understanding of how textiles and fibre are defined and used in contemporary practice. The exhibition highlights dynamic approaches to making from artists who weave with porcelain, unravel paintings on canvas, and create sonic representations of needlepoint.”

Commissioned by UNSW Galleries, seven artists have created new works for the project. They include Ramsay Prize winning artist Sarah Contos, who subverts conceptions of weaving or knitting as a ‘soft’ practice by casting in aluminium while also incorporating her signature DIY aesthetic. While, Kate Scardifield has created a new ‘textile wind instrument’ that explores the interplay between body and material, the natural elements and landscape.

The exhibition also features important collaborative works by John Nixon and Jacqueline Stojanović. Nixon completed half of the collaboration before his death in 2020, and Stojanović finished her part in 2021. The works combine their respective practices — constructed painting and weaving — evidencing the enduring exploration of abstraction across different generations.

An extension to Pliable Planes exhibition, the Fremantle Arts Centre is inviting the community to take part in the making of a piece of large-scale textile artwork, Social Fabric, in which donated fabric will be woven together on a loom across the life of the exhibition.

Running alongside Pliable Planes is exhibition ‘Special Treat’ by artist Dionne Hooyberg, which invites audiences to become lost in a joyful exhibit of colourful patterns and textures. A collection of beach-combed and crafted treasures, A Special Treat is a showcase of Hooyberg’s extensive skills in ceramics, drawing, textiles, and collecting. Curated by Mariann Pugh.


‘Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices’ is a UNSW Galleries touring exhibition presented with the support of the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia touring initiative, the Australia Council for the Arts, and Museums & Galleries NSW on behalf of the NSW Government.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication designed by Small Tasks featuring new scholarship by writers and curators Sophia Cai, Katie Dyer, and Vikki McInnes.

AKIRA AKIRA (b. 1981 in Kobe, Japan. Lives and works in Boorloo/Perth) is a visual artist whose sculptural spatial practice is centred around notions of abstraction, embodied practices, and intuitive experimentation with processes and materials.

SARAH CONTOS (b. 1978, Boorloo/Perth. Lives and works in Warrane/Sydney) works across mediums creating sculptural installations and assemblages which revolve around themes of femininity, sexuality and materiality. Contos is particularly interested in the relationships between objects and the viewer’s autonomous associations with them.

LUCIA DOHRMANN (b. 1967. Lives and works in Tarndanya/Adelaide) is a visual artist whose works explore and extend the possibilities of traditional painting materials. Repetitious handmade textile processes give a softness and warmth, creating tactile surfaces that mark the passing of laboured time where unmaking becomes making.

MIKALA DWYER (b. 1959, Warrane/Sydney. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice is predominantly installation-based, in which she constructs idiosyncratic, personal spaces within the conventional architecture of the gallery, using materials that have a strong association with the body.

JANET FIELDHOUSE (b. 1971, Gimuy/Cairns. Lives and works in Gimuy/Cairns) is a First Nations artist from the Meriam Mer (Torres Strait) working with ceramic clay and found materials to draw upon her matrilineal connections to the Torres Strait Islander communities as well as her father’s European heritage. Her objects are instilled with experiences and ideas sourced from family, culture, storytelling and interaction with First Nation peoples.

TEELAH GEORGE (b. 1984, Boorloo/Perth. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne) is a visual artist whose practice incorporates painting, textiles, sculpture and installation. Her woven and painted surfaces are built in response to oral histories, archives, photographs and fragmented timelines.

PAUL KNIGHT (b. 1976, Warrane/Sydney. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany) is a visual artist interested in how intimacy is constructed and communicated through a practice which includes both photography and textiles. With remarkable candour, he documents private moments that are at once banal and emotionally charged. 

ANNE-MARIE MAY (b. 1965, Naarm/Melbourne. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne) is a visual artist working across diverse mediums including sculpture, installation and design to undertake explorations of colour, abstraction and space. A long-standing interest in architecture, craft, making and materiality informs her experimentation with process and the production of objects.

KATE SCARDIFIELD (Lives and works in Warrane/Sydney) is a visual artist with a research-driven, interdisciplinary and experimental studio practice. Driven by material investigation and deeply invested in archival and collection-focused research, her work spans textiles, sculpture, installation and video to explore relationships between the body, site and space.

JACQUELINE STOJANOVIĆ (b. 1992. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne) is a visual artist whose practice incorporates textiles, drawing, and installation. Foregrounding an interest in the history of the handmade, her practice examines the geographic iterations of early art forms, paying particular attention to symbol, motif and the underlying feminine qualities early crafts have in production and metaphor.

JOHN NIXON (b. 1949, Warrane/Sydney. Died 2020, Naarm/Melbourne) An influential Australian abstract artist whose career was defined by an ongoing dedication to geometric abstraction. Spanning more than half a century from the late 1960s, his formal experiments and innovation concerned both minimalism and maximalism, encompassing painting collage, photography, video, dance and experimental music performance.

KATIE WEST (b. 1988, Boorloo/Perth. Lives and works in Boorloo/Perth) is a Yindjibarndi artist from the Pilbara region in Western Australia. She combines naturally dyed textiles, installation, sound, and social practice to formulate ways to enact custodianship in colonised and ecologically-compromised contexts.