Conversation with Pam de Groot, Australia
Pam de Groot is Australian and has lived in the Blue Mountains since 1991. She began her creative career as a potter but has now moved to the field of fibre art.
Here she found a material with qualities that resembled the clay. “In working with wool I have come to marvel at the diversity of this material. It can be soft and flimsy or hard and resilient, made flat or formed into any shape imaginable.”
Feltmaking is an expanding field and has allowed her to teach in both Europe and the United States.
“My work is informed by the natural world, its shapes and the materials under my hands. I learned long ago that if you respect these things the object will do your bidding. I hope to excite the viewer with the possibilities and mysteries of this ancient craft as we continue to explore the seemingly endless depths of its potential for art.”
CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKER (CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?
PAM de GROOT (PdG) I always knew art making would be a part of my life, but I don’t think in the early stages I thought it would be my career. Making that decision has made me so very happy.
CWTM What was your first experience with making art?
PdG As a child I drew incessantly and would take any opportunity to work with my hands. I won an award for a drawing at a small local show and Lloyd Rees presented the prize. I don’t think I really understood who he was at the time. It was a validation for me and these small moments keep the momentum going.
CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?
PdG I am so very lucky and privileged to have a dedicated space to work.
CWTM Can you describe a typical day?
PdG Emails and computer work are the beginning for me. Then I go to the studio to work on what ever is next. I have a range of work which includes both natural and synthetic dyeing so I find I have a focus on one or the other for a time. If working on something large I can find myself back in the studio after dinner. I have a sound system down there and can lose myself for hours.
CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?
PdG The process is the most engaging part. I do admit there is a part in the middle that is hard slog that I find the hardest to get through. I can be easily distracted at these times. Certainly the excitement as something takes form is quite rewarding.
CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?
PdG Yes. For my medium nothing is a certainty from the outset. I still learn so much from every piece I make. Therefore it is excitement (or disappointment) when you get close to the end and the look is revealed.
CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?
PdG I have a beautiful sewing bag made by a friend who has passed away. It goes with me everywhere and has all my knick knacks. I love it.
CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?
PdG I do use drawings to start large works that will take a lot of time and materials. Those ideas though tend to come from smaller experiments along the way.
CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?
PdG That is the hardest thing. Some pieces just work from the beginning others are hard work and take persistence.
CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is…
PdG The wonder of nature around us. It is endless.
CWTM Favourite quote?
PdG “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?
PdG I’ve decided recently that it is just before sleep. The problem is waking up enough to jot down those pearls somewhere.
CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
PdG I love that it is a constantly changing feast. I have so much more I want to achieve with it. I will never be bored. I love all the people I meet through working this way. I have made some very special connections I will treasure forever.
CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?
PdG Just go for it!
CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?
PdG Can’t think of any, perhaps I knew to ignore it.
CWTM Best part of your day?
PdG When the studio is tidied and there is the promise of what is to come.
CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?
PdG Too hard!
CWTM What inspires your creativity?
PdG I am always attracted to colour, line and form. I find that nature can give me endless starting points.
CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?
PdG Feltmaking is growing at an exponential rate at the moment worldwide. I am excited to be a part of that growth at a time when we can share so easily.
CWTM You’d be lost without…
PdG IPhone- calculator-memory bank-camera-photo album.
CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
PdG Spend more time with friends and family. (or maybe just have a massage : ] )
CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?
PdG Great coffee
CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?
PdG I can’t begin to tell you. Without it I would not have travelled all over the world to teach and met such fabulous people
CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
PdG I like that I can have the solo time in my studio and then also meet up with others in a teaching situation.
I like that I am working sustainably and that makes me proud.
CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?
PdG We need to take ourselves as seriously (whilst still having fun) and the rest should follow.
CWTM What is next for you?
PdG A huge year of teaching in 2014. Australia and Europe. I will be working on some pieces for some smaller exhibitions as well.