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Towards an Origin: Michael Kay

Part of the Academy Gallery X Factor Program.


In a world where the arts are extensively promoted in their relation to the scientific, these artworks produced by Michael Kay forcefully suggest another way of seeing and thinking.

Exhibition opening Monday, 16 July at 5:30 pm.

As a craftsperson Michael Kay is primarily concerned with the traditional action and activity of making. Through the working of textiles and cloth – a working that is tied to the sensation of material – his artworks are a return to the artist as maker. The movement of the hands, the repetition of actions, the feet pressing the pedals and the sounds of the slip of the weaving shuttle all contribute to the expression of a passionate commitment to the personal activity of the artist in the act of making. The outcome of a deep experiential immersion, Kay’s textile artworks ultimately reveal themselves as signifiers of time, place and locality. His artworks are arbitrators of transformation, often returned to over an extended time period. For Kay there is no ending, completion or closure. The artworks deliver a romantic openness, one conveyed with the simplicity of landscaped texture based within a transformative process.

Although producing traditional style tapestries Kay has produced a new form of contemporary textile innovation, based on a unique “weaving and dyeing” technique. The majority of the works are woven pieces but he also works with dyed, hand and machine stitched pieces, manipulated, melted, sculptural fabric forms and interactive images using overhead projectors that allow participation by the viewer. At home within Tasmania, much of what Kay produces reflects upon the reality of living and making within an island state.

Some 12 months in the planning, Towards an Origin continues the Academy Gallery ethos of showing the artwork produced by Academy of the Arts lecturing staff. In past years the Academy Gallery has exhibited works by Dr. Wayne Z Hudson, Dr. Troy Ruffels, Penny Mason and David Marsden. Curated by Dr. Malcom Bywaters, Towards an Origin: Michael Kay is first time that the Academy Gallery has showcased a TasTAFE teaching staff member.

The X Factor Program aims to assist and promote mid-career artists who have established significant profiles as creative producers.

The Deeper Dimensions of Craft

Michael Kay will give two public talks on 30 July and 6 August 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm at the Academy Gallery

What is the appeal in learning to make an object and why does it feel that through the act of making we are satisfying a deeper need in us? Why is the discipline of a craft so attractive, given any object we can make is readily purchased?

These talks look at the role of attention and sensation in the act of making.

Mindfulness in Craft

There will be a workshop focusing on the above ideas on Saturday, 4 August 10:00 am – 11:00 am at the Academy Gallery

Repp Weaving Masterclass

A masterclass on repp weaving will be held on Saturday, 11 August 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at the TAFE Textile Studio.


Michael Kay studied classical music at the Victorian College of the Arts during which time he performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Choral and as a studio musician with the ABC Show Band recording music for Australian films.

Kay moved to Tasmania in 1981 as Principal Percussionist for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Moving to a bush property in the middle of Tasmania he spent seven years building a stone house. Immersed in the Tasmanian wilderness and living without power or phone for 15 years helped form in him an abiding fascination with the Tasmanian landscape as a source of inspiration.

During this time, he developed his passion for weaving and textiles which led to him completing study through TAFE Tasmania and the University of Tasmania School of Art in Launceston.

He has been Head of the TAFE Textile Studio since 2002 and ran the University Textile studio in 2006/2007. He works predominately in large scale woven wall pieces which most require around a year to complete. This allows for total immersion in the process, an integral part of Kay’s practice.

His love of music continues with an ongoing interest in Traditional Persian music through the study of the Kamancha, Oud and Tar.

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Towards an Origin: Michael Kay

Academy Gallery
2-4 Invermay Road, Invermay TAS 7248, Australia

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