Which tools did you use for the creation of this piece?
This work consists of two overlapping layers of hand-embroidered silk mesh, wrapped around a wooden frame. The only tool I used was a needle.
“This ritual was instrumental in helping me process emotions through a complicated time, but also as a way for me to calibrate my own bearings in a city that was still very new to me.”
What was the creative process behind it?
Looking back, I think this work was made at a creative impasse: the pandemic had brought the world to a halt, just after I had decided to cross continents to fulfil my 20-year-old dream of studying art. Locked down in one-bedroom apartment, I had nothing but thread and needle to resort to. As the topic of migration became increasingly tense, I had no option but to reckon with my own migratory journey, and sit with the discomfort of my foreignness, at a time when being foreign was especially delicate and potentially risky. The orange trail in the work is a mapped compilation of my adrift lockdown walks. This ritual was instrumental in helping me process emotions through a complicated time, but also as a way for me to calibrate my own bearings in a city that was still very new to me. A record of the flaneur, the handwoven, fractured maps translate the digital trace through the bodily act of weaving.
What feelings come to you when you look at it?
It makes me feel nostalgic and somewhat hopeful, despite the difficulty of the context in which it was made.
What do you like most about this piece and why?
I especially like the way the shadows overlap when the sun hits them just at the right angle. There’s an ethereal quality to that moment that is almost poetic, but I haven’t been able to cement it into words yet. And maybe I shouldn’t.
What were your references, influences or inspirations during your creative process?
So many! Jorge Macchi, Mona Hatoum, Roni Horne, Kate Newby, On Kawara and Teelah George come to mind. Artists whose practice surveys landscape and language as the core off of which identity is borne out of.
“This work stems from the notion that identity and place are indivisible, so it would be remiss not to mention that while I have made this work as an uninvited guest on Wurundjeri land, I am forever indebted to the Charrúas and Guenoa peoples of the River Plate, where I am originally from.”
What did you enjoy the most about the process?
The meditative aspect of weaving, the presentness that comes with it.
What was the hardest thing for you?
The hardest part for me is always to make my ideas tangible. They seem pretty formed in my mind, but the process of realising them always proves that I didn’t have a very clear idea after all.
Where would you like to see it exhibited?
It lives permanently at my friend’s house, and that makes me very happy.
Melanie Cobham’s work addresses migration, colonisation, language and place, mapping the territories that chart belonging. After moving to Australia in 2019, and as migration became an increasingly tense subject in the face of the pandemic, she started considering more abstract ways to understand borders, identity and belonging.