Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Draw Me A Garden at Spin Gallery

Draw Me A Garden is the first solo show of Anna Torma in Toronto. In August, she was in a group show "Just My Imagination" at MOCCA. In the Spin Gallery exhibition, a span of ten years work can be seen. While the earliest one was made in 1994, she has produced a number of new work in 2005. As I was trying to trace back techniques, ideas and changes of her work over the years, Anna told me she uses them back and forth all the time, and there is no obvious "stages" of her work. I guess that's quite true because her 1994 work seems like her newest work, except the old work is more contrived and cautious. Her new work shows more control and confidence, her techniques more sophisticated and replete with variations.

Anna Torma was introduced to textile art by both her mother and grandmother who taught her hand sewing and embroidery. Her study of textiles at the Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts in Budapest from 1974 to 1979 coincided with the growing popularity of fibre production by artists from abroad. Since textile practice was not considered a fine art, it afforded Hungarian artists greater creative freedom because they were not as closely monitored by the Hungarian government as artists who were producing in other media. Torma’s textile structures incorporate numerous techniques such as embroidery, patchwork, appliqué, quilting, and felting. First she assembles a patchwork base often composed of discarded fabric, such as old clothing, and proceeds to produce textile drawings in embroidery upon this ground. "My goal is to create innovative textile based work which blanches craft with concept into femininity, domesticity, and ethnicity," Torma wrote in 1996. Torma’s embroidered designs are often based upon her children’s drawings and hand writing. "This borrowing of images and compilation permits Torma to infuse her spiritual, personal, and mundane experiences with those of others" (Theresa Morin, 1996). In Quotations (1994) Torma’s embroidered images and texts include excerpts from her children’s notebooks, charting her children’s learning process. Lullaby I (1996) consists of pieces of cheesecloth stitched together and embellished with floral motifs found in Hungarian textiles. A participant in numerous international textile art conferences, in 1994 Torma took part in the European Textile Network Conference in Budapest. She has taught art at the Burlington Art Centre and given lectures at the Harbourfront Centre and Sheridan College in Toronto, Ontario.


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