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

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Irresistible Double Chocolate + Tahini Brownies

Is there anything more irresistible than a brownie? We think not! Especially Julia's, which come with double the chocolate, and a nutty swir...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Gardens

A Hawthorn Home Enveloped In Dreamy, Layered Gardens

This new family home is brought to life with lush gardens designed by Peachy Green – reminiscent of a flowering ‘woody meadow’!
Christina Karras

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Architecture

A Colourful Extension Inspired By Clinker Bricks

Wowowa’s Presto House is a vivid and respectful addition to a 1930s art deco home made from 'clinker' bricks.
Sasha Gattermayr
  23 hours ago

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Art

Artist Cressida Campbell Is Finally Getting The Spotlight She Deserves

A new exhibition at the NGA brings together more than 140 works from the artist's life and unique practice.

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

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

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Hawthorn Home Enveloped In Dreamy, Layered Gardens

This new family home is brought to life with lush gardens designed by Peachy Green – reminiscent of a flowering ‘woody meadow’!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Irresistible Double Chocolate + Tahini Brownies

Is there anything more irresistible than a brownie? We think not! Especially Julia's, which come with double the chocolate, and a nutty swir...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!

Art

Artist Cressida Campbell Is Finally Getting The Spotlight She Deserves

A new exhibition at the NGA brings together more than 140 works from the artist's life and unique practice.

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Colourful Extension Inspired By Clinker Bricks

Wowowa’s Presto House is a vivid and respectful addition to a 1930s art deco home made from 'clinker' bricks.
Sasha Gattermayr
  23 hours ago

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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net