Ebb+Flow Artist Feature: Mikaela Castledine

Ebb+Flow Artist Feature: Mikaela Castledine

Regional Arts WA

This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Marcell Billinghurst, from Scribes of North Midlands. We love sharing stories from the sector. If you want to find out how to submit your own stories, take a look at the submit your story page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Mikaela Castledine, our fourth Ebb+Flow Artist in Residence with the North Midlands Project, is a sculptor and writer from Perth. She won the Sculpture Scholarship at Sculpture By The Sea Cottesloe with her first major sculptural work, Tokyo Crows. Mikaela has gone on to produce many unique crocheted sculptural pieces for local and international collections and exhibitions.

Mikaela Castledine outside the Bank Gallery, Carnamah. Photo by Stephen Castledine.

In 2020, there was a state-wide call out by the North Midlands Project, for artists to be considered as an applicant for residency, in the Ebb+Flow Artists in Residence Program in 2021. Mikaela applied. She was successfully selected as a Resident Artist, from a large pool of applicants. Mikaela Castledine launched the Mikaela Castledine Exhibition, at the Bank Gallery in Carnamah in May 2021. It was a privilege to attend the launch and was enjoyed by many who attended.

Since being in Carnamah, Mikaela has been actively involved with Open Exhibition Days, facilitating sculptural workshops at The Exchange, Community Days, and at schools in Carnamah, Coorow, Mingenew, Morawa, and Three Springs. Mikaela taught rope crocheting and twig sculptures, encouraging children to really think about what they thought the sticks or twigs looked like, before starting to create their masterpiece. The children enjoyed getting creative, making interesting and original sculptures using sticks or twigs, aluminium foil, and masking tape.

Mikaela Castledine shares her expertise with students at Coorow Primary School. Photo courtesy North Midlands Project.

Mikaela has spent many hours at the Exchange creating a sculpture of an echidna as a Community Collaborative Art Project. It has been fascinating watching Mikaela carve the head, claws, and part of the legs from small branches and then create the crocheted part of the legs and body as she worked on the echidna. At the twig sculpture workshop at the Exchange in Carnamah, many of us were able to help carve and sand small twigs into spines. The claws and part of the spines have been dipped in a natural grass tree resin solution, to create a beautiful golden-brown colour. It will be amazing when completed. It has been wonderful to be involved helping to make the spines for the Echidna.  Some of the ladies who attended this workshop with Mikaela were also taught to do 3D crochet with rope.

Mikaela is a unique artist who crochets with plastic raffia which is made of polypropylene, to create awesome sculptures of animals and birds. She collects branches and twigs, which she cuts to length, then carves and sands to form selected parts of the body like the claws or head, of the animal or bird she is creating. Without using a pattern for the crochet component of the sculptures, she crochets the parts of the body she needs it for, then applies a hardener to help hold the shape of the animal or bird. Mikaela sometimes uses wire to help reinforce the shape and strength of the crocheted part of the sculpture. Whether made to hang on a wall or free standing, they look awesome. Some of the sculptures are entirely made from sculptured wood, while others, have a small-crocheted component, like the head of a fox or a tail of a kangaroo.

Mikaela Castledine with her red tailed black cockatoos. Photo by Stephen Castledine.

Mikaela invests a lot of time, care, and emotion, into her sculptural pieces. She has found this to be “mnemonic” a great way to help her think about ideas or think through problems while she works. Mikaela creates lovely poems which often tell the story of the sculptures she makes. She enjoys creating shape while finding meaning in her relationships. Mikaela loves to sculpt, crochet, write poetry, walk, take photos, sing, and dance and even when she finds time to sit down, she is usually still busy crocheting.

Highlights of being an Artist in Residence for Mikaela have included having lots of space to work in at the Exchange; being able to sing and dance or listen to music while she works; changing her focus and looking at things differently, taking notice of the big and small things; and enjoying the interaction and conversations with people she has met. She has found many people in the country often play a variety of roles in the community with expertise.

At Scribes of North Midlands, our local Writer’s Group, we had the privilege of having Mikaela come, to share her talents as a writer with us at one of our meetings. She kindly donated a copy of her book, Immortal Stories, which has many lovely poems, and photos of her sculptural work to Scribes of North Midlands, which we will enjoy sharing. We enjoyed listening to Mikaela recite several of her poems from her book and learning new writing skills during her Found Poetry Workshop. Terri Young, from Three Springs, came for the first time and said “I thoroughly enjoyed Writer’s Group today. You will see me again for sure.”  It is great Terri is inspired to join our Scribes, after attending Mikaela’s Found Poetry Workshop.

As Facilitator of Scribes of North Midlands. I would like to say on behalf of us all, we really appreciated Mikaela taking the time to come and share her gifts and talents with us.

Marcell Billinghurst
Scribes of North Midlands

Ebb+Flow has evolved from a Touring and Residency Framework driven by Hub organisation, North Midlands Project and adopted by the Regional Arts Network. Find out more about the Regional Arts Network here. 

Marcell Billinghurst is the Facilitator of Carnamah’s local writing group, Scribes of North Midlands. To find out more information about the Scribes and how you can get involved, follow them on Facebook or contact North Midlands Project.

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