A FEW WORDS WITH BIANCA BARBARO
Bianca Barbaro is a fibre artist who produces all things macramé under her label Play Pieces. The versatility of macramé is evident by the wide ranging form and function Bianca has achieved in her commission pieces: curved booth screens at the Palais in Semaphore, a lamp pendant for an ocean retreat on the Mornington Peninsula, a head board for a beachside residence in Tennyson, and even a Kookaburra costume for an Adelaide Fringe Festival theatre show. As well as wall hangings for art installations, she has also produced a wide variety of plant hangers, hanging terrariums, bunting and owls that have sold in retail outlets throughout Australia.
We spoke to Bianca about her pieces, creative process, inspiration and the resurgence in all things macramé.
My interest in macramé extends beyond the beauty of the finished product to the artisan craft, and the gateway it provides to the past. When I began working with macramé, it was to satisfy something in me. It was a curiosity that I thought might just last a while, and I would move on from. But the further I got, the more it unleashed pools of inspiration, ideas and a thirst to experiment and create. Now when I reflect on my journey over the last four years and how I create, it really feels like macramé is the perfect vessel for me. I incorporate vintage design and blend it with contemporary ideas – I feel that the vintage elements are like hidden stories, captured and integrated with modern elements to make a new story, relevant to where I am today.
My products are created out of a variety of materials, both man-made and natural fibres; cotton rope, jute, polyester and nylon. Wood, copper and beads are used as hanging structures and embellishments to complete the designs. It’s amazing how versatile ropes and knots can be, from creating room dividers to table runners, headboards or wedding backdrops. The thickness and style of the rope has bearing on which knots to use, while consideration of the purpose and space has impact on the overall design.
What have been your favourite or most challenging pieces?
My favourite projects are commissions. I love receiving a client brief, and then coming up with a design to create a statement piece. One of my largest and most satisfying works has been circular macramé screens that wrap around leather booth seats at the iconic art deco Palais Hotel in Semaphore. Here macramé successfully pays homage to its beachside location while also bringing a fresh and modern feel through the design of the knots and materials used.
Another personal favourite was the Kookaburra costume. It was great to observe something from nature and think about how I was going to replicate it, then watch the macramé creation brought to life by an amazing cast and crew.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I see it all around me – from forms in the built environment, art, and objects. I also get it from travelling and feeling immersed in different cultures, environments and landscapes. It conjures up all sorts of shapes, colours and textures in my mind that make me want to pull out some rope and get knotting.
Tell us a bit more about what to expect from your workshops?
I’ve seen a strong resurgence in interest for macramé the last couple of years and was receiving regular requests for people wanting to learn, so I started holding workshops. My aim is to give people a few hours away from the daily stresses, to enjoy meeting and making and being part of a creative community while also walking away with a new skill and finished product. The best part is it pulls us all out of the routine of everyday and brings us towards human contact and mindfulness once again. Focussing on a specific task and working with your hands helps everything else drift away.