Upcycled exhibition in the frame

Jennie Stephens and Jane MilburnThe walls of Pandora Gallery were cloaked in creative and unique garments this month as it hosted the first Upcycled exhibition mounted by Jane Milburn in her quest to change the way we think about clothing and textiles.

Local visitors were engaged and intrigued – including local solicitor Michael Baxter who was in town to present a Wills and Power of Attorney session at Coolah library during National Law Week.

Pandora Gallery coordinator Jennie Stephens said the exhibition was extremely well-received and sparked a lot of community involvement and interest. “It reminded us of the many ways we can utilise what we have, rather than becoming a throw-away society,” Jennie said. 

Coolah District Development Group director Ele Cook said: “It was a great privilege for the Coolah community to be the first to host this pioneering exhibition on upcycling. It had a positive social impact and provided an engaging opportunity to bring together new members of the community in a creative and uplifting way.”

“I also felt people shifted in their thinking about sewing and the creative design process. We often think of sewing as being traditional dressmaking or quilt-making, using new fabrics and a pattern with the seams all ironed and neatly finished.  Jane showed us there is more than one way of sewing. Her creative ideas of cutting, reshaping and resewing existing natural fibre clothing offers a practical and easy alternative to traditional methods. Even local solicitor Michael Baxter engaged in the concept and brought a male perspective when he passed through the gallery and asked the question – do you upcycle men’s things too?”

Michael Baxter at Upcycled exhibitionThe current exhibition does focus on women’s clothing because it features garments from Jane’s 365-day Sew it Again project www.sewitagain.com – which is just the beginning of a creative journey demonstrating what can be done in the textile upcycling space.

An experimental artist-in-residence concept was part of the exhibition which saw Jane in the gallery every day, chatting with visitors and working on her Sew it Again daily upcycling and blogging, and providing workshop opportunities in the multipurpose space behind the library. The nature of the exhibition brought about huge community involvement, with many people engaged and sharing resources. The mannequins were provided by Vinnies and the Patchwork Shop, the mirror by IGA, while the Anglican Church op shop and Vinnies provided a wealth of upcycling resources. Librarians Julie Sherlock and Sue Lavender became involved, sourcing upcycling books from Macquarie Regional Library and helping set up the multipurpose space for workshops.

As a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, Jane is an eco-leader with a goal to travel the world inspiring creative upcycling of natural fibre clothing that lurks within our wardrobes, and Coolah can take pride in launching her on the Australian stage. As published in the Coolah Diary 20 May 2014

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