workshops & stuff
Artist in Residence @ FIBRE ARTS AUSTRALIA April & July 2017
Wonderful to be invited to attend Fibre Arts Australia art retreats as the Artist in Residence for both the April's and the July's Winter School events, for more details here

Erica's art pieces have been exhibited nationally and internationally, some achievements include a win in the Award for Artistic Excellence in the 2011 Strand Ephemera, a win in the Creative Excellence section in the prestigious World of Wearable Art Awards 2012 and solo exhibitions which include ‘Pipe Dreams’ at the Gold Coast City Gallery 2012, ‘Rubber gloves, sharp teeth and other pointy bits’ at the Tweed Regional Gallery in 2013 and ‘Pipe Dreams’ displayed at the Noosa Regional Gallery in 2014 and Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery 2016.
Conversations with the makers with Glenys Mann from FIBRE ARTS AUSTRALIA
CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?  
 
EG That’s a very ambiguous yes; the whole house is my studio and is also shared with my partner, an architect, so my artistic skills are utilized when I do work for him on occasion as well. My dining niche is my primary work zone, with easy access to the kitchen sink which gets a regular work out when I mix dyes, plaster, glues and paints etc. My industrial sewing machine sits under the window and I am surrounded with storage drawers which I load up with all manner of collected objects. Most times my immediate work area looks like a bomb site and while I try to contain my stuff within it, however more often than not.........more.
Architectural Textiles
FIBRE ARTS AUSTRALIA 
 
WHEN: July 2016 
Workshop duration: 5 Days 

Design & creating architectual facades and 3D effects in organza fabrics.


THE EXOTIC TROPHY
In a re-ordered world where we are typically disconnected from the natural one around us, the electronic modern age where fast paced learning, disassociated empathy, validation addiction and chronic consumerism is rife. A world that at times seems more compressed, crowded, yet more connected All so that we can now have a front row seat to watch the effects of over population, environmental disasters, social injustices, the over-globalisation of natural resources and the over-industrialisation of animal farming. In “TheExoticTrophy“, the artist seeks to pay homage and capture the essence of animals who will be made gone by over hunting, abhorrent abuse in fur farming, ongoing illegal poaching and corporate game slaughter. Animals we can view on telly, in zoos, on our walls, worn as garments, as upholstery on our furniture, cruelly harvested for primitive treatments and remedies, mutilated as test animals for cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as well as stolen wild as exhibits in illegal zoos and pet trades.

WESWAL Gallery May 2015
The Skin We Are In

Lorraine Pilgrim Gallery Sept. 2014 

Like most people I long to live in a world free of the spoilt, fearful and superficial. A world in which individuals are reasonable, tolerant and intelligent. For the most part we are slowly getting there. You only have to look at how experimental and free the youth of today are with their ideas and ideals. The world turns and we are slowly finding that we now seek acceptance by the disabled, compassion by the emotionally damaged, reward from the poor and destitute and maybe even universal equality by those we elect... Hmmm. 
 
That said, Animals too play an important part in this scenario, and throughout my life. They have been trusting friends, confidants and cherished companions. I have fond memories of dairy farm stays where I discovered these gentle trusting creatures and learnt about the goodness of beings - animal and human. I have also seen tragic scenes of mistreatment, torture and slaughter and learnt about the evil of beings - humans. 
 
This is my interpretation of similarities, differences, quirks and compositions within a collection of paintings, stitched textile works and soft sculpture that represent my current view on human to human, human to animal and animal to animal relationships. After all we all feel the same emotions and pain, no matter what "the skin we are in".
Mock-sidermy Trophy
FIBRE ARTS AUSTRALIA 
 
WHEN: APRIL 2016 
Workshop duration: 5 Days 
Replacing fabric for skin, stuffing for… well… innards, cruelty for fun - join me in transforming cloth, trimmings and finishes into a uniquely crafted faux animal head. 
 
Taxidermy procedures were once closely held secrets acquired by many years of trial and experimentation. Join me on a step by step animal friendly alternative or as I like to phrase it Mock-sidermy - where we will explore a variety of skills and techniques among them design, sculpture, sewing and surface texture to produce a mounted head of a dog, moose, horse, deer or even an imagined beast. Once we have shaped the form, we will upholster our Mock-sidermy in a final layer of fabric. Finishing and personalising our piece with various stitches, painted effects and embellishments. 
 
*some sewing experience required. 

The cutting (& Stitching edge)
The pieces often translate into works comprising a blend of human and animalistic form that is often layered with meaning, through to pieces designed to play on emotions; works that toy with childhood memories and growing up, spending time on farms, disjointed family connections, empathy for the lost, a love of animals as well as ......more.





Textiles re:imagined

Thrilled to be one of the fifty artist selected by TextileArtist.org to have my soft sculpture work included in e-book Textiles re:imagined.....more


You can also fine the my earlier interview with Joe Pitcher & TextileArtist here.
2nd TamworthTextile Triennial
Group Exchange
The work of 22 artists working in textiles and curated by Senior Lecturer of Fashion Textiles at UTS, Cecelia Heffer in an exhibition  that toured across Australia to ten gallery institutions from from 2014 to 2016.

Links to exhibitis & media below:
Tamworth Regional Gallery
Port Pirie Regional Gallery
UTS exhibit 2015
ABC New England North West 2014
Wollongong Art Gallery
 

EDUCATION KIT: WOW EXHIBIT
IN 2015, The World of WearableArt exhibit started its tour of the world and the first stop was Townsville's Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. I was thrilled to be asked by the gallery to be included in the exhibition Educational Kit, as an artist working within the wearable art field....more.




PC: 2014 World of WearableArt
FASHION ON THE EDGE OF ART
Gold Coast City Gallery - After Dark 
WHEN: November 2013 
Fashion on the Edge of Art: With guest speakers Alison Kubler, Dr Laini Burton and Erica Gray.
Book Launch and presentation:

Fashion on the Edge of Art: My perspective 
I will discuss some of my experiences, as well as the work of other designers and artists, producing wearable art from a variety of materials and techniques. 
 

Left: Erica Gray, Alison Kubler & Dr Laini Burton PC: coastconfidential.com.au  

PIPE DREAMS
Exhibiton catalogue, part 1

Ceci nést pas une pipe 
Rene Magritte, 1928-29 
 
Encircling the domestic and commercial buildings in which we live is a myriad of colourful pipes that provide modern conveniences. For the most part, these pipes dwell in the periphery - we are too busy keeping ‘our eyes peeled’ for car spots in busy shopping centres, foraging for the dishwashing detergent in the dark cupboard under the sink, or simply not looking for the ubiquitous pipe. 
Pipe Dreams is the first solo exhibition by Gold Coast artist Erica Gray, who does, in fact, notice these pipes. Growing up in the suburbs of the Gold Coast with a father who worked as a plumber and three brothers that would eventually follow him into the trade, Erica and her childhood friends would fashion games out of various pipes and componentry. A combination of both the reflective materials and interesting forms influenced Erica’s creative practice, resulting in this exhibition of soft sculpture and paintings. 
A pipedream is a tremendous hope that is impossible to achieve. The nonsensical squishy pipe creations that Erica produces could never (and don’t wish to) perform the basic role of a pipe; instead these forms invite us to contemplate the unseen intertwining grids that circulate our lives. Constructed with PVC fabric, polyester stuffing and plywood, Erica inverts the logic and function of a pipe, instead engaging us with notions of scale, materiality, architecture and the body. She toys with ideas of physical presence and representation in a manner akin to the work of Belgian artist Rene Magritte. 
Erica Gray has perfected her craft over two decades in the fashion industry. She first worked on various surf label contracts, among them the surf-wear brand Pipedreams. She then worked across a range of projects that involved sewing, costuming and accessory-making. In contrast to this, Erica revels in the freedom that her artistic practice offers her; 
PIPE DREAMS
Exhibiton catalogue, part 2. 
 
I take special care to make my stitches shown on my artwork, in all their random and uneven way. Nothing makes me happier than seeing those stitches bunched up and on display where once it would have been unsightly. 
 
 
Instead of cloaking the human form in material, Erica wrangles with, and ultimately controls, the sculptures into submission. Although for me fashion was a form of sculpture, I never had to worry about the core, as the person I was fitting held up the form. Now with each sculpture I thrill at the challenge of putting it together and making the form whole. The artist uses the symbol of pipes and the term ‘pipe dream’ to organically explore and explain the contradictions and challenges that we face in life; 
 
 
Pipe Dreams represents the attitudes of go get-‘em, take a risk, jump and leap into new challenges, do that what takes your breath away or makes your pulse race and in the end if you don’t quite make it- sit back and have a laugh or better yet - try again! 
 
 
It is this sense of humour and unabashed optimism that pulsates through the works on display. Erica’s practice shares resonance with the spirit of Surrealism. As pipes, these sculptures are non-functional and impractical. Yet as pieces of art they allow the viewer to be transported to another world in which shiny red PVC fabric could well be the material of choice for plumbers, who might install squishy bulging pipes along the interior walls of homes and buildings. 
In the lead up to this exhibition, Erica travelled to Canberra to view soft sculpture in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. During the 1960s and 1970s there was a fundamental shift in thinking about materiality and space, which followed on from the ready-made sculptures and modern constructions of the Surrealists in the early twentieth century. Erica uses unconventional substances to challenge the nature of sculpture, and in doing so completely upends the materiality of the object, leaving it open to physical possibilities envisioned through the imagination of the viewer. Materially, Erica’s shiny and puffy red pipes share a resonance with functional pipes. Polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC, is one of the most common materials used in contemporary plumbing and waste management. Erica chooses to work with a derivative of PVC, thereby imbuing the sculptures with elements of authenticity. After her years in the clothing manufacturing business she understands the limitations of the material – the way it falls, and its tendency to creep into crinkled folds.  
The componentry of the sculptures are also born from Erica’s genuine knowledge of pipes and the vernacular of the plumbing and construction world. In addition to being raised by a family of plumbers, she now lives and works with her partner – an architect. Surrounded by architectural plans with electrical and plumbing layouts for industrial buildings or large homes, she is literally immersed in the world of plumbing and building construction, replete with pipes and their deliciously worded componentry such as elbows, couplings, reducers, olets, nipples and barbs. Erica’s paintings and sculptures marry the domestic act of sewing with the industrial world of engineering, plumbing and construction.  
Erica’s pipes have a strong life-force; they anthropomorphise into beings filled with personality. This was a deliberate move by the artist to demonstrate the desirability and appeal of soft sculpture; 
 
 
These pipes seem to crawl upon the wall like creatures out of a bizarre movie. These forms have no eyes or face to distinguish them as alive, yet seem to be. The shiny red will make you want to see your reflection as you move your face closer to its fleshy surface. Enticingly plump with puffiness, they will you to reach out and squeeze them. 
 
 
In Pipe Dreams, Erica Gray literally turns the gallery walls inside out to consider that which lurks within. Supplementing the vibrant sculptures are paintings that further explore pipe concepts. By rendering these pipes in a shiny red plastic fabric, cramming them with polyester stuffing, completing them with crazy-edged stitching, and displaying them on a white wall in a Gallery, Erica transforms something purely functional into something purely aesthetic. We do not need to understand the mechanics of water pipes – only stand before these sculptures and wonder. 
Pip Minney, 
Assistant Curator 
Gold Coast City Gallery 
PIPE DREAMS
Exhibiton catalogue, part 3. 

Soft Sculpture 
Soft sculpture was born in the 1960s out of the art movements Surrealism and Pop Art and reveals qualities of texture, pliability, and plasticity that were previously unknown in sculpture. Soft sculpture explores ideas using materials that are pliant rather than rigid. Materials with organic properties such as cloth, sisal, rope, plastic bags, fibreglass, vinyl, rubber, wool, and felt droop with the passage of time and the forces of gravity, and add another dimension to the world of sculpture. When Claes Oldenberg created “soft sculpture,” he rejected traditional “hard” materials and proceeded to engage with the tantalising new materials such as polycarbonates and polyvinyl chlorides that had been provided by the laboratories of modern science. Oldenberg found polyvinyl chloride the perfect sculptural material; colourful, shiny, and eye-catching and perfect for his monuments to the crassness of modern consumerism. Giant pillow-like hamburgers, floppy light switches and soft toilets referenced the monumentality of traditional sculpture, but their obvious softness questioned what was expected of sculpture. Although there is an element of playfulness in much soft sculpture, one of Australia’s best known exponents, Kathy Temin, uses synthetic fur fabric to create many moods in her works. Her popular work My Monument: White Fur Forest, shown in Brisbane at the Optimism show in 2008, invited us to play and explore. Another work, My Monument: Black Cube, shuts us out completely. Erica Gray fits into this soft sculpture scene like a hand into a glove. Combining a quirky sense of humour with her experience in the fashion industry, Erica produces soft sculptures that cry out to be touched. From the sensuous Felicity’s Secret (First Prize Passion and Desire exhibition 2009), to the brilliant Rock Anemone (co-winner Strand Ephemera 2011), Erica’s work is developing a stylistic fingerprint that declares it to be, unmistakably, from the mind of Erica Gray.  
Judy Hamilton 
 
Judy is an award winning sculptor and ceramic artist and is the former President of Sculptors Queensland. She is a current PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, researching the historical development of Brisbane's art production environment.
erica gray artist