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The Australian National University

Ms Valerie Kirk

1999 MA (Hons) University of Wollongong
Senior Lecturer and Head of Textiles, School of Art. HDR Convener, School of Art
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Crafts 190501
  • Museum Studies 210204
  • Fine Arts (Incl. Sculpture And Painting) 190502
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies 200201
  • Other Studies In Creative Arts And Writing 1999

Research interests

Contemporary Woven Tapestry

Contemporary Textiles

Textiles from other cultures - Vietnam, Laos, India, Japan

The migrant experience: Scotland-Austral;ia

Australian Indigenous Fibre and Textiles


Valerie Kirk studied art and design at Edinburgh College of Art and was captivated by the creative process/infinite possibilities of the tapestry medium. In 1979 she came to Australia to become a weaver at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, and then worked in all states of Australia before moving to Canberra in 1991 to be the Head of Textiles at the Australian National University, School of Art. Her work from this time focussed on what it meant to be a Scottish/Australian in this context.

 She is considered to be an important international figure in the world of contemporary tapestry. As an artist, writer, teacher and public figure she has made a significant contribution, forging valuable and tangible links with the Scottish tradition and global field. While actively maintaining her practice as an artist, Valerie’s remarkable capacity for achievement has seen her inspire and lead community tapestry projects, research and write a major thesis on tapestry, direct significant textile projects and create major works. She has held solo exhibitions and presented her work extensively in USA, Europe, Australia, NZ and SE Asia.

Between 2004-2013 she was commissioned to design and weave five major tapestries to celebrate  Prizes in Science associated with the Australian National University. The tapestries are installed and on public display at University House, ANU.

Awards such as the Australia Council grants, Muse Arts Woman of the Year award and the ACT Arts Fellowship 2013 mark substantial success and her artwork is documented in the Telos Portfolio Collection publication.

From January 2018 Valerie Kirk works as an independant artist and Visiting Fellow at ANU.

Researcher's projects



Born:                1957, Scotland


2014                 Indigo Masterclass with Jane Callander

2010                 Participant, Masterclass with Dorothy Caldwell, TFF, Orange, NSW

2009                 Masterclass in Colour, Mev Moriarty

1999                 MA (Hons) University of Wollongong

1989                 Grad. Education Admin., Hawthorn Inst. of Ed.(3units )

1979-1980         Art Teachers Certificate, Goldsmiths College, University of London

1978-1979         Postgraduate, Edinburgh College of Art

1974-1978         Degree in Art & Design, Edinburgh College of Art


Professional Experience:


Penland Summer School


Guest Lecturer, Textile tours to Vietnam, Laos, India and West Timor


Creative Fibre New Zealand Master class teaching tour


Penland Summer School


Guest Lecturer, Textile tours to Vietnam, Laos, India and West Timor


Creative Fibre New Zealand Master class teaching tour


Flagging our Future, Design Canberra, ANU co-ordinator


Speaker, “Prospects for the Design of Sustainment”, Design Canberra


Senior Lecturer and Head of Textiles, ANU School of Art

2012 & 2013

Submitted ARC Discovery applications with Dr Louise Hamby


Convener Canberra Centenary Community Tapestry


Centenary Tapestry outreach projects: Beryl Women’s Group, National Folk Festival, National Fibre Forum


Accredited Professional Member Craft ACT


Keynote Speaker with Louise Hamby, UflaUpla: National Indigenous Textiles Forum, Cairns


Speaker, Designing a Capital: Crafting a Nation


Curator, Quilt National


Guest Lecturer, Burma and Lao Textile Study Tour


Selling Yarns 3 Committee Member


Australian selector for the 14th International Triennial of Tapestry, Lódz 2013, Poland (Selecting Australian Artists)


Guest Lecturer, Lao Textile Study Tour


Speaker, Orirythm Symposium, Kyoto Arts Center, Kyoto, Japan


Convener and Speaker “Travelling with Yarns”, Gunbalanya, NT


Speaker, NETS International Exchange Conference, Turku, Finland


Visual Arts Network ACT Committee Member


Discovery Pilot Award: Indigenous Contemporary Printed Textiles, NT & QULD


Speaker and curated 3 exhibitions for VI World Textile Art International Contemporary Textile Art Biennial – Mexico


Workshop presenter: 2011 Arts Education Conference, Canberra


Judge The Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award


Selector for Textile Fibre Forum Publication


Australian selector, 13th International Triennial of Tapestry, Lódz 2010, Poland


Coordinator for the “Nets” workshops, exhibition, exchange, blog, conference project with, Novia University of Applied Arts, Finland and University Cumbria, UK. Blog:


Project Remake participant


Keynote Speaker, National Quilt Symposium, Canberra


“Weaving Lives” co-curated with Ma Mar, CSA Foyer Gallery


Presented paper on Momentum at ANZAAE conference, Dunedin, NZ


Keynote Speaker: “Handmade and Proud of It” Fairfield City Museum and Gallery, Sydney


2008 Canberra Critics Circle Arts Award


Convener “Tapestry 2008” – conference, public program, exhibitions

2008- 2010

Curator: “Lao Tapestry-Weaving Dreams and Aspirations”. SoA Foyer gallery & tour Art Space, Wodonga, The Ararat Gallery & the Chisholm St Gallery, Canberra


Curated: “The Fine Art of Tapestry Weaving”


Co-ordinated “Land” International tapestry exhibition, ANU + ATA , USA


Presented paper: “The Crimson Carpet”, Addressing the Margins, NZ


Speaker: Textile Design Forum, Government House, Sydney


Worked with HHT NSW to produce carpet for Government House


Curator of 18th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial, “Momentum”.
Gave floortalks and lectures with touring show at 12 regional galleries


Commissioned to design and Weave Frank Fenner tapestry


Advisory committee: “RESKIN”- ANAT’s wearable technology lab

2006 & 2008

Lecture: Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Tapestry at National Portrait Gallery


Lecture series Warrnambool Art Gallery


Curated: “Life’s Rich Tapestry”, Endangered Textiles, Duffy, ACT


Winner of Government House, NSW Carpet Design Competition


Co-ordinator of Community Art, National Folk Festival, Canberra


Commission: design +weave Jubilee Tapestries for University House, ANU


ACT Department of Education Accreditation Board Supervisor


Invited Judge: “Fashion Flair and Fantasy”


President Craft ACT


Residency, Ernabella Aboriginal Community, SA.


Lecture: Australian Textiles, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, UK as part of  ARTTEXTILES 2 program


Lecture “Lao Textiles and the Museum” at the Lao Handicraft Festival Forum in Lao PDR


Board Member Craft ACT


CAPO Board member


International Tapestry Journal Editorial Panel Member


Convener: Women in Asia Conference Committee – Art


Lecture and Residency Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, GB.


Research trip to New York, USA, GB and Hong Kong.


Organising Committee for “Translocalities” Conference


Convener: “Frisson Forum”


Lecture on New Technology and Textiles at NETS A,C.T.
 professional development seminar.


External assessment at RMIT, Melbourne and CIT, Canberra.


Member C.I.T. BA Fashion Advisory panel.


Accreditation and Registration panel member for the BA Fashion, C.I.T.


USQ Packaging 3D Visual Art for Interactive Learning CD Rom


Convener of SHIFT conference, exhibitions public program 1998


Participant in Lake Mungo Artists Project


"Textiles of Vietnam and the Economy" Lecture to senior Vietnamese officials,  Managing Business in Asia Program ANU


Co-ordinated the Australian tour of "Travelling Box Show" from  GB


Lecture at National Gallery of Australia, "H'Mong Textiles of  Vietnam"


Lecture: Convergence Conference, Portland, U.S.A. "Australian Tapestry”


Presented paper: Asian Arts Society "Textiles of the Lower Mekong",
 Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.


Asialink project to hang and open the exhibition, " Symbol and Narrative:  Contemporary Australian Textiles ", Chaing Mai, Thailand.


Initiated +co-ordinated symposium, exhibitions, masterclasses,
 "Challenging Ideas of Cloth"


Initiated + co-ordinated publishing Australian Textiles Database on WWW.


Presented papers at Tapestry Seminar   " Texts from the Edge", Adelaide.


Attended NACHADS Conference, Auckland, N.Z


Lecturer with 20 Textile & Cultural Tours to Vietnam,Lao PDR, Cambodia & India.


Founding and committee member, Textile Network ACT.


Attended Tapestry/Textile conferences and events +lectured in
 Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, GB and Denmark


Invited to represent Australia as a professional Tapestry Artist at:
“Distant Lives-Shared Voices”,  in Lodz, Poland.


Board Member:  Crafts Council of Victoria and Warrnambool Art Gallery


Member of Warrnambool Womens Festival Arts Committee.  Project:
Residency and exhibition Bandouk Marika and Naminapu White


Artist-in-Residence, Kintore Aboriginal Community

1989 - 1997  

External Assessor of Textiles, RMIT Melbourne, Victoria


Warrnambool Womens Festival Secretary and Arts Committee member


Member of International Tapestry Symposium Committee


Consultant/Designer Portland Community Tapestry


Winner:  Ararat Bicentennial Textile Design Competition.  Commissioned to weave the tapestry.


Researched and Co-ordinated the exhibition “2000 Bobbins”


Co-ordinated the Warrnambool Womens Banner Project


Working full time as an artist, employed to design and weave commissioned work by  “The Artists Agency”, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, GB


Gave two week Master Class in Tapestry - Auckland, N.Z.


Invited by the Crafts Council of Australia to give lectures and workshops in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Western Australia


Artist-in-Residence, Busselton Arts Centre, WA - 3 months


Artist-in-Residence, Portland, Victoria - 9 months


Worked for the Flying Art School, Aboriginal communities, Art Centres, Schools, Colleges and Higher Education


Working full-time as an artist, in a studio at Sunderland Arts Centre, GB.  Researched Coptic and contemporary tapestry in Egypt


Worked with Welfare State Theatre Company as an artist, GB and travelled to Greece, Spain, France and USA studying textiles


Employed as a tapestry weaver - VTW, Melbourne, Victoria

1974 & 1975

Camp America, Manitoba, Canada and Westport, U.S.A.


Solo Exhibitions:

2009                 “Returning” Sturt Gallery, Mittagong

2006                 “Leaving and Returning” Warrnambool Art Gallery 

2004                 “Journeys” Ararat Gallery, Victoria

2003                 “Traditions Revisited” Craft ACT Gallery

2000                 "Croxxing", Sturt Gallery, Mittagong.

1999                 "Rock and a Place Between" Spark Gallery, Wollongong

1998                 "Dwelling" Street Theatre Gallery, Canberra, A.C.T.

1990                 “Opals and Images of Outback Australia”, Warrnambool Art Gallery

1985                 “Guestspace”, The Ararat Gallery

1984                 Busselton Arts Centre - WA

1983                 Tour major tapestry works to Interior Design Showrooms throughout USA

1982                 Newcastle Theatre Gallery + Sunderland Arts Centre, GB - “Valerie Kirk:Tapestries”, tour GB

1981                 LYC Art Gallery, GB

1980                 Centaur Gallery - London


Selected Group Exhibitions:

2015                                        Cordis Trust Prize for Tapestry, The Royal Scottish Academy

2015                                        STA 4, USA tour

2014                                        Botanic Art Exhibition, ANBG, Canberra.

2014                                        “Awaken” Craft ACT, Canberra

2014                                        M16 Drawing Prize Award Exhibition

2013                                        Canberra Centenary Community Tapestry Exhibition, ACT L.A.

2013                                        “Kate Derum Award for Small Tapestries 2013”, ATW, Melbourne

2013                                        American Tapestry Alliance curated web exhibition

2013                                        “Terrain” Strathnairn, Canberra, ACT.

2012                                        “Petite” Wangaratta Art Gallery. Work acquired.

2012                                        “NetWorks”, Belconnen Arts Centre and Fibre Forum, Geelong

2012                                        “Orirythm”, Kyoto Arts Center, Kyoto, Japan. Selected international tapestry.

2011                                        “Tapestry International 2: Passages”, Taos, NM; Tacoma,WA; Glen Allen, VA; USA.

2011                                        “Kate Derum Award for Small Tapestries 2011”, ATW Melbourne.

2011                                        “Uncontained”, Craft ACT

2011                                        Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre Gallery , 4 June - 17 July 2011

2010                                        “Tamworth Fibre Textile Collection 1975-2010”, Tamworth Regional Gallery

2010-2011                               “Nets” The Foyer Gallery, ANU, School of Art, and tour The Agora, Xalapa, Mexico, Barometer, Sydney.

2010-11                                   “About Time: Australian Studio Tapestry 1975-2005” Ararat Regional Art Gallery and tour Horsham Regional Art Gallery - 22 January to 6 March 2011, Central Goldfields Art Gallery, Neill Street Maryborough 4 Sept – 9Oct 2011
Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery - 1 July to 14 August 2011
Central Goldfields Art Gallery, Maryborough - 4 September to 9 October 2011

2010                                        “Enchanted Pathways” ATA, Santa Fe, USA

2010                                        “Is This Me? Tour of Australia and New Zealand

2010                                        “Petite” Wangaratta Regional Gallery

2008-09                                   40: Highlights from the Ararat Regional Art Gallery Textile Fibre Collection”, Ararat Regional Art Gallery

2008                                        “Manipulate:Construct”, The Town Hall Gallery, Melbourne

2008                                        “Gardens” Tapestries from Australia and NZ, Alliance Francais, Canberra,

2008                                        “Land”, ANU, Canberra and online with ATA, U.S.A.

2007                                        “Lightweight” Dunedin, NZ

2006                                        “Micro”, Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne.

2006                                        “Two Materials” Craft ACT

2006                                        “65 Roses” ANU School of Art Gallery

2006                                        Online exhibition curated by Sharon Marcus, “Between Two Worlds”, @ American Tapestry Alliance Web Gallery. USA

“Grand Ideas - Small Format” Grand Rapids, MI, USA

2005                                        “Design-ed”Australian National University Gallery, ACT.

2003-2004                               “Tactile Narratives – Aspects of Australian Contemporary Tapestry”, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania.

2003                                        “Surface”, Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney.

2003                                        “Lake Mungo” Mura Clay Gallery, Sydney.

2002                                                                                “Black and White Matter” Craft ACT, Canberra.

2002                                        Kyoto Seika University Gallery, Japan.

2002                                        “The Hobart Art Prize” – Works on Paper, Hobart, Tasmania.

2000-2002                               “Frisson”Tamworth Biennial of Textile Art, Tamworth and tour

“Lake Mungo Revisited” Goulburn Regional Gallery and national tour

2001                                                                                 “Textiles 2001”Artespresso, Canberra.

2001                                        “Consanguinity” CSA Library, Canberra

2001                                        “Chinese Whispers” The Study Gallery, Poole, G.B.

2001                                        “Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory Acquisitive Craft Exhibition”. Tapestry “CROXXING” acquired.

1999                                        "Presiding Officers Craft Exhibition", Parliament House, Canberra.

                                                "Drawn in Form", Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane.

                                                "Australian Textiles", Sturt Craft Gallery, Mittagong.

1998                                        "Origins and New Perspectives", Lodz, Poland and tour.

1998                                        "More Swanky Hankies" Jam Factory, Adelaide, ANCA Gallery, Canberra, Centre for Contemporary Craft, Sydney and international tour.

1997                                        Group exhibition, Salon Natasha, Hanoi, Vietnam.

                                                Alice Craft Acquisition.

                                                Northern Territory Craft Exhibition.

                                                "Turning Point", Craft A.C.T.

                                                "Mainly Textiles ", University of Wollongong

                                                "Lake Mungo - Works in Progress", University of Wollongong

1996 - 1997                             12th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial, Tamworth and National tour.

1996 - 1997                             " Swanky Hankies ", ANCA Gallery, Canberra and Fibre Design Gallery, Goulburn.

1996                                        "Its About Time", Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

1996                                        "Small Expressions ", Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

1995                                        "Capital Works", Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, Takashimaya Gallery, Singapore and Hong Kong.

1995                                        " Texts from the Edge " The Jam Factory, Adelaide and national tour.

1995                                        " Women in a Changing City "  Crafts ACT.

1995                                        Craft A.C.T. members exhibition

1992-1995                               “Directions”  Seminar and exhibition program, Goulburn Art Gallery, and Tour

1994                                        " The International Encounter of Miniature Tapestry " Mexico City and Tour, Mexico.

1993                                        “Simile”  Curated by David Salter, Craft Victoria Gallery, Melbourne

1991-1993                               “Tapestry in Context”  The Victorian Ministry for the Arts, Melbourne and tour Victoria, NSW and SA

1992                                        “Coincidences”  L-Space, CSA Canberra

1992                                        “Addressing the Chair”  Canberra Contemporary Art Space

1991                                        Kybosh Gallery - Canberra

                                                Alice Springs Award Exhibition

1990                                        Riddoch Art Gallery Award Exhibition (work acquired), Mt Gambier, SA

                                                -“Decorex”,  Melbourne, VIC

                                                -Moora Award Exhibition, WA

                                                -“Fibre and Text”  Ararat and Tour

                                                -Small Tapestries Exhibition, Beaver Galleries Canberra

1989                                        Regional Craft Exhibition, The Meat Market Craft Centre, Melbourne, VIC

                                                -“A New Group”,  Multi-media Art, Warrnambool, Melbourne and Geelong

                                                -“The Cutting Edge”,  The Womens’ Gallery, Melbourne

                                                -“Textiles for Interiors”,  Crafts Council Gallery, Sydney

1988                                        “The Face of Australia”,  Bicentennial touring exhibition - venues throughout Australia

                                                -“Australian Tapestries”,  The Victorian Ministry for the Arts, Melbourne, Victoria

1987                                        -“The Textile  Suitcase”,  Touring exhibition, WA

                                                -“Scottish Miniatures”,  Tour of New Zealand and Australia

                                                -“Contemporary Imagery:  Ancient Tradition”,  Washington USA and tour

                                                -“Art and Industry” ,  The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB and tour

1985                                        Third Biennial of Fibre and Textiles, Ararat -“C.F.M.A” Portland, Victoria

1984                                        The Makers Mark Gallery, Melbourne

1983                                        “Contemporary British Craft” , Tour of Interior Design Showrooms, Florida, USA

                                                -“Contemporary Design for Interiors”,  Hopper-Williams Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB

1982                                        “Images in Weaving”,  British Crafts Centre, London, GB

                                                -“Making It”,  British Crafts Council Gallery, London, GB

                                                -“Northern Open”,  selected Art from England, Sunderland Arts Centre, GB

1981                                        “Textiles North”,   British Tour

                                                -“Society of Scottish Artists”,  Exhibition, Edinburgh, Scotland

                                                -“S.T.A.G.”,  Warehouse Gallery, Convent Garden, London, GB

                                                -“Collage of Images in Weaving”,  Chelsea, London, GB

                                                -“7-Up”,  Sunderland Studio Artists Exhibition Tour, GB

1978                                        “La Jeune Tapisserie En Ecosse”,  Tour, France



2012                                        Brian Schmidt Tapestry for University House

2006-07                                   Commissioned to supervise the production of carpet for Government House, Sydney.

2006                                        Commissioned to weave a major tapestry celebrating the work of Scientist Frank Fenner.

2004-5                                     Commissioned to design and weave 3 Jubilee tapestries celebrating the work of Nobel Prize winners.

1999                                        Private Commission, Canberra.

1993                                        Private Commission, Melbourne.

1991                                        Private Commission, Alice Springs

1990                                        Tapestry commissioned for Kensington Swann, NZ

1988                                        Ararat Commemorative Bicentennial Commission for the City of Ararat, Victoria

1986                                        Fergusons Industrial Holdings, Major Tapestry Commission for Applyby Castle, UK

1982                                                                               “Apophis-Ra”,  Tapestry commissioned for the Shipley

1983                                                                               Museum and Art Gallery Collection, Gateshead, G.B.


Collections in which work is included:

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT.

ANU University House, Canberra ACT

Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, NT.

Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, Canberra, ACT.

The ACT Legislative Assembly Art Collection, Canberra ACT.

The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, NSW.

The Ararat Gallery , Victoria.

The Warrnambool Performing Arts Centre, Warrnambool, Victoria.

The Wangaratta Art Gallery Collection

Riddoch Art Gallery, SA,  

Artsloan, UK,        Cumbria School of Art and Design

Edinburgh College of Art Collections

and many private collections nationally and internationally.



2014                            ANU CASS Research grant – Erub printed textiles

2013                            Canberra Centenary Community Initiatives Fund grant

2013                            Canberra Centenary Project funding for outreach

2013                            Legislative Assembly for the ACT Arts funding

2013                            Canberra Critics Award

2013                            Arts ACT Creative Arts Fellowship

2011                            Discovery Pilot Study Grant

2011                            RSHA External Visitor Support Scheme

2011                            CASS Conference Grant – SY3

2011                            CASS Research Conference Funds – VA, Jackie Abrahams, USA

2009                            OSP ANU

2008                            Australia Council grant for Tapestry 2008

2003                            FRGS Grant, ANU

2002                            ANU Publication subsidy

2001                            FRGS Grant, ANU

2001                            ARTS ACT AWARD

2000                            Australia Council New Work Award

1999                            Inaugural Muse Woman of the Year Award

1998                            Canberra Times Art Critics Award for Shift

1995                            P.E.P./ DEET funding to attend Convergence, USA

1993                            Grant to study rug-tufting, Melbourne.

1992                            VACB Australia Council Award to attend “Distant Lives-Shared Voices”,  Poland

1990                            Acquisitive Award, Riddoch Art Gallery, SA

1982                            British Crafts Council, “Setting-up”  Award

1981                            Northern Arts Incentive and travel Award

1978                            Andrew Grant Travel Award , Helen Rose Bequest Prize

                                    HRH Prince Charles Award of Merit


Publications in which work/writing is featured:


  • “Kay Lawrence” article Textile Fibre Forum 2015
  • “Lao Textiles Modern and Contemporary” Encyclopedia of Asian Art, chapter submitted 2014
  • “New Directions in Australian Aboriginal Fabric Printing” paper with Dr Louise Hamby, Textile Society of America Conference 2014
  • “Ma Te Sai” article, Textile Fibre Forum 2014
  • “Pasa Pa”, article Textile Fibre Forum, 2014
  • “The Brian Scmidt Tapestry”, American Tapestry Alliance. Tapestry Topics. Winter 2014 vol 40 no 4 p 10-12
  • Craft ACT “Elements of Place: Artist-in-Residence” exhibition catalogue essay – Ceretha Skinner P13-15 2014
  • Down Under Textiles Issue, 15 p32 – p37 2014
  •  “Orirythm” Exhibition Catalogue, Kyoto, Japan. 2013
  • “Travelling With  Yarns”, ANCAAA, Darwin 2013
  • Tapestry: A Woven Narrative, Black Dog Publishing Ltd 2011 p43 
  • Tapestry Weaving – Design and Technique by Joanne Soroko 2011 the Crowood Press 
  • Nets Project: Craft & Design magazine Issue 214 (March/April 2011) 
  • “Poetics of the Unseen” by Roger Heady – image of Jubilee Tapestry. 


  • Textile Fibre Forum vol 30 issue 1 no 101 2011 “ Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award 2009” p31 and  “Nets and Networks Australia” p35
  • “Selectors for the Fibre Design Book” Textile Fibre Forum, vol 29 issue 3 no 99, 2010, p58
  • Tapestry Topics Winter Issue 2010, About Time: Australian Studio Tapestry 1975-2005

             Ararat Regional Art Gallery by Debbie Herd

  • “The Poetics of the Unseen”, Roger Heady, Centre for Advanced Microscopy, 2010
  • ETN, “Tapestry Weaving in Australia”, June 2010, p40
  • “Phase” Review of Tim Gresham’s exhibition, Textile Fibre Forum, 2010
  • British Embroidery Magasine, Review of Embroidery in Momentum exhibition, 2009
  • Essay, Momentum exhibition catalogue, 2008
  • Textile Fibre Forum, Issue 3 no 91 2008, p32
  • Exhibition catalogues “Lao Tapestry” and “The Fine Art of Weaving” 2008
  • “Stateline” ABC feature on Government House carpet, 13 July 2007
  • Sydney Morning Herald, Government House Carpet article.
  • ACT Legislative Assembly Collection of works 2006
  • “Micro” Contemporary Miniature Tapestries, VTW, Melb Aug 06
  • Weekend Australian 1.10.06 “Access All Areas”
  • The Sydney Morning Herald, “Expand Your Mind”p2  7.10.06 “Tour de Course”
  • 2006 Online exhibition with American Tapestry Alliance:
  • Craft Australia 2006<
  • “Artist” 367 December 2005, p230 – 233, Taiwan, article by Ming-Whe Liou, Canada 
  • Textile Fibre Forum, Issue 4 no 80 2005
  • “University House – As they experienced it” Jill Waterhouse, ANU, 2004 p136, 332.
  • The Space Between, Conference Papers, Curtin University, 2004
  • Craft Arts International, Sept 2003
  • “Valerie Kirk” Portfolio Collection, Telos Publishing, GB 2003
  • Craft Victoria, 2001
  • The Textile Book. by Colin Gale and Jasbir Kaur, Berg Publishing 2002 GB p64
  • The World of Textiles - Australia, Telos Publishing, U.K. 1999
  • Catalogue essay " In Touch " Craft A.C.T.
  • International Tapestry Journal, Winter 1996 Vol.2 No. 4 p31 + 2001
  • Catalogue essay for " Self / Edge ", contemporary textiles from Australia
  • Fiberart Magasine Summer 1996, Winter 1998 USA
  • Fiberarts Design Book Five / Six / Seven, USA
  • Fiberarts Magazine, USA, January/February, 1993
  • Articles contributed to “International Tapestry Network”, 1993 USA
  • European Textileforum December 1992 “Tapisserie - Symposium Lodz/Polen”, Germany
  • “10th Tamworth Fibre/Textile Biennial 1992” Catalogue essay “Education and Textile Art Australia”
  • Art Forum Lecture “Gender Roles in Textiles”  tape at CITA 1991, Canberra
  • Textile Fibre Forum - regular contributions to the Magazine and “Tapestry Network”, 1990 to present
  • Fibre Arts, “Today’s Tapestry Trends”, Linda Hutchins, April 1989 USA
  • Appearances on BTV6 “Morning Show”, 1989, 1988, 1987 GB
  • “Fibre and Text”, Artist’s Statement p.24, 1989
  • “World Weavers Wall”, by Kate Derum, p.22, 1988
  • Textileforum, December 1988, “Australien”,  by Beatrijs Sterk, Germany
  • “The Face of Australia”, by David Hansen, 1988
  • “2000 Bobbins”, presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust, 1988
  • Textile Fibre Forum“Diary of a Residency”,   Vol I, II, III, 1986
  • “Tapestry:  Contemporary Imagery:  Ancient Tradition” by Valerie Clausen, 1986 USA
  • “British Craft Textiles”, by Ann Sutton, 1985 GB
  • “Attitudes to Tapestry”, by Ann Sutton/Sara Selwood, 1983 GB
  • Tyne Tees TV “Come In”, programme, interview, 1983 GB
  • The World of Interiors, July 1983 GB
  • Fashion and Craft, April, 1983 GB
  • Textilekunst, March 1983 “Gewegble Bilber von, Lynne Curran, Valerie Kirk and Williams Jeffries“ Germany
  • Craftsman’s Art” by Lucia Van der Post, The Financial Times, February 5, 1983 GB
  • “Textiles North”, Craft Quarterly Winter 1981/82 GB
  • “Joint Images”, Craft Work May/June 1982 GB


+ many entries in local newspapers and radio interviews

Research Project Erub Erwer Meta – Valerie Kirk and Louise Hamby 2015

This project focuses on Erub Erwer Meta, Darnley Island, Torres Strait and the printed fabrics which embody new ideas/methods in a time of technological advancement. Through this case study involving interviews, observations at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair and study of archival materials, Valerie Kirk and I seek to ascertain the impact of the changing context of fabric printing, viability of traditional methods as well as outsourcing digital printing and the roles of cultural mediators and exchange with outside agencies.

The context of Indigenous fabric printing in Australia has changed continuously since the 1970s. Sales of high-end art works have decreased, but there is growing interest in new forms that are not as expensive as painting, such as Erub textiles. The profile of Indigenous fibre and the financial return to artists has changed substantially over the past decade as evidenced by the exhibitions, sales of work and publications (Hamby 2005, 2010). Despite this growing dynamic in the Indigenous art market, there is a specific lack of dedicated Indigenous printed fabrics research, and no publications on the new development of Indigenous outsourcing of hand and digital fabric printing. This is due to perceptions of fabric as utilitarian, as opposed to art and the lack of acknowledgment of individual artists’ work through labelling, documentation, archiving and publication. In the case of Erub Erwer Meta, geographic isolation is also a factor. The artists have worked in their remote location with limited input or acknowledgement from outside, but they have recently embraced new technologies for computer aided design, outsourcing of digital printing and production of fabrics, textile artworks and sports clothing.

This project will identify skills, technologies and interactions to increase productivity and financial return. Examination of the artistic, social and cultural values associated with printing will help determine the impact and viability of fabric printing and the ways in which it contributes to the health and well-being of Aboriginal people by boosting their self-confidence and ability to provide for their families. The research will address the question of the conflicting values of hand-made versus commercial digital works within the arena of already complex attitudes regarding what constitutes an authentic Aboriginal art product. Entangled in the authenticity issue is the role of collaboration between Indigenous artists and others in fabric production in the community and outside.

We will prepare a report dealing with all aspects of Erub Erwer Meta fabric printing and its potential end uses. This will document issues and highlight to the art/fashion/interior/tourist/product design markets the availability of new printed fabric options. From our research we will write an article for a peer reviewed journal. With Erub Erwer Meta we will curate an exhibition of printed fabrics, photographs and documentation with an exhibition catalogue to present in the ANU School of Art Foyer Gallery in 2016. This will increase the profile of Indigenous printed fabrics.

Our research project is timely due to the increased popularity of printed fabrics, their role in cultural maintenance, and their impact on employment in the arts industry.

Tapestry exhibited in the VAS Cordis Trust Prize for Woven Tapestry

Arranged by Visual Arts Scotland  and selected from 56 international applications – 10 international artists were accepted for the exhibition.

Valerie Kirk – The Brian Schmidt Tapestry
Anne Naustdal – Arid Landscape
Carmen Groza – Poussieres d’etoiles
Jo McDonald – Tales of the Unexpected
Kirsten Saeterdal – The Melancholy of Departure
Patricia Taylor – Artemis
Rental Rozsivalova – Hell
Sara Brennan – Hill Forest
Unn Sonju – Blood Cannot Be Washed Out With Blood
Anne Jackson – The Great European Witch Hunt

Tapestries were exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from 7 – 28 February 2015.

Tapestry for Ceremonial Settings

The Brian Schmidt Tapestry for University House, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

In 2011 Professor Brian P. Schmidt was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics (with Professor Saul Perlmutter and Professor Adam G. Reiss) “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observation of distant supernovae”. Soon after, I received a phone call from the Master, University House, The Australian National University, asking me to weave a tapestry to celebrate the award and add to the House’s collection of four tapestries I have previously woven marking the achievements of the university’s most recognised scientists.

University House is the beloved, ceremonial heart of our university. It was conceived of as an “Oxbridge in the Bush”[1], designed to provide a venue for students, staff and visiting scholars to come together for important occasions, academic exchange, social gatherings and key lectures. Generations of visiting scholars and postgraduate students have stayed at University House, enjoying dinners, quiet time in the library or lively conversations in the bars or beautiful gardens surrounding the building.

From its opening in 1954, after the Depression and the War years, there has been a sense that University House is a place of refined academic endeavour and culture. It was advertised as “something of a museum of Australian Contemporary art”[2] in its early years as the new University was able to focus on design and the inclusion of significant artworks giving the building an ambiance of modernity and good taste. Commissioned and gifted paintings, a large scale mural, sculpture, furniture and other objects were integrated into the public areas and landscaped grounds. The house continues to have a sense of good design and integration of artworks into the whole environment.

Professor Brian Schmidt, born in Missoula Montana USA, is an astronomer at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University, formerly known as Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories. He works in several areas of astronomy, most notably with exploding stars called supernovae. But he also chases after Gamma Ray Bursts, and is heading up a project to build a new Telescope which will map the Southern Sky called SkyMapper!

My first meeting with Brian Schmidt was in his office at the top of Mount Stromlo where the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics Observatory is located, just outside of Canberra. We discussed his work and I tried to learn about the complexity of his project, what was important to him and what the tapestry image should project. It was an awkward meeting as I felt out of my depth in the physics and astronomy discipline and Brian commented that he did not know anything about tapestry. I reassured him that he did not need to be familiar with tapestry – I needed to understand his work to be able to work on a design concept. He gave me over 300 pages of his PowerPoint presentation and I took this back to my studio to absorb. There were many pages of text, diagrams, charts and an occasional picture of scientists doing funny things, but no visual material I could work with. I tried to work creatively from my imagination with the ideas we had discussed but felt the results were disappointing and unconvincing - so I set up another meeting. This time I went armed with a set of questions and the answer to each had to be an image. It was vital that the design should reflect the concepts underpinning the work so that the image would have meaning for scientists and public alike. For me, it was also important that I was satisfied with the aesthetic qualities of the design and tapestry.

VK “Is there an image that sums up your project?”

BS “Yes”, he turns to the computer and brings up an image of the universe from the Hubble telescope.

VK “Was there an image where you knew you were on to something – an ah ha moment?”

BS “Yes”, more computer searching to locate 4 images of his first discovery, Supernova 1995k.

After more questions and image answers I was satisfied that I had enough material to work with and returned to the design process. There were many speculative drawings considering the subject, the given dimensions and space for the work to hang.

The final image incorporates an ultra-deep-field, high-resolution digital image of the cosmos which was printed out to scale for the tapestry cartoon. This has a red grid superimposed to represent the advancement in digital photography which was vital to the discoveries. An area of coloured squares drawn in watercolour reflects the light colours in the picture of the universe and has the key images of Supernova 1995k embedded in it. At the bottom right there is a sliver of the earth with equations capturing the thinking that goes on in Brian’s head.

The tapestry was woven (on its side for technical reasons) over a three month period. The complexity and depth of the cosmos is achieved by plying up to 12 strands of weft together to mix colours and a black yarn with tiny flecks of colour was added in to create the illusion of infinite space.

Professor Brian Schmidt unveiled the tapestry on 14 June 2013 saying in his speech that if he was to conjure up an image in his mind to represent his work, this would be it.

I started the project with a very tight brief and restrictions of scale and arriving at the finished design seemed to be a difficult task, but I was satisfied I had created an original artwork that represents the scientific work well and fits within the well-established environment of University House. The audience for tapestry is increased as many conference delegates, international students, academics and visitors spend time at University House. This series of commissions for University House has been a highlight of my career, enabling me to work on a large scale in tapestry and to extend my research, communication and design abilities.

Valerie Kirk

1. Jill Waterhouse, University House as They Experienced It ( Pirion, Canberra,2004), 51
2. Jill Waterhouse, University House as They Experienced It ( Pirion, Canberra,2004), 284


Her most outstanding achievement to date is winning the “To Furnish a Future” carpet design competition in 2006. The selected “Crimson Carpet” design draws on the natural patination of stone around Government House, Sydney, combining with a palette of crimson from the tonal range in the Waratah flower. The second stage of the project involved working closely with the consulting design team, the Australian company, “Whitecliffe Imports” and the manufacturers, “Siam Carpets” in Thailand. The hand tufted carpet measures 8m x 20m and was produced in one piece to fit the rooms. The design is significantly different from the normal range of carpet design and at the Energy Australia National Trust Heritage Awards 2008 held on Monday 7 APRIL 2008, the refurbishment of the State Rooms at Government House won one of the major awards - Conservation, Built Heritage for a Project under $1 million.



Senior Lecturer and Head of Textiles, ANU School of Art

2012 & 2013

Submitted ARC Discovery applications with Dr Louise Hamby


Convener Canberra Centenary Community Tapestry


Centenary Tapestry outreach projects: Beryl Women’s Group, National Folk Festival, National Fibre Forum


Accredited Professional Member Craft ACT


Keynote Speaker with Louise Hamby, UflaUpla: National Indigenous Textiles Forum, Cairns


Speaker, Designing a Capital: Crafting a Nation


Curator, Quilt National


Guest Lecturer, Burma and Lao Textile Study Tour


Selling Yarns 3 Committee Member


Australian selector for the 14th International Triennial of Tapestry, Lódz 2013, Poland (Selecting Australian Artists).

Available student projects



Ideas Development Workshop




Workshop: This workshop for students and the public will look at participants’ interests and current work, and consider possibilities and tactics for extending individual practice. It will be tailored to each participant, focused on developing ideas through research, discussion, sampling, writing and critique.


The workshop aims to support participants who are interested in extending their own practice,

creating challenges in the form of self-devised research projects, technical and material experimentation, as well as self-directed appraisal and critique of work and methods of practice.


Tutor: Ruth Hadlow has a practice that shifts between writing, textiles and installation work.

She has exhibited nationally and internationally, undertaken numerous residencies, and has been the recipient of several Australia Council grants for research projects. Ruth is well-known for her freelance teaching, which ranges across a variety of subjects but is essentially focused on the development of ideas for contemporary art practice. For the past 10 years Ruth has been living in West Timor, Indonesia. She has just completed a Phd through the School of Art, Architecture & Design at UniSA, investigating relationships between language, text and textile practice in relation to living between cultures and languages. Her most recent project is a series of 12 artist’s books entitled the Library of Translation Exercises. One of these is:


DATE: 26 and 27 Feb                                    TIME: 9.30am – 4.30pm

PARTICIPATION FEE: $150 wages    $100 unwaged

Tea and coffee provided. Please bring your lunch

Enquiries: 02 61255833


ANUSchool of Art, TEXTILES, BUILDING 105 (off Ellery Crescent)ACTON, CANBERRA ACT 0200.

 Parking School of Art car park off Ellery Crescent, opposite The Film and Sound Archives or car parks off Childers St. or London Circuit.


TO ENROL e-mail

WORKSHOP NAME   RUTH HADLOW – IDEAS DEVELOPMENT                                                                           

Mel will send you payment instructions.

YOUR e-mail address, ADDRESS and PHONE NUMBER:




Current student projects



An international textile exhibition spanning countries and continents



‘NETS’ is a global project across the textile departments of three universities: University of Cumbria (UK), Novia University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Australia National University, Canberra (Australia).  The project aims to build connections between textile departments within higher education and explore new collaborative forms of education through textile practice.



Textile based production, the mother of both technology and modern design, is one of the oldest industries in the world.  ‘NETS’ is a joint global venture between three universities with the aim of exploring current issues through textile practice and to raise the profile of textiles education internationally.

‘NETS’ believes in creativity, imagination and collaboration. By nurturing a functioning network between different textile institutions, we can celebrate the diversity of artistic power, dynamics and optimism of textile practice.

Each University will interpret and curate their own ‘NETS’ exhibition based upon the generic theme through collaborative discussion. The exhibitions will contain physical and ‘virtual’ examples of artefacts created by all artists represented by each country.  The textile industry has always provided a platform for blending tradition with new technology. ‘NETS’ explores new technological possibilities, particularly those connecting people and enhancing collaboration across the countries boundaries. The exhibition explores new approaches to open source-based teaching.


The ultimate aim of ‘NETS’ is to promote and develop textile education and to equip our graduates with up-to-date skills to meet challenges and seize new career opportunities.



VIRTUAL ‘NETS’: A student exhibition

The students of the three institutions will participate in a virtual exhibition by sending images of their artwork produced along the theme of ‘NETS’ to the ‘NETS’ blog.  An online voting system will be established to select three winners – one winner from each country. Their work will then be shown in ‘‘NETS’ exhibitions that will be arranged by each of the participating countries and universities.



‘NETS’ EXCLUSIVE’ is a selected exhibition containing physical and virtual textile based artefacts. The exhibition aims to enhance practitioner collaboration between the universities through a curatorial connection and provide academic discourse around the concept of the theme of ‘NETS’.


The exhibition calendar is anticipated to follow the schedule outlined below:

2010 - Cumbria and Canberra

2011 - Turku

The final exhibition in Turku will form part of the European Culture Capital year festivities.  The exhibition and project will culminate in an interactive international workshop/seminar in Turku, Finland.



The ‘NETS’ experience will be reflected upon and analysed by all exhibitors and co-hosts / audience and curators. The results will be published. The accompanying ‘NETS’ publication will be directed towards practitioners, textile historians and curators, textile educators and students.

See the blog for information on work-in-progress:

Past student projects



Katrina Barter and Alana Sivell (Graduates from ANU TEXTILES)


At Belconnen Arts Centre, ACT 16 July to 8 August 2010


The Belconnen Arts Centre is a smart new venue in Canberra, providing a suite of exhibition and project spaces. One of the first exhibitions to be held shows work by graduates from the Australian National University, Katrina Barter and Alana Sivell. Their common interest is in time and they share a palette of paper, thread, fabric and found objects.


The fist exhibit walking into the gallery, by Katrina is confronting in its juxtaposition of traditional and new technologies, “Traced Interiors”. The mixed media drawing sits horizontally on a Perspex covered plinth while a series of images change on a large digital screen hovering above. This work typifies the bold experimental approach obvious in the works of both artists.

Katrina’s strength lies in her graphic eye, finding best resolution in the digital images which present scenes from everyday domestic life. Sometimes the view is close up and in other works the image encompasses a room. The objects take up most of the space and provide information about the people, their interests, hobbies and passions. The stillness of the images suggests a moment in time, but the references through the objects allude to other distant times and places.

A series of boxes made of maps, perhaps inspired by travels overseas, also reference other places, boxes within boxes suggesting pointing to the worlds within worlds we inhabit.

The works of cloth and fibre reference the intimate, the body, our homes and objects familiar through touch and direct experience – whereas the works in paper/text/maps link to the outside world, interpretations of the real, captured and coded.


Alana playfully experiments with a palette of thread, wire, paper and glass – difficult materials to work with individually, but providing an extra degree of complexity when used in combination. The palette is clear and colorless, emphasizing a tactile sensibility which is seductive, drawing the viewer in to explore the creative forms.

In “Uncontained 2010” over scaled rippling paper knitting spills from a glass scientific vessel suspended above head height. It looks like a frothing liquid/gas uncontrollably pouring out and cascading onto the floor. The motion is held still. Time has stopped passing.

In all of her works there are opposite elements combined that deal with control and freedom, containment and liberty, restriction and escape. Threads in a series of works titled “Timeframe” are neatly and precisely stitched through paper and pulled together under tension; but allowed to twist, spiral and deviate from the pattern in their own intrinsic way. Hand drawn looped or netted patterns on glass capture or hold still the natural movement of the thread. In some works there is a Trompe-L’oeil  between the real thread and drawn threads setting up questions about how real a sense of control can be? When does a material have movement? Can order be imposed or is there a natural order of things?


 Exhibiting together after graduating from Art School provides mutual support, tangible assistance dividing tasks preparing for the show, costs and the work of setting up, maintaining and taking down, plus a large space is shared cutting down on the amount of work required by each exhibiter. This type of show can test the waters, canvas public response and be a stepping stone towards individual exhibitions. I look forward to seeing Alana and Kat develop and consolidate solo shows individually in the near future.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  16 December 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers