Fremantle-based fibre artist Siân Bourcherd has worked across a broad range of arts, both in Australia and overseas, including the curation of Land Art projects within the ancient woodlands of Kent, UK.
When I discovered her pieces via instagram (@sianboucherd, I was immediately drawn to the beauty of her work. I found her focus on the ancient craft of handweaving fascinating, and I was impressed by her commitment to sustainability.
Siân’s unique style links her pieces, and the influence of nature is ever present in her work. Pods, nests, cocoons and the unique striations of her home’s ancient geology inspire her handwoven vessels, and each piece has a function, pushing her work beyond the realm of art.
When we visited Siân at her home studio, we were immediately taken in by her pieces adorning the space. The reach of her creativity, and wonderful sense of colour and form captivates from the start. Seeing her creative space of sketches, swathes of fibre and the beginnings of new vessels was an inspiring experience. We wanted to keep every piece we laid our eyes on!
For this edition of 5 Questions we collaborated with photographer Raquel Aranda of @_gatherist We could feel the synergy between Sian and her art, Raquel’s warmth and visual storytelling and the KM pieces that Sian chose to wear.
The meticulously hand-coiled baskets, vases, woven lamps, and little handbags adorning the walls, ceiling and floor of Sian’s studio were captured by Raquel’s camera, allowing us to share this unique artist's story with you.
What inspires you on a daily basis, and are there any rituals you follow to cultivate a state of creativity? (please share if you do - I think we would all love to tap into our creative sides more)
I am lucky to have a home studio in the undercroft of our Walyalup home, but this does mean that shifting gears from house work to studio work requires some conscious effort. When I get down to my studio there are three things I do to set the tone; music on, incense burning and floors swept. It’s a bit like nesting into the space, after that… I’m inspired just by solitude! Alone time is so rare and just being on my own with time to create is all the fodder I need to make all the things.
What are your favourite materials and fibres to work with? How much of an influence does ethical practices and sustainability have on your choices?
I only use natural fibres, the less processed the better! I love raw hemp, lomandra, flax… the natural gums in a plant which might normally be stripped chemically through industrial processing actually help preserve the woven structure. Sisal is a wonderful sustainable fibre that comes from the agave plant which requires very little water or pesticides, plus its pearly lustre takes on dyes so beautifully. Probably my favorite to use raffia, it has bulk and flow with lovely long ribbons. It's my go to when teaching as it’s so delightfully easy to manipulate.
I’ve always sourced fair trade raffia that has been shipped from a social enterprise in Madagascar… Still the carbon footprint is not ideal. So I have worked hard to find alternatives locally, supplementing with responsibly removed African Flag weed (a problem plant in the South West), it’s a huge undertaking as they require careful preparation and storage, each plant needs to strung up to dry, but the toil really pays off, the smell is heavenly to work with and it’s just such an honest way to work with place.
You teach workshops at Stackwood. What do you love most about passing on your art, and from a therapeutic and holistic view point what do you observe goes on inside someone when they are using their hands to weave?
I love teaching! It’s got to be one of the most accessible crafts, anyone can learn and truly once you understand the basics of how to coil the possibilities are endless. There is something so fundamental about building a form in this way, I think the simple repetition, the spiral, the incremental raising of the walls… it connects us to an ancient lineage of people working with their hands. Being able to engage the hands in this way, where we don’t need to keep count or be too technical, frees up the–easily distracted–mind and allows for a sort of flow state. I could talk to this all day but it’s one of the best mental health tonics I know of!
Stackwood is my creative home away from home. It is a lushed-up converted warehouse, mixed use, community hub in the industrial zone of White Gum Valley run by inspiring boss women! I also do the odd workshop privately or through arts centers.
I felt a wonderful synergy between your fibre art and KM. Thinking about clothing as an expression of ourselves, do you find your clothing choices are influenced directly by your art? For example, does your clothing need to not hinder your movements when creating, or are colours you wear also the colours you are drawn to in your art? And if so, which KM piece from this shoot is most representative of you as an artist?
Agreeee Kristin! I love your fabric choices, as you say clothes are an extension of ourselves, they should be breathable and at the end of their life they should be able to return to the earth and break down. I like to have fun and think of clothes as a costum sometimes - for example if I have a big day of quite physical work hoicking around huge vats of dye and kicking butt I’ll put on my hard yakka overalls- it’s my working class man costume. When I run a workshop it’s a rare opportunity to femme it up and wear a special dress or get a bit flashy be bold with colours.
A colour I always come back to in my art and clothes is ochre. It’s really a family of shades in the muddy yellow/orange (sometimes green-ey) field. Ochre at once blends and harmosises but also gives us that fully saturated colour fizz feeling. The Sailor Slack in Nutmeg I could wear anywhere, anytime and feel great.
From the view point of an artist and creator, do you feel as a society we should be making more and consuming less? Are we too focused on consumption? Where should the balance be?
I feel like time is a factor in this too, being time poor is a compromising factor in how we consume and outsource energy, potentially producing more waste along the way. If we were able to somehow squirrel away those lost moments scrolling on the phone or shopping online and cash them in on time just sewing a button back onto that shirt or pottering in the veggie garden we’d be closer to finding a balance. But I also feel strongly that we don’t always have to be productive, making should not always be about the end result. Adults need time to play too, to experiment in a space where the stakes are not terribly high; where it’s more about listening to that inner voice that says ‘I like how these colours together zing’ or ‘I want to make this surface smooth and rounded’, that stuff feeds the mind in the most wholesome way.
Shop Siân's looks here
Shop Siãn's art, or take a workshop here
Photography | Raquel Aranda, Gatherist