This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Challenging Out-Dated Ideas Of Femininity With Needle + Thread

Art

Nicole O’Loughlin turns the classical genre of portraiture on its head in Reframing La Femme, a new exhibition of defiant hand-embroidered portraits.

Currently exhibiting at Sydney’s .M Contemporary, the Hobart-based artist re-examines out-dated notions of femininity, subbing in fierce, inspiring, pop culture heroines!

We find out who and why…

30th July, 2019

Hobart-based artist Nicole O’Louglin’s exhibition Reframing La Femme is now on in Sydney. Artwork KateNicole O’Loughlin.

Grace, starring Grace Jones. The vocal performers in this series were inspired by a conversation where someone said to Nicole that there were no good female vocalists – she definitely argued that point! Artwork – Nicole O’Loughlin.

Whitney, starring Whitney Houston. The exhibition was all stitched in the past six months. Artwork – Nicole O’Loughlin.

‘The women I have chosen for this series are individuals that I see as positive strong role models or challenge the out-dated notion of femininity,’ tells Nicole. Photo – courtesy of the artist.

Kylie, starring Kylie Minogue, who commented that she loved the work (a highlight for Nicole!). Artwork – Nicole O’Loughlin.

Muriel, starring Tony Collect as Muriel in Muriel’s Wedding. Muriel’s Wedding is one of the artist’s favourite films ‘because of the character development that occurs where she finally realises that getting married isn’t the be-all and end-all’. Artwork – Nicole O’Loughlin.

Rupaul gets the Klimt treatment. Nicole re-examines tropes of ‘the dangerous woman’, ‘the seductress’ and the ‘submissive subject’. Artwork – Nicole O’Loughlin.

Dolly, starring Dolly Parton. Some of the works took more than 150 hours to complete! Artwork – Nicole O’Loughlin.

Elle Murrell
Tuesday 30th July 2019

‘I would like to break down the toxic idea of masculinity.’ –  Nicole O’Loughlin.

When you think of the most esteemed portraiture and idolised fine artists across history. Women are largely left out of the picture. Thankfully, Nicole O’Loughlin is here to challenge that absence, appropriating Western fine art ‘where male painters were revered, and domestic arts were allocated to the back of the line’.

The Hobart-based artist’s Reframing La Femme brilliantly targets the tropes that have traditionally surrounded female depictions – she’s replacing demure, submissive and sexualised subjects with women who stare defiantly at the viewer.

For the current exhibition, she has enlisted a particularly fierce squad – see Rupaul as a Klimt subject, Grace Jones in strikingly powerful light, as well as Kath, Kim and Sharon donning pre-Raphaelite and Renaissance styles – to get the message across. Just as crafty about her medium, Nicole meticulously hand-embroidered each painting, subverting any ideas of embroidery as a lesser art form and instead, elevating it to the most ornate of frames!

‘Whilst some may argue that the male gaze doesn’t exist anymore, I think you only need to look at social media and the influence it is having on young women and girls.  As well in the political arena, we see an underrepresentation of females and female voices, I do believe that there is a large part of the population that perhaps still holds the view that females are the “weaker sex”,’ reflects the artist. ‘I would like to break down the toxic idea of masculinity, and also to see future generations being able to be who they are without being told that they can or can’t do something based on their gender.’

Following in the thimbles of centuries of women, who have used needlecraft as a form of expression, Nicole has been embroidering since 2013. Though, she really dove into it after the birth of her son in 2016, finding it to be the perfect pick-up-where-you-left-off practice. ‘I am self-taught in embroidery and one day in a half-awake/asleep state thought of a cross-stitch of Mr T surrounded by flowers,’ she explains. ‘It turned into embroidery after I realised that embroidery had a bit more freedom in its expression.’

First, Nicole works on tracing paper, making a colour reference list (à la Paint-By-Numbers), before transferring the design to artist linen. Next, she paints background elements and then begins adding the cotton, wool, beads, and sequins. Some of the larger works have taken more than 150 hours to stitch – along with fan Kylie Minogue, we’re super impressed with her efforts! Don’t miss this exhibition honouring the female form, not just as a body, but as an accomplished whole being.

Reframing La Femme by Nicole O’Loughlin
July 27th to August 10th
.M Contemporary
37 Ocean Street
Woollahra, New South Wales
 
Nicole O’Loughlin will also be exhibiting at Sydney Contemporary in September. Stay up to date with her art at Nicoleoloughlin.com and on Instagram by following @nicole_p_oloughlin.

This Week

51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Architecture

A Minimalist Home Where The Landscape Takes Centre Stage

This Mount Mellum, Queensland home by Sparks Architects is all about its incredible views, taking in the ocean and D'Aguilar Range!
Amelia Barnes
  1 hour ago

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

View Comments

Similar Stories

Creative People

Liam Benson's Wealth of Unconditional Love

The Sydney-based artist unveils his latest exhibition, 'I Have a Wealth Of Unconditional Love, and It’s Yours If You Want It’.
Elle Murrell

Art

Trevor Smith's 'Cocktail Hour'

A smorgasbord of 45 astounding textile artworks, now on show in Sydney.
Elle Murrell

Art

Robert Brain And Kate Just Present 'Needleman, Feminist Fan'

The 85-year-old 'needleman' and feminist artist join forces for a brilliantly entertaining new exhibition, opening tomorrow at Chapter House...
Elle Murrell

This Week

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Architecture

A Minimalist Home Where The Landscape Takes Centre Stage

This Mount Mellum, Queensland home by Sparks Architects is all about its incredible views, taking in the ocean and D'Aguilar Range!
Amelia Barnes
  1 hour ago

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Similar Stories

Creative People

Liam Benson's Wealth of Unconditional Love

The Sydney-based artist and facilitator unveils his latest exhibition.
Elle Murrell

Art

Trevor Smith's 'Cocktail Hour'

A smorgasbord of 45 astounding textile artworks, now on show in Sydney.
Elle Murrell

Art

Robert Brain And Kate Just Present 'Needleman, Feminist Fan'

The 85-year-old 'needleman' and feminist artist join forces for a brilliantly entertaining new exhibition, opening tomorrow at Chapter House...
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.