Crafting Identities: Folding and stitching the self

  • Kathryn Grushka University of Newcastle
  • Michelle van Gestel University of Newcastle Australia
  • Clare Skates none
Keywords: craft as method, stitching identities, new materiality, folds, montage method, Deleuze, Semetsky


This article tells the story of two fibre artists, Kathryn and Clare, who craft their intergenerational autoethnographic insights through the creation of textile artworks. It explores the collaborative journey of both artists, who came together to create an exhibition titled “Stitching Identities.” The artists have embraced the Deleuzian idea of the folding act in artmaking as a process of continuous and complex revealing of narratives and intuitive insights about self, a bringing of the inside to the outside and into material aesthetic form. It also embeds the writing of a colleague artist/educator, Michelle,  who worked with them on the writing of the article and in addition draws on the critical, reflective and philosophical writing of education theorist Inna Semetsky ( who wrote the “Stitching Identities” exhibition catalogue essay. Their artmaking is their method, a way of crafting for meaning, a way to research and explore the self and the formation of their current identities.

Author Biographies

Kathryn Grushka, University of Newcastle

Kathryn Grushka is a nationally recognised fibre artist and tapestry weaver currently working in the Faculty of Education and Arts at The University of Newcastle, NSW. Since graduating as a visual arts educator in the mid-seventies, she has continued studies both in fine art and art education. In 2008, she was awarded a PhD from The University of Newcastle. Throughout her career as a practising artist, art educator and arts researcher, Grushka has been fascinated with art as narrative, and the reflective role of art in understanding identity, community and society. She is represented in private and public collections across Australia and abroad.

Michelle van Gestel, University of Newcastle Australia
Michelle van Gestel is a visual arts educator with experience teaching and programming in a range of school settings including: primary, secondary, tertiary and special education. She currently teaches arts education at the University of Newcastle, Faculty of Education and Arts. Michelle has a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) (BAVA) and Diploma in Education (DipEd) and is currently a MPhil student at University of Newcastle focusing on the connections between embodied cognition and materiality in visual arts praxis.
Clare Skates, none

Clare Skates graduated from the Victoria College of the Arts (Photography), Melbourne, in 2006. That same year, she exhibited her work in New York, USA and more recently was selected for the 2009 Cheongju International Craft Biennale, Republic of Korea. At the Cheongju Biennal, Skates was also recognised with an acquisitive “Outside the Box” Special Award. Alongside her art practice, Skates has worked in gallery administration in Australia and USA.


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How to Cite
GrushkaK., van GestelM., & SkatesC. (2019). Crafting Identities: Folding and stitching the self. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 4(1), 287-311.