I like being in the midst of it all, but I try to get on a roof top or out to the water as often as I can to see a natural horizon. It keeps me centered and I like to know my position in this crazy old world.
Meet Maryanne Moodie, an Australian textile artist, living in Brooklyn, New York who is well known for her intricate wall-hangings and other woven pieces. Her work has been featured in, New York Magazine, Anthology, O magazine, Grazia and has gained a large on-line following. With a brand new book recently launched, we thought it was the perfect time to get in touch to find out more about Maryanne’s story!
Hi Maryanne, we’d love to hear your Urban Tale…
You’re originally from Melbourne, what was it like growing up there and how did you end up in NYC?
I have always loved Australia. Melbourne is really very creative. It has great public transport, easy to get around on your bike and lots of free cultural stuff to do. My husband, Aaron got a job as a designer for Etsy and so we moved with my very young son to New York. We decided it was best to do these big life changes whilst we have no ties and can easily bounce around the planet. But now that we have done it once, we know we would do it again in a heartbeat!
How did you develop your love for weaving? Looking back, would you say there was a defining moment?
I was an art teacher for 10 years and whilst on maternity leave I was looking for something to do with my hands and time. I found a loom whilst cleaning out the store room for the next teacher and something just spoke to me, I made a few small swatches of fabric on the loom and I was completely hooked. I quickly found like minded souls on the internet and felt like I was welcomed into a growing, learning and nurturing community.
What does an average day look like for you, can you take us through your creative routine?
When you have two small children and run a creative international business, every day is different. I am constantly juggling children or childcare alongside both my administrative duties and creative time to weave and design. I also travel a lot for work, so those days are different again. I love the flexibility of my life and my job. It means I can hold it all together to some extent.
How do you start up a new piece? Are there any particular fibers or materials that you get inspired by or love?
It depends if it is a commissioned piece or a piece for my own artistic pleasure. If I am working with a client then we usually have a talk about colour schemes, look at photos of the space and life-style of the person. We talk about what the piece will represent in their new space; new beginnings, growth, inspiration. If it is a piece for myself, I like to begin with an emotion. Then I sketch out a few shapes and begin to put it together on paper. After I have worked out the colour scheme, I go to my yarn shelf and try to match the vision. I very rarely go out and buy new fibers especially for a piece.
What’s your biggest source of inspiration and what’s your work influenced by mostly?
I try to look at my own life; both what is in my immediate environment and what is going on internally. I have found that my best work has come from really acknowledging emotions and channeling them into my work like art therapy.
Living in Brooklyn, there must be so much going on around you. How does this urban environment influence you?
It can be so crazy! I have a beautiful big light-filled apartment on the top floor of a brownstone and I try to get to the park everyday. I like being in the midst of it all, but I try to get on a roof top or out to the water as often as I can to see a natural horizon. It keeps me centered and I like to know my position in this crazy old world.
Do you have moments where you feel stuck creatively, let’s say a lack of inspiration? How do you deal with these situations?
When I am in a slump I try to take some time away from the loom and the design books. I take a walk and listen to music, smell the roses – literally, have a coffee or glass of wine with an old friend, do some yoga or just lay down in the sun and breath. I walk a lot in the park but I really long for the water – beach, lake or river.
Crafts, such as weaving and macrame, are more popular then ever right now. Is there something you do to make yourself stand out from the crowd?
I think we are all learning and growing together. I have learned not to look too much at what my contemporaries are up to and focus on what is happening in my own life and use that as inspiration. My work has become more personal and more emotionally connecting since this move.
As we’re talking, you’ve got 99K followers on Instagram, what do you think is the key to this popularity?
I think people just like to feel like they are part of the community – It’s nice to have a meeting place for people who are into the same thing. I feel like I am just one of the weaving sisterhood or community.
You have just launched a book – can you tell us a little more about it?
I wrote this book for two reasons. Firstly, I could only find vintage books for this style of weaving, it is a very open-ended style of frame loom weaving that is super accessible and almost a gateway to the weaving and tapestry guilds that already exist. I hope this book acts as a welcoming mat for new weavers to feel supported and able to take a risk. I tell you how to make looms, tools and even your own fibres to weave with. The second reason I wrote the book was to help seasoned weavers get their weavings off the wall and onto their bodies. If you make a weaving for your wall, only people who are invited into your home get to see it – but if you make a weave for your body, then everyone in the street gets to admire your art!
With the book just launched, a full workshop calendar worldwide, a popular Etsy store and all your other daily activities – like being a mum! How do you manage to keep everything balanced?
I think a very flexible work-life arrangement works for me. I have some childcare for a few hours here and there, but mostly all the magic happens during nap times and after bedtime. I can also work weekends when my husband is about which is good for the workshops and promotional events. I also have an amazing studio manager who is able to juggle all of the jobs with grace and decorum.
Do you have an ultimate tip for all the creatives out there that would love to turn their passion into their job, but are not sure where to start?
I think I really began to grow when I started working with my studio manager. She was able to take on all the tasks like Etsy listings, administration, ordering and shipping. It allowed me to have the bigger picture thinking and more creative time to work on what i am best at.
I really love Evelyn Waugh as an author – very glamorous and risque.
Right now I can’t stop listening to Koichi Sugii.
Most admirable artist or creative?
I love Esther Stewart – she is a friend and an amazing artist!
Best coffee spot in town?
Grunpy on 7th Ave Park Slope.
Ultimate insiders tip to Brooklyn or NYC?
Get to the PARK!!
Photography: Paul Vincent & Julia Stotz