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Ventura, California, United States of America born 1942

Big beach boy 2003 Description: tapestry
Place made: Berkeley, California, United States of America
Materials & Technique: textiles, woven cotton tapestry

Dimensions: 426.00 h x 137.00 w x 0.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.947
Image rights: Don Tuttle Photography

The candid intimacy of the family snapshot seems an unlikely starting point for Lia Cook’s over-scale woven images, until one considers that such weaving, whatever its size, is the result of the organisation of small elements, close attention to detail and the dexterity of handwork. Just as informal family photos are a medium of transaction and an exchange of intimate information and shared history, cloth enfolds us into its history as we allow it to envelop us and record the marks and creases of our presence. The source of Cook’s images is a simple camera from the 1950s, which has a link to today’s imaging technology in the same way that computers have their origins in the manually operated Jacquard weaving looms of the early nineteenth century. In Big beach boy Cook links these technologies, exchanging pixels for thread and focusing closely on the bland subject matter of a tiny and apparently insignificant family photo of a baby. On closer inspection, when we seem to be skin-to-skin with the child in an uneasy embrace, the subject dissolves into a pointillist colour field of shimmering individual threads, allowing our senses to take us beyond the threshold of recognition.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra