Joan Best is the newest member of the Baw Baw Arts Alliance Committee of Management. She has brought lots of energy and enthusiasm to the Arts Alliance as evidenced in her beautiful pieces in the current ‘Station Gallery’ exhibition, ‘Under the Microscope’.
Joan writes, ‘For as long as I can remember, I have always made or grown things. My main areas of interest are my garden and making things for my home, like leadlight windows or textile items. My mother taught me to sew at an early age (probably because of my incessant demands to do what she was doing).’
‘I was encouraged in an appreciation of music, theatre and the arts in general by my family and an older sister in particular. My secondary schooling also influenced me in developing an interest in creative pursuits. When I finished school, I trained as a Secondary Arts and Crafts teacher and worked in Melbourne for the next ten years. During that time I enjoyed making jewellery, clothing and ceramics, while working in community development in a high migrant area that was my schools' catchment area.’
‘A move to East Gippsland, already a much loved area, had a huge influence on me because the landscape there is so varied and beautiful. Maternity dominated the next period of my life, which included more teaching and learning patchwork from a friend. We helped set up ‘Riviera Quilters’ during that time. A change in career to Mental Health Nursing triggered a move to Warragul in 2000, where I have lived since.’
‘My favourite historical period of art is probably the Pre -Raphaelites and the work and theory of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement although Japanese prints and painting would also be a close second choice.’
‘My work now is mostly textile based and I have enjoyed attending ‘Grampians Textures’ in Halls Gap to broaden my skill base and meet like minded people. I continue to develop skills in other areas, (leadlight, bookmaking and mosaics). However while I think I will always work in a variety of areas, textiles will continue on as my main interest. The work I am now making is a development of some of the early machine embroidery skills I used as an art student. It is only now that I have enough time to experiment and work on ideas. Friends sometimes give me fabric or other items, as they know I have an interest in old textiles, and these are often a trigger for new work. In the last year I have purchased a quilting machine that allows me to "draw" on fabric that has already been painted or appliqued. Traditional quilting skills (hand stitching) has been a favourite method for me to embellish fabric and I use this in combination with machine stitching.’
‘The items in the ‘Under the Microscope’ exhibition at Yarragon are my most recent work. In them I have used eco-dyed wool, which is then machine embroidered. The printed woollen backing, which has sometimes been dyed up to three times to develop layers of colour and to create depth, have sometimes 15 or more different colours of thread to highlight the leaf shapes made from various local plants from my garden and the bush.’
‘While textiles is my main interest, I will always want to learn more and improve my skills in other areas when my garden allows me . Now that I have left full time employment, I have begun to really enjoy my new life experiences, which allow so much more time to develop in different directions and to make the most of each day.’