Archived textile pieces

Irene Manion

Textiles  Watercolour  Photography

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Early batiks and the evolution into my current practice

My journey with textiles started in the 1970s. After attending numerous workshops in the batik technique, and finally acquiring a suitable studio space in which to practice, I built on learned skills and created a complex layered colour scheme. Like watercolours, dyes are transparent, and so with each new application of a dye bath, the coloured layers beneath affect each successive application of dye colour. Each layer likewise becomes darker simply through the overlaying of tones of colour. My most complex batiks involved removing wax halfway through the dyeing process and redying to create pure areas of contrasting colour. The batiks may have had as many as 15 to 20 immersions into dye baths and occasionally, some areas were additionally hand painted with thickened dyes. I used many dye types, including Indigosols and Drimarene K (similar to Procion) but mostly Naphthol dyes to achieve the desired colours. Fine dot and line work with the traditional tjantings contrasts with broken or cracked brushed on wax areas.

Later work in the 80s moved  away from working with wax and dyes because I was concerned about their toxicity levels whilst my children were young.

My interests moved to surface embellishment with appliqué of screen printed, airbrushed and heavy machine embroidered fabrics. Eventually, transfer dyes started to be more prominently used as they were viewed by me to be less toxic in their application.

Living in the Blue Mountains of NSW till 1987, my main subject matter was the landscape. Moving from the Mountains and back into the suburban environment of Sydney altered my subject matter so that the landscape tended to become more of a memory in the later works and social and domestic issues tended to become the new  subject matter.

As technology developed and particularly the widespread use of computers and digital cameras, their influence on traditional dyeing and surface design of textiles was something to be explored. I found a local commercial printer who printed with a dye sublimation printer and could print from .jpegs. A whole new world of exploration now opened up.