Introducing Tammy Kanat

As an accomplished fibre artist, Tammy Kanat's work sees her engage deeply with a multitude of different materials, making her an expert in tactility and textiles. So, we thought it only fitting to bring Tammy on the journey and invite her to have a truly unique shopping experience after dark guided by her sense of touch.

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Photography Credit: Emily Weaving

Q&A with Tammy

Tell us about a day in the life of a fibre artist?

As a fibre artist, there is a lot of freedom in both the design and the hours I choose to work. My art studio is at home so I can wake up at 5.00am and start working on my loom, or sometimes not start my day until 6.00pm and keep weaving until the early hours of the morning. When I begin a piece, I never make a plan. I work instinctively and let the work evolve. I am often asked how long it takes to create a piece. I never have an answer to this as the hours all just roll into each other once I am in the zone.

How did you get into this field?

Colour and creativity has always been my happy place. For 12 years I designed jewellery, working with beautiful precious stones. However, in 2011 after struggling to find the perfect art piece for my new home renovation, I took myself off to Wondoflex Yarn Centre to buy wool to create my own art piece. I later returned to Wondoflex to show my work to the staff and after encouragement that I was onto "something special" I enrolled in a series of classes at the Australian Tapestry Workshop to learn the traditional tapestry weaving techniques. From day one, my heart was hooked and my weaving adventure began. Within the industry, I am very inspired by the super talented fibre artist Sheila Hicks, who has the ability to challenge and push boundaries with everything she touches!

How has your relationship to textiles changed since your art practice began to focus on these materials?

My art practice allows me to work with exquisite fibres, such as merino wool, pure silk, natural linen and mohair. It's made me much more selective and aware of the clothes I purchase. Before I select a garment, I look at the quality of the fibre, the workmanship involved and the feel of the garment to ensure it is soft and tactile. I am constantly inspired by the fashion world. Their use of colour, composition of materials and the range of techniques used to create different designs and looks never disappoint. Fashion is always pushing boundaries and experimenting with new ideas. This is how I like to work in my art practice. I am always looking for the next idea. My art, just like fashion, is a great way to express emotion through textiles.

Tell us about your experience of shopping only by feel for this campaign?

When I heard about the idea of shopping by feel I thought it would be interesting and fun. The experience was much more than I expected. It made me realise how powerful our senses are. When one sense is not available the other senses can compensate.

When I first entered the space I felt apprehension, out of my comfort zone and concerned I might not make an a nice selection of the garments. However, once I started slowly moving through the clothes it was easy and enjoyable. It made me realize how powerful touch alone is. By feeling the clothes from top to bottom and running them through my fingers I could get a very good sense of each garment. The woolen jumpers were quite clear, as were the sequined dresses - I could feel the sparkles and sequins. The pieces with cut outs and stretch fabrics were a little more confusing to work out however, when I touched the garments and slid the fabric through my hands, it felt like I could predict the colours and styles. Once I opened my eyes, what surprised me is the garments I selected were mostly the pieces I would have chosen if my eyes were open.

It was a great sensation and experience to select with touch. There was a lovely freedom and spontaneity about it which I really enjoyed. Selecting a surprise wardrobe is quite fun!

What about the garments you chose, were you happy with the selection?

The biggest surprise was actually seeing what I had picked and liking it! Everything I selected, I would have picked anyway - even not by touch.

My two favourite items were the blue Manning Cartell trench and Dion Lee laser cut skirt. I just loved the feel of the heavy fabric of the trench and the neoprene-esque feel of the skirt was intriguing. I remember running my hand down the side and coming across the cut out detailing which made me interested in knowing what it was.

Tammy wears on film;
Jacket: Camilla and Marc
Pants: Jac+ Jack
T-Shirt: Dion Lee