Annemieke Mein’s Textile Sculptures

by Dexter Sear

Annemieke Mein

Annemieke Mein

Dragonfly Cape

Dragonfly Cape

Lacewing Vest

Lacewing Vest

Butterfly Ties

Butterfly Ties

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Speaking about wildlife art, naturalist Charles McCubbin points out, “the world of invertebrates is largely ignored… many people regard anything with more than four legs as something to be feared or killed on sight.” Now, thanks to twenty years of painstaking dedication to her art and craft, Annemieke Mein has produced an impressive body of invertebrate textile sculptures that swing the typically mammal-biased scales back into balance.

Born in Haarlem, Holland, Annemieke moved to Australia in 1951 and spent much of her childhood becoming enchanted by the diversity of Australian insects. She studied, sketched and collected butterflies and other insects. Encouraged at school, she explored numerous mediums for her creative expression. When she moved to Sale in Gippsland, Victoria in 1971, her popularity grew and she became recognized as one of the world’s foremost textile artists.

Annemieke clearly states her motivation, “The encouragement of an awareness of our environment and an understanding of the importance of the preservation of our natural heritage are among the most important needs of our time.” Speaking of her beloved Gippsland’s flora and fauna, she illustrates the timeliness of her art when she says, “I have already seen disturbing changes in the environment and witnessed the
effects of apathy, ignorance, financial greed and premeditated vandalism.” “Through my textiles, whether sculptures, wall works, or ‘wearables,’ I hope to make people more aware of our native species while expressing my love and concern for our native environment.”

Annemieke’s thoughtfulness toward her insect sculptures is illustrated by her use of a detail-oriented, larger-than-life style. After many hours of detailed, microscopic study and patient behavioral observations, she employs dramatic magnification in her work to “enhance the visual impact, deliberately accentuating the minute” which, in essence, forces people to really see something that they would typically ignore.
I am particularly impressed by Annemieke’s determination to expose people to “the hidden” side of nature. She states, “I especially enjoy depicting species that are not normally considered interesting, let alone beautiful, and visually enhancing their individual charms and attributes by giving a great deal of attention to their fine details.”

As mentioned earlier, Annemieke has produced an impressive body of insect art. Her book, “The Art of Annemieke Mein: Wildlife Artist in Textiles” published by Search Press (U.K. & USA) and Viking/ Penguin (Australia) illustrates over thirty major fabric sculptures or wearable projects featuring insects.

Many of Annemieke’s creations are attributed to a memorable field experience that initially inspired the piece. “Grasshoppers” was inspired when she witnessed her first locust plague. “Dragonflies” was inspired after she witnessed the miraculous eclosion stage when the adult dragonfly emerges from its aquatic larval domain.
Her “Mythical Moth” series, characterized by a more fanciful interpretation of coloration, was inspired by her close observation of Emperor Moths emerging from their cocoons. Her fantasy motif is continued when she incorporates “butterfly dust” into a couple of her creations.

Annemieke Mein’s rise in popularity is a fair tribute to the phenomenal power of her creations. Her work adorns the walls of many public and private collections around the world and her exhibits draw impressive crowds. People are moved to tears when observing her exhibits, perhaps reminded of their childhood days when they had the time and freedom to “butterfly dawdle.” “The Old Lady Moth,” unlike most there pieces, has an invitation to touch. The tension between the desire to touch and people’s fear of insects is quickly dissolved into rewarding tactile exploration that makes this creation a center of attraction, especially for children.

Annemieke has more than accomplished her goals of promoting environmental awareness. Viewers of her work are emotionally moved and the messages of respect and admiration for the “unseen” world remains with them. I hope this page generates enough interest within you to seek out Annemieke’s book and experience her energy-filled creations for yourselves. ISBN 0 670 83939 6

Dragonfly Cape 1981 costume size 16
Lacewing Vest 1981 size 12
Butterfly Ties 1981 costume
Grasshoppers 1980 low-relief wall panels 105 x 105cm
Dragonflies 1980 low-relief wall panel 122 x 122cm
Cup Moths 1980 high-relief wall sculpture 134 x 102 x 10(relief) cm
Cup Moth Larva 1989 freestanding sculpture 61 x 17 x 17(height) cm
Sawflies 1980 high-relief wall sculpture 130 x 95 x 10cm
Christmas Beetles 1981 high-relief wall sculpture 150 x 125 x 8cm
The Potter Wasp I 1981 high-relief wall sculpture 142 x 102 x 12cm
The Potter Wasp II 1982 freestanding sculpture 18 x 16 x 19cm
The Old Lady Moth 1981 freestanding tactile sculpture 103 x 60 x 20cm
Pink Emperor Gum Moth I 1982 freestanding sculpture 60 x 50 x 13cm
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high-relief wall sculpture 142 x 102 x 12cm
The Potter Wasp II 1982 freestanding sculpture 18 x 16 x 19cm
The Old Lady Moth 1981 freestanding tactile sculpture 103 x 60 x 20cm
Pink Emperor Gum Moth I 1982 freestanding sculpture 60 x 50 x 13cm
Pink Emperor Gum Moth II ** 1982 low-relief wall panel 85 x 130 x 5cm
Case Moth Cocoons ** 1982 freestanding sculptures 62 x 15 x 9cm
Emerald Moth on Banksia 1982 freestanding sculpture 95 x 35 x 25cm
Ameinus McCubbinonymous 1982 freestanding sculpture 30 x 20 x 15cm
Mythical Moth 1983 high-relief wall sculpture 55 x 65 x 6cm
Mating Mythical Moths ** 1984 high-relief wall sculpture 77 x 117 x 15cm
Lepidoptera Quadripartite 1985 high-relief wall sculpture 152 x 32 x 10cm
Freedom ** 1986 high-relief wall sculptures 140 x 100 x 10cm
Night Flight 1986 high-relief wall sculpture 91 x 111 x 7cm
Flight Dust 1987 low-relief wall panel 60 x 40cm
Butterfly Dust 1988 low-relief wall panel 73 x 55cm
Fabric Fantasy 1987 high-relief wall sculpture 153 x 105 x 10cm
Grasshopper Flight 1988 high-relief wall sculpture 60 x 100 x 6cm
Dance of Mayflies 1988 high-relief wall sculpture 110 x 180 x 10cm
Mayfly Life Cycle 1988 high-relief wall sculpture 133 x 44 x 10cm
Lepidoptera Olympia Australis 1989 freestanding sculpture 55 x 49 x 12cm
Pheromone Frenzy 1989 high-relief wall sculpture 155 x 120 x 10cm