visual artist - textiles - sculpture



Ilka White’s practice spans projects in textiles, sculpture and installation, video, art-in-community and cross disciplinary collaboration.

Direct engagement with the natural world (and the forces at work therein) is central to Ilka’s making process. Her current work explores relationships between the mind, body, time and place, and questions the separation of these elements. She has traveled into Central Australia to produce work in response to Newhaven station bird reserve and walked 3 weeks with a group of artists in far South West Victoria to further her immersive approach to art making.  In 2010 she worked with St Pauls Community in the Torres Strait on a shadow puppet play about the threat ‘Ghost nets’ pose to saltwater people and their environment.

An abiding interest in world textile traditions also informs many aspects of Ilka’s making and teaching practice. In 2000 she undertook a Churchill fellowship, learning from weavers of traditional textiles in Indonesia, India, Nepal and Bhutan. This journey strengthened her appreciation for work that grows directly from the maker’s history, place and cultural identity. She recently completed work for the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial in collaboration with a photographer, philosopher, jeweler, printer and embroiderers among others.

White uses a process of careful observation, drawing and collection in which she is concerned with a network of understandings and relations between creatures and elements of landscape. Rhythms inherent in the gathered organic materials are used to construct the work and move us beyond the separate, objective, observing eye to translate her sentient experience of time spent embedded in the natural world. White creates a place of mystery, strength, fragility and transience, where decay becomes creation.’ (Martina Copley)

Ilka holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Monash University and an Associate Diploma in Studio Textiles from Melbourne Institute of Textiles (now RMIT). She taught Contemporary Art and Design, Weaving and Textile History at RMIT University for 12 years (1999-2011), and was teaching artist in residence at the ANU School of Art in 2012. She has exhibited internationally and her work is represented in the public collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, RMIT University and private collections in Australia, U.K. and U.S.A.

Ilka’s work appears in a variety of publications including Textiles: The Art of Mankind (Thames & Hudson, London. 2012),  Art Textiles of the World – Australia Vol. 2 (Telos Art Publishing, U.K. 2007), The Melbourne Design Guide (Lab.3000,  2006) and Handmade in Melbourne (GSP Books, Melbourne 2006).