Occupation | Bec Andersen: Textile Artist

Bunting lines the leafy driveway that leads past a beautifully worn weatherboard house. At the end of this driveway, just beyond the papier-mâché kookaburras perched on the gate, sits Brisbane-born Bec Andersen on the balcony of her artist’s studio. 

It’s a wonderful space. Bundles of wool hang from rafters above shelves of spooled wool in an assortment of colours. Beautiful little windows allow soft beams of light to gently rest on woven baskets overflowing with even more wool. At the centre of all of this stands a huge frame stretched with material, a design inked on its fibres and small sections of wool woven between its threads  – this is where the magic happens. 

Bec Andersen is a textile artist specialising in hand-tufted rugs. Bec says she’s into functional art, as English textile designer William Morris said, “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful”. Her rugs are beautiful, but they’re to be walked on as well.

Bec’s first encounter with rug making came fresh out of university after studying a degree in Industrial Design at QUT. She had moved into a cold little garage floored with tiles (not so great in winter) and set about cutting, arranging and patching squares of carpet to help keep her little home warm. Though this is a far cry from the beautiful creations she makes today, it was during this time of renovation that she learnt about tufting, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bec later moved to Canada for five years where she shared an artists’ warehouse in East Vancouver with a painter, a prop maker, a wood carver and a fellow textile artist – needless to say it was a madly crowded artistic enclave. It was during this time that she started having her rugs placed in shops, met her husband and fell pregnant with her daughter, before moving back to Australia, and Tamborine Mountain, where she still resides today with her charming tufting studio.

Bubbly and friendly, she admits that despite her studio being a few meters away from her house, she still packs her lunch in the morning (after making the kids' lunches) and 'takes it to work' with her. This way, there's no chance of distraction when re-entering the house for a bite to eat. 

She uses 100 per cent wool from New Zealand and hand-dyes it all with natural colourants (like the cochineal scale insect, which produces a beautiful crimson pink colour). With a strong belief in practicing ecologically sustainable work habits, Bec says she is always looking to the future, always moving forward rather than spending much time sitting in the past. Her current piece of work – its beginnings visible in the fabric on her tufting frame – is a design based on the Firewheel Tree (stenocarpus sinuatus).

Nearby her tufting area is a quaint lounge-room arrangement: a beautiful loveseat couch, two dainty pillows in each corner, perfectly complimented by another of her beautiful rugs. This one in particular is inspired by a Gabbeh design (beautiful Persian carpets usually crafted by women that rely on open fields of colour and a playfulness with geometry). Bec has a special affection for this particular rug, being different to most of her other work, she thinks it just might end up in her own lounge room should no one purchase it (you can find her details at the bottom of this article should this rug tickle your fancy).

Bec Andersen's Gabbeh inspired rug

Just by the entrance of her studio sits The Wishing Chair . A simple tale of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, Bec picked this chair up off the side of the road when she first moved to Tamborine Mountain and gave it new life. Pink and plush, it features its own set of wings and a trim of knitted baubles around the base of the seat. The words “Take a seat, make a wish, forget facebook” are stitched into three of the four side panels of the chair. The Wishing Chair has had a journey of its own: since making its way into the Andersen home, it has been a breastfeeding chair, a story telling chair, a tea-drinking chair, a cat sleeping and scratching chair, and now, the welcome chair at the door of her studio.

Bec’s greatest source of inspiration comes from the environment around her. Living in a small country town that is rapidly becoming commercialised, she recently utilised an undervalued local park space to hold The Big Knit in the Park in which people of all ages could come along and knit together – whether or not they knew how. 

In an age where we are consumed by online social networking, it was a time of rekindling the arts and reconnecting souls; providing a place for people to talk to others in person, face to face. It also celebrated the shabby park in which it was hosted and reminded people that these beautiful spaces still exist, sitting there just waiting for us to enjoy them. 

In a further celebration of the park (Doughty Park on Tamborine Mountain) and the arts, Bec and The Big Knit will be “yarn bombing” the park on June 23rd, installing numerous works by people who took part in the The Big Knit and its subsequent knitting days afterwards. Creations like these fun pink and yellow blankets will be a part of the installation.

Book of Gabbeh designs, including the design that inspired her rug

 The tufting frame where Bec creates her rug designs

 Jars of natural colourants used to dye the wool

Bec's Studio 

On top of producing public and personal works, Bec also produces pieces by commission, working with clients to create something that fits perfectly within a space. If you’re interested in Bec’s work, whether you’d like to buy an existing piece or commission a piece you can contact her by email at info@becandersen.com. You can also visit her website and facebook group to find out about upcoming workshops and see more of her artwork. 

www.becandersen.com | www.facebook.com/TheHappyHookers

Sophie @ Girl With a Satchel