A tracing of thread is a phrase that describes the working of a piece of lace, a thread forming the foundation allowing other stitches to be sewn along it’s course. As a metaphor for my work, this trace can refer to a line of history, a line of thought; a mapping or charting of a concept that is built upon and made stronger. This exhibition, ‘a tracing of thread’ anticipates the thread’s redirection, a parody of that same thread unraveled and reworked. A trace remains witness, in spite of constant and vigilant repair. - Shaelene Murray
Shaelene Murray: Artist Statement & Bio
Shaelene Murray’s figurative sculptures speak of society, history, experience and nostalgia. By re-contextualizing materials and processes from industry and the domestic sphere, Murray explores archetypes of femininity, and the roles which women play in the context of social and domestic life.
The long history of women sewing is given great reverence in Murray’s work. By amalgamating industrial materials such as stainless steel, which hold connotations of masculine work, and techniques derived from traditionally feminine crafts such as sewing; the artist positions familiar objects in unfamiliar contexts, evoking notions of the uncanny. For Murray, this material juxtaposition asserts that “strength and fragility can co-exist, [and] that women are stronger and more complex than the labels given to them by society.” In re-contextualising and personifying remnants of the domestic sphere ‘Kin’ constructs a portrait of the complexities of family life and acknowledges both the beneficial and indifferent legacies, of the women who “cut and sew the fabric of our lives.”
Murray’s practice relies on the synthesis of material and subject matter; choosing “materials and processes for the readings they impart, and the emotional response they trigger.” Each work is born of a single strand of stainless-steel wire; twisted and folded into the desired ply and looped together stitch by stitch; imbuing the metal with a physical tension and memory. The material is then manipulated and hand-stitched, the components neatly sewn into a piece of clothing. Murray equates the slow and intimate nature of her process with mimicking the slow formation of personality. Through personality imbued stitch by stitch into the piece, the minute detail; laughing or crying, the concept of familial complexity is reiterated.
Murray studied Ceramics at East Sydney Technical College and was awarded a First-Class Honours Degree in Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts in 1995.
Her sculpture has been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include Kin (Stanley Street Gallery, 2019), A Tracing of Thread (Stanley Street Gallery, Darlinghurst, NSW, 2013), Bouquet (La Trobe Regional Gallery, VIC, 2005, Ironic Inversion (Lions Art Centre, SA, 2005), and Home on the Range, held at the Centre for Contemporary Craft, Customs House in Sydney, NSW 1998. Murray’s sculptural work has also featured in group shows with Stanley Street Gallery including On Point (2017), Salon of Infectious Ideas (2016), Portraits (2015) and Over Your Head (2014); as well as other institutions nationally, including sPIN (Australian National Capital Artist’s Gallery, Canberra, 2015), Pin-a-4 (Australian National Capital Artist’s Gallery, Canberra 2014), It is What it is (Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Windsor 2014) and Soft Sculpture (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2009).
Murray’s work continues to generate critical acclaim, selected as a finalist in the Western Sydney University Sculpture Prize in 2018, Deakin Small Sculpture Prize VIC in 2017, Aesthetica Art Prize UK in 2016, the Kennedy Art Prize SA and the Wynne Prize AGNSW in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Her work is held in the collections of East Sydney Technical College, Manly Art Gallery and Museum, and the Barbara and Oscar Feldman Collection, Detroit MI, USA and has been featured in Art and Australia Magazine, Art Almanac, and “Future Now,” an overview of Contemporary Artists from the Aesthetica Art Prize. In 2000, Murray was a guest speaker at the Glass Society of America Conference held at Long Island University, USA.
Shaelene Murray is represented by Stanley Street Gallery.
Shaelene Murray: CV January, 2020
East Sydney Technical College
International and National private collections
Manly Gallery, NSW
The Barbara and Oscar Feldman Collection, Detroit, MI, USA
Reviews and publicity
1995 Art and Australia Magazine, Women Vol 32 No.3, pg 366
1997 Masters of Their Craft, Noris Ioannou
2013 Art Almanac Exhibition Brief, 26 March 2013
2013 “it is what it is – beyond the debate”, featured exhibitions, artwhatson.com.au, June 2013
2016 Future Now, 100 Contemporary Artists from the Aesthetica Art Prize