Emjay Bailey Behind the Colourway – Graffito: Art, Inspiration and Fibre

Graffito Shawlette

Graffiti is an art form I have always adored that was firmly entrenched in the skateboard and punk rock culture I drifted to in my youth. The spot we went for the photo shoot had a lovely tribute to Ghost.

Those of you local to Victoria may remember a graffiti artist named Hans Fear who was quite prolific and active in the skateboard scene. His tag was Ghost. We hung out a few times and though I didn’t know him well, he was a beautiful person, inspiring to me and so many others in town. Having shared friends and similar haunts and stomping grounds meant constantly encountering Hans’ work on walls, notebooks, scrawled on a toilet paper roll in a bathroom. Everywhere he went he left a beautiful mark, leaving behind a teensy piece of his vision to be found, appreciated, contemplated. His story ended tragically and though he is still missed and remembered, his presence is strangely still a part of the city.

Since childhood I always had a creative drive, but it always lacked focus. I envied the kind of focus and passion Hans had for drawing. My mind always wandered to a different media and crafts but nothing every really stuck or felt natural. For me the final product was always the least rewarding part. The core of my joy always seemed to be the journey of developing colour and texture. I never really knew what to draw, scuplt or paint in particular, but I loved the chaos and unpredictable experience of slapping colour up on a canvas and playing with colours in layers in different media. When I mastered crochet, I was “hooked” on using stitches to create textiles, working primarily in bright and colourful sculptural amigurumi. That was the start of my art and fibre fusion journey.

Since then I have developed repetitive stress injuries that force me to limit my manual crafting like painting, spinning, knitting and crochet, and discovered my true passion, dyeing fibre. I love being one part of a collective, creative process. Fibres are my canvas, dyes are my paint and since there is no way I could do this much and knit it all, JOMA Yarn is the gallery I share with a vibrant and supportive community of global fibre artists who in turn create beautiful knit, crochet and woven objects with my work. The finished objects become beautiful surprises I see pop up as projects on ravelry, rewarding reminders of the wonderful things we have created together. Graffito, one of my favourite colourways, was inspired by Hans’ art, and the art of many since him, brightening our urban landscapes with inspired messaging, beautiful imagery and the defiant vulnerability of a temporary presence.

I have found my focus, and I look back on the journey that got me here with gratitude and appreciation for fellow creatives, especially those that kept me motivated and inspired with their commitment and talent as shining examples along the way.

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