Tara Badcock's Invisible Threads

Tara Badcock - BIOGRAPHIE:

Tara Badcock is a Tasmanian textile artist and designer, currently based in Tasmania’s North, returning frequently to France and Europe. She gained her Bachelor of Fine Arts with First Class Honours at the University of Tasmania in 1997. Since this time Tara has exhibited widely in local, national and international exhibitions, events and venues. Tara has also led workshops, undertaken artists’ residencies and self-initiated mentorships in order to further her Professional Development in the field of embroidered textiles, fibre and installation art.

After completing a number of residencies in Paris and other European countries, Tara created her design identity, PARIS TASMANIA, with the intention of providing a platform and formal context to promote her hand embroidered art textiles, whilst bringing awareness to the increasing disappearance of traditional techniques such as needlecrafts. PARIS TASMANIA is a boutique business dedicated to reinvigorating hand embroidery as a contemporary form of communication, socio-cultural statement and utilitarian decoration.

In 2006 Tara was an Arts Tasmania grant recipient, a grant which supported her Teacosy* Revolution exhibition and Manifesto held at Craft Victoria in Melbourne. The Teacosy* Revolution is an ongoing project involving the creation of sculptural, shrine-like tea cosies for use in performance, sound and installation works. Tara continues to collaborate with Tasmanian photographer, Alan Moyle, to document the Teacosy* Revolution, and the tea cosies are shown in exhibitions as artworks. Tara’s tea cosies are intended to lend a ‘portable homeliness’ to the artists’ ‘progressive world tour’ and the Manifesto is due for publication and release in 2012.


1)    Violet Jessie Badcock (Nee James),  Born 6th June 1893, Died 2nd May 1989.
My Paternal Great-Great Aunt- “Auntie Vi”
My favourite early memories are our rare family trips to visit Auntie Vi, a widow, on her farm at Moriarty, near Devonport in the nor th of Tasmania, not far from the sea!
Violet was a school teacher before she met and married Russel Badcock and they lived first at Exton (near my parent’s current home), until they bought a better farm at Moriarty. Auntie Vi was famous for making good butter to sell, though my memories of her are more magical, albeit when she was in her 70’s and had been a widow for more than twenty years. We would enter her tiny and very old wooden cottage and have tea with her in her sitting room, under the tall skylight. She would stop to arrange her hairpins which held her long white hair in a bun….a ‘proper old lady’s hairdo’ I always thought and wanted my hair to be just like hers! She also wore mittens all the time and after she’d had a fall in her 80’s and had broken both wrists, she wore her mittens over the bandages and had to ask her youngest son to help her pin her hair up. She had an old wall-mounted telephone, the one with the mouthpiece that you held when talking and listened into the earpiece on the wall. It had a wooden case and the Bakelite ear and mouth pieces, with big metal bells on top that rang so loudly whenever a call came through.
Violet’s house and lifestyle were so exotic to me and always seemed so much more enjoyable, I always had the feeling that I was experiencing a dying era and I had to soak it up as much as possible before it vanished. Violet herself was a gentle, happy, charming woman who had infinite patience with the energetic questions and restlessness of us three little Badcock girls!
I can really see where so many of my lifestyle values and practices and preferences have come from in these educational early encounters with Auntie Vi and her home full of treasures.
The main characteristic that sticks in my mind about Violet is that, one day when she took me into her bedroom to show me the fox stole she still had hangin g in her cupboard (I’d not seen one before, Tasmania still being fox free), and there on the inside of her cupboard door wa s a huge huntsman spider…they’re harmless though their size, as big as an adult’s hand, is the thing that scares pe ople…I shrieked with fright and Auntie Vi just said, “Oh no, he won’t hurt you, that’s just where he lives”.
So my imp ression of Violet was then forever fixed as a fearless, gentle, calm and courageous woman, someone I wanted to be like one day! I wish I could go and visit her today and tell her how much I admire her and value her as a remarkable & inspiring individual.

 2)    Thelma Madge Loone (Nee Badcock), Born 17th February 1912, Died 16th July 1992. My Paternal Great Aunt, “Aunty Madge” (‘Aunty’ spelt with a ‘Y’ definitely for this woman!)
Aunty Madge is a bit of a legend in our family. She is the kind of hard working, practical and pragmatic woman who is always going forwards, never backwards. She is also famous in our family for making filet crochet and tatting!

Aunty Madge grew up the eldest of my paternal grandfather’s siblings and used to make the most of every possible opportunity which was to hand. My father tells us stories of Aunty Madge collecting grass seed from all the grass that grew along the verge of the roads near the farm to then package up and sell, and also collecting all the wool that got caught on the barbed-wire fences the sheep rubbed against to bundle up and sell…this would have been a great source of income in the days when wool prices made Australian Sheep Graziers wealthy once a year when the wool cheque came in (sadly, not any more!)

When Aunty Magde married Ernest Loone they moved to Devonport and both worked in and for the grocery shops that ‘Uncle Ern’ had started. My favourite memories of Aunty Madge are of going to visit as a family and being told “She’s down the garden somewhere”….so we’d all race out across the large city garden block (now sold and covered with unromantic modern brick veneer homes), past the glasshouse where there were pineapple plants sprouting their first tiny fruit, past the huge chook sheds and into the vegetable garden…and there was Aunty Madge in her floral dress and pinny and gumboots, with dirt covered hands, her 1930’s hairstyle still pinned to one side with hair slides, and her crinkled and ruddy face smiling & creased just like my grandfather, her brother.

The vegetable patch, which was really more like a secluded city farm, was a huge plot for the vegetables that Madge and Ern grew for their shops, and included flowering plants which Madge could pick bunches from whenever there was a funeral over the road in the cemetery that she’d spied in the local paper early that morning. She would put the bunches of flowers in buckets of water outside her house on the footpath and leave a tin for the money to go in.
Aunty Madge was a thorough entrepreneur, hard working and strong, a practical woman full of common sense, fearless and pragmatic. The very best story about Aunty Madge that made me determined to be a bit like her too was that when Ern was in hospital having an operation on his hip or something like this (details are sketchy now!), Aunty Madge would ride her bike up to visit him, in her floral dress and pinny, no helmet, sensible shoes….and one day she got knocked off the bike by a car and was taken in to see the doctor for an examination, being an older lady they wanted to make sure she was alright. When the Doctor examined her he found that not only was her hip broken, but that the other hip had been broken before and Madge had never had it seen to, she’d just gotten on with life and hadn’t bothered grumbling about it!! So for a young Tara, Madge took on an awe-inspiring greatness, she was the woman who had No Fear, who made the most of life and of every day; life was meaningful and not something to complain about. When Uncle Ern died of a heart attack and didn’t come back from hospital though, Aunty Madge was never the same. She died five years later after slipping in the porch at the top of the back stairs and falling through the corrugated plastic enclosing the side of the porch to crash on the concrete below…she had been rushing around doing her jobs when the accident happened.

3)    Phyllis Johnson (Nee Osborne
Name: Phyllis Lesley Johnson (Nee Osborne)
Date of Birth: 29th December 1909 (not 1908)
Date of death: 20th April 1993. My Maternal Great Aunt, “Auntie Phyl”
I only have a few memories of Auntie Phyl, and they are all sweetness and gentleness, she was always smiling and happy, a calmer version of Aunty Madge!
My mother’s family were more town-oriented and so more genteel in some ways, less ‘practical’ because there was no need and it wasn’t the ‘done thing’- to Auntie Phyl someone like Aunty Madge might have seemed coarse and rugged, I can only really speculate though, they never met.

The few times I met Auntie Phyl she was always drinking tea from fine bone china patterned with delicate flowers in blues and violets and I seem to have the impression she was always dressed in violet coloured or patterned dresses, though I’m sure this is my mind making associations! Auntie Phyl was famous in the family for her fine embroidery with delicately crocheted edgings and one of her embroideries she made for my mother has become the basis for this piece about Auntie Phyl.

In the 1930’s Phyllis married George Johnson, lovely Uncle George, who was a meter reader for the Hydro Electric Commission in Hobart, southern Tasmania. My mother boarded as an art student with Phyl and George when they lived in Lord Street, Dynnyrne (in Hobart), and tells me how Phyllis scandalised the family by continuing to work as a Stenographer for the Forestry Department after her marriage. Otherwise she was happily ‘matronly’ and always had some sort of needlework at hand, including knitting and crochet. In her ‘spare time’, both Auntie Phyl & Uncle George would visit sick and aged friends and relatives, which was also a thing of scorn for the rest of the family (only because the rest of the family didn’t do this and consequently didn’t enjoy the wide circle of friends that Phyl and George had!)

Auntie Phyl lived well into her 80’s and although she had Angina and had a pacemaker fitted, she continued to be the most friendly, loving and happy woman I had the great fortune to meet as a child. She was the kind of person I’d wished was my Grandmother as both my Grandmothers seemed to have so many ‘issues’ and were never happy and always, and oddly, both had strong opinions about things & people from the safety of their living room chairs.

Auntie Phyl was the main inspiration behind my mother taking up any form of needlework and we are all grateful for the crocheted blankets, knitted homespun jumpers, quilts and toys my mother has made us over the years! In many ways Auntie Phyl is my own Angelic Needlework Mentor, even though she is no longer alive, she lives on in her delicate and loving creations and skills passed onto my mother and reminds me constantly that to live a life of creativity is like following a continuous thread of harmony