Artist Info – Stewart Merrett
Born in Victoria in 1943 Stewart Merrett an illustrator by profession, developed an interest in textiles when working in London in the 1970s. Enthralled by the diversity of fibres, colours and textures of materials he soon decided to make the textile arts his life’s work. After opening a studio in Melbourne Australia to cater for private commissions, his artistic progression was nothing less than spectacular. His first one man exhibition was a sell-out and commissions from internationally ranked architects for major public projects flowed in. Soon he was receiving requests for his work from all around the world. Following his second sell-out exhibition, he was awarded the Coats Paton Craft Award. Other awards followed as did more architectural commissions, lecture tours and textile workshops. His first book Appliqué Art (1993) is a major work which reviews sixteen years of prodigious creative output.
Stewart’s alphabet cross stitch as cushionsIn his second book Appliqué Alphabet (1994) Stewart develops a single theme reworking it constantly in different colourways that will amaze and delight. Images of illuminated letters formed the source of his sold out publication Cross Stitch Fruit & Flower Alphabet (1997) and celebrated his move into the more private realm of cross stitch and tapestry design.
A textile artist of international repute Stewart Merrett lived and worked from his studio and home in the small rural Central Victorian Australian township of Clunes until his death in 2020.
Once a thriving gold mining town Clunes today has a population of little more than 800. Its main street is a favorite location for film makers as it is one of the last and most intact 19th century town streetscapes in Australia comprising numerous sandstone, bluestone and brick buildings. Stewart loved Clunes and never tired of viewing it firsthand – while outsiders only saw it as a location for many Australian movies. Its lovely main street of bluestone and sandstone buildings make it one of the last 19th century images of a bygone Victoria. He set up house on the outskirts of the town where his companions were the birds and the wallabies. He loved to garden, and his orchard provided apples, plums, apricots and pears for his table. It was a toss-up whether he was fonder of his rose garden or the prolific rhubarb that had found its perfect microclimate. He was exceedingly generous and enjoyed entertaining his friends with energetic flair at lavish dinners or Sunday brunches. Even his cooking style was avant-garde, and the menus were thrown together with great panache. Today, Stewart Merrett’s works are displayed in a surprising number of public and corporate spaces around the world and held in many private art collections. His message was that the simple art of appliqué is something anybody can do. He once said: “Just sit at your sewing machine and have a go”. We might, but it is doubtful the results would be anything like his masterful artworks. Merrett struggled with Parkinson’s Disease for some years and finally succumbed in 2020 to its complications. He is survived by his sister, Ann. He requested no funeral or service be held.