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  • Materials: Beauty shot of abstract printed dress, 1980s, Image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: Block printed cotton maxi dress, early 1970’s, image by Alex Khouri, courtesy of Susan Holmes
  • Materials: 'Castaway Dress', Susan’s first crinkle silk dress, featured in Fashion Quarterly 1988, image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: Cream wool angora long coat dress and hat, 1985, image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: 'Dove Dress', Screen printed, stencilled with doves and leaves on fine black cotton voile. Silver satin coat with black lining with printed clouds. c. 1978, Image by Robin Morrison
  • Materials: 'Dragon Fish', Recycled baskets and mats with painted, dyed and stencilled silk organza fins, stiffened with split, tapering cane-like wood and ruched silk organza underdress, New Zealand Wearable Art Awards, winner, Silk Section and Supreme Award, 1996, Image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: Fantail and New Zealand native forest silk kimono with stencils and artists worktable, 1981, Image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: Portrait of Susan Holmes, image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: 'Magic Feather Dress', Block print and stencils on ombré silk, straw yoke, New Zealand Wearable Art Awards, highly commended, Silk Section, 1995, Collection of Auckland Museum, purchased from the artist, Image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: Portrait of Susan Holmes, image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: 'Rainbow Warrior', Crinkle-silk dress with appliquéd velvet yoke, appliquéd shade cloth mesh wings stiffened with protruding fibre glass, New Zealand Wearable Art Awards, winner, Silk Section and runner-up, Supreme Award, 1993, Image by Phil Fogle
  • Materials: 'Winged Warrior', Recycled woven chair, painted, pulled apart and sculpted with silk underdress dyed and crinkled, New Zealand Wearable Art Awards, Visual Symphony Section entry, 1994, Image by Phil Fogle

Susan Holmes: Fabric Artist

19 November 2016 - 04 February 2017

“I always start with the fabric. I feel it and look at it and drape it about to see how it behaves.” Susan Holmes

Working as a fabric artist since 1971, Susan Holmes is now most recognised for her contribution to the wearable arts, but her work has also spanned the fields of craft, fashion and fabric art, tracing the ever-changing key developments of these sectors in New Zealand. Constantly improvising and devising new techniques, over time she developed her own methods for treatments such as block printing, stencilling and spraying fabrics, along with dyeing and fabric manipulation, such as crinkle silk. An intuitive engagement with fabrics is the cornerstone to her creativity, with the material always influencing the design in many ways.  

Holmes has contributed to the arts and crafts sector as a tutor at a number of institutions and has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Her career encompasses various shows and competitions: notably she was the 1978 winner of the Fashion and Fantasy section of the Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards and the 1996 Supreme Award at the New Zealand Wearable Art Awards (now World of WearableArt™) a show she has entered every year since 1988.

Objectspace’s Masters of Craft exhibition series celebrates the achievements of outstanding New Zealand practitioners working at the highest level in the fields of craft, design and the applied arts whose practice is distinctive, enduring, influential and redefining of tradition. Susan Holmes is arguably New Zealand’s most accomplished and acclaimed fabric artist.

Accompanying the exhibition is the book “Susan Holmes Fabric Artist” published by Bateman, and written by exhibition co-curator Cerys Dallaway-Davidson. The book brings her story to life, told through numerous fascinating images and an engaging, insightful narrative. It explores the creative impetus which propelled Holmes into fabric design and features contemporary and historic photographs of her work.  

Cerys Dallaway-Davidson is a Collection Manager at Auckland War Memorial Museum. She was a trustee of the New Zealand Fashion Museum (NZFM) and has worked in various roles across the museum and arts sector. She has contributed to a number of projects and publications throughout her career, ranging from the curation of magazine spreads, the development of the 2012 Directory of New Zealand Museums and Galleries, and research assistance and writing for the NZFM exhibitions Home Sewn and Age of Aquarius: a 1970s revolution in fashion. Dallaway-Davidson has co-curated Susan Holmes: Fabric Artist for Objectspace with Doris de Pont, curator and founder of the New Zealand Fashion Museum.