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Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Alysn Midgelow-Marsden is a maker of inspiring and visually compelling forms. Fibre Arts Take two enjoyed learning about Alysn’s journey.   

Alysn Midgelow-Marsden’s Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.

Alysn Midgelow-Marsden is a creator of visually captivating and inspirational forms that often showcase patterns in complex ways.  She employs various materials such as textiles, wires, metals, and plastics, yet manages to fuse them seamlessly with a poetic fluidity.  Her scientific background in marine biology and biochemistry, coupled with an abiding interest in the natural world, frequently intertwines with her fascination for culture, time, and the interconnectedness of human existence.

Alysn shared her journey with Fibre Arts Take Two, including her inspirations and process.

Early start

Like many fibre artists, Alysn came to stitching early through family, “My grandma was a very practical woman,” she says, “very strict Methodist and practical.  So things were done for reasons, not not for frivolity. There’s pieces I made, probably things like monogram hankies and those kinds of things that we all have to do at some stage.”

Hypotheses

Alysn uses her scientific background in her art, “A hypothesis is, you ask yourself, ‘what might happen if?”.  She shares, “Science is creative, just as much as we are in that sense, in that you ask a question, see what happens, and look at the results.  Move forward from there, and ask another question based on the answers or non-answers.”

 

Learning

Alysn took a techniques-based course a few years ago and found it integral to growing her art. “It’s very practical, taking a techniques-based course.” she says, “It enabled me just to see what techniques I didn’t know because obviously, I’d only got a few techniques from growing up and put those into practice. So I had quite a strict framework, which wasn’t necessarily how I tended to work. Maybe that’s why I don’t work like that now, but it gave you a good insight into various techniques. And that’s what I needed.”

Gallery work

Alysn also learned a lot from having her gallery, “Having a gallery was interesting, both in terms of how I see my work and talking to other artists to find out about their practice,” she says, “In terms of showing your work in a gallery, that comes down to if you’re convinced and strong about what you’re doing and why it’s finding the right place. There will be a space for it. Stick to your guns and find that, rather than zipping around to find what works for a particular gallery. It’s got to work for you.”

 

Outdoor textiles

A drastic cultural change also provided a shift in Alysn’s work, “When I moved to New Zealand,” she says, “I realised there was so much more opportunity for outdoor work. I threatened for years that textiles should be able to be outside; I didn’t know quite how. 

So I’d come to the stainless steel cloth, and this was an opportunity to have a temporary sculpture at an outdoor sculpture exhibition. This was looking at the ripples in the water and how they moved around and creating a sculpture based on that, so it’s about three, three and a half, four metres across, and nearly two metres high. The other thing it taught me is that structural work needs a whole different mindset, different planning to work that you can just put on a wall.”

Creating

“I think the worst thing is to wake up and go, ‘Oh, I’m going to make this a thing’. It never works as it never comes out how you think, you’ve got to explore, and you’ve got to work through those ideas.” says Alysn on her creative process.

“I do use a lot of words. So I have lots of keywords. I’ve written them down somewhere and will consider them occasionally. I do keep something around those words. But I think more; they’re in this little haze around me. I’m trying hard to keep things quite spontaneous and quite improvisational. Because the kind of work we do as textile people, along with all sorts of other mediums, takes a long time to make, and it’s really easy to get immersed in the process of making and lose that kind of energy that it had to start with that initial reason for being. So I work hard, really all the time to keep thinking, keep moving, keep working, allow things to happen, allow it within that sort of little glowing orb of concept, and what I want the thoughts to be and what I want the feeling of it to be at the end.”

 

About the artist

Alysn Midgelow-Marsden is an Auckland-based artist with a northern European heritage.

Her practice delivers an invitation to create pleasurably intimate connections to personal experiences through subconscious, visceral and emotive interactions. Marked visually by a complex, lyrical fluidity, her sculptural works articulate connections, responses, fragility and strength.

Alysn is driven by a curiosity about the human psyche, science and the social stereotypes of textiles and stitch.

Her scientific background in marine biology and biochemistry, coupled with an abiding interest in the natural world, frequently intertwines with her fascination for culture, time, and the interconnectedness of human existence.

Many works comprise evocative forms and figures incorporated into surfaces articulated with complex, undulating, knotted and interwoven designs.

Themes emerge slowly through gentle yet obsessive mazes, exploiting the boundaries of the surfaces and creating subtle combinations.

A contemplative narrative is formed through the patterns and figures in the works, along with the working of a primarily unconscious human ancestral memory swaying in the tides of unseen forces.

 
 
 
 

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