Mardi Nowak is an artist and curator and is currently the Head of Visual Arts for RACV in Melbourne, Australia. After completing a Masters of Fine Art by Research in 2004, she has exhibited in several group exhibitions in Australia and overseas.
Working mostly in woven tapestry her inspiration comes from fashion magazines, torn advertising billboards, street graffiti and the everyday. Works are created by collaging together images and photographs from magazines with old drawings and photocopies to reproduce the many layers found on billboards, similar to wallpaper plastered over old wallpaper. These collages become the cartoon for final tapestries.
Notions of time play a factor in her work. There is a dis-junction between the disposable and fast flow of images in contemporary mass media against the deliberation and slowness of a woven construction. A fashionable dress produced in a tapestry may be out of fashion by the time a tapestry is completed.
"The technical details of the woven tapestries are very traditional. It is a skill that is continually improved upon with the creation of every new tapestry as images are translated from glossy photographic paper to solid woven textile form. It is the challenge of turning the contemporary and disposable images of fashion magazines into a craft form that has been recognised for centuries that keeps me excited about the medium. Although I am not altering weaving techniques from years gone by, the pursuing of new subject matter and translating the new into this historical tradition is a new innovation for Australian woven tapestry and brings together craft and visual arts.
Traditionally tapestries have had a strong narrative, they have told stories of war and heroics. In the modern age, we express ourselves by graffiting street walls, creating websites and blogging about our daily lives. My tapestries tell a modern story of the fascination with fashion, celebrity and consumerism."