Vibrant colours and original shapes, these are the two characteristics that really impressed me when I came across the diverse works of Pam de Groot, who I had the pleasure to interview recently.
Hello, Pam, how would you like to introduce yourself?
I am a textile and fibre maker from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia. I live in a beautiful inspiring location, an environment that provokes new ideas. I work predominantly with wool and silk and also other natural fibres.
How did you start your craft/art? You started out as a ceramist and after your third child, you changed to fibre art. What made you change, since the materials and techniques are so different?
It is interesting that you say that the materials are so different. I always say it is the similarity that drew me to this medium. In the clay there was a mud – in the felt there is fleece. Through the working of my hands and tools, I can make a transformation of the raw material to a new state. I needed to change to a medium that was more forgiving of small children.
What was the path you took to undergo this new craft?
It was a slow transition and a period of experimentation till I found the wool had a strong hold on me. I knew I loved the natural fibres and played till I found my own voice. My voice changes in tone and resonance over time. Through dye, I can create my own palette.
How do you define yourself, artist, artisan, designer, all of them?
All of them is the answer. I think I could add seller, teacher, promoter, secretary, accountant, travel agent, photographer and editor. It does depend on how I am working and what I am working on. I’m becoming more and more drawn to working as an artist. Creating works with strong ideas and concepts. They challenge me to use my skills in new ways.
Do you consider your work sustainable?
I have found that the natural fibres are the ones that like to play together. I do have a deep satisfaction knowing the fibres I use are natural and therefore best suited to be near the body. Sometimes it’s just knowing that I can trace how it was harvested and processed. I also use a lot of natural dye and print my own work. If I do use synthetic dyes I make sure to exhaust dyes to make the waste safe. As a small business, it is easier to be careful.
Do you follow any rules to conduct an eco-friendly life?
I try to buy locally where I can and have a large veggie patch in the backyard, no food miles here. Honouring the materials I use and finding ways to use the waste sometimes produced in making, by creating other items. Remember the adage to “tread lightly” and live by this.
Interview by Ivonne Hirsch
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