Exhibition Alert: Robyn Norris

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

From the Earth, Fire and Fibre

Yarra Sculpture Gallery

117 Vere St. Abbotsford, Melbourne, Australia

Open until July 4th

Artist Story: Twelve years ago Robyn Norris participated in a basket making workshop run by Pat Dale from Basket Makers of Victoria (BOV). It wasn't just Pat's knowledge and teaching that Robyn was impressed with, the craft itself was irresistible - it evoked a creative calling. Robyn's basketry journey had begun, and nature offered her all the inspiration she needed.

Before basket making, Robyn was a kindergarten teacher for forty years. Her teaching style was nature-based, apt for a teacher who loved being outdoors herself. Robyn believed the natural world was the best classroom, her children learnt from adventuring outside and pulling apart flowers.

Fast forward and Robyn is still most happy amongst the trees. For her basketry work, this has been a blessing - as she has never been short of supplies. Her friend's own an orchard in Gippsland, Victoria that she helps to prune. The property is home to Willow, Wisteria, Chocolate vine and Gleditsia that provide bundles of material for her pieces.

Her local neighbourhood is also bountiful. She sweeps and collects Jacaranda stalks from the footpath. And if she finds a garden with a plant she thinks would work beautifully, she won't hesitate to knock on the door and politely ask for permission to take some samples. She says people are usually surprised but always say yes!

Robyn has many favourite plants that vary throughout the seasons. Some of these include Arum lilies, Blue Gum branches (perfect for Christmas wreaths she says), Jacaranda leaf twigs, Protea and Banksia flowers and Cordyline. She explains that collecting and storing plants is something that requires patience. Some materials can take weeks before they can be used in her projects, others sometimes up to a year.

Having space to store plants can be an issue, a common problem for most basket makers who use natural materials. In Robyn's case, she has taken over her laundry and drying racks as well as some living areas of her home- even her son’s chillout room at times! She describes her home as a crowded storage facility. It's a good thing then that she always has several projects on the go, something she's sure most basket makers can relate to.

Robyn incorporates other materials in her work such as old fencing wire (see image below for an example of a fencing wire random weave). She's acquired some in the past from an old farm that was replacing their fence. She mastered using the wire quite quickly, but needed her friend to show her how to use an angle grinder.

In her work, Robyn likes to showcase plants individually so they can be appreciated for their colour, shape and texture. I personally haven’t recommended using Agapanthus for basketry because the leaves have no fibre however in this exhibition Robyn has used the dried Agapantha flowers and stem to create a stunning wall hanging. I stand corrected!

In this exhibition, you will see several individual plant pieces. Her sculptural work is truly divine and you will leave inspired - I certainly did!

Exhibition details again:

Yarra Sculpture Gallery

117 Vere St. Abbotsford, Melbourne, Australia

It is open until July 4th

Thursday - Sunday 11am - 4pm

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