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

Interiors

A Dark + Dingy Heritage Home Revamped In Contemporary Country Style

Interior designer Georgie Shepherd of GSiD transforms breathes new life into the interiors of this newly renovated pre-Federation villa in A...

Architecture

A Gentle Brutalist Masterpiece In Brisbane

The Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins embraces its steep and bushy surrounds courtesy of a minimalist and raw material palette.

News

A New Series Of Paintings From An Old Favourite

Steven John Clark (aka denHolm) exhibits his first body of paintings, ‘Flowers For Gary’, exploring the imperfect, and its chall...

Homes

A Dreamy, Nostalgic Family Home in Melbourne's Suburbs

Sympathetic renovations featuring recycled materials have made the 1930s Malvern East family home of Josh and Anastasia Elias even better th...

Creative People

Carving Softness From Stone With Carol Crawford

The Sydney-based sculptor guides us through her unfurling, flowering forms made from alabaster, stone, bronze and marble.
Sasha Gattermayr
  7 hours ago

Interiors

A Designer’s Fun, Mid-Century Makeover Of Her ‘90s Townhouse!

Studio Tate associate Liz Ryde shares her self-designed, Clifton Hill family home filled with mid-century elements and colour!

Architecture

A Multigenerational Family Retreat In A Blue Mountains Valley

It looks like a Swiss Chalet, but 'Stonelea' is a uniquely Australian home in the Blue Mountains, by Matthew Woodward Architecture.
Amelia Barnes
  15 hours ago

News

'Wear It Yellow' And Support Children's Ground This National Reconciliation Week!

Children’s Ground is an incredible organisation that supports the next generation of Aboriginal children, and their communities – an...
Sally Tabart
  4 hours ago

News

A Massive Sale Of A-List Designer Furniture Is Happening Soon!

Nab furniture, lighting and homewares from big time European designers like Ligne Roset, Duvivier + more at DOMO’s mid-year sale.
Sponsored

Architecture

A Contemporary Reinterpretation Of The Classic Australian Farmhouse

FMD Architects introduce their version of the classic Australian farmhouse in 'Coopworth', located on Tasmania's Bruny Island.

Stays

A Mountain-Top Holiday Spot That Floats Above The Clouds

Cloud Parade is a design-led accommodation in the Blue Mountains, with truly sublime views over the national park.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Media Powerhouse And Ultimate Creative Slashie, Sophia Athas

The founder of digital marketing agency Hatrik House talks us through the ins-and-outs of running a successful business in your twenties!

On The Market

A Huge Family Warehouse Apartment In The Heart Of Richmond

At approximately 520 square metres, this out-of-this world industrial home has got to be one of the biggest warehouse conversions in Melbour...

News

The Annual Mud Seconds Sale Is On In Sydney This Weekend!

Shop almost-perfect porcelain Mud pieces with discounts starting from 40% off.

Gardens

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Landscape Designer

We asked expert garden designers Phillip Withers, Fran Hale, Kathleen Murphy, Katy Svalbe and Richard Unsworth to demystify the process of w...

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

On The Market

A Huge Family Warehouse Apartment In The Heart Of Richmond

At approximately 520 square metres, this out-of-this world industrial home has got to be one of the biggest warehouse conversions in Melbour...

News

'Wear It Yellow' And Support Children's Ground This National Reconciliation Week!

Children’s Ground is an incredible organisation that supports the next generation of Aboriginal children, and their communities – an...
Sally Tabart
  4 hours ago

Gardens

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Landscape Designer

We asked expert garden designers Phillip Withers, Fran Hale, Kathleen Murphy, Katy Svalbe and Richard Unsworth to demystify the process of w...

Architecture

A Contemporary Reinterpretation Of The Classic Australian Farmhouse

FMD Architects introduce their version of the classic Australian farmhouse in 'Coopworth', located on Tasmania's Bruny Island.

News

A Massive Sale Of A-List Designer Furniture Is Happening Soon!

Nab furniture, lighting and homewares from big time European designers like Ligne Roset, Duvivier + more at DOMO’s mid-year sale.
Sponsored

Architecture

A Gentle Brutalist Masterpiece In Brisbane

The Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins embraces its steep and bushy surrounds courtesy of a minimalist and raw material palette.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Media Powerhouse And Ultimate Creative Slashie, Sophia Athas

The founder of digital marketing agency Hatrik House talks us through the ins-and-outs of running a successful business in your twenties!

Interiors

A Dark + Dingy Heritage Home Revamped In Contemporary Country Style

Interior designer Georgie Shepherd of GSiD transforms breathes new life into the interiors of this newly renovated pre-Federation villa in A...

News

The Annual Mud Seconds Sale Is On In Sydney This Weekend!

Shop almost-perfect porcelain Mud pieces with discounts starting from 40% off.

Interiors

A Designer’s Fun, Mid-Century Makeover Of Her ‘90s Townhouse!

Studio Tate associate Liz Ryde shares her self-designed, Clifton Hill family home filled with mid-century elements and colour!

News

A New Series Of Paintings From An Old Favourite

Steven John Clark (aka denHolm) exhibits his first body of paintings, ‘Flowers For Gary’, exploring the imperfect, and its chall...

Stays

A Mountain-Top Holiday Spot That Floats Above The Clouds

Cloud Parade is a design-led accommodation in the Blue Mountains, with truly sublime views over the national park.

Homes

A Dreamy, Nostalgic Family Home in Melbourne's Suburbs

Sympathetic renovations featuring recycled materials have made the 1930s Malvern East family home of Josh and Anastasia Elias even better th...

Creative People

Carving Softness From Stone With Carol Crawford

The Sydney-based sculptor guides us through her unfurling, flowering forms made from alabaster, stone, bronze and marble.
Sasha Gattermayr
  7 hours ago

Architecture

A Multigenerational Family Retreat In A Blue Mountains Valley

It looks like a Swiss Chalet, but 'Stonelea' is a uniquely Australian home in the Blue Mountains, by Matthew Woodward Architecture.
Amelia Barnes
  15 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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.