Not your inspirational quote – the dark and humorous side of text in craft

Artists working with text in craft are interrogating the usage of language through humour in dark times.
Ruth Maddison, ‘An abundance of caution’, on view at SECCA. Photo: Supplied.

“Anonymous was a woman”, “ask for help”, “SHELTER IN PLACE”, “RELAX, WE’RE DOING GREAT”, “An abundance of caution” – these are the kinds of phrases you can find in the text-based works of artists like Kate Just, Michelle Hamer and Ruth Maddison. Working in craft mediums such as stitching, knitting and embroidery, these pieces are contrary to the decorative and inspirational-style quotes that often accompany traditional craft pieces.

Both Hamer and Maddison come from a background in working with photography, and both have started to engage with text on craft mediums looking at the COVID pandemic period.

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram @lleizy_