Hannah Gartside is an Australian multidisciplinary artist whose work explores the forgotten histories of textiles. Engaging with eternal themes of love, loss, and desire through a feminist lens, her sculptures transform found fabrics to examine the subjectivity embedded within the clothing itself.Read More
Gartside was born in London in 1987 and moved to Brisbane when she was six years old. The artist describes some of her earliest memories involving fabric—being taught by her grandmother to sew after arriving in Australia and watching her mother piece together cloth scraps into a quilt.
Her fondness for textiles led Gartside to study fashion design at Queensland University of Technology, graduating with honours in 2010. She went on to work for five years as a costume designer for Queensland Ballet, directed by Lee Cunxin, which drew her interest to the theatricality and storytelling potential of garments, along with their capacity for movement. In 2014, she decided to pursue art full-time and moved to Melbourne to complete a BFA in sculpture and spatial practice at Victoria College of Arts.
Gartside's connection with fabric became increasingly sentimental during her honours year at art school. Inspired by the death of her father when she was 21, she began incorporating his shirts and ties into her sculptures and became incredibly affected by the histories inherent within the material. This personal, emotional approach has shaped her practice ever since.
Gartside lives and works in Melbourne.
Hannah Gartside's practice explores fabric as though it were an autonomous being with its own history — 'pulsing, sighing, calling to us.' Through this sensuous and deeply personal lens, her large and small-scale sculptures and installations revolve around found materials, animated by metal armatures that are designed to be 'felt' by all.
In 2018, Gartside created the series Fantasies for Metro Arts Gallery, which would be reiterated the following year at Ararat Gallery TAMA, both in Melbourne. Collaborating with poet Autumn Royal, with whom she has continued to work ever since, she created ephemeral sculptures using pre-loved fabrics from the 1960s and 1970s—lace trim, bed linen, undergarments and nighties—intended to explore feminine and queer desires. In The sleepover (2018), nighties in an array of pastel shades floated from the ceiling, tendrils of trim cascading down to the viewer and into the space, which was perfumed by an essential oil diffuser hidden beneath the floorboards.
In 2021, Gartside created an installation for the annual group exhibition Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, which showcases the work of artists aged 35 and under. Her five kinetic textile sculptures animated fabrics from the 19th and 20th century, inspired by five wilful and independent women of history —dancer Loïe Fuller, painter Artemisia Gentileschi, Tarot card illustrator Pamela Colman Smith, mythical Judaic figure Lilith, and actor Sarah Bernhardt.
Attached to large metal armatures in perpetual motion, the fabrics chosen visually represented each woman, as in Loïe (2021), where a pink crepe sail-like shape mimicked the sashay of the dancer's dramatic costuming.
In December 2021, Gartside's series of 17 small sculptures Bunnies in Love, Lust & Longing (2015—2019) were featured in Leftover Love at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. The group show brought together four Melbourne-based textile artists to create works which engaged in material culture and sustainability. Her sculptures were created from found leather, suede, and synthetic ladies gloves from the 1940s—1970s. Originally worn for modesty, Gartside animated the gloves with the help of wire armature and wadding to explore the 'secret yearnings and longings' of their original owners in the form of playful 'bunnies'.
Gartside won the Mary & Lou Snini Student Art Award from McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park and the National Gallery of Victoria Women's Association Award in 2016. In 2017, she won the Varda Artist Residency in Sausalito, California, and the Individual Development Grant from Moreland City Council. She was also a finalist in the Fischer's Ghost Art Award from Campbelltown Art Centre, the Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award from Wangaratta Art Gallery, the Victorian Craft Awards, and the Contemporary Sculpture Association Graduate Survey Show at Yarra Sculpture Gallery.
In 2019, Gartside won the National Gallery of Victoria Women's Association Award and was a finalist in the Victorian Craft Awards and the Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award.
In 2020 she won the Create Grant from the Australian Council for the Arts, the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant, the Individual Development Grant, and the Australian Tapestry Workshop Residency. Gartside won the Sustaining Creative Workers Grant from Creative Victoria and the Quick Response Arts Grant from the City of Melbourne in 2021.
Hannah Gartside has been the subject of both solo exhibition and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include: Fantasies (2), Ararat Gallery TAMA, Victoria (2019); Mia and Skye in the Sleepover, Blindside Play Screen, Victoria (2018); Fantasies, Metro Arts Gallery, Queensland (2018); Felt and Held, George Paton Gallery, Victoria (2016).
Group exhibitions include: Improper Structures, Creo Melbourne, Victoria (2022); Leftover Love, Australian Tapestry Workshop, Victoria (2021); _Fresh Materials: New Australian Textile Ar_t, Townsville City Galleries, Queensland (2021); Primavera: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art, New South Wales (2021); Clove Hitch, Sawtooth ARI, Tasmania (2021).
Annie Curtis | Ocula | 2022