Art of wool

Art of wool

After the success of 2015’s The Art of Wool exhibition, held at Armidale’s New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in NSW, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) – in collaboration with NERAM – has announced a list of new cities and venues to host the exhibition during 2016 and 2017.

The Art of Wool exhibition is presented by AWI and NERAM and has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Ministry of the Arts’ Visions of Australia program.

Fusing fashion with art in a true celebration of Australian wool, The Art of Wool bridges the gap between farm and fashion.

The exhibition pairs stunning Merino wool garments from International  Woolmark Prize alumni, including Dion Lee, Kym Ellery, Rahul Mishra and Christopher Esber, with significant pieces of Australian art.

New pieces have been added to highlight the evolution of the coveted fashion award, including outfits from the 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize womenswear winner M.Patmos as well as 2015/16 nominees Celeste Tesoriero, Taro Horiuchi and Etxeberria.

“The Art of Wool exhibition is a unique way to expose a wider audience to the fantastic design talent the International Woolmark Prize unearths both here in Australia and from abroad,” explains AWI CEO Stuart McCullough.

“AWI has worked closely alongside NERAM since the initial stages of the exhibition and has played an integral role in connecting outfits from the International Woolmark Prize with artworks that highlight the Australian wool industry. I encourage everyone to visit the exhibition if it comes to a gallery near you.”

Artworks from NERAM’s extensive collection of Australian art highlight the significance of wool in the artistic and design imagination of Australia.

With an emphasis on the work of young and emerging international fashion designers, stunning garments chosen from the International Woolmark Prize archives complement these pieces of visual art.

“The Art of Wool exhibition brings together artworks from the nationally significant art collections held at New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale, alongside garments from the International Woolmark Prize archive at Australian Wool Innovation, the owners of The Woolmark Company,” said NERAM Art Museum Director Robert Heather.

“This exhibition has been a great opportunity for us to work directly with the wool industry to showcase the beautiful artworks in our collection, the quality of Australian wool production and the innovative fashion designers who use it in their work.”

Connecting the world’s leading fashion designers with Australian Merino wool is extremely important due to the enormous influence these designers have in setting global textile trends for mainstream retail brands.

The International Woolmark Prize generates long-term incremental demand for Australian wool by connecting emerging designers, emerging markets and consumers with Australia’s versatile natural fibre.

The origin of the International Woolmark Prize story harks back to 1936, when Australian woolgrowers voted for a levy to be imposed on each bale of wool they produced, to promote their product around the world.

This visionary decision resulted in the formation of a body first known as the International Wool Secretariat (IWS), which established a fashion design award in 1953 to highlight the versatility and modernity of wool to an international audience.

The following year, two relatively unknown designers by the names of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent won the prestigious award.

The IWS competition was re-launched in 2012 under the International Woolmark Prize.

The International Woolmark Prize is considered one of the world’s most prestigious fashion awards.

The Art of Wool tour locations and dates:

  • Goulburn Regional Art Gallery: 8 April – 21 May 2016
  • Hamilton Art Gallery: 20 June – 14 August 2016
  • Dubbo Regional Gallery: 6 March – 6 May 2017
  • Albury Library Museum: 21 July – 27 August 2017
  • National Wool Museum, Geelong: 1 September – 19 November 2017
  • Manning Regional Gallery, Taree: 28 November 2017 – 1 February 2018
  • Tamworth Regional Gallery: February 2018

This story was first published in Leading Agriculture Issue 17