Dyeing to Tell my Story: Living Actively ever after...Fairy Tales in Contemporary Visual Arts

By Gabrielle Mordy.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

How would a story recorded centuries ago by two German brothers inspire a young Australian women to immerse paper within a pot of boiling eucalyptus leaves? “The Handless Maiden” is a relatively obscure fairy tale collected by the Grimms’ Brothers which tells the story of a young girl who, when betrayed and maimed by her family, takes off into the forest to find her own way in the world. This traditional German fairytale has intrigued me since first reading it as a teenager, and it is this story which informs my current arts practice and research. As part of my Masters in Fine Arts, I am creating an installation piece created from plant dyed paper and natural materials found within my local Australian landscape. Through dyeing paper using this ancient textile technique I am crafting my own contemporary interpretation of “The Handless Maiden.”
My presentation will reflect on my own process of working, and will also explore the innovative practices of other visual artists inspired by fairytales. What is it about these age old stories that continues to mesmerise artists, and why are we driven to respond in such a material way?

Keywords: Textiles, Narrative, Storytelling, Art, Plant Dyeing, Fairy Stories, Fairy Tales, Kiki Smith

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.209-220. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 954.784KB).

Gabrielle Mordy

Masters Student, College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia

I am an artist, writer and educator with a Visual Arts Degree and a First Class Honours Degree in Visual Anthropology. For the past five years I have researched and taught art within the special education sector. Throughout 2009 I worked as the research assistant for the Dean of the Sydney College of the Arts contributing toward projects and research around Outsider art. In 2010 I was the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award, a two year scholarship which has enabled me to undertake my Masters by Research in Fine Arts at the University of NSW, Sydney. Within my Masters study, and my life, I am a passionate advocate for exploring intuitive paths and discovering what comes.


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