“It was there that i met myself as a weaver, and the two amazing women who taught me. That day something came back to me that had been asleep for a very long time.” ~ Sophie Honess
Gomeroi Yinarr weaver & fibre artist Sophie Honess talks to us about her daily life in regional Australia, how her heritage has impacted her art and her journey into weaving.
Tell us a bit about yourself & how you came to be a weaver & fibre artist?
My name is Sophie, I’m a Gomeroi Yinarr from Tamworth in New South Wales. My family is my heart, and i love them dearly.
I moved to Sydney when i was 22 and lived in the Inner West with two of my best friends that I grew up with, and formed many more important relationships there through house sharing and work. I managed many Lifeline Op Shops during my time in Sydney.
In 2016, my partner and i moved back to Tamworth to be closer to family.
My sister invited me to a weaving workshop at the botanical gardens in Tamworth. It was there that i met myself as a weaver, and the two amazing women who taught me. It was like something came back that was asleep for a very long time. From there, I became a weaver with Yinarr Maramali, a Gomeroi women’s business who support the well-being of their community through the continuation of our ancestral weaving culture.
I also have my own art practice, which involves loom weaving, needle work, rug-making, tufting and running local artisanal workshops.
What do you love about daily life in regional Australia?
As an artist, i find it easy and affordable to live in. My partner and I are both artists & are able to have our own studios in our home. I have access to country, and I am with my family. I find myself much more at peace here in Tamworth, because it’s home to me. It’s familiar, safe, beautiful.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity can mean so many different things but for me it means communicating, expressing and being.
What inspires you to create?
My immediate environment inspires me to create. It can be the Namoi river, the bush, the suburban streets, or an amazing mid-century home! I love organic designs, and the 1970s aesthetic. I love my country, and I grieve my country, which plays a big part in my process.
Here in Tamworth, we have just come out of a long, long drought, and that really inspired the way I see landscape, and how I express those images.
Has your heritage impacted your art & if so in what way?
Oh my gosh, definitely! I have Gomeroi, Irish and English heritage. I come from a long line of weavers in my Gomeroi family. We have woven for thousands of years.
My mother is a craft fanatic. She was always crafting and teaching us different techniques growing up. She taught us collage, quilling, sewing, drawing, painting, beading, sculpture, the list goes on and on.
I remember my Dad saying Mum really wanted us to grow up being artists, because she grew up in a time where you left school and went to learn typing at Tafe. She loved photography but unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to follow it through. We still get together and create together!
What anchors you when you’re struggling to find your creativity?
When i’m struggling to create, i usually go for a walk. I take photos of snippets of what i’m passing that i think are pretty, and i usually go home and get an idea from that. It simple, but it works for me.
Also, if i’m finding myself with no creative energy, i usually ride it as well. If i try to create while i’m in a funk, i usually get myself more upset and don’t like what i’m creating.
Do you have a favourite artwork and what makes it so?
The big Lomandra basket. I worked on it nearly every day over three months. I watched the grass woven into the basket change colour and shape as I added in fresh grasses which were bright green and thick. With this piece I was able to weave her in the winter sun with no pressure of getting anything else done but this basket. She will change over time and I will too and I hope to always have her with me.
What have you learned in bringing your art into the world?
Bringing my art into the world, I’ve learned i feel very vulnerable each time i do it. It has allowed me to express myself with other artists & like-minded people that I would never have been able to meet otherwise. It’s opened doors to create with other artists and learn from them as well.
Sophie's work with Yinarr Marramali can be found at Koskela and her original fibre art on Etsy. Sophie is also available for commission work @sophie_honess.
Sophie's "Fruits of the Eucalyptus" series for Flynn Home is available here.
Photo credit: Header image by Jacqui Manning. Rest of imagery is artist's own.