Last month we introduced a new monthly feature in which we profile one of our amazing CWC members. Following from our interview with long-time member Louise Jones, we thought it would be fitting to turn the spotlight onto a brand-new member. We hope you’ll love learning about Rhonda Pryor, her work and her creative path as much as we did!
What do you do or make?
I make 2 and 3D artwork and installations in which used textiles are often a feature. My work always relates to memory in some way, and sometimes I include photography in the mix somewhere. I find memory a limitless source of possibility. I also teach workshops.
What was the path you followed to doing what you do now?
I originally trained in fashion design, worked in the industry for several years, and then studied painting and photography at the College of Fine Arts (now UNSW Art and Design). It wasn’t until returning to university to do my Masters of Fine Art that my choice of medium changed (or, more accurately, returned) to textiles. It was then I found my interests really lay in ideas of time, and how we interpret memory. Textile is the perfect medium for this.
What does a typical day involve for you?
After duly processing and dispatching the family, I generally do a bit of email catch-up in my pyjamas before getting some exercise out of the way. Family admin follows, and then I’ll typically re-jig my to-do list and get down to writing (proposals, workshops, etc.) or continue working in the studio on whatever I’m involved in. I tend to get bogged down in research but once I’m in studio mode it’s hard to stop. I find it difficult to manage studio time, teaching, admin and all the other stuff that goes along with running an art practice. Somehow it all gets done, though. Evenings are generally taken up with family stuff but I do tend to continue with some writing, research or studio work in between.
What have been one or two favourite recent projects or commissions?
I had the most amazing residency in Japan in 2016 (funded by a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts), learning about indigo, shibori dye methods, silk harvesting and making, and antique Japanese textiles. It really resonated with my practice of employing used fabric into my work, sifting through notions of memory and personal and cultural value.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your work?
Not trying to be perfect. In fact, I’ve learned to value imperfection more and more. I’ve always loved wonky, odd or mismatched things. Now I have an outlet for it! In any case, trying to be perfect only clams you up, stifles your creativity and makes you a miserable stress-head. Use your mistakes as a method of discovery, another way to do things, a different direction, a new product…
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to manage my time better so I can spend more time making in the studio. I’m always looking for time management tools to help in this regard. After much trial and error, I think I’m at last getting some procedures in order that (thankfully) work for me and my lifestyle. I’m also working toward more exhibitions and artist residencies.
What are you or have you recently enjoyed...
...watching? The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale. Completely sucked in.
...reading? Working Class Man, Working Class Boy, Alone in Berlin, The Last Girl. I lean toward nonfiction, or fiction based on reality.
...listening to? Radio National interviews. The radio is always on, unless I have serious thinking to do and need silence to hear myself think. My husband has the most amazing musical ear so we have lots of styles we listen to, but in the studio it’s Radio National.
Can you list for us your top resources across any media for creative inspiration?
In print media, Selvedge Magazine. Online, it’s Trend Tablet, Garland Magazine, Hiut Denim’s newsletter. All full of inspiring stuff.
What drew you to become a member of CWC?
I wanted to mingle with like-minded individuals with a view to possible collaborations, expanding my profile and gathering business tips and ideas.
What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker or designer?
Mistakes are learning tools. Learn from them and find a way to use them to your advantage. Also, trust your own judgment. If you believe it’s good, it is. It’s your vision, not someone else’s. That said, always be receptive to constructive criticism. You can choose to reject it but always listen. Listening is underrated.
Phoebe Miller is a member of the CWC Board. Her professional background covers experience in marketing and communications for the corporate, arts and not-for-profit sectors. She also ran her own creative side project, designing and making accessories under the moniker Simply Phoebe. Follow her on Instagram (@simplyphoebe).