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WAFTA STORY 

wafta history of exhibition invitations
wafta history of exhibition invitations
wafta history of exhibition invitations
wafta history of exhibition invitations

From 1995 to the present day, WAFTA has evolved as a progressive organisation whose members have passion, enthusiasm, and appreciation of fibre and textiles as an artform. A growing interest in fibre and textiles in Western Australia from the 1970s to the 1990s saw the establishment of various craft related interest groups. The Craft Council of Western Australia was formed in the 1970s bringing together people from various craft disciplines of ceramics, jewellery and textiles. Due to the growth of the craft industry in WA, by the mid 1990s the Craft Council of WA was no longer able to service the broader needs of medium specific groups. It became apparent that there was a need for a not-for-profit organisation that brought together people from a variety of backgrounds with a common interest in fibre and textiles.

A general meeting was held at the Crafts Council of WA in 1995 to establish a state-wide not-for-profit association for fibre and textiles. It was attended by textile practitioners, representatives of educational institutions, textile artists, members of fibre and textile interest groups with a particular focus (i.e. embroiderers, quilters, felt makers, paper makers, machine embroiderers), textile suppliers, and gallery owners.

At this meeting an Interim Committee was appointed to formulate a draft constitution. The association was to be a neutral ground and focal point for the diverse nature of textile practice within WA. Common interests and sharing of positive experiences would be of benefit to those participating, including those in regional areas. A draft constitution was written relating to the purpose and direction of the association. At a general meeting in September 1995 the Interim Committee released the mission statement:

To further the practice of fibre and textiles in Western Australia through increasing network opportunities and professional representation both nationally and internationally.

The Western Australian Fibre & Textile Association (WAFTA) was established on the premise that the organisation must embrace all levels of practice and acknowledge the significant role that each individual and specialised groups have in building and supporting fibre and textile practice in Western Australia.

The Objectives of the association are:

  • to increase the understanding and appreciation of fibre and textiles through education, exhibitions, and national and international exchange

  • to encourage and provide a means for free exchange of ideas and information between those concerned with textiles at all levels in Western Australia, nationally and internationally

  • to encourage the highest standards of design and craftsmanship in the fibre and textile arts

  • to facilitate and encourage the transition from student to practitioner within the fibre and textile field

  • to encourage balanced and critical evaluation of and writing about fibre and textiles

In November 1995 the revised version of the constitution was accepted, and the association proceeded with incorporation. These early meetings were held at the Craft Council of WA and the membership grew to 140 in 1996.

The WAFTA program featured stimulating guest speakers and provided a welcome opportunity for members to meet, share ideas and get to know their fellow members. A number of studio visits were programmed each year, enabling members to view the range of working practices of other fibre and textile practitioners and be inspired by their passion and production.

Successive leaders have shared their enthusiasm and vision for the future of WAFTA. Activities and events have included organised excursions to studios, gallery and regional area visits, professional development and technique workshops, Open Days, and traders’ and suppliers’ days.

Meeting times, frequency and venues have varied little over the years. For a short time, meetings were held at the King Street Arts Centre in Perth, then Alexander Park Craft House, Menora and now at Tresillian Community Arts Centre in Nedlands. Meetings have been held in conjunction with daytime excursions, to allow a cross-section of members to attend. Sunday afternoon meetings alternated with Wednesday evening meetings but eventually Tuesday evening became the fixed meeting time until the Covid pandemic in 2020. The meetings ceased, then online zoom meetings were attempted and eventually Tuesday evenings were resumed with occasional Sunday afternoons.

Over the years national and international visitors to Perth have been engaged by WAFTA to conduct workshops and give presentations. The expertise of WAFTA members is also drawn on widening the experience of WA practitioners.
From the outset, regular newsletters have kept members informed of forthcoming events and articles of interest. Initially these were paper copies but now they are sent electronically and enable the transmission of coloured images and the inclusion of interesting web links for further research. In keeping with the electronic age, a WAFTA online discussion group was established for members to communicate.

Over the past years WAFTA has seen a significant increase in member participation in the activities of the organisation. The current membership of 220 (2022) includes art educators, professional textile artists with formal art training, recent textile graduates, as well as the makers who have developed their skills and expertise over many years of working with fibre and textiles. The passion, enthusiasm, and talent of the growing membership reflects the interest in and appreciation of fibre and textiles in the community.

Since 2008 WAFTA has recorded a number of significant achievements. A library of textile and art related books and periodicals was established to provide a resource for members. Also, in 2008 the WAFTA website

www.wafta.com.au went online providing a window to the world of WAFTA with listings of forthcoming events within the organisation and further afield. WAFTA has provided residential scholarships to attend Fibreswest, an artist-in-residency program, and a student scholarship for Wearable Art Mandurah. In 2022, for the twentyFIVE+crossover exhibition three Awards have been established for a professional artist, a maker, and a student exhibitor.

Exhibitions have been an essential part of the promotion of the work of WAFTA members.

These exhibitions have showcased the wide-ranging and skilled practice of the membership. WAFTA will continue to take metropolitan exhibitions on tour to regional galleries.

EXHIBITIONS 1997 – 2022

1997    First Off, Craftwest Gallery, Perth This exhibition was juried by an independent panel

1998    Second Glance, Fremantle Arts CentreCurated by Holly Story

1998    Border Work, Coolroom Gallery, Bunbury

2009    Naturally, Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, Fremantle

2010    Silk Sail, Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre

2011    In Tension, Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, Fremantle

2013    Mysterium, Gallery Central, Perth and Geraldton

2015    Memory & Commemoration, Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre and ArtGeo, Busselton

2016    twentyONE+, Spectrum Project Space, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. To celebrate WAFTA’s coming of age. Juried

2017    Altered States, Perth Town Hall, Northcliffe and Lake Grace

2020    Hanging by a Thread, Holmes à Court Gallery, West Perth

2022    twentyFIVE+, Holmes à Court Gallery, West PerthA celebration of 25+ years as an Association. Juried

Wafta twentyFIVE + crossover
on-line catalogue

includes essay by Erin Coates, Wafta history, images and statements from artists on the 42 art-works exhibited

wafta exhibition catalogue