Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?
My name is Tammy Kanat, and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I design and create bespoke fibre art pieces. My projects include wall hangings, floor rugs, blankets/ throws, and outdoor furniture. I am continually experimenting with new ideas and concepts of how fibre can be used in so many aspects of our lives both decorative and practical. Through social media I have been fortunate enough to receive international recognition and have produced several pieces for local and international clients. All my designs are bespoke and hand woven by me, to ensure that each piece is organic and carefully constructed.
So what first drew you to the craft of weaving?
About 5 years ago whilst I was designing our home in Australia I came across a tapestry wall art piece I fell in love with. I could not buy it so I decided to make it. I had never woven before, however I found the process very therapeutic and have not stopped weaving since.
How did you get your start as an artist, have you always been creative, or is this a new career path?
After starting a young family 16 years ago I began designing bespoke handmade jewellery, I sold my creations all over Australia, creating my business, Mink Jewellery, which I ran for over 12 years establishing a very loyal and supportive following. In 2011, I closed my jewellery business and diverted my attention to textiles, enrolling in the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) to learn tapestry weaving. I developed and refined my skills at the Australian Tapestry Workshop, where they have an international reputation as a leader in contemporary tapestry. Here I discovered how this traditional medium could be used in so many different ways, and I started to develop my own unique style. In 2014, I had my first exhibition called “The Spirit”, a collection of wall art, and I started to create a name for myself as a textile artist.
How would your describe your work, and what influences your style?
I would descibe my work style as organic design. I like my textiles to have a natural flow within the shapes. My designs are influenced by nature and architecture. I am often inspired by other artists’ creativity. Colour, design, and natural light are my three obsessions.
Do you remember the first piece that you designed?
I clearly remember my first piece as it is one of my favourites. It is currenlty hanging in a beautiful plant shop called Cool Cactus. It was super chunky natural wool with coloured organic waves woven through it.
You use a lot of geometric patterns in your work. Who, or what, influences you in your choices of shapes and patterns?
The choices of shapes, colours, and patterns evolve as I am creating the design. Gradient colours and shapes are fun to work with as they are forever changing as the piece grows.
When creating your work, what processes and materials do you employ? Is it an intuitive process or meticulously planned? And how long does each piece take to complete?
Creating my work is always an intuitive process, I just start, and the journey begins. I can never make a piece twice even if I wanted to – the process of creating always takes me on a different path. In this way all my designs are unconsciously unique and bespoke. I often work on one piece at a time as when I am in the zone I need to complete it. Time to complete a piece depends on the size and complexity of the design.
Do you have a studio where you create?
I am fortunate enough to have my workspace / studio in the sanctuary of our home. We renovated five years ago and designed an area called the “Retreat”. It is a beautiful, light-filled space that looks over the garden, it has a very calm and peaceful and creative energy.
What is your most important artist’s tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My loom and my weaving bobbin.
Tell us a bit more about arm knit and your workshop.
I enjoy arm knitting with super chunky wool. The weight of the wool as the piece grows is very satisfying, and I love the finished result of a large chunky throw. Workshops are a great way to connect with others and share my knowledge and see the pleasure they have when they have created something on their own.
How do you market/advertise your works?
Social media, especially Instagram and word of mouth, has been the best way to access my market.
Did you find it hard to channel your creativity into a business?
I think the most important thing is to create with genuine passion. I believe if you are authentic and enjoy what you are creating there will be others who appreciate your work. This is the approach I have taken in my jewellery business and now my textile business, and it has been successful.
What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?
I feel they have a sense of pleasure and appreciation for what I have created. It is very satisfying to feel the positive energy from others.
What does a typical day for you usually involve?
Coffee first! A handful of almonds! Ensure everyone gets off to school okay. Check my Instagram and emails. Then head to the studio to start creating.
Which other artists, designers, creative people do you admire?
Frank Lloyd Wright and his ideas of organic architecture and holistic approach where all aspects of the building are considered, I admire Diana Vreeland, a fashion designer ahead of her time. She had the will to be original and the courage to be provocative. Axel Vervoordt is another of my favourite designers. I love his philosophy linking lifestyle and homes design. Some of my favourite artists are also John Olsen, Gustav Klimt, Sonia Delaunay, and Charles Blackman.
What do you do when you are not creating?
I love water skiing, walking in the bush, hanging out with my kids, and going to fun cafes
What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
The ability to let your mind be free and being able to express yourself through another medium other than words.
What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice, and how do you go about navigating around them?
Staying true to my creativity. Not falling into the trap of trying to please others at the expense of my own authentic free expression. My designs are so personal I struggle to put a value on my work.
What are your plans for the business in the future; do you have any new products or exciting opportunities in the works?
I would like to let the business evolve organically, I have no specifice business plans, however a few really exciting projects are happening this year. A rug design collaboration with an amazing company called Cadrys – there will be a sneak peek at The Den Fair in Melbourne Australia in June and the rugs will be launched in August 2106. I am also fortunate enough to be designing a range of unique outdoor furniture including stools, tables, planters, and hammocks exclusively for Robert Plumb.
What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve received is to be yourself.