Hannah Macfarlane (b.1996) is a Cape Town-based artist who works experimentally at the intersection of fine art and craft. She uses traditional wool work techniques to engage with embodied catharsis and labour, and to underscore our connections to nature, the past and each other. Fascinated by the process of wet felting, as well as the broader material possibilities of working with wool, she explores a range of visual and tactile metaphors for intimacy and vulnerability.
Wet felting involves a transformation of wool fibres through a laborious process of rubbing using soap and hot water. In Macfarlane’s explanation of the process, “The continuous motions of rubbing, moulding, and shocking the fibres of carefully placed and torn wool is a meditative yet exhausting practice. The wool slowly transforms – shrinking, growing, and fusing from its previous form to another, sometimes unexpected one. Through externalising the internal, the artworks come to represent the inner and outer body, our tangible connectors to experiencing the world.” She always processes the wool from its natural state, sometimes hand-dying it and sometimes spinning it to produce yarns, performing ancient craft rituals that tie society, and women in particular, to the land and to nature in ways that have been all but forgotten.
Macfarlane has exhibited her work in Johannesburg, Cape Town and, most recently, London, in the exhibition Soft Power at Addis Fine Art (2023). She graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in 2020 with a BA Fine Arts. In 2021 she was part of Latitudes’ ArtistLab development programme and was selected for Guns & Rain’s Fresh Voices exhibition. In 2022 she participated in African Galleries Now on Artsy, the Karoo National Arts Festival, and Art Joburg. Also in 2022, she was awarded a residency at the South African Foundation For Contemporary Art’s semi-rural residency centre in Knysna, South Africa.
This was meant to be meditative
Wet-felted wool, yarn, thread
79 x 129 x 11 cm
Unravel, hold, repeat
Wet-felted wool, wire
110 x 66 x 7.5 cm
What we hold
Wet-felted wool, foam, stuffing, canvas
211 x 78 x 18 cm
Wet-felted wool, fabric, thread, rope
325 x 69 x 8 cm
67 x 33 x 17 cm
22 x 19.5 cm
Hang in there
Felted wool, thread
95 x 41 cm
43 x 17.5 cm
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