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Karla Dickens at The National

The Lismore-based artist explains her work at Carriageworks as part of The National Biennial of New Australian Art 2017

Photograph: Daniel Boud
Carriageworks: Karla Dickens 'Bound' (2015)

The garments of Karla Dickens’ ‘Bound’ series are beautiful from afar, slightly macabre on closer inspection, and quietly devastating once you read the accompanying poem: six vintage straight jackets, each with different embroidered designs that utilise cow’s teeth, hair, plastic combs, and other jettisoned materials.

Presented at Carriageworks as part of The National Biennial of New Australian Art, ‘Bound’ is part of a larger body of work about domestic violence, and was inspired in part by the Aboriginal story of the Seven Sisters.

“Some works you have to try really hard for, and tussle with – but that work just kind of flowed out,” says the artist. The poem, which she wrote, goes through different reasons women stay in abusive relationships. “The work that I do is often so heavy, I’ve been into dark places – it’s easier for me to write about it than talk about it.”