Michelle Driver is not your average textile artist. Producing handwoven tapestries on a vertical loom, she employs this historically rich craft in the creation of unique, thought-provoking work that stands apart from her contemporaries.
Reflecting her interest in various subcultures, Driver’s work has a strong visual language identified by her use of bold iconography and the colour black. Her Window series, for example, incorporates imagery from X-rays gifted to her by a number of anonymous donors. Driver states it “invites the viewer to peer into the very core of what makes up our identity”.
“It is a ‘secret portrait’, an internal image that literally lays bare all that is true within us,” she says.
Michelle Driver, Goth Deathrock No 5, 2015
As part of the series, Driver is currently working on a portrait of dementia, incorporating imagery from a series of MRI scans. The scans include various colours that Driver is interpreting through the use of the donor’s favourite colours. Reflecting the tendency for dementia sufferers to retain remote memories and the patient’s love of pinks and purples, the work is a poetic way of educating audiences and raising awareness of the condition.
Despite only recently graduating with a Diploma of Visual Art (Tapestry) from the South West Institute of TAFE in Warrnambool, Driver’s Window series has been recognised both locally and internationally. Windows No. 3 – Self Portrait was recently selected as the only Australian finalist in Heallreaf 2, an international prize for woven tapestry in the UK. Driver was also a finalist in the 2016 Emma Hack Prize and won the open category in the 2016 Port Pirie Art Prize with work from the series.
Michelle Driver, Windows No. 1, 2015
Alongside her tapestries, Driver produces a line of handwoven scarves, including a men’s range. Although also a complex craft, she describes enjoying the mathematical, meditative process of weaving the scarves in comparison to the technically challenging, time-consuming process of producing tapestries.
Driver will be at Bowerbird, Adelaide’s leading design market, from Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7. You will be able to meet her in person and see her demonstrating the weaving process. Her work will also be on display in Squared Up at the Marion Culture Centre’s Gallery M from Friday, May 12 to Sunday, June 4.
Michelle Driver is a part of the Well Made community and featured on the platform. Well Made is an initiative of Guildhouse. Explore and connect with the best South Australian visual artists, craftspeople, designers and creative spaces on wellmade.com.au.
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Header photo by Brent Leideritz