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Eddy Carroll interview – TRADE BEADS

Eddy Carroll interviewed by Ali Limb about her upcoming installation TRADE BEADS.

Trade Beads by Eddy Carroll
On the facade of Northcity4
61 Weston Street, Brunswick
February 7th 2015 – April 5th 2015


What inspired the creation of Trade Beads?

When I was an artist in resident in Istanbul, I collected fishing buoys from the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn (a horn shaped estuary that joins the Bosphorus) and made a giant set of worry beads or ‘tesbih’ as they’re called in Turkish.

Before leaving, I threw the worry beads into the sea, releasing my worries. A fishermen nearby, fished the beads out and then also had a go, soon everyone wanted a throw.

The ‘Tesbih’ ended up back on shore in a private collection 😉 I loved collecting and making that piece, it was contemplative, methodical, it was about walking and exploring my new city, I’m always a flaneur.

eddy carroll worry beads sustainable living festival


Could you explain the materials you have chosen to use and why?

When I was invited to create an installation for Northcity4’s façade I decided I’d love to make a giant necklace being a jewelry workshop and all…

I had just moved to Brunswick and was a newcomer to so many things; this project was a way into my new community.

I began to ask people to save their opaque plastic bottles from shampoo, dishwashing, and cleaning products…

People I asked were like, “oh it takes me for ever to use, I won’t be done by the time you need it.” But I had planted a seed.

Before I knew it I had bottles coming from everywhere, for some people it wasn’t an effort, I’m sure some even de-cantered liquids into glass jars… I bought a small saw and began making ‘beads’.

I came across some great hand spun, saffron dyed, coconut twine, pushed aside my worktable and began to assemble a giant necklace.

eddy carroll trade beads sustainable living festival

Is this a scale you usually work on?

I had fun adjusting my work size to a much larger scale and using materials that can withstand being outdoors.

In my ‘usual’ practice I work with reused, collected plastic sequins and beads as well as textiles. I hand embroider, cross-stitch, I hand sew soft sculptural forms.

I’m not a jeweller but my work relates to the body. Soon enough a giant series of  ‘Trade Beads’ had began to take shape.

While threading bottles together for this project I also worked on a highly detailed soft sculpture made out of tulle and individually hand sewn sequins for the Craft Victoria ‘White Goods’ show.  It’s good for my eyes to mix it up a bit.


Limited edition fine art print archival rag paper 55×35 $260 Collaboration between Eddy Carroll artist, and fine art photographer Lesley Turnbull.


What is the main message you are conveying in this work?

My art practice is inspired and driven by an enquiry into sustaining and adapting cultures. Amongst other things I’m interested in how new materials enter into traditional textile practices.

Fluorescent yarns in weaving from S.E Asia , synthetic replica costumes in Eastern Europe, machine sewing in Guatemalan village embroidery, plastic raffia in South pacific weaving, there are endless adaptations.

I’ve been to some incredible places in the world – plastic is completely every where. Whether it’s burning, floating and chocking up waterways or as disposable goods for ‘hygiene’ or amazing recycled plastic. I find it an interesting juxtaposition of pollution and innovative responses, a direct result of an unjust economic order.

I find something absurd about plastic.

But saying that I have to confess that there is something in me that doesn’t mind aesthetically a bit of plastic; for instance when I was in Turkey in a place called Mardin I bought, for around $1, a plastic jug that was the exact the same shape as traditional ceramic jug used since the Byzantium times… Walking through the town I saw those plastic jugs being used in day-to-day life and I was so moved, in the same way I was by seeing the original artifacts in the antiquities museum.

I also collected plastic donkey jewellery worn by the donkeys that worked with the tradesmen, hauling loads of what seemed like cement mix through the streets … These hardworking beautiful animals wearing headdresses and necklaces like they had forever, just made of bright plastic and synthetic ‘woolen’ pom poms.


The sequins I use now, were once made of celluloid, before that sequins derived from small metal coins used to adorn costume, the beads were once glass, it’s all plastic now. Shiny, shimmery, plasticy stuff. It never stops being produced.

Yep, there’s an absurdity to plastic, it’s made to last forever but it’s so disposable.

What other projects are you working on this year?

Running along side Trade Beads and the Sustainable Living Festival I have work in Craft Victoria White Goods. At the end of February I am involved in a group show of the City of Dandenong Heritage Hill 2014 Artists in Residency, which I had the good fortune of being one.

I’ll also be working with Lisa Hilli at the Australian Tapestry Workshop later in the year, which is very exciting; I’ll keep you posted via Instagram 😉 @glimmerofwildpatience. Heh heh.

Thanks for the opportunity to be apart of Northcity4’s program and The Sustainable Living Festival, I’m always totally inspired by what you all do. I’ve had a really fun time working on Trade Beads.

Special thanks to all the people who collected and handed over their bottles, you’re an integral part of this work. We’re all in it together.

Thanks to you Eddy



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