Michelle Hamer is an architect turned textile artist whose work interrogates the vernacular of Melbourne’s civic landscape. Since 2005 Hamer has made small-scale needlepoint tapestries that reference forms of text and signage in the urban environment. Interested in language and meaning, Hamer’s works focus on the commonplace and the ubiquitous – road-signs, billboards, advertising banners and graffiti.
In some ways Hamer’s work is a form of social cartography. In the process of making each series, she travels around Melbourne and it’s outskirts taking countless photographs of the various texts that colonize the landscape. Later, sifting and sorting through these images, Hamer formulates a visual hypothesis which she then executes in tapestry form. Pinpointing what she describes as ‘the small in-between moments that characterise everyday life’, Hamer’s narrative is often one of comic perplexity and disquiet.
For Melbourne Now, Hamer has produced two new tapestries based on prominently sited billboards: Can’t and Blame and Punish the Individual. These will be exhibited alongside three earlier works taken from a series conceived of in the United States.
Without giving too much away, the overall display is an unsettling array of fantastically mixed messages.