Deb Wearne is a frequent contributor to Baw Baw Arts Alliance exhibitions and the shops in both the Yarragon Station Gallery and the Trafalgar Artspace. Her wearable art is exquisitely produced and presented.
Although she has always been interested in fibres and fabrics as far back as high school it was teachers’ college that really gave her an insight into what was possible. Calling herself an artist is a concept she only arrived at late in her life because until recently she saw her self as being crafty not artistic. “The urge was always there, I just needed the time to indulge in my art and have a change in thinking.” Her training was as a Textiles and Food teacher at State College of Victoria, Rusden (Larnook) and over her teaching career she completed many workshops to enhance skills and learn new and different techniques.
As an artist Deb describes herself predominately as a spinner and weaver with a passion for natural fibres. She has always liked to embellish work because hand embroidery enables her to create a piece that is more a 3D artwork than just a garment. What she enjoys is the ability to combine all these aspects of textiles.
As well as enjoying the practice of combining different methods of finishing and embellishing a garment Deb also loves the process of spinning yarn right through to dyeing and weaving and finally producing a fabric which can then be used to create wearable art. This process she describes as “something like from the sheep’s back to my back”.
Deb has been spinning since attending teacher's college back in the 1970s but admitted that “over my working life, I let my passion lapse through lack of time and energy. Once retired, I was able to re embrace my spinning wheel and “go for it” again. “
When asked to describe her style Deb responded that she sees it as “Funky, wearable art that is brightly coloured and highly textured...inviting the viewer to touch and feel. (she says) I recently visited the Dior Exhibition at the NGV and all I wanted to do was to touch and feel the items. They were so inviting. I want my pieces to evoke similar emotions in the people who view my pieces.”
Most artists have a passion for particular artists and periods of art that strongly influence their work. As Deb comments “Wearable Art is what I really find inspiring from Vivvienne Westwood or John Paul Gaultier to the many fashion styles through history.” What she finds exciting is how the modern designers use elements from the past to create a contemporary style. She obviously finds costume history as inspiring especially early 20th century fashion. She has found the costume collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the History of Costume collection at Kensington Palace amazing, however her favourite designer is Dior because of the combination of design and fabric.
Artists vary in the way they respond to the question ‘What process do you work through to begin and complete a work of art?’ Deb is quite clear stating that “Generally, I have a theme to work toward and discuss my ideas with my husband, a bit of brain storming. I am not one for recording or diarizing my plans, so do work on the notion of allowing the work to evolve throughout the process. I then source a commercial pattern that will be suitable or can be altered. The wool is spun, dyed and woven and I either embroider pieces before construction or construct the garment and then embroider. “
Over the years Deb has created many garments but willingly admits that of these her favourite piece is a white evening jacket embroidered with pink beading and stitching. “The piece was called Seeds and I embroidered dandelion flowers and seeds over the jacket. The piece was entered into the Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show and was placed third. The jacket was selected to be part of the fashion parade and this was a real thrill for me. I entered it into the Royal Canberra Show and won first prize as well as the Canberra Spinners and Weavers award. I entered it into the Royal Adelaide show and also won first prize.” Obviously these wins were artistic highlights but there have also been others:
Two first places and second place at the Canberra show 2015, 2016, 2017
First and second places at the Adelaide show 2016, 2017
Four, second places and three, third places at the Bendigo Wool show with pieces chosen to be paraded at the annual fashion parade from 2013 to 2017,
Highly commended at the Wangaratta Stitched Up exhibition 2015
Selling pieces at local art shows
With such a productive textile career so far Deb is still prepared to indulge in some wishes, one to travel to New Zealand to visit the Wearable Art Museum in Nelson and another to see her work becoming more sculptural and perhaps less functional.