One day, around six months ago, I decided to apply myself to create a sculpture for the BeJane Exhibition in honour of Dr. Jane Goodall’s 85th birthday celebrations. It was a challenging notion when I first proposed it to myself. However it wasn’t long and I realised that my little giraffe had been stuck in her box for way too long.
My journey with this sad sculpture started in 2013 and she was my biggest piece at the time. The first lesson she taught me was patience as I attempted to create the core with super fine merino. It was all I had at the time and the amount of stabbing I had to do, in order to get any sort of shape, was astonishing.
She was a white giraffe for a good year and came to markets as my side kick when I was explaining this magical art form to the unsuspecting Australian public. I could have sold her many times over if I had been willing to accept any of the comical offers made to me. Little did they know she contained my actual blood sweat and tears, but I accepted all of the backhanded compliments with grace.
In 2014 I decided to cut her up as her frame was not saying giraffe but much more horse. I was also struggling to get her to stand so her legs needed to come off. It was like the scene of a butcher shop and I couldn’t help but feel guilty as I carved up a giraffe on my lap. It was here that she taught me, the removal and replacement of limbs is often the criteria of a masterpiece.
In 2015 the spots were created with more of the beautiful merino which I had dyed myself using lichen harvested from a fallen tree limb in my garden. I have clear memories of sitting with a very young core wool grower, “Chanel” aka “Nelly,” my first ever “sheeple”. I was picking lichen and she thought she should eat it. I added a little of Chanel’s first lamb clip into the dye batch and used it in the sculpture for the mane. This hand dyed fibre gave my little giraffe a distinct sweet smell of lichen for ever more and it’s the first thing that hits you as you open her box.
Then in 2016 two of the giraffe species slipped onto the red list and no one seemed to notice. I had run out of the specially dyed merino and lost all inclination to finish her. I really didn’t think I ever would finish her, until we fast forward to this day six months ago. Her final lesson for me was to apply myself, above everything else, there is still more that can be done.
As I worked to finish her, with a completely different fibre mind you, I realised how much I had learned along the way. She had shown me a lot of ugly things that I did not want to do again. She had remained in a state of innocence despite the atrocities I had inflicted upon her over the years. Above all, she was clearly destined for greater things and she wanted me to help her do it. No one was putting her in the corner as she had something to say to the world.
As I lost myself in her completion and after a lot of dedicated stabbing, I was able to create the sculpture you see today. It took a long time for me to hear her but it was all about the timing. Ironically, I ended up giving her away but I’m sure you will agree that the rest of her journey is very important.
I have learned so much from her and now that she has all of her glory I hope many others will learn from her. The message is a personal one for each individual but there is no denying it is loud and clear and I hope that everyone else will hear her too.
If you wish to make a silent bid on my giraffe or any of the other magnificent artworks please follow these links: