Local artist takes Geraldton to Jeju

Geraldton artist Marianne Penberthy in her home studio with some of her contemporary Bojagi art. 

Geraldton artist Marianne Penberthy in her home studio with some of her contemporary Bojagi art. 

Gridlocked. Hardly, but multi-award winning, Geraldton WA practising artist, Marianne Penberthy, says she has always been attracted to grids which feature strongly in her work.

“Grids interest me,” she says, “they appear as structure in everyday life; stonework in old colonial walls, architecture, street layouts – even nature produces random grids; in a leaf, in the landscape.

“And maps, I particularly like the early Dutch maps,” Marianne tells me as she shows me one with her own grids incorporated over it.

“As a child I was interested in maps and the layout of the place where I lived.

“I have strong memories of the local street maps of my childhood place in my mind. These maps fade over time, gradually becoming overlayed with new places, people and experiences.’

Grids are what attracted her to Korean Bojagi (pronounced ‘bo-jah-ggy’) an exquisite traditional folk art wrapping cloth method made up of small cloth remnants that has its origins in Korea from 1392. It’s a method for wrapping and carrying things that has developed into a contemporary art medium Marianne has embraced and explored as it speaks to her inner grid!

“I discovered Bojagi at an exhibition at the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery in 2002 and then attended a workshop in Perth with Chunghie Lee, a textile professor in Korea and America, and Bojagi ambassador,” says Marianne.

“She kept in touch and invited me to submit work in 2011 and 2012 for two different exhibitions.” 

And now, thanks in part to a second City of Greater Geraldton Artists Opportunities Program grant, along with an Airflight Grant from the WA Department of Culture and the Arts, Marianne has taken her art from Geraldton to Jeju.

The two grants enabled her to accept an invitation to give a talk at the 2014 Korean Bojagi Forum on Jeju Island, just off the Korean Peninsula, and exhibit as part of an International exhibition in Seoul, South Korea in earlier this month (September).

“In 2013 I received a CGG Artists’ Opportunities grant which enabled me to have my artworks professionally photographed; this was such an important thing and the timing was just right,” Marianne says.

“It allowed me to present quality images in future grant applications for professional development. Professional images make a huge difference in securing an art grant.

“In December 2013, I obtained a New Work Development Grant from the WA Department of Culture and the Arts which led to investigating two Asian textile traditions, the Korean Bojagi and also Japanese Shibori.”

At the Bojagi Forum, Marianne spoke about her new work development and showed works in two exhibitions in South Korea, including a solo show of nine works.

The Geraldton Regional Art Gallery owns a piece of Marianne’s contemporary Bojagi and she is currently working on an interpretation of the Bojagi technique – and grids in the landscape.

“My concepts relate to land, sense of place and family,” she says.

“Joining remnants and the reforming of something from small pieces and bringing something back to a whole form is exciting.”

Marianne was also excited about taking Geraldton to the world at the forum that had speakers from across the globe.

“I had photos of Geraldton in my presentation,” she says, “I’m always very proud to promote my home town.”

Marianne will give a talk at Durack Institute of Technology and ACDC Gallery later this year, about her visit to South Korea.

The CGG Artist Opportunities Program offered by the City of Greater Geraldton, provides successful applicants the opportunity to undertake arts projects for the advancement of their art practice and career, and for the creative enrichment of the community.

For more information on the program visit www.queensparktheatre.com.au/artist For more information on her work or to interview Marianne call 0419 938 188.