• Time on her hands

    Time on her hands

    We were in the back garden and I was helping to bring in the washing, I thought Nana was always so good with her washing, drying it on the line and a whizz at stain removal. Though, my mum seemed to believe she did laundry whether it needed doing or not. Implying that Nana may have slipped over the edge, that is she had become obsessive about doing the washing. What I remember is, if it was washing day, one did washing. The beds were stripped, towels and sheets were separated and the job got done.

    At Nana’s it seemed like it was washing day every day. She even ironed her pillowcases and bras. However,  to  Mum, this was apparently a step too far, and an indication of having a little too much time on her hands. I thought it was, perhaps, one of the least concerning activities one could engage in, in such a predicament.

    Part of the process of washing involved checking garments and household linen for wear, looking for holes or split seams. If any were found, the items were set aside, after being washed, to be placed in the mending pile next to her sewing machine. There were two kinds of mending; work to be done by machine, and that which needed more specialist attention, hand repair or darning. Most of the repair work was done by hand, with a limited range of stitches, which nonetheless extended the life and use of the garments, the tea towels, or the hankies (Fig.2.).

    At the washing line, we tossed the clean laundry into the basket, pegs into the wooden holder; the washing was to be sorted and folded later, I don’t know where Nana did this, probably in the washhouse. These days, I sort and fold all my washing outside as it comes off the line, making piles in the washing basket. One for myself, one for each of my children and then the general household linen, such as towels, sheets, and cleaning cloths, all get folded and placed on the chair under the washing line. This feels like ‘High Level Efficiency’, the folded clothes can go straight into the drawers, the linen in the hot water cupboard. It avoids piles of clean laundry on the couch or my bed, the evidence of all the washing, gone.

    I have admired clean washing piles in my friends’ homes, their sheets and towels take on interesting sculptural forms as they await the next step in the process. The work of ‘The Washing’ taking up living space, inviting folding, or just moving to another piece of furniture when someone turns up. The sheets are traces of intimate places and times, where one sleeps, has sex, dreams, rests, hopefully, at the end of the day. The piles of clean washing are a physical reminder of caring for a household. I think that is potential downside of ‘High Level Efficiency’, the work and time is rendered invisible, it has all been taken care of, no pause in the process.

    Nana's Hanky

    Joy Smith, detail of repaired hanky. n.d. (Photograph by Angela Rowe).

  • I used to find dead insects in your pockets

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets07 curtain wall low res

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets functions as an archive in flux, by attempting to make the absent visible or the lost tangible. Sue Breakell describes the fluid nature of working with an archive as having no “fixed meaning … we may know the action that created the trace, but its present and future meanings can never be fixed.”1. By choosing what to emphasise and what remains concealed, I seek to add further layers of meaning by re-contextualising these objects. I may manipulate them and so disrupt familiar associations, alternatively I may reproduce and repeat, the object then becomes the formal representation of a relationship; a social object.

    These social objects allow me to figure out my relationships; I find ceramic fragments and mangrove seeds in the bottom of the washing machine when removing a load of my children’s clothes. Objects discovered and kept carefully in pockets, collected, valued and also forgotten. Relationships, traces of care and attention are entangled and mirrored in objects. Shells collected with Nana, or was it my friend or with my daughter? The objects resist conventional classification or containment. The process of working with these objects maybe what re-establishes intimacy and connection, as distances are crossed, memories slip in time and place. New modes of connection are added to the old and bonds are strengthened or left to slip away. It is the traces of ‘this life together’ which remain in the objects I have installed.

    Fetish-like, these objects potentially offer up the spirit or trace of a relationship (debris) from a moment or place. Performing as prompts for memories, Marie Shannon notes that “ordinary objects can be very powerful”2 The everyday object is embedded in daily life, the small rituals we participate in most often. Stories are told and retold about the shells, the hair, skinks, seeds, et cetera. The blanket, folded and unfolded appears to be at rest, leaving traces of careful hands folding neatly and putting to one side. Storing the objects and living plants in jars evokes intentions of care, collection, and preservation. Living ferns and empty shells share space, resisting formal containment and classification.

    Physicist David Bohm believed that shared meaning created through dialogue exchanged is the ‘glue’ that holds us all (people and society) together, allowing bonds to form over time.3 Working with my extended community so as to create an archive of objects becomes a kind of social practice and a way to work out and understand relationships, ‘meaning making’ and ‘sharing meaning’ in the form of a dialogical exchange that Bohm describes.4 This time the exchange and sharing happens between object and person, then person and person, and again between person and object. It is this kind of connection and exchange that has informed my practice, permitting many different forms across time and place, as seen when sewing Nana’s net curtains. It may result in many traces in the form of objects, as objects can hold meaning and significance across generation and place. In particular, I am working with my Nana, my children and my intimate circle of friends, as we exchange a type of care dialogue.

    Please use the jug to water the ferns, if they are looking dry.


    1 Breakell, Perspectives.

    2 Monsalve, The Art of Domestic Life

    3 Bohm, On Dialogue.

    4 Ibid.

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets69 wide view low res

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets

    List of works:

    Golden Oyster, not a true oyster, golden oyster shells, brachiopods, cats eye shells, cockle shells, unidentified seeds, feathers, cicada skins, green jewel beetle, dragonfly, white cabbage butterfly, cicada, moth, monarch butterfly, kauri gum, kauri cones, bird bones, pink clay pebbles, Ron’s hair, Angela’s hair, fishing nylon, oil paints, ceramic fragments, unidentified rocks and fragments, wishes, sea urchins, sea stars, kina, coral, aquarium pebbles, marbles, glass fragments, dust, sea weed, sea sponges, preserved algae, skinks, salt crystals, fossil trilobites, clover buds, kauri snail shell, paper wasp nests, matchbox truck wheels, mermaids purses, paua shells, limpet shells, empty birds eggs, sea dollars, plastic ballerina, wentletrap shell, kelp holdfast, fan shells, sand, purple sunset shells, dried leaves, silver dollar seeds, crab back, cocktail umbrella, sea glass and box of rocks and wooden print blocks.

    On the smallness of things, Angela’s maidenhair fern, Fränzi’s maidenhair fern, Jeremy’s maidenhair fern, Jodie’s maidenhair fern, Mum’s maidenhair fern, Luna’s maidenhair fern, Ron’s maidenhair fern, begonia, asparagus fern, monstera, and water weeds from Whau Valley Dam.

    Keep care, nylon net curtains, dyed with avocado pits and skins, taffeta curtains.

    Time on her hands, orange curtain off-cuts, embroidery thread.

    Catch stitch, Nana Joy’s blanket, Angela’s blanket.

    I used to find dead insects in your pockets18 low res ferns

  • what remains – group exhibition DEMO 13 – 15th June 2019

    what remains – group exhibition DEMO 13 – 15th June 2019

    Two works installed in the group show, what remains at DEMO as part of the DEMO Season 2019.

    I say a little prayer for you qiult at DEMO install tall

    I say a little prayer for you; gathering material. Found textile, lipstick, mascara, foundation. Dimensions: 3m x 2m x 1m, frame 1.7mw x 3.2mh.

    Exhibition text:

    Angela Rowe’s work involves a community of women making imprints of their face in make-up to address the societal constructs of beauty, identity and gender. She aims to draw out stories and connections between women through shared ritual and performance.

    I say a little prayer for you qiult at DEMO

    I say a little prayer for you; gathering material, quilt was installed on a timber frame.

    Cloth books

    I say a little prayer for you qiult at DEMO table detail

    I say a little prayer for you; the hours. Found textile, lipstick, mascara, foundation. Dimensions: Variable, table, books 45cm x 35cm

    I say a little prayer for you qiult at DEMO install tall birds eye view 2

    what remains birds eye view.

    I say a little prayer for you qiult at DEMO opening 03

    Thanks to Victoria Hollings for curating and organising the show and the other artists and helpers, thanks Noel for making the frame.

    This is part of an ongoing project, I say a little prayer for you.

  • I say a little prayer for you

    I say a little prayer for you

    I say a little prayer for you correspondence broadcast 02

    Using a process of conversation, listening and recording, I collect stories and produce objects which help me understand relationships, my research method also happens to be collaborative. This process is durational, both in the exchange of ideas and stories and how I chose to contextualise and re-perform the material. In I say a little prayer for you, this includes retelling stories, live in public spaces and live to air in the form of radio broadcast.

    The collaborative component in I say a little prayer for you happens in domestic, private spaces, within a framework of trust, it takes time and care. The context for the work includes modes of sharing and collaborating which have historical connections to how women come together and form community.

    Is it possible to represent the nuanced and contradictory individual stories shared with me, and is the work interpreted as a display of collective experiences of women? My response to this challenge has been to present the self portraits as physically connected works, in a quilt or cloth books and sharing women’s sometimes contradictory reflections. This is an attempt to avoid reducing the work into a universal homogenous response and to draw attention to the stories which came from the process, these stories seem to be the heart of the work.

    Joanna S. Walker highlighted the absence of the body of the artist or performer; the trace of the work or a performance was ephemeral or suggestive of other ways of seeing.1 Making a shift from ‘seeing’ to ‘hearing’ I attempt to shift focus from the formal outcomes of my process. The self portraits, and my reworking of them into quilts, cloth books and embroideries, is a way for me to understand the research and reconnect with my collaborators.

    As I develop this project further, I aim to highlight a discourse between the differing experiences women shared in response to the project. I continue to collect traces of actions in the form of self portraits and their experiences in the written stories they shared with me.

    By bringing stitch into my process, these ideas are carried further, the relationships are then embedded in the work. Expanding the process from an intimate collaboration to re-telling these stories live on air as a podcast, the work may become more expansive, and the performance is on going. The singular moments from women’s lives then expand outwardly via the radio broadcast.


    You can listen in to this podcast here;

    Beagle radio I say a little prayer for you



    [1] Walker, Joanna S. ‘The Body Is Present Even If in Disguise: Tracing the Trace in the Artwork of Nancy Spero and Ana Mendieta’. Accessed 12 August 2018. https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/11/the-body-is-present-even-if-in-disguise-tracing-the-trace-in-the-artwork-of-nancy-spero-and-ana-mendieta.






  • I say a little prayer for you; good results are difficult when indifference predominates

    I say a little prayer for you; good results are difficult when indifference predominates

    I say a little prayer for you performance 02 low res

    MFA Summer seminar installation and video fragments.

    Statement text:

    I say a little prayer for you; good results are difficult when indifference predominates

    Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisical attitude. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates. Never try to sew with the sink full of dishes or bed unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so that your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.

    When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Go through a beauty ritual of orderliness. Have on a clean dress. Be sure your hands are clean, finger nails smooth — a nail file and pumice will help. Always avoid hangnails. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine where you can pick it up and dust your fingers at intervals. This not only absorbs the moisture on your fingers, but helps to keep your work clean. Have your hair in order, power and lipstick put on with care. Looking attractive is a very important part of sewing, because if you are making something for yourself, you will try it on at intervals in front of your mirror, and you can hope for better results when you look your best. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing as you should.

    Mary Brooks Picken, Singer Sewing Book, 1949.

    I say a little prayer for you performance 03 low res

    I say a little prayer for you; good results are difficult when indifference predominates

    I say a little prayer for you performance low res

    Gathering material

    Collected self portraits; found textile, sheets, mascara, lipstick, foundation.

    Invitation to participate.

    letter and face low res


    Plastic bag, envelopes, text from correspondents, performance.

    Reading, Wednesday 23 January, 2019, performance commencing 6.45pm.

    Good results are difficult when indifference predominates

    Durational performance, Saturday 19 January, 2019, commencing 11.15am.

    Glitter eyes low res

    Performance images, thanks to Victoria Hollings.


  • Everyone’s a stranger to me now

    Everyone’s a stranger to me now

    Everyone's a stranger to me now table detail low res

    Everyone’s a stranger to me now, detail of pressed work

    About the exhibition:

    I can’t put my finger on it brings together artists that eschew object based or pictorial representations and embrace instead, an experience of materiality that is no longer a given or manifest trace of human agency. These works seek to challenge hierarchies of consciousness that objectify relationships, beings, language and materials and offers instead, a new materialism and means of knowing the world beyond ‘thingness’.

    Opening at 6pm on Thursday, November 1st. Sponsored by Epic Beer!

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe exhibition low res

    Everyone’s a stranger to me now, performance in ‘I can’t put my finger on it’, a group exhibition at DEMO, 1 – 4 November 2018.

    Everyone's a stranger to me now wall work long view

    Everyone’s a stranger to me now, wall work

    Everyone’s a stranger to me now is a durational performance; pressing, steaming, sizzling as moisture is forced from pieces of cloth which hold images that suggest the face, the trace of a woman, a moment that has passed.

    A fraction of my performance, Everyone’s a stranger to me now, for the opening of

    I can’t put my finger on it, a group exhibition at DEMO, 1 – 4 November 2018.

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe pressing low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe working back to back low res

    The work of ironing; pressing, carefully, slowly, mirrors work of care, attention and process, the cloth changes from damp grey material to a crisp, dry, white, cloth but still stained, and progressively may burn. The process of ironing is never complete, the creases never really leave, returning with use and laundering.

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe working behind Mel's box again low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe Yolunda watching low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe standing tall low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe pressing close low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe placing the work on the table low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe standing low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now Angela Rowe set up low res

    Everyone's a stranger to me now wall work low res

    The imagery on the cloth may suggest the face, a smear of mascara, stained and smudged by another movement, pressing, rubbing, removing.

    Everyone's a stranger to me now wall detail one low res

    Thanks Victoria Hollings for the photos and video of the performance !

    This post was originally published on my student blog, here.

  • Unbound for Suffrage125 the final coat in images

    Unbound for Suffrage125 the final coat in images

    sewign table set up

    All set, a sweet little domestic Bernina, a beautiful sewing chair

    Swapping my workspace in The Hub at Otago Polytechnic for DEMO, Whitecliffe College’s project space, I completed the Coat I began for Unbound; Liberating Women.

    Three women siging the coat in sewing space

    People adding their marks to the coat as it was being sewn…

    During the course of the Day of Making at the Symposium, I had visitors come and see me to add to their original contribution, as well as people who attended the symposium, but not the dinner, and who wanted to participate. The conversations continued and the work went on…It was important to allow everyone time to come and go while I was there working, and share stories with me or with other delegates making their marks.

    CTANZ Unbound Symposium 2018 finished coat Low res

    Shattered but happy

    Feeling tired and frazzled by now, the outer of the garment was complete, and she was looking stunning. I needed to complete her, adding lining and hemming, so arranged another residency at DEMO, where she began as piece of calico, I had the space and a weekend. I was happy.

    Unbound coat working on the hem on the table beautiful Low res

    On the table to be pressed and hemmed

    The choice to extend the length of the coat, beyond floor length was the right thing to do, it gave plenty of space for people to work with, and, I think gives the garment quite a presence, it also shifts it further from being a wearable object.

    Unbound coat shoulders view detail Low res

    Oh look at that drape…

    Unbound coat front Low res

    She’s standing at my height, I love the way the fabric pools on the floor

    Unbound coat front close Low res

    Standing tall

    There are a wide range of marks, some, a simple signature and date, others a drawing, a quote or poem, or words of wisdom. I feel as though a lot of mana was infused in this object and it has been an honour to work on it and with the people who participated in the project, the enthusiasm that people brought, the intention behind the words and imagery was humbling and added more meaning to the making and the finished object than I anticipated.

    This has given me plenty to mull over and consider for future projects.

    Thank you….

    With grateful thanks to Creative New Zealand and Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand for supporting this project, special thanks to Stella Lange for providing me with everything I needed for my sewing space at The Hub, including a very special sewing chair, and Elaine Webster for being such a gracious host and woman of wisdom.



  • Unbound: Gathering Material for Unbound; Liberating women

    Unbound: Gathering Material for Unbound; Liberating women

    Larnach Castle dining room dressed for dinner

    The Ballroom at Larnach Castle

    Last month, September, the month to mark 125 of Women’s Suffrage here in Aotearoa New Zealand was a big month, I realised two major projects, one in Dunedin, one in Whangarei. Both were based around the idea of drawing people together to contribute their thoughts, ideas, concerns, stories or simply their signatures on pieces of a garment I would sew to mark the occasion.

    For the Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand’s annual symposium, Unbound; Liberating Women the project was entitled, Unbound: Gathering Material and was based in two places over the course of the weekend; during the symposium dinner, in the Ballroom at Larnach Castle and a workspace I was given in The Hub, at Otago Polytechnic.

    Following are some photographs documenting the signing of pieces of the coat at Larnach Castle. Thanks Catherine Donnelley for your camera work!

    Signing the fabric pieces at Larnach Castle 02 low res

    Between dinner and dessert, I invited guests to come and sign or make a mark

    signatures and pens on fabric

    Pieces of a coat were laid out on two sets of tables, along with a variety of markers and pens

    Heidi signing and coversation over the cloth low res

    There was probably more conversation around and over the pieces of fabric than there was mark making!

    In honour of Dress Reformers Jane Malthus low res

    References to a paper presented and the women who pushed the boundaries in dress reform, thanks Jane Malthus!

    Signing the fabric pieces at Larnach Castle 07 low res

    Gathering, looking, thinking and talking

    Woman's hands signing the cloth

    Beautiful words shared

    Signing the fabric pieces at Larnach Castle 14 Well behaved women rarely make history low res

    “Well-behaved women rarely make history”

    Signing the fabric pieces at Larnach Castle 03 low res

    Very focused

    Woman in yellow signing fabric

    The garment pieces filled up fast, as the approximately 60 people shared in the work

    Signing the fabric pieces at Larnach Castle 08 low res

    I was so impressed with the enthusiasm brought to the project

    Signing the fabric pieces at Larnach Castle 14 low res

    “Without land and without Women we are lost..”

    Larnach Castle dinner mass of people signing low res

    So many people!

    Images of the completed garment are forthcoming…..

    With grateful thanks to Creative New Zealand and Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand for supporting this project, special thanks to Stella Lange for providing me with everything I needed for my sewing space, including a very special sewing chair, and Elaine Webster for being such a gracious host and woman of wisdom.



  • Unbound: Gathering material

    Unbound: Gathering material

    Press release

    Unbound: Gathering material, Angela Rowe

    Larnach Castle and Otago Polytechnic, 21st – 23rd September 2018.

    Angela Rowe Unbound Gathering Material CTANZ 2018 image 02 low res

    Delegates attending the Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand’s annual symposium, Unbound: Liberating Women and the symposium dinner are warmly invited to contribute to the project  Unbound: Gathering material by Angela Rowe.

    This project involves the creation of a garment that may be viewed as an historical document, recording the symposium as an event. It may represent a physical ‘checking in’, a common practice on social media, while the finished object becomes a tangible document of this event, a collection of autographs or marks which may represent the only time this group of individuals are present together.

    How can you contribute?

    You are invited to add your signature or unique mark to pieces of a garment that Angela will sew over the course of the weekend. Your participation is voluntary.

    What happens next?

    The finished garment, photographs and other documentation will be circulated to participants and may be exhibited in the future, shared on social media and on Angela’s blog as part of her MFA studies. This material may also be incorporated into future projects.

    If you would like to stay up to date with the progress of this project, leave your email address on the sheet provided.

    Angela Rowe Into the Sunshine; Are we there yet? image 01 low res

    About Angela’s practice:

    Angela lives and works in Whangarei and is an MFA candidate at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. Her studio research circulates around a number of themes, including performance, evocative objects and the usually private world of the home interior. Focusing on domestic concerns around care and ‘maintenance’ work, a term used by Mierle Laderman Ukeles to describe the care work she did daily as a mother, work is identified as something that is mostly hidden and taken for granted. In this context work can involve both physical and emotional labour.

    For Unbound: Gathering material, her work focuses on the significance of the individual signature and human relationships, moving within the fields of social anthropology and relational aesthetics. Elements of this project reference traditional domestic tasks usually undertaken by women and suggest activities that connect generations.

    This framework offers a means to understand relationships and is a way to make connections through individuals and time, using the experience of the symposium and the relationships that occur to develop narratives and acknowledge memories.

    Concluding in a performance in which the garment developed is sewn to completion and the work witnessed publicly throughout the symposium, Unbound: Liberating Women, the project aims to evoke ideas around labour, the body, social relations and women’s work. These are concerns that are still relevant in 2018, as we mark 125 years of women gaining the right to vote.

    DEMO Residency Aug 2018 Unbound; all my hopes and dreams scissors and fabric

    MFA blog







    Thank you to my generous sponsors and supporters, I couldn’t do it without you xo

    My costs for this project have been covered by a Quick Response Grant from Creative New Zealand, and my equipment is being supplied by CTANZ members and Otago Polytechnic.



  • Social Bodies; Ocean of Air, in Water, a group exhibition opening next week

    Social Bodies; Ocean of Air, in Water, a group exhibition opening next week

    Water,  a group exhibition I have work in opens next Thursday!

    ‘Ma te wai, ka ora tonu ngā mea katoa!’
    Through water, all things live! Water gives life to all things!

    The exhibition is from  3 May – 25 June 2018, at Geoff Wilson Gallery

    Northtec, Toi Te Pito Arts Precinct NorthTec

    51 Raumanga Valley Road

    Whangarei 0110

    New Zealand is surrounded by oceans and sea and is home to many rivers and inland waterways.  This environmental fact inspired the group exhibition Water, hosted at The Geoff Wilson Gallery, Northtec, Whangarei.

    The exhibition features works by twelve artists each responding to the notion of water via an image, sound or sensation.  Represented are discussions pertaining to the qualities of water albeit; beauty, environmental challenges, cultural discussions or water’s sensual and erotic nature.

    Participating artists include: Angela Carter, Benjamin Pittman, Brenda Briant, Denise Batchelor, Emma Smith, Jill Sorensen, Linda Cook, Lydia Anderson, Martha Mitchell, Natalie Robertson, Robert Carter and William Bardebes.

    A calendar of events, workshops, lectures and discussions, will accompany the exhibition as Water runs its course through May – June.

    Curator – Linda Cook


    Social Bodies; Ocean of Air, installation, and opening night engagement.

    “…We live not, in reality, on the summit of a solid earth but at the bottom of an ocean of air.” – The Invention of Clouds, by Richard Hamblyn (2002).

    Using garments as signifiers, as tools of socialisation, communication, and belonging; Social Bodies; Ocean of Air invites the gallery visitor to step into an other world. The objects in this exhibition are activated when worn within the space, the viewer~wearer becomes part of the social experiment, bringing them to life, adding meaning and their own story to the garments.

    Social Bodies; Ocean of Air. Angela Carter grey collar detail

    Social Bodies; Ocean of Air, detail.

    Visitors are invited to consider; what is your relationship with this Ocean of Air? And how do you navigate it? You are invited to use the objects in Social Bodies; Ocean of Air as tools for communication, play and ‘dressing up’.

    Everyday dress is a performance…will you play along?

    “Fashion is thus representative of both social and cultural performances, since the ways in which our bodies are clothed is imbued with socially constructed meanings, especially in regards to gender. Fashion also acts as both a cultural and social symbol, operating under the overarching cultural conventions defined by dominant systems of power. Within clothing are the possibility for constructing power and influence, and a space for dissent, critique, and exploration.” (Neumann, 2011).


    Hamblyn, Richard. The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies. New York: Picador, 2002

    Neumann, Jessica, “Fashioning the Self: Performance, Identity and Difference” (2011). Electronic theses and Dissertations. 475. https://digitalcommons.du.edu/etd/475