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A Sort of Sieve

I have been interested in the notion of sieves for some time – the separating of good from bad, coarse from fine, liquid from solids. It also has connotations with mining the land, what’s left? A pile of waste, waterless creeks and huge dislocation of landscape and of people trying to farm the land – Liz Jeneid

Pangasianodon Gigas

Sketchbook - ideas development

The giant Mekong Catfish is under threat of extinction due to over-fishing and loss of habitat. It is beleived that the fish used to reach sizes over 3 metres, but the largest recorded catch to date is 2.7 metres – a monster fish caught in Thailand in 2005. As its fame and the mythology surrounding it increases, so does the number of game fishermen keen to land a record catch or earn a sizeable amount of money in the exotic food marketplace.

However, the water flow of the river is increasingly more controlled by China, changing the natural habitat of the river. It seems that survival of the great catfish is being left to chance and the fish’s ability to avoid nets, lines and traps in the murky green waters of the Mekong.

My exhibition piece will be a giant, woven Pangasianodon Gigas – made as a shaped tapestry which will hang the way a fisherman would hold up his catch to display or be photographed as his trophy. The drawing was made from photographs of very large fish I observed in Laos and the detail on the body of the fish is deliberately ambiguous scales/nets.  The piece will be woven on cotton seine twine (which was originally made as a string for fish netting) with mixed weft yarns.

Detail of digital print enlargement of original drawing which will be used to make a cartoon for the tapestry.

Valerie Kirk

net bowls

Memory is personal and unique to each of us. It is our own interpretation and recollection, a sensation sometimes so fleeting that we cannot find words to name it a vague feeling, a trace of something we know but cannot touch, hidden under semi-transparent layers, distorted. . . . . . . . . .

I like to believe that my net bowls are filters that can capture and preserve precious snippets of memory – not lots of detail, but more a warmth that links our past and present.

Here are a few images of my ceramic knitting bowls. I’ve been playing with ways of displaying them, but think I’ll go with elevated glass on a long low plinth to incorporate the shadows and reflections.


This poor wee creature was unfortunate to be trapped in the chicken wire.   Imagine it’s plight when it couldn’t free itself, and the agony of being pinned in the wire net.   How often do we find ourselves in situations where we feel trapped by our way of life and feel we cannot escape, it envelops us in our minds and lives, often ending like the bat in death.

Root Network

Network of Roots

Looking back to  my grass-roots in North Carolina, I realised that the pine woods behind our home was the catalyst for an appreciation of  nature, which I have carried with me to this day.  I have enjoyed a life where I have lived in some beautiful locations.  Each landscape was inspiring in it’s uniqueness, from the rugged cliffs and waterfalls of the Blue Mountains and the tranquility of  the river in Tasmania’s  Derwent  Valley to  the small inlets and bays of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.  Now I find myself in country New South Wales where an unfamiliar and at times harsh landscape requires me to put down roots once again.

When I arrived  three years ago the local landscape was struggling to survive and many plants had  succumbed to the effects of the drought.  Fallen branches and exposed roots collected from my own garden are combined with native grasses and waxed threads.  Nurturing, healing and caring for the environment are concepts symbolised by the intricate twining and knotting which protect the surfaces of the forms.   The root series not only comments on the need to care for the environment but also on my need to establish new networks and connections with others in a new landscape.