Wilma Simmons 

Tell us how long you have been a textile artist?

When I retired from my previous career as a high school principal in 2005, I started to think about devoting more time to textile art as I am not really a retiring type of person. However,  it has really been only in the last 4 or 5 years that I seriously started to create art. 

Do you have formal training in textile art? 

My formal art training is in contemporary clay - polymer and metal. To improve my textile art skills, I have worked conscientiously and taken many classes over many years from other artists  - local, national and international and  I consider these classes to be "formal " training even though they may not have contributed to a tertiary degree. The  quality  of the teaching and mentoring I have received and the calibre of the artist tutors are certainly equivalent to the standard of a formal tertiary education course. I perhaps should mention that I completed the certificated "Creative Embroidery" Course, conducted by the NSW Embroiderers' Guild only last year, about thirty years after I first started it! 

With most of my "formal" education in "education", I think it's not important whether one's education is formal or informal, what is important that we continue to learn.... we continue to learn as we create new work, meet and talk with someone else, read something different, visit somewhere unfamiliar, see  or hear something which evokes emotion, try something challenging and dream something impossible. 

What is your favourite piece in this current exhibition at Timeless Textiles? 

I have a few favourites - I love Bobbi Oliver's small ceramic paper clay sculpture, "Finding Solitude Within" and the imposing but gentle,  mixed media sculpture "Words of Wisdom". 

Of my own work, " Perseverance" a narrative mixed media/textile tower has been my favourite piece to work on, because of the variety of textile art techniques used to create it, the layers of meaning and the surprises I planned and created  for the viewer. It is one of the series of   towers I created to tell the story of Homer's "Odyssey" - I also enjoyed making 108 polymer clay heads stitched onto "Patience", to depict the 108 suitors whom Penelope rejected   

Does drawing play a role in the development of your artwork?

Yes, I draw and doodle... sometimes, my finished work does not resemble my earlier drawings, but I enjoy the drawing and planning a project almost as much as the creating. I also like writing on my drawings -  any words, for example  a verse, a quotation, a short story, brainstorming, mind mapping,  a stream of consciousness. The drawing and the writing are really intrinsic to what I create. 

Do you have a blog or website we can follow your work on?

Yes, my blog is mostly about my work and other artistic subjects and I am a social media fan, too.  

http://empresswu.blogspot.com  

https://www.facebook.com/Empress.Wu.Designs

https://www.instagram.com/wilma.simmons

~ Interview by Ahn Wells
Wilma is exhibiting at Timeless Textiles until 12 June with Bobbi Oliver.