Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with Elizabeth Bunsen, USA

I am a sensualist. I love tuning in to all of my senses. Process, the imperfect, the impermanent and the unfinished sing to me. I am a wabi-sabi wannabe. I see Madonna’s in mud-puddles. At dusk, when the sky turns a raspberry cream, the crows call my name. I wander, gather, collect, arrange and put small treasures in tiny boxes. I make gypsy tents in which to drink tea and write poems. I collaborate with nature to make marks. Tea, leaves, blossoms, berries, paper, fabric and thread are primary in my artist's tool kit. I wrap, bundle and make magic almost everyday. My life and my art are always in a state of transformation.

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Conversation with the Maker(CWTM)Did you always envision a life as an artist?

Elizabeth Bunsen(EB) yes

CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

EB drawing as a small child with my grandmother, then selling my works to my small town neighbours

CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?

EB two, the top 1/2 of my home and the lake house in warm weather; but actually I work on the front and back decks, in the rust garden and most anywhere I go becomes some sort of studio - the beach, my sister's house... art is my life - altho I call it magic...

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

EB I begin my day with coffee and my journal - recording any dreams and list-making for the day... usually, I move directly into the current creative process: bundling, sandwiching fabric and/or paper for the dye pot, gathering and arranging leaf song books, tea journals, art quilts, etc... I photograph, document and post my creative process and progress... I do some yoga, take a walk and try to be outside as much as possible - gathering leaves, setting up rusties in the rust garden... lunch, more of the same and then a tea break with my son after school, in nature or at the lake-house when possible, then the tea bag(s) goes in the tea journal and under books or in the book press... attending to anything in process – dye-pot, rusties... then it's time to re-group around the family, make dinner together and share our day, then we all read, listen to music, perhaps watch a movie... I spend time in the upstairs studio - usually planning and puttering... blog, fb, address emails... bed, dream and begin again...

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

EB yes, but the process is often the map to an aesthetic that is a state of mind

CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

EB absolutely!

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

EB rocks, leaves, sticks, tea, teabag paper, permanent ink pens, paper, silk, wool, time, my dye pot, cooker, book press, needles and thread

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

EB both

CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?

EB when I stop, it may not be "finished" but I try not to kill the magic by overworking

CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….

EB nature, the seasons, life, the senses

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?

EB in the morning, in the shower, walking, when I am not thinking

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

EB the sensuality, the feeling of not thinking, Being in the flow

CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?

EB just do it

CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?

EB I can't remember

CWTM Best part of your day?

EB dawn, dusk

CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?

EB Glenys Mann, Andy Goldsworthy, my friend Karen Cole, my sister, India Flint, my son and husband

CWTM What inspires your creativity?

EB nature, touch, sensuality

CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

EB eco-printing, accumulative processes, imagining installations, gypsy tents

CWTM You’d be lost without…

EB my husband, although I am never lost and it is ok if I am lost... intuition

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?

EB yoga, walk and meditate more

CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?

EB balmy breezes, long walks, sunshine, the light coming through

CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?

EB oh my yes

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

EB surprises, process

CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?

EB not so important, believe in magic, living and loving life

CWTM What is next for you?

EB writing/making my book, Australia