Love is the first word I think of when I look at Quishile’s work. Love pours out of every length of fabric, every print, every stitch, every fibre, and every frame that forms her body of work. It feels almost cliché to talk about love nowadays—everyone is theorising about it as an emotion, and questioning where it exists within their lives, platonically, romantically, or both. To me, love is not just an emotion. Love is action, love is process, love is nurture, and love is the soft mundane moments of care that shape the invisible borders of Quishile’s work.
Araam started out as a large-scale textile exhibited at Artspace Aotearoa.1 It will later get unpicked and turned into pillowcases for loved ones. Araam’s heart—the rectangular centre-pieces dyed with genda phool—will be adorned with the embroidered names of loved ones and bordered by ruffles made from its cutch-dyed, eco-printed border.
Now in its second iteration at Blue Oyster, Araam has expanded and grown from a singular textile work to an entire exhibition, consisting of four new textile works and a short film. The film captures Quishile’s process of making and the many hands it takes to produce naturally dyed fabrics. The new textiles will include additional dyed and printed fabrics that will later be made into a quilted blanket to warm members of Quishile’s chosen family for years to come.
Quishile’s textile-making entwines the processes of nurture, love, care, and community. The textiles are a window into the loved ones she is around when making, in going to pick genda and hibiscus phool with dance music pumping in the car, in tending to the fire for the lovo, in quiet gathering around a table, pressing flowers into fabric to ensure their prints are visible. Araam as a show is a manifestation of love in action.
Even when Quishile is physically alone in her making, she's never really alone. Her relationship to her textiles is evident in the extended time she spends with them, coming back to them as an old friend every time she prepares them to be dyed, printed, stitched, and embroidered. Her loved ones feature in this ‘alone time’ with her fabric and as an extension of this one-on-one relationship.
Her chosen family is present in the silent time she spends with this old friend, when they can hear the sounds of muffled conversations and footsteps around the house. Her chosen family is also present in the TV shows and podcasts she has on in the background while embroidering—the ones that she will later share with us—and in the anticipation of showing us the new techniques she’s learnt.