Belinda Ramson Gallery

Essay           Belinda Ramson’s Curriculum Vitae

 

Click on the links above to read Meredith Hinchliffe’s Essay and Belinda Ramson’s CV.

 

Gallery notes written by Meredith Hinchliffe.

 

Click on images to enlarge.

from left to right: “Cape,” c 1972, Rya wall hanging, wool, 130 cm x 58 cm.  ANU Art Collection, Photographer: David Boon.
“Kelso,” 1975, wool, linen, cotton, wood frame, jute backing, woven, 225 x 69 x 3 cm.  National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982. 82.2560.
“Inside Looking Out,” 1976, wool and cotton high warp tapestry, 119.0 cm x 45.5 cm. Collection of Suzanne and Peter Harding.  Photographer: Peter Harding.

The earliest work in this exhibition is a rya woven hanging entitled “Cape.” As Belinda Ransom was born, and grew up in New Zealand, I suggest it refers to the capes that were made from feathers and worn by the Maori for ceremonial purposes. “Kelso” was made not long after Ramson returned from her second year in Scotland and reflects an interest in the lines and shapes in architecture. Window scapes were a theme Ramson returned to many times.  In “Inside looking out,” the shapes are architectural and are, perhaps, a precursor to a later technique of using a series of grids to present glimpses, similar to a wall of snapshots.

“from left to right: “Stained Glass Window,” 1978, woven tapestry; wool, cotton, 153 x 63 cm. Victorian State Craft Collection on long term loan to Ararat Regional Art Gallery.
“Self portrait,” 1980, wool, cotton, high warp tapestry, 130.0 x 110.0 cm. Acc. 1981/00T1. Purchased 1981. Collection: State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia Photographer: Bo Wong.
“Tapestry: Rug on floor,” 1981, wool (tapestry), 43.5 x 60.3cm. Acc. 4:0575. Purchased 1981 with the assistance of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery. © QAGOMA. Photographer: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA.

Grids, diagonals, and verticals all give “Stained Glass Windowa dynamic, graphic quality. “Self-portrait” is an enigmatic and evocative work that shows the weaver at work, looking at her facing the loom with loose threads not yet sewn in. The thick warps allow the image of the weaver to be seen. Diamonds, checks and diagonals in “Rug on floor” add an illusory element, while also speaking about weaving.

from left to right: “Tanja 1,” 1982, Woven tapestry, wool, cotton, 86 x 60 cm. Collection of Ararat Regional Art Gallery. Purchased 1982 with the assistance of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council and the Ararat Gallery Social Committee.
“Kurraba Wharf,” 1990, wool, cotton. 54 cm x 26 cm. Collection of Wynn Roberts. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.

Tanja 1 is one of the first of a series of works depicting the environment of Tanja, the location in which Belinda lived in southern New South Wales, near the coast. Belinda spent 10 months or so, living and working in Sydney when her husband was working on a television series. They lived near Sydney harbour and she created “Kurraba Wharf” on a portable loom she had taken with her.  They were both very pleased with the movement of water at the bottom.

 

“Woden Valley,” 1984, woven tapestry, 4.7 m x 1.15 m, commissioned 1983, ACT Government. Photographer: Brenton McGeachie.

Belinda was commissioned to weave “Woden Valley,” for a newly-built public library in Woden Valley, Canberra. The large work uses architectural images to depict the growth of the valley, and white settlement from the early 19th century. From left to right, the settlers’ hut is made from logs cut down from the land and using wattle and daub. The horizontal lines on the right-hand side are a water tank of corrugated iron. The second building is an enormous wool shed which still stands in the valley. Thousands of sheep would have been shorn here over the many years in which sheep grazed in the valley. The next building represented the squattocracy and the wealthy people who settled in the valley, imposing their English architecture to an alien land. The building is now used as the home of the Governor-General. The building on the far right was built as a technical and further education college and is a lively building that contrasts with the tall, block office buildings which were built in the town centre. This work further reflects Belinda’s interest in architecture and the lines buildings create. The top section of the tapestry illustrates the valley plains as grazing land and the bottom panel shows the valley as it is today. These two sections are panoramic views, telling of the vastness and natural qualities of the Australian landscape. This work took ten months of weaving, after two full months of research.

from left to right, top to bottom: “Seven Ages of Man,” c 2000, wool, cotton, 14 framed works, each 29.5 cm x 21.0 cm. Collection of the Artist.  Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Seven Ages of Man,” c 2000, wool, cotton, detail, 21 x 29.5 cm. Collection of the Artist. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Seven Ages of Man,” c 2000, wool, cotton, detail, 21 x 29.5 cm. Collection of the Artist. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Seven Ages of Man,” c 2000, wool, cotton, detail, 21 x 29.5 cm. Collection of the Artist. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Seven Ages of Man,” c 2000, wool, cotton, detail, 21 x 29.5 cm. Collection of the Artist. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.

In “Seven stages of man” our lives are summed up in seven images, from a newborn to the cemetery. This series of works, capturing the lives of women and men, was made for an exhibition titled Private Lives at the Canberra Museum and Gallery. The small figures and buildings, taken from photographs, are abstracted as though seen through half-closed eyes.

from left to right:
“Medieval to Modern” (series), 2003, [Medieval detail from “The Lady with the Unicorn” Tapestries, France, Late 15th Century], wool, cotton, 20 cm x 22 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski
“Medieval to Modern” (series). 2003. [Medieval detail from “The Lady with the Unicorn” Tapestries, France, Late 15th Century]. wool, cotton. 20 cm x 22 cm. Collection of Meredith Hinchliffe. Photographer: Valerie Kirk.
“Medieval to Modern” (series). 2003. [Medieval detail from “The Lady with the Unicorn” Tapestries, France, Late 15th Century]. wool, cotton. 20 cm x 22 cm. Collection of Meredith Hinchliffe. Photographer: Valerie Kirk.

Belinda took tiny sections of blossoms from The Lady with the Unicorn Tapestries, France, Late 15th Century and paired them with a typically Australian flora example in “Medieval to Modern x 2.”

 

“Glimpses of Tanja,” c 2003, (triptych), wool, cotton, (l) 80 cm x 49 cm, (c) 105 cm x 49 cm, (r) 80cm x 49 cm, Private Collection. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.

from left to right, top to bottom: “Glimpses of Tanja,” c 2003, (triptych), wool, cotton, (center) 105 cm x 49 cm,  Private Collection. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Glimpses of Tanja,” c 2003, (triptych), wool, cotton, (right) 80cm x 49 cm, Private Collection. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Glimpses of Tanja,” c 2003, (triptych), wool, cotton, detail, Private Collection. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.
“Glimpses of Tanja,” c 2003, (triptych), wool, cotton, detail, Private Collection. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.

Glimpses of Tanja” is another in a long series celebrating Belinda’s environment, particularly the water and the low hills of the coast.  The trees are calligraphic marks, silhouetted in the distance.

 

“Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,” 2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, (l) 43.5 cm x 35.0 cm, (c) 110.0 cm x 44.0 cm, (r) 44.0 cm x 35.0 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.

from left to right, top to bottom: “Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,” 2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, left panel 43.5 cm x 35.0 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,” 2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, detail. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,”2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, center panel, 110.0 cm x 44.0 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,”2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, detail. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,”2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, right panel, 44.0 cm x 35.0 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,”2007, (triptych) wool, cotton, detail. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
Two tests for “Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue,”2007, wool, cotton (l) 67 cm x 9.5 cm (r) 61 cm x 9.5 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.

Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenuewas commissioned to hold the memories of a much-loved garden, home and its immediate surroundings including the transmission tower. Belinda walked around the garden with the owner, collecting leaves, twigs, mulches and flowers. She compared the colours with the folder of coloured samples from the VTW, thinking aloud about the feeling of the garden, and different effects that might be created by the selection of this or that tone. She took numerous photographs of the garden and the surrounding locale, and made sketches and notes. She talked at length with the owners, learning about their design decisions, how they loved the surrounding parklands, both formal and remnants of the wild. “She was even interested in waterways and ancient, deteriorating stone and cement drainage systems, which are shown at the bottom edge of the work.”

Belinda explained to the owner that the grid worked horizontally in the way of traditional tapestry weaving, allowing the eye to follow movement left to right. When viewing this work, one enters the local area on the left, moves into the garden from the front gate and through it to the rear fernery, and then from the garden into the house. The vertical, three-tier composition travels from the smaller squares of sky and trees, through the deeper eye-level areas of the garden, to the smaller, levels of grasses, waterways and ponds. This appears to have been a device to create the illusion of both eye and body movement – giving the work animation, just as the colours worked to create depth and feeling

Belinda made many tests for colours and lines, to ensure they would work in the final tapestry. The people who commissioned “Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue” were regular visitors to her studio during the weaving process and were delighted to get the tests for “Glimpses of Ferncroft Avenue.”  She also made them a small, framed work.

 

“Early Morning Bithry Inlet” (diptych) c 2009, woven tapestry, wool, cotton, 37 cm x 22 cm, Private Collection, Tathra, NSW. Photographer: Tim Moorhead.

Belinda used to fish near Bithry Inlet and it was a favourite spot for her and for the owners of the work, “Early morning Bithry Inlet.”  The footprints in the sand remind us that others also loved this part of the coast.

 

from left to right: “Glimpses of New Zealand,” 2004, wool, linen, tapestry, 118 cm x 63 cm.  National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.  Purchased with funds donated by Betty Beaver AM to celebrate 40 years of Narek Galleries, 2010.  2010.20
“The Sitting Room,” 2010, wool, cotton, 32 cm x 36 cm. Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Autumn around Launceston,” 2011, wool, cotton, 105.0 cm x 34.0 cm, Private Collection. Photographer: John Leeming, Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston.

Belinda and her husband, Wynn,  eventually returned to the country of her birth. “Glimpses of New Zealand” captures and expresses her love of the ocean, coastlines in the distance, water, and reflections in a subdued palette. “The Sitting Room” depicts a large sitting room in the house which her husband built, and where they lived. I like the play on word ‘sitting.’ Belinda and Wynn traveled to Launceston, Tasmania in autumn. She captured many architectural features, with vertical and horizontal lines giving movement and dynamism in “Autumn around Launceston.”

 

from left to right:
“Wynn’s Buildings in the Bush,” 2012, wool, cotton, 34 cm x 20 cm, Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski
“Wynn’s Buildings in the Bush,” 2012, wool, cotton, detail, Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“Wynn’s Buildings in the Bush,” 2012, wool, cotton, detail, Private Collection. Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.

Belinda’s husband, Wynn, is an inveterate builder. The verticals and diagonals of architecture and part-built buildings contrast with the background of the tall, straight trees in the bush in “Wynn’s Buildings in the Bush.”

 

from left to right:
“The Sitting Room Window,” 2013, wool, cotton, 38.5 x 19.5 cm, Private Collection Photographers:  Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“The Sitting Room Window,” 2013, wool, cotton, detail, Private Collection Photographers:  Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.
“The Study,” 2013, wool, cotton, 40.5cm x 18.0 cm, Private Collection.  Photographers: Ian Williams and Helen Mariampolski.

In “The Sitting Room Window” Belinda returned to another favourite theme – looking through windows and doors to the view outside. The ceramic bowl at the bottom of the work adds a dynamic contrast to the vertical lines of the frame and the trees in the background. The Study:” Both Belinda and Wynn were avid readers and collected books. The books were all over the house, including the study.

Belinda Ramson sitting on a friend’s porch.

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