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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

MFA, April 18-24 2021

Wānanga at Worser Bay, Meeting with librarian Craig Cherrie and textile design assistant Ashley Oswin, Making Artwork, Student crit, Pottery using cow dung.


We had a very enjoyable wānanga at Worser Bay for the entire MFA group plus staff. It was fun to chat together in such a lovely setting and hear about 3 artists' projects -

Cora's talk really resonated with me and fuelled the belief that art matters. I admired her service to her whanau and people, her passion to revive Nuie's traditional hiapo making and pass it on to the next generation, the sustainability of her materials and her generosity in sharing her craft with us. Wow. Her tee-shirt read "my culture is not a costume" . It's true.


I met with Craig at Massey library to research the following threads (pun intended!) -

  1. being pakeha within a Maori worldview

  2. geometric patterns in art making

  3. agency

  4. site and memory

I came away with a great list of references and two books by Geoff Park which I have started to read. Te Ururoa's opening chapter dispels any innocence I had about Captain James Cook's mission to find and claim arable land.

Agency – Critical Posthumanism Network
Download • 551KB

Aktas Material as the Co-designer 201
Download • 880KB

Bell Dilemmas of settler belonging-roots
Download • 83KB

Bell Moving Roots-A “Small Story” of Set
Download • 78KB

Hickey-Moody New Materialism, Ethnograph
Download • 528KB

Fitzpatrick A Story of Becoming-Entangl
Download • 96KB


I visited Ashley Oswin to try and understand if there was a repeat pattern in my designs. Ashley thought there wasn't and showed me this fantastic link

This is a link that discusses textile design and tradition in Ireland.


The materials I'm using are viscose thread and acid-free tissue paper. Both materials are made from recycled tree pulp.

Viscose is made from tree wood pulp, like beech, pine, and eucalyptus, but can also be made from bamboo. Viscose is semi-synthetic due to the many chemicals involved in the viscose process, like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. The viscose manufacturing process is summed up in five steps:

  1. The plant is chipped into a wood pulp and dissolved chemicals like sodium hydroxide, forming a brown wood pulp solution.

  2. This brown wood pulp is then washed, cleaned, and bleached.

  3. To create the fibers, the pulp is treated with carbon disulfide and then dissolved in sodium hydroxide to create the solution referred to as “viscose.”

  4. The viscose solution is forced through a spinneret, which is a machine that creates filaments, called regenerated cellulose.

  5. This regenerated cellulose is spun into yarn, which can then be woven or knit into viscose rayon fabric.

Tissue paper is used to wrap and protect valuable items. It is soft and feathery, and almost appears to be translucent. Tissue paper can turn yellow and brittle over time and even damage objects around it. This is due to a change in the paper’s chemical composition. Most paper contains a by-product of wood called lignin, and as lignin breaks down over time, it turns paper acidic. Acid-free tissue paper has the lignin removed. Tissue paper is made of recycled paper, and that makes the fibres too short to reuse. But you can add tissue paper to the compost heap. And there are a variety of different ways you can reuse your tissue paper before retiring it.


I have toiled away making the cross stitch pieces using threads of colours seen in the dusk sky over Eastbourne, playing with the way the threads weft and weave to create different patterns and enjoying composing and layering each sheet in the style of a palimpsest.

The following two images are two 11x11 grids but the warp thread on the first image illustrates how changing the beginning thread (bottom left corner) alters the pattern. In the second image the weft thread (bottom right) is the same in each grid.

These images show some of the layering of different colours woven through the grid. I love the figure/ground shifting that occurs, especially in the places where the weft thread is interrupted.

I've also been exploring the technique Cora used of softening the paper in sea water to see how the paper and threads hold up. I am interested in tearing the paper to discuss how humans are destroying Earth's atmosphere.


Five of us met informally to share out artwork and offer comments. Its an indication of how cooperative and supportive we are of each others practice and how much we love to talk about art in general. Some used it as an opportunity to present their artist talk (due last week of semester) so it was good to see how others approached it and the clarity of their intention as an artist was quite impressive. I am still trying to un-mash all the threads in my brain! Having such a good group of artists helps us to all be better at what we do.


I attended Munju's poo pottery workshop at Sustainability trust!! Both smelly and funny.


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