Emma Buswell: selected knitted works 2017-2020

Emma Buswell: selected knitted works 2017-2020

This textile display by WA artist Emma Buswell features a group of knitted jumpers on show within the WA Focus gallery space.

The key work on show is her original COVID-19 jumper titled There’s nothing unlawful about going for run and eating a kebab. It illustrates phrases from Premier Mark McGowan’s speech about the lockdown, in particular the part when he starts to laugh, along the translator and his minder, about the policing of “going for a run” and “getting a kebab”.

Buswell’s work celebrates this strangely tender moment and break in public-facing tension, by using home/hand-craft to personalise and embed it within a broader lineage of the Australian vernacular. By referring to a you-tube hit, it also speaks about how points of temporary social cohesion are formed through slips and fractures in official positions.

Also on show is her SO GLAD YOU WERE HERE Joondalup Art Award entry, held yearly in the centre of Lakeside Joondalup Shopping Centre. The jumper composed of various motifs from the suburban retail demi-mecca. As a pattern of logos and pictographs it honours the role of “the shops” in social life and as zone for aesthetic aspiration.

Two of her ongoing series of jumpers based on Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly works demonstrate how major artistic icons are also processed, absorbed, reflected-on and re-thought through material labour. The Nolan works, with their nod to criminality and lawlessness, also further connect the COVID-19 work to the tradition of Australian (class-based) rebellion against public sanctions.

Dream Date (feat a cameo from NSYNC) textile, is a work which was made as she watched all nine series of the TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and equally continues the idea of making as a way of processing, incorporating and refiguring and personalising culture.

Each jumper takes two weeks of 8 hours a day labour to produce on a mechanical sewing machine.

About the artist

Emma Buswell is a West Australian based artist, curator and designer. She is fascinated with systems of government, economies and culture, particularly in relation to constructs of place, identity and community. Emma has previously worked on projects including maxART (for which she received an Artsource/ Constantine Family Foundation Emerging Artist Grant), Success, Moana ARI, Polizia and Toy Returns; most recently she co-founded Cool Change Contemporary. Emma has exhibited and curated exhibitions across Australia, was resident at the Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy in 2011 and a participant in the 2015 Australia Council for the Arts Venice Biennale professional development program. She is currently the Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award Coordinator.

Part one in a series of reflective texts by Emma Buswell on her time in COVID-19 isolation and the impacts it is having on her relationship to art making.
A reflection on making it at home 

Exhibition Highlights