Humans are the embodiment of duality, from our need to maintain solitary independence to craving companionship, from the masculine and the feminine and from drumming to crochet.
Louisa Magrics is the embodiment of this duality. A drummer and crochet artist basing her designs around geometry and netted patterns to create sculptural installations as part of her honours in fine arts at the University of Newcastle.
Using one crochet hook and the simplest foundation of crochet, she uses a mathematical formula and the rhythm from her musical background to create these installations that challenges our perception of space.
‘I have always been crocheting. My mum taught me how to crochet when i was really young. I only ever used it for making winter things to keep myself warm. It was a really nice skill to have,’ Louisa said.
‘While at University, I became fascinated with the medium and thought about how I could use those netted designs to create more sculptural shapes. It’s just this continued process of, what else could I try or do.’
There is a unifying factor between visual arts or any kind of art form and music and the idea of flow theory. Whereby, you become engaged in a task because you are satisfied by the process, intellectually challenged, while also being out of your element but stimulated to really focus on the task at hand.
‘I find that in the space of crocheting. It’s a similar zone of just getting in that meditative rhythm of doing something. I like it best when it’s a design that challenges me a bit, I am not doing something that I have done before,’ Louisa said.
Louisa creates because she has to. In order to get an understanding of what she wants to do next, she needs to externalise all of the ideas in her head, in these different ways. Finding it difficult to keep internal the ideas she wants to explore and experiment with.
‘Underlining all that is communication. Finding ways to communicate with human beings that isn’t necessarily based on words. Words are a finite description of the human experience and there is a lot more to it that words can’t say,’
Many creatives understand what it is like at the beginning of your chosen medium; continually challenging and questioning yourself. It’s funny how you stumble across things and then something clicks and you realise why you have chosen this medium for creative expression.
‘I realised that weaving is a really good way of representing time. When someone looks at a woven piece, they immediately know that so many hours have gone into it, then I started adding elements of numbers and rhythm, it’s a really enjoyable art form,’ Louisa said.
To create any piece, Louisa needs to gather her materials. For this, she goes op-shopping because she uses a lot of acrylic yarn. She says that she does not want to contribute to the consumer demands for these products from overseas.
‘I would rather use excess and there is a lot of excess in op-shops and it’s really cheap with a lot of variety. I really enjoy going treasure hunting and seeing what I can find and bringing home these massive bags of wool at a bargain,’ Louisa said.
Then, she organises the different colours and textures of the wool into these gradients that go from light to dark or dark to light, fluffy to not so fluffy, exploring different ideas through the progression of the piece.
When she creates her colour palate, she organise it that some colours will continue through and others will go into it as she progresses creating really nice fades or emerging’s over colour.
‘With that, I am thinking about a broader formula of design. Those ideas kind of situate themselves in there, amongst a larger scheme of a grander piece which inevitably takes forever to do,’ Louisa said.
‘Which is why I have a really nice space to work in and a really good audio book that has me engaged for 10 hours straight or a movie that I can semi-pay attention to, so I can bust it out.’
For many of us, what drives that creative process is to get to an end goal. With crochet there is no end, it’s never a static piece of work. It continually changes with different environments the piece is installed in.
After Louisa has finished making the physical form that she wants, it’s still unfinished because at that point, it’s just a lump of material on the floor. she has been doing these time lapse videos to capture the changes in her work.
‘I think it is a bit of a temporal play in ways that I don’t even necessarily fully comprehend but I like the idea of distilling time into these abstractive forms and even thinking about the idea of, what is the work itself?’ Louisa said.
‘Doing the time lapses is a way to further depict rhythm and the distillation of time and the abstraction of time, while documenting the work but then creating new work.’
When people think of crochet, they link it to ideas of domesticity and woman’s work, something that is passed down through the matriarchal line. It is this view that underpins the way some people read or view the work, as a feminine domestic activity.
Louisa, like others before her, are working to change this stereotype by reclaiming crochet as a practice that is underpinned by mathematics.
‘It’s opened the door to really acknowledge fibre arts as a medium to explore mathematical ideas. It’s really cool in a feminist sense, reclaiming that patriarchal space. Mathematics is a field that is male dominated,’ Louisa said.
‘There are a lot of male artists using crochet in their art practice who are doing amazing things. They work towards changing the gender bias that still exists around notions of ‘women’s work’. While I draw strength from the historical relevancy of the term, I’m also very into the idea that crochet has moved beyond gender binaries in today’s world.’
The main thing that Louisa is exploring in her work, which isn’t language based, is mathematics. She finds that it ties everything together from physics to science to biology to visual arts, mathematics is there, and it’s a language in itself.
‘It’s just basic number counting patterns and ideas of ratio and curvature and then it’s an exploration of how that then fits in space and takes on different forms. I think I am exploring a bit of ambiguity in that sense but it’s an interesting space to occupy,’ Louisa said.
Within her practice, she is finding that crochet and her background in music, as a drummer, complement each other. Ideas of rhythm, harmony and musical composition have in some way influenced her art practice.
Ideas of rhythm, on beats and off beats are imbedded in the number progression of the phyllotaxis spiral forms. Music is explored though her use of colour and creating harmony with the colour palate that she uses. Using three subtle different shades of a colour and shifting one to create a change in melody.
‘I love music as art that you do with other people. I realised that you can’t do it by yourself, you have to have those other people there. I think I needed something that was always going to be there all the time,’ Louisa said.
‘Music is really ephemeral, it only exists when people are in the space doing it. After drumming for a number of years, I needed something for me, not about others. Crochet is just about me, it’s an art form that I can do on my own terms, it’s very fulfilling in that sense.’
During her creative journey, Louisa has created bodies of work. One is the head size study series, based on geometric solids, like cubes, pyramids or pentagons. They are performative pieces that she wears on her body, exploring ideas, while also having fun, an important part of her process.
‘I am thinking about ambiguous biology, abstracting the body to make it look weird and alien. I love the idea of coupling wool with something that looks sci-fi. Sci-fi is such a science domain, while wool is a grandma domain, I like seeing them together,’ Louisa said.
She also creates these large scale installations, exploring bigger concepts and taking the idea of crochet and turning them into these 3D sculptural forms. The main one she created this year is called, The blue spiral installation, based on spiral forms and enclosures to explore the translation of the pieces through space, documenting the installation in three different environments and how it is never the same thing.
‘I’ve done a couple of other large scale sculptures. One that I am working on at the moment is called, Parabola. I’ve been thinking about enclosures and ideas of women’ spaces, cavities while also thinking about how to create an environment, in a sense,’ Louisa said.
‘The blue spiral has that, I describe it as distribution density, at the core of the sculpture it is really dense and you can sit in it and it bursts out into space. Parabola is more of chasm, a really big, brown chasm.’
‘I am also looking at how by isolating the work in a black void and taking away the context of the physical space, you can do all of these crazy things with the piece.’
Louisa has a busy creative year ahead of her. She will be starting her masters next year, creating work and thinking about translation and evolution and how the work keeps on living.
‘I am thinking about how to depict the work, how to convey the work if it is not a static thing and phenomenological effects related to this process,’ Louisa said.
She will be looking at meta-modernism, off modern, internet art and how art in the 21st century is responding to these new mediums and how artists are defining themselves now compared to the past. She will also be engaging with the online medium, further exploring how it can be used for documentation and the production of work.
‘I am aware that my work is so dependent on the physical space that it occupies for a limited moment of time. I want it to exist in forms that goes beyond that,’ Louisa said.
If you want to find out more about Louisa and her work and any upcoming exhibition you can find her on Facebook and Instagram or check her website http://cargocollective.com/louisamagrics . You can also check out her time lapse video on YouTube and see the progression of her work and how it changes.
‘I like the idea that even when I am not here anymore, maybe a few pieces will exist in some form and they will continue to be engaged with. They will kind of live longer than me and I like that idea, that play with the idea of time,’ Louisa said.