“This is the fourth time I've reinvented aspects of my working life” Petra
Once an engineer, then the manager of a childcare centre in Melbourne for two decades, then working for a business improvement association for seven years, Petra’s fourth reinvention centred around her favourite medium, wool.
Originally from Germany, Petra fell in love with Australia while travelling and returned to live here in 1983. Petra explained that when she was studying engineering “there were only 5 women out of 400 engineering students. At that stage, as a hobby, I was dying wool, knitting and weaving. At Uni I already stuck out because I was a woman, so you can imagine that when I started knitting in lectures, the lecturer and fellow students almost keeled over.”
After moving to Newcastle, Petra connected with Anne Kempton from 'Timeless Textiles’. Petra reflects “Anne invited me into her studio where she picked up some wool and transformed it right in front of me. Anne went on to teach me the basic principles so that I could join a felting course by an American felt artist. I just loved the experience and from then on, I was on fire.” Not long after I quit my job.
Petra works part time as a felt maker, creating beautiful pieces available at ‘Make Space’ and ‘Timeless Textiles’. Peta’s intrinsic connection to her craft is obvious “I enjoy the creative aspect of the design in laying out the wool and fibres as well as the physicality of felt making - the actions of rolling or throwing the felt. You can see the felt change and I can manipulate and structure the felt the way I want to”.
Embracing her fourth reinvention, Petra wanted to tell her story in order to encourage others who want change in their lives. “We as humans are mostly afraid of uncertainty. We like to be in control and fear the unknown . Stepping into something new takes courage, often it means not knowing exactly what will come next but embracing the process and trusting and believing in yourself will guide you.”
Melanie Muddle is a Social Practice Photographer and co-founder of ‘And Then - A Social Arts Photo Agency’. Also in the midst of her third reinvention, Melanie is passionate about collaborating with individuals and communities to support them to tell their own stories through image making.
This creative collaboration between Melanie and Petra explored the similarities and differences in their art practices. Petra made the underlying piece of felt from fine merino wool, ethically sourced in New Zealand, and silk gauze from Uzbekistan. Melanie applied various image making techniques including digital printing on vintage paper and two polaroid emulsion lifts on Japanese rice paper. A few stitches were added to bring the final piece together.
We Are is a multi-location multimedia photographic experience highlighting creative women of Newcastle, commencing on Wednesday March 8th 2023 (International Women’s Day) and culminating in a celebration event at The Lock-Up on Friday March 24th.
We Are is a portrait project featuring 20 WH!P Collective members turning their lenses towards fellow female and non-binary creatives to highlight the many benefits that a thriving and diverse artistic community bring to our region.
WH!P (Women* of the Hunter !n Photography) was founded in 2020 to embrace and create opportunities for professional photographers from the Hunter region by leveraging the combined skills, experience and credentials of its members. Fostering a culture of support, celebration, exchange, education, advocacy, action, enjoyment, play and growth, it hopes to actively raise the profile of contemporary photographic excellence, education and experimentation in the Hunter Region. WH!P works collaboratively with those both within and beyond the local area who share our belief that the world should be shown through a lens as diverse as the real world.
*all references to women/woman is inclusive of gender diverse people
WH!P’s logos and graphics designed by Laura Kent
“We as humans are mostly afraid of uncertainty. We like to be in control and fear the unknown . Stepping into something new takes courage, often it means not knowing exactly what will come next but embracing the process and trusting and believing in yourself will guide you.”