It is fair to say I love Tasmanian born Tara Badcock’s work, and it has featured in a few posts as testament to that. So I am very excited that Tara agreed to do an interview for my little blog. So are you sitting comfortably with a nice cup of tea, coffee or even glass of wine……. This is a long interview but Tara talks with such passion I could not bare to edit it out… It is so lovely to see someone so passionate about what they do!!!
How would you describe your work and style?
My work is textile-based and my focus is on using hand embroidery techniques to convey a sense of history & story telling & to communicate conceptual ideas through the use of traditional formats/techniques.
My work has always centered on a ‘marriage’ of polarities- public with private, emotional with rational, grand and worldly with intimate and innocent (Adulthood & Childhood). The underlying theme in my work is essentially a fascination with history, mainly Tasmanian Colonial (that point at which the sparks of the fires of guilt, retribution & social awakening burst into flames to create our contemporary Tasmanian culture!), and the French Revolution- a much more colourfully documented upheaval, yet equally poignant and explosive! I’m drawn to points in time where the energy is so fraught and intense and somehow unresolved (I am a hot-headed Aries after all!).
I use a combination of textiles and stitching techniques in each piece I make, so for me even a purse I’ve made has many stories embedded into it, for example, through the use of strips of Japanese Shibori silk given to me by a friend, stitched onto another silk left over from a wedding dress I made a friend, backed with kangaroo leather and lined with hand printed hemp fabric from a lovely designer-friend in Sydney…
What, where and/or who inspires you?
I am strongly & instinctively drawn to textiles which have a long history of usage, or are important somehow- so again polarities between richly woven 18th century French silks made by fleeing Hugenots contrasted against roughly woven hemp sacking from an old barn in Tasmania, covered in darning stitches and stains and stencil markings- so full of life! Like objects of religious faith, if a textile has been infused with human history and has some importance placed on it, I feel drawn to it and wish to respond to its story.
I collect antique textiles and clothing and these sometimes end up in my work, and usually inspire new pieces. Some fragments of French silk I cannot bear to use as they are so beautiful….they seem to have a complete set of stories to tell and I love to listen!
I am inspired by so many diverse sources- artists, designers, objects, images, light, colour, music, literature, landscapes and flora & fauna…I seem to be able to find inspiration in anything…the problem is that I only have this one life and the days are so short!
Currently I’m inspired by Louisa Anne Meredith’s 1850’s memoire “My Life In Tasmania”, ( which inspired the cushion below)
Django Reinhardt, UK textile artist Cathy Cullis, French textile artist Manon Gignoux, actor Tilda Swinton (I’m sure I would faint with awe if she ever contacted me to commission something!), Tessa Kiros’ Falling Cloudberries (the photography tickles me and the recipes are really good!),
I understand that you have recently been commissioned to provide some rosettes for “The Great Gatsby” which was filmed in Sydney. How did that come about?
Sydney stylist extraordinaire Megan Morton found my work through a mutual friend and personal commissions led to The Great Gatsby rosettes through Megan’s film work at The Propery.
I started making embroidered silk rosettes just for fun, for my own desire to play a bit more with the things I make! I love the connections that arise when one is doing something they love.
Which is your favorite personal project and why?
That’s tricky to answer, I have favourite pieces and artworks I’ve made over the years that I’m very proud of still. I’m always striving to make ‘better’ work and pieces that come as close as possible to my idea of what I want them to be- so when I get really close to my ideal, its often a moment of expiration, of ‘oh no, where do I go now?’… I’m thinking of a series of bodice shapes I made in 2000, which depict the journey from Anglo-white ‘civilisation’ into a Tasmanian identity, where the landscape seeps into the fabrics and almost has its revenge by ‘colonising’ their clothing, and therefore their means of expressing their personal and collective-social identities! It took me months to create any new work after I completed that series.
And of course, my Teacosy* Revolution project, which I’ve had ‘steeping’ away in the background all this time, I really need to get it out in the world and finish putting together the Manifesto as a book…then to look for a willing publisher! It’s a big personal project and I’m feeling nearly ready to just give everything to getting it off the ground properly and set up so people can access the project and contribute continuously, so that it can take on its own life and embark on its own journey!
What has been the most exciting point in your career to date and why?
One of the things that really knocked my socks off was seeing my clothing designs worn by models at Fashion Exposed in Melbourne in 2009. I was invited to be an exhibiting emerging designer with a group of amazingly talented designers from all over Australia. I felt very honoured to be showing next to them, I don’t feel like a ‘proper’ fashion designer, I have only a little patternmaking experience yet I love making garments that are more like ‘pieces’, wearable artworks, so they are less commercial, yet hopefully more intriguing? So these two gorgeous and tall young women swished out wearing my designs and I was able to see them in context and see also that I can achieve things I might think are impossible!
I fell pregnant right after that event and life is taking a nice meandering path now. I’ll go back to making clothing once my son, Felix, is a bit older and I have more Atelier time.
Do you have any major projects in the pipeline at the moment? Can you share these with us?
I do have an embryonic project, which is a long term one (one of two!), which involves creating a travelling show…I’m still working it out so I won’t spill the beans just yet!
I do have a collection of cushions and bags to make for a very gorgeous boutique in Melbourne called Tiger & Peacock, lots of luscious black silk, diamante and glass beading, and I’m determined to refine my hand embroidery so its less ‘rustic’ for this collection!
I have some artwork to make for a group exhibition in Devonport (Northern Tasmania) which coincides with the Ten Days on The Island arts festival and for this we’ve been asked to look at any female convicts in our family trees and interpret their story in a positive way, to help change the perception of Colonial convict women as belligerent and wicked (I’m sure I would be too if I were deprived of an education and was treated like a third class citizen!)
\I’m working right now on a Public Art Commission through Arts@Work in Tasmania, for Bicheno Child Care Centre on the East Coast of Tas. I’m making them Tasmania-themed alphabet blocks of applique leather, featuring Tasmanian animals, plants, insects, etc. Kookaburra sample panel photo is below.
I’ve also never applied to participate in the Tamworth Textile Triennial, which I’m planning to do finally this year. Since my son was born 2 years ago, I’ve been slowly changing from working in a frenzied, workaholic manner to a much more focused and considered practice- which is more low-key & manageable with a toddler who wants to ‘help mummy’! I still make work to commission for private customers, which I love doing.
If you could have your work displayed anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be displayed?
I feel very fortunate to have had my work in a show at Anthropologie in New York, courtesy of Globetrotting Stylist extraordinaire Sibella Court who curated the show. Into the Lighthouse! That’s one location I’d been hoping to show at for a few years!
Oh and my pie-in-the-sky dreams are to have my work in MONA in Hobart, the V&A in London, Centre des Arts Decoratifs & Musee Carnavalet & Astier de Villatte in Paris, The silk museum in Lyon, Istanbul Modern in Turkey, to show at Maison et Objet & Milan
Design Week & Venice Biennale, a feature article in The World of Interiors & Vogue Living would be utterly amazing….and a long list of other ‘big’ exciting venues that will be a total honour to show in, should that happen in the future?!
What would be your dream commission?
I’d love to have a couple of jobs embroidering covers for novels or cookbooks or CDs or events posters even, like the very talented Jillian Tamaki .
I’d also love to create bespoke pieces for designers I admire, like Astier de Villatte In France, Akira Isogawa & Collette Dinnigan in Australia, Alexander McQueen fashion house & Timorous Beasties in the UK & Scotland….I really enjoy setting myself seemingly unachievable goals and pursuing them for however long it takes! That’s the side of me that is passionate and driven!
I do have a secret dream to design costumes for Film, Opera & Ballet performances….I have a local friend who is an English-born Opera Singer and I’ve offered to ‘practice’ on her whenever she needs something special!
If I were coming to visit your home town where would be the must stop place or places for me to visit.
We live in a really interesting rural area which has beautiful forests & caves to explore, Mountains to climb, a lot of natural features and landscapes…my childhood has been full of bushwalks and trips to the beach and islands off the coast of Tasmania.
I would recommend a short walk to Talumpunga Reserve to see the impressive gorge and prehistoric rock cliffs where Aboriginal women traditionally gathered ochre; then a trip to the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm for something yummy and infused with raspberries (or perhaps that before the walk, so you can wear off all the treats!).
Deloraine is the nearby town and the largest inland town in Tasmania. It’s a picturesque place with a strong arts community, lovely river walks and lunch at the Deloraine Deli where you might find gourmet bangers with truffle mash on the menu (there are several truffle farms in the vicinity!)
There’s a salmon farm & Ashgrove Cheese farm nearby, vineyards, Melita Honey in Chudleigh with glass beehive, Wychwood Garden & Nursery in Mole Creek (owned by friends and featured in lots of Australian Garden books!)
Perhaps I’d better create a local tour programme….
Describe your perfect Day
At the moment its getting up at 6am and sunning our toes on the polished floorboards while we have breakfast, then doing some gardening while Felix ‘helps’ with his own trowel, go for a walk along the farm lanes around the house amongst the bird-filled hawthorn hedgerows (so English!), lunch where Felix eats all his veggies and while he has his siesta I work in the Atelier; dinner together with ‘husband’ Rainier and a restful evening reading or watching a film or t.v show on iview. I’m trying to wean us off too much t.v, ..I try and structure my day so that I’m not asleep on the sofa by 5pm!
Now as much as I love your work, I love cooking and am always eager to find out a new recipe… what is your favorite dish to cook?
LEMON SEARED CHICKEN BREASTS with GOATS CHEESE, ASPARAGUS AND ROQUETTE PASTIE
This is a made-up-with-a-friend kind of recipe so its not measured accurately!
For two or three people:2 Free range Chicken breasts whole250 g Mushrooms2 LemonsA Julia-Child-French-amount of butter, probably 80g or 100g!
Slight teaspoon of olive oilSheet of puff pastryBunch of AsparagusGoats CheeseA little milkBottel of Pino Grigio! (optional but recommended)
Heat butter and oil in a frying pan, sear and cook chicken breasts through so they obtain a lovely brown almost-crunchiness, then add juice of two lemons to the pan (for a good amount of delicious tang), a good pinch of cracked black pepper and Maldon salt, turn the heat down a little and let the juices cook and reduce a little to make its own sauce. When you have it the way you like it, remove the pan from the heat and let the chicken rest before slicing into pieces about half a centimeter thick, or as you like. You can put honey brown mushrooms in the pan with the chicken at the start too, and remove them once browned and buttery, while you continue with the chicken.
In an oven at 200 degrees C, bake a sheet of pastry (I found Borg’s Organic puff pastry in our local supermarket), spread half the pastry sheet lengthways with a nice generous layer of soft goat’s cheese (I plump for French Soignon brand if I cannot get any local Westhaven or Yandover Farm goats cheese), lay enough raw asparagus along the goats cheese so the pastry will fold over evenly, lay some roquette over the asparagus and even grate a little parmesan over before folding the pastry in half and sealing the edges with brushed milk. Brush the top of the pastry with milk also and prick the top in three or four places with knife cuts for the steam to escape during cooking.
Place on a non-stick baking slide and bake for about 20 or 30 mins, depending on your oven’s nature and habits!
This is a perfect up-cheering winter dinner, and you can serve with a leafy green salad or anything like sliced tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil & roquette leaves, salt and pepper too…and a glass of Pinot Grigio!
I hope that you enjoyed our date with Tara…. on with the colourful journey…….
These are exhibitions that are coming up for Tara if you are in the area