Valerie Kirk tells KATHARINE PIERCE why not knowing who you’re working with shouldn’t hold you back.
Every time you search for something on the Internet your computer casts out a net to retrieve information from a huge, worldwide network of computers, smartphones, servers and consoles.
These millions of points combine to form the twists, knots and twine of the World Wide Web, hauling in your ’catch’ of webpage results. It was this idea of being able to communicate with people all around the world that inspired textile artist Valerie Kirk from the ANU School of Art to cast a ’net’ into cyberspace and connect with
universities on the other side of the globe.
The connections she and fellow artist Nancy Tingey made would ultimately form an online exhibition, NETS, and create an opportunity for artists from around to world to interact, share and discuss ideas.
NETS is a global project across the textile departments and related artist communities of three universities: the University of Cumbria, UK, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland, and ANU.
"Cumbria University was very keen to do an international exchange with ANU and they had a preexisting relationship with the Novia University, so it became a three way partnership," explains Kirk.
The artists involved in NETS responded to the project’s concept in individual and original ways. Their pieces ranged from the political networks of society to social, environmental and family networks.
Kirk herself chose to examine the issue of the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish, which has been driven to the brink of extinction.
The catfish can grow to 10 feet and 350 kilograms. Kirk designed a tapestry woven in the shape of this very large fish.