Liz Williamson portrait by Angus Lee Forbes commissioned by the Australian Design Centre for the exhibition 'Obsessed: compelled to make'. 2018.

Liz Williamson portrait by Angus Lee Forbes commissioned by the Australian Design Centre for the exhibition 'Obsessed: compelled to make'. 2018.

Liz Williamson

Liz Williamson has an international profile as a weaver, academic and textile artist who has been weaving since the late 1970’s and is still fascinated with the process and potential of interlacing two sets of threads on a loom. At the heart of her weaving is an interest in innovative, experimental and unusual designs created at the loom.

Her studio textiles are a woven conversation around and about cloth, reflecting its history, circumstances and memory through the images embedded into cloth, its shape and surfaces and the particular elements interlaced into structures at the loom.

Her studio practice is diverse: designing for industry; exhibition artwork; production weaving of wraps and scarves in her Sydney studio; undertaking commissions; involvement with colleagues in collaborative projects; teaching nationally and internationally. All involve weaving, the handmade and creating unique designs.

Studio research projects have explored cloth, its construction and traces of use and the effect of wear left on the cloths surface. Similarly designs have reflected the repair process, especially ‘darning’ and the impact a darn has on the surface of the cloth that changes the surface, colour and feel of the garment; the darn becomes an embellishment on the cloth.

Recent weaving references the traditions of rag rugs, using readily available materials and the idea of ‘making do’. Weaving materials have included domestic materials and her old clothes cut into weft strips, waste and excess studio materials and materials coloured by locally sourced plant dyes.

Since 2001 Williamson has been engaging with artisan groups in Asia in various ways - conducting workshops, teaching, advising on design development and for production of her ‘Woven in Asia’ range of wraps and scarves. In 2012 she established an elective course titled ‘Cultural textiles’ at UNSW Art & Design introducing emerging artists and designers to ways of working with artisan groups in India. ‘Cultural textiles’, a three week mobility course run in Gujarat from 2012 to 2017 and then in West Bengal from 2018 to 2020. In 2018, she began taking textiles tours to India focusing on regional designs, weaving and the culture of each area.

In 2007 Liz was selected for the prestigious Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft series, an award given by Object Gallery and Craft Australia acknowledging her 30 years contribution to the craft and design sector through her practice, education and advocacy. Liz Williamson: Textiles her solo exhibition opened at Object Gallery in November 2008 before touring 13 Regional Galleries nationally during 2009, 2010 and 2011. Dr Grace Cochrane is the author of the publication with the same name, documenting Liz’s career and contribution to the industry. Her work is represented in most major public collections in Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia and the Museum of Applied Arts & Science, Sydney and several international collections.

Williamson has been involved in education for over 30 years, combining her teaching with research and art practice. Since being appointed in 1997 to establish textiles at the UNSW College of Fine Arts, she has planned, designed, written, convened, taught and supervised undergraduate and postgraduate students, courses and programs. Williamson has been an Associate Professor at UNSW Art & Design since 2013 and from 2021 will continue with postgraduate research students as a Honorary Associate Professor within the school. She lives and works on Gadigal and Wangal lands in the inner west of Sydney, NSW.