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Inspired by long traditions of making

Visit Ballarat

16 Feb 2021

Filed underMakers & Growers

“Textiles are a wonderful way to tell and hand on stories between people and generations.”

Meet Ana Petidis, a local creative who weaves to tell stories. 

As well as exhibiting her creations regularly, she works in a textile mill and teaches multi-shaft weaving. This is her story…

Image: Bowie Wallace

What drew you to textiles?  
I like to credit my parents for introducing me to the creative and material possibilities of textiles. They were sewing machinists of womens’ fashion, working from the garage of our family home during the 1980/90s before changes to tariffs and an economic recession ended this venture. I took utter joy in playing with colourful, silky polyester fabric offcuts from the workroom floor, collaging pieces together on mannequins, tracing patterns with my fingers, feeling the texture on my skin.
I grew up and followed a path working in services supporting women experiencing homelessness.
After a time, I craved my own creativity. I tried some short art courses, but it wasn’t until I discovered a course in textile design that I became excited. It’s been all about textiles ever since. 

What inspires your work?  
Conceptually, my work is inspired by the relationships we have with each other, with ourselves, with our material stuff, with the environment.  
I am drawn to exploring my own relationship to these things and my connection to ‘spirit’. Technically, I’m constantly inspired by the long traditions of making and using human ingenuity to create functional and beautiful pieces from scratch – I am aiming to share an interesting story with my work. 

Multi‐shaft weaving has been a technique used by creatives for centuries, how does it feel to continue such a tradition?  
The ecology of most crafts like weaving involves knowledge beyond the actual craft itself. What I mean by this is that weaving doesn’t accurately credit the other things going on to be able to weave – things like the knowledge of fibre, creating or spinning yarns, creating colour using dyes, understanding design using binary language of grids, caring for and being the custodian of the work.
Continuing this tradition is important to me as it embodies various elements of the environment and our own nature as humans. I want to retain and share these elements with others as much as possible. 
We love colourful shaggy pillows right now, are they as difficult to create as they look?  
No, they are in no way difficult once you are up to the weaving and knotting part! Let me teach you. 
What can we expect to learn during one of your classes?  
If it’s a workshop, I like to teach a few foundation weave skills using a frame loom. We explore textures and colour.
If it’s a short course, it’s the whole process of creating patterns on multi-shaft looms to create your own small work like a scarf or short fabric length. I incorporate a lot of repurposed and salvaged materials in my courses as well, from e‐waste to yarns rescued from land fill. 

Image: Bowie Wallace

What does Ballarat as a UNESCO Creative City of Craft and Folk Art mean to you?  
I am so proud to live in a city that recognises, develops and encourages craftspeople and folk artists.
For too long, crafts such as weaving have been left out of the public discourse of creative practices in Australia, relegated to a past time or hobby and not acknowledged. There is a vibrant and long standing history of craft in Australia, much longer than colonisation. For our city to be the place to honour and acknowledge this is a huge opportunity for makers such as myself to speak to the importance of the skills and practices associated with our crafts. 
For those interested in textiles, what piece of advice do you have for them?  
Textiles are a wonderful way to tell and hand on stories between people and generations. They are expressive, portable and vary so broadly in techniques.
If you have an interest in textiles, study them, be it informally in a gallery or museum collection or formally in a workshop or course – you will learn something about science, engineering, art and love. 
What’s Ballarat best kept secret?  
I don’t really want to share but I love love love walking around Union Jack Reserve with our dogs Rocky and Cricket. It is so varied in its vegetation, colours, birdlife and other wildlife. I always feel after a long walk around. 

Follow Ana and be the first to hear about her upcoming exhibitions and workshops.

Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.