nylon organza, cotton thread, glass beads
8 panels: each approx 150 × 100cm
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families and Bernard Shafer in memory of Anna Shafer, 2010
Its Feet Were Tied, With a Silken Thread of my Own Hands Weaving is a work of eight embroidered organza panels suspended from the ceiling, which gently billow and sway in the currents of air. The fabrics manifest the artist Sangeeta Sandrasegar’s feelings about returning to her Australian home after five years abroad. The work’s title is taken from John Keats’ 1819 poem, I had a dove and the sweet dove died, mourning a captive bird – dead from homesickness for its forest trees and whose ‘feet were tied with a silken thread of my own hand’s weaving.’ For Sandrasegar, Its Feet Were Tied, With a Silken Thread of my Own Hands Weaving is a work ‘primarily about love – the ties that bind, yearning and obligation, to place and to people’.
Woven through this piece is an exploration of place, culture and heritage and the unique perspective that migration brings to the connections between them. The opalescent colours of the organza evoke Sandrasegar’s experience of the Australian landscape: ‘those brilliant hues that can be washed out in the stark, drenching light of our skies. The ghost-like softness of certain hours.’ Embroidered on to the diaphanous fabrics are alternating motifs of trees and feet, both of which we associate with groundedness and a connection to place.
The toes and ankles of the shadowed feet and legs hovering on the panels are delicately picked out in beaded threads tracing the outline of native plants such as drooping mistletoe and the waratah. These intricate linear designs recall henna tattoos adorning the hands and feet of Indian women, making them a dual tribute to Sandrasegar’s Indian and Malaysian ancestry and her rootedness in the Australian soil where she was born. In Sandrasegar’s work, the juxtaposition of materials and techniques associated with traditional female pursuits, together with the ambivalence implied by the title, results in a poetic reflection on place and the vulnerabilities that can be experienced by women at a time of increased global migration.
Updated and approved August 2016.
In a way … [this work] is about love – the ties that bind – yearning and obligation, to place and to people.
Sangeeta Sandrasegar, 2010.
Sangeeta Sandrasegar, 2010
Born 1977, Brisbane. Lives and works Melbourne.
Sangeeta Sandrasegar was born in Brisbane of Malaysian and Australian parents, and spent her childhood growing up between both countries. In 1987 her family settled in Melbourne where she currently lives and works.
In 2010, Sandrasegar returned to Melbourne after a stint working and travelling overseas. Her exploration of India and Australia, as personal sites of both homecoming and ancestry, and as nations with related colonial histories, propels her current projects. Her practice is centred round postcolonial and hybridity theories and draws strongly from her mixed heritage. Sandrasegar is interested in the many ways the structures of culture, sexuality and identity are intertwined in contemporary culture and in interpreting and representing these interconnections.
Sandrasegar has exhibited nationally and internationally since 2000. Recent solo exhibitions include The scaffold called the Motherland Spews Infinite Grace, Murray White Room, Melbourne (2012); White Picket Fences In The Clear Light, Gallery 4A, Sydney (2009); Untitled (All four hundred…) ArtBeijing with Mori Gallery, Sydney (2008); Theatre of the Oppressed, Johnston Gallery, Perth (2006); and Goddess of Flowers, Mori Gallery, Sydney (2003).
Group exhibitions include Creepy And Divine: The Secret of The Snake, Africa Museum, Netherlands (2012); And the Falchion Passed Through His Neck, Latitude 28, New Delhi (2011); New Acquisitions In Context, MCA, Sydney (2010); Slash: Paper Under the Knife, Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2009); On the Field of Truth on the Battlefield of Life, Korkos Gallery, Hong Kong (2008); Stick and Move, Frey Norris Gallery San Francisco (2007); and Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2006).
Sandrasegar’s work is held in a number of private and public collections, including the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; University of Western Australia, Perth; and BHP Billiton and HSBC Bank (Australia).Learn more