Tammy Kanat first started out as a jewelry designer, but it’s fair to say she definitely found her calling when she discovered weaving. Her large-scale textiles are as calming as they are beautiful. Having studied at the Australian Tapestry Workshop, she has been weaving for almost a decade, creating timeless art that enchants and soothes (exactly what we need right now). We spoke to Tammy about what drew her to textiles and the advice she would give to young artists.
What prompted you to make the move from jewelry designer to artist? Was it a scary decision to make?
As an artist I think experimenting with your creativity in different mediums is a natural and an important process to push boundaries and come up with unique ideas. So far in my artistic journey I have explored ceramics, jewellery and now I’m working as a textile artist. To make the transition into a new medium is always challenging and uncomfortable. I decided to stop designing the jewellery as I fell out of love with the process, I went through a time of feeling empty, and lacking a creative outlet was hard. Once I gave myself enough space for a new idea to evolve, I discovered tapestry weaving and it has been an exciting shift and resulted in an evolution of my work. I believe each discovery compliments the next one, I think you intuitively take what you have learnt from your previous experience into the next part of your art practice.
How did you come to textiles?
Approximately 8 years ago we began renovating our home. I was searching for some new exciting pieces to add to our extension. In the process I discovered a magnificent tapestry that had been created in the 1960’s. It was from overseas and I was unable to purchase it. I decided to go to the wool shop, buy a loom and lots of wool and try to create my own tapestry. The experience felt so natural to me, it was almost like I was a weaver in another life. I fell in love with tapestry weaving and have continued to develop my practice. Since that day I have hardly missed a day on the loom. I call it a healthy weaving obsession.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a commission for a lovely client. It is a 5 piece tapestry with lots of different sized circular organic shapes attaching to the central piece. The brief for the colour palette is ALPACAS. An exciting piece and I am curious to see how it will evolve. The client has given me a lot of freedom and I think with this approach I always do my best work. I try to mix up my work with commissions and also set aside time to play with new ideas. I recently completed a large 3 dimensional tapestry that protrudes from the wall. It was very labour intensive but satisfying to try a unique concept.
What are your inspirations?
When I am weaving I often listen to chanting music and Mantras. The spiritual practice of chanting resonates with me. I find the rhythmic repetition inspiring, peaceful and complex. The mystery of my weaving practice is a similar experience, as when I am working there is also a repetitive rhythm with the warp and weft, sometimes it feels like I am playing the harp. My work is very fluid, there is little to no planning and the works evolve freely and intuitively. I am also inspired by colorists like Josef Albers and James Turell, experimental weavers like Sheila Hicks, Olga de Amaral and many other artists like Sonia Delaunay, Basquiat, Mark Rothko and many more. I love visiting galleries and museums. Seeing works in person always makes me feel inspired to keep evolving my own art practice.
Who are your art sheroes?
So many but here are a few…Yayoi Kusama, Sheila Hicks, Sonia Dealunay, Annie Albers, Lee Krasner, Magdalena Abakanowicz
What advice would you give to young women wanting to pursue a career as an artist?
Make sure you remember why you started your art practice, maybe it is because it brings you joy and fills up your creative cup or keeps you centred and connected, or it is your voice and allows you to make a statement and express your views. It is very easy to fall into the trap of creating works to please others and to seek outside yourself for approval.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
In 2019 I was fortunate enough to have an exhibition and was commissioned to produce four works for the National Gallery of Victoria’s collection. This was an incredible experience and honour. My hope in the future is to work on another exhibition and push myself creatively and emotionally to produce some unique and powerful works.