Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices

Kate-Scardifield-Canis-Major-2019-photo-by-Robin-HearfieldA major exhibition of experimental textiles and fibre practices by twelve leading Australian practitioners, UNSW Galleries presents Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices, on display until 17 July 2022.

Co-curated by Karen Hall and Catherine Woolley, the exhibition 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 Stojanovic and Katie West.

Pliable Planes 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.

“The exhibition unites the work of practitioners who disrupt our understanding of how textiles and fibre are defined and used in contemporary practice,” said co-curator Karen Hall.

Pliable Planes highlights dynamic approaches to making from artists who weave with porcelain, unravel paintings on canvas, and create sonic representations of needlepoint.”

UNSW Galleries has commissioned seven artists to create new works for the project. They include Sarah Contos, who incorporates knitted and crocheted aluminium forms to create an expression of ‘heavy femininity’.

Kate Scardifield presents a new ‘textile wind instrument’ that explores the interplay between body and material, the natural elements and landscape.

The exhibition also features important new collaborative works by John Nixon and Jacqueline Stojanovic. Nixon completed half of the collaboration before his death in 2020, and Stojanovic finished her part in 2021.

The works combine their respective practices – constructed painting and weaving – evidencing the enduring exploration of abstraction across different generations.

“We are excited to support ambitious new works for the project that embody and expand upon histories and practices,” says co-curator Catherine Woolley.

“Whether interrogating modernist weaving theories or exploring connections to First Nations fibre practices, exhibiting artists navigate the continued social and cultural significance of textiles through a range of experimental and unexpected approaches.”

Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices is presented with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia touring initiative.

The exhibition will tour nationally throughout 2023 – 25 to the following venues: New South Wales (Grafton Regional Gallery), Victoria (Ballarat Art Gallery and Heide Museum of Modern Art), Queensland (Artspace Mackay), and Western Australia (Fremantle Arts Centre).

Pliable Planes: Expanded Textiles & Fibre Practices
UNSW Galleries, Corner Oxford Street and Greens Road, Paddington (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 17 July 2022
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Kate Scardifield, Canis Major, 2019. 34°53’29.4″S 150°29’60.0″E. Wind instruments and form tests. Studies in semaphore and signalling. Sailcloth, rip-stop nylon, repurposed parachute silk, thread. Image courtesy of the artist – photo by Robin Hearfield