Inspired by one of Australia’s leading textile artists Mona Hessing, a selected group of artists from the Eurobodalla Fibre and Textile Artist Group (EFTAG) have come together to pay homage in Shimmering: The Mona Hessing Tribute Project. Exhibition dates: Saturday 4 July - Sunday 26 July, 2020 A pioneer of textile art, Mona Hessing exhibited nationally and internationally throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s before settling in Eurobodalla. After receiving a donation of some of Hessing’s materials, each artist created an original artwork inspired by Hessing and her contribution to the textile medium. This exhibition will feature both 2D and 3D works made from natural braided sisal and hand-dyed and hand-spun wool with silk slubs.
Artists: Julie Armstrong, Julie Brennan, Alison Bogg, Lorna Crane, Cathie Griffith, Roslyn Holmes, Susan Jamison, Stephanie Simko, Mischi West
Anthony Browell Portrait of Mona Hessing in studio 1973 (detail), courtesy of the Churchill Trust. Mona Hessing (1933-2001) was instrumental in moving the textile form from the constraints of fine cloth made on a loom to the freedom, scope and scale enjoyed by contemporary textile artists today; three-dimensional constructions and hand-woven forms in varied techniques. After traveling and exhibiting overseas, Hessing settled in Tuross Head where she continued to exhibit locally and nationally.
EFTAG formed in 2005 through shared interests and passion for textile art. Since then over 100 members have shared and learned skills, promoting fibre and textile arts with the aim of increasing awareness to future members and with the wider public. __
Mona Johnson was born in 1933 in Kurri Kurri rural NSW and went to Williams St
Girls High Sydney when she was ten.
In 1948 she was awarded a scholarship to the National Art School at East Sydney
Technical College where she graduated with the Bronze Medal for Highest Honours
Diploma in Art in 1952.
She took up teaching art, design and ceramics as well as being design consultant,
script writer and presenter of Interior design program on radio 2GB Sydney and
She was married to Leonard Hessing from 1957 to 1967.
1963 She began full time work in her own studio with major commissions from
architects for private, corporate & Government projects. Her large textile wall and
floor pieces were purchased by the Powerhouse Museum, the National Galleries of
Australia and Victoria, the Australian Council for the Arts and the Craft Board, Orange
Civic Centre and Ararat Regional Gallery. They are also represented in Australian
Embassies in New Delhi & Paris, the University of NSW, as well as private collections
in Australia, UK, USA, France, Switzerland and India. Large works for theatres,
universities and public buildings were commissioned at this time.
Mona is represented in 23 Australian & International publications on art and craft and
from 1967-1996 she contributed to over 40 Solo, selected and Invitation Group
Exhibitions including 3rd & 4th Biennale Internationale in Switzerland and the 1st & 2nd
Biennale of The Craft Association of NSW.
1967 she travelled to study in Mexico, India, Spain & UK then later in 1969 she went
to India to source raw materials and research traditional arts and crafts in North India
as well as working on her major works with the collected materials.
She returned to India and strongly identified with the spiritual and mystical aspects of
Indian culture, which became and remained extremely important to her.
In 1973 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship for 3 months study abroad and she
travelled in Europe & USA extensively to conferences, exhibitions and to research
textiles. In 1974 Mona was awarded the Meyer Foundation Grant to a research
project in SE Asia as well as conducting Masterclass workshops in Toronto, Canada.
1976 She moved to Georges Plains in rural NSW to live and work – restoring an
ancient farmhouse, managing major works and commissions as well as farming and
breeding racehorses that satisfied her strong love of animals
1985 Mona moved to Wellington NSW and restored another farmhouse and became
involved in land care, animals and tree planting as well as continuing to producing
major works at the rate of one per year.
1988. She accepted no further commissions as she was so busy on the farm and
was concerned with her mother’s health, and she travelled back and forth to Tuross
to take care of her.
In 1991 on the death of her mother she moved to Tuross on the south coast of NSW,
where she lived and worked till the present time.
She helped with the establishment of and made considerable contributions to The
Hidden Valley Gallery at Bodalla and produced works for three of the exhibitions
The Gallery at Ararat acquired an early work to complete their collection and she
showed works at the first and second exhibitions at the Priory at Bingie.
She was involved with the Canberra Museum/Gallery, during the last three years,
workshops and exhibiting.
She was currently preparing ideas towards The Dog Show to be held at The Priory in
Mona was always involved with the people of the local community. She cared for her
mother’s older friends and was always available for counselling and help for anyone
She studied Reike and read the works of spiritual gurus and had a large collection of
books on spiritual matters that she lent to people as well as giving hours of her time
to help people. She had a meditation group that met at her home regularly
She formed a liaison with American Dr Norm Sanders about six years ago which
blossomed into a great relationship and gave both of them some of the happiest
years of their lives.
To have had a world acclaimed artist living amongst us in her humble quiet way has
given this community something to be immensely grateful for. At any gathering of
people, her presence and style combined with her great beauty added a certain
quality and charm that will always be treasured.
She leaves us all with a huge gap in our lives, her warmth, her friendliness and her
genuine concern and care for us all will be sorely missed.