Narelle Jubelin's international practice relies heavily on the genteel craft of petit point rendered in tiny scale in finest thread on finest fabric. She knows that the time invested in the creation of such delicate and exquisite works demands reciprocal time from a viewer. She knows the emotive value of the painstaking labour apparent in her stitched pictures. She knows that, having seduced her viewer with the delicate materiality of her work, she can deliver more robust fare. Note then that her miniscule stitches are not always conventionally ordered in the same direction, but rather move in one direction and then against that grain, though always against the rectilinear order of the base fabric. Use this a clue that, in Jubelin’s work, textile convention (the ordered warp and weft of fabric) is matched against textile ‘un-convention’ or even self-conscious ‘poor craft’. Note that a frame may be overwhelmingly heavy or oppressive or dark. Consider the implications of this for the focus of ‘the work’ or the relation of the textile to the mechanism which constrains it. Note that the subject-matter is, for example, the Centennial Tree where Australia was proclaimed part of the British Empire, but see that the mood is studious rather than celebratory. Note that the staging of her works, always in groups, operational like linguistic signs (dots, brackets, phrases), ‘speaks’ a complex narrative of difference and misfit. Check one’s sense then of unease and discomfort and question why something as seemingly innocuous as an embroidery can be so affective.
Bibliographical note© Dr Catherine Harper, 2003. A reduced version of this paper, which reflects on Narelle Jubelin's Constance Howard Memorial Lecture, Goldsmiths College, 2001, was published in Research Hallmark magazine, Goldsmiths in November of that year. As publisher's permission was not granted to upload the full essay, this shorter text only is available here.
- petit point, Narelle Jubelin, colonialist, stitch, embroidery