Michelle Driver is not your average textile artist. Producing hand woven 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. Of the work 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.”
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 which 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.
Alongside her tapestries, Driver produces a line of hand woven 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 5-7 May where you will not only be able to meet her in person but also 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 12 May to 4 June.