Artist: Denise Townsend

Design: Jo Sonja Jansen

Artist: Lorraine Summerville

Design: Lorraine Summerville

The Foundation of the FDAA

In the early 1980s, a small group of enthusiasts learning quilting locally in Gordon, on Sydney’s North Shore, eyed some pieces of art brought in for sale by one of their number.

Some with European backgrounds recognised the style, those with art training recognised its merit, while others with no connection to art at all, were immediately captivated. Could they learn? … would the artist teach them? ... when could they begin?

What they had seen were examples of Bauernmalerei, (pronounced bow-urn-maler-rye, where ‘bow’ rhymes with ‘cow’), a naïve style of folk art, born in the alpine regions of Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 16th Century late Medieval times. Some also referred to it as Bavarian Folk Art.

Rather than art for hanging, this was art for brightening homes by decorating otherwise drab, everyday, household items belonging to people from the lower classes. It was meant to be used and loved, and was sometimes like a modern diary with designs often commemorating important times and events in family lives.

Except for a few individuals, in its early history Australia largely missed out on most forms of folk and decorative art, as sheer survival was the main element of European settlement in this country, without the luxury of needing to fill in time through harsh winters.

By the time the 1980s came, Australia was experiencing a period of prosperity, reaping assimilation benefits from the cultures of various post WW2 migrant groups, Australians were travelling widely and information technology was up and running. Spare time became more affordable and creative minds searched for outlets. Classes in many traditional crafts emerged and the earliest Guilds were formed at this time.

With the nucleus of that small group in the craft shop in Gordon, Australia was ready and bursting with enthusiasm for the wave of Folk Art that began to absorb much of the country. In September 1985, 24 people met at St Ives Guides Hall to discuss forming a national Association, resulting in the First Official Meeting of the Folk & Decorative Artists' Association of Australia being held in the Gordon East Public School Library in April 1986 with 14 inaugural, financial members in attendance.

Copyright © 2010 The Folk and Decorative Artists’ Association of Australia, Inc.

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