Assistant Judge & Feature Artist - Pat Jarrett

Pat was born in Portland in 1936 and has spent most of her life living close to the Cobboboonee Forest.

While taking part in farm life with her husband, raising three children and working part time as a Senior Registered Nurse at Portland and District Hospital, over the years the location has given her the opportunity of wandering around the forest, studying its natural forms, its subtle colours and light.

Similarly, there has been the seasonal opportunity of swimming at Bridgewater, of looking at star-fish and anenomes in the pools, at shells and plant life and the brilliant colours to be found along the coast. Pat’s life as an artist has revolved principally around painting, weaving and the creation of three-dimensional soft sculpture.

Her interest in the arts commenced at school and remains a major strand in her life interests. The use of native materials in contemporary design as seen while travelling in the Scandinavian countries, first in the early 1960s but regularly since then, is a major influence in her work.

She became more closely involved with weaving after joining the Hamilton Spinners and Weavers Group, this leading to some of her work being exhibited by Craft Victoria in Melbourne. Following this a large rug of hers was selected for display at the exhibition mounted in 1976 by the Australia Council in Sydney.

At this time architect Harry Seidler was designing the Australian Embassy in Paris and was looking for furnishings that would provide an Australian flavour to his European building. He commissioned Pat to provide three rugs in undyed wool for the embassy. These were the largest rugs she produced to that date and required the construction of a larger loom.

Several commissions were received from Harry following this, including rugs for Riverside in Brisbane, Glen Waverly Civic Centre, Grosvenor Place and the MLC Centre in Sydney, and numerous other private commissions. Another interesting project from her loom was the refurnishing of the ‘conversation pit’ at Heidi Gallery at Heidelberg with completely new rugs and cushions.

In the interim there had beeen many exhibitions of her rugs, wall hangings and soft scultures including those at ‘Crafts Alive 75’ in Melbourne, Craft Expo at the MLC Centre (1981), the National Craft Aquisition Award in Darwin (1983), Distelfink Gallery in Hawthorn (1984) and Crafts Council of Victoria (1985).

The physically demanding work involved in producing her natural wool rugs combined with the increasing difficulty of sourcing the necessary wool types (Lincoln and coloured) reduced Pat’s output to smaller private commissions in the 1990s and concentration on the further development of her knotted scuptures and individual cape designs later copied by commercial designers in the clothing industry.

It was at about this time also that, having restricted herself to a palate of natural white, grays and black in her weaving, she says she ‘felt the need to find colour again’, and study at Warrnambool TAFE resulted in a Diploma of Arts (Painting) awarded in 2010. The successful exhibition of fourteen paintings in her colourful ‘Fathom Series’ in a one-person show at the Gas Works Gallery, South Melbourne, in 2012, left little doubt she had ‘found it again’.

Meanwhile Pat’s sculptures had been attracting wider attention. In 2016 that interest culminated in the commission received from the Museum of Victoria for objects of this type for inclusion in the museum’s new children's’ play area. Three suspended ‘pods’ on a frame were designed, constructed and knotted under her supervision, and she herself produced a separate, large, stuffed, floor-level soft sculpture for small children to explore and rest upon.

The principal material in these soft sculptures was a commercial polyester twine with a pleasant tactile quality woven around a twisted core of the same fibre by the manufacturer. In total more than seven kilometres of it in the strong colours of orange, green and black went into these uniquely crafted sculptures.

And, beyond all this, painting continues!