Born and raised in Perth, Teelah George majored in textiles at the Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia, graduating in 2007. Over the past decade, she has investigated material culture and the surface properties of embroidery, painting, mark-making and bronze casting through laborious, time-intensive processes.

Sky Piece (2016-17) is an exemplar of George’s skill and material interests. The first in an ongoing series, the large-scale wall work is pieced together using linen canvas offcuts, fit together like an improbable puzzle. George has fastidiously worked the surfaces of the canvas–its plains, ridges and valleys–with variegated shades of blue thread in an attempt to capture the colour and clarity of Western Australian skies. Her intensive hand work is, at once, evocative of a long history of tapestry-making and needlework, yet defies such categorisation as the overall appearance of Sky Piece is painterly. It features cross hatched blanket stitch (long strident stitches that, at times, undercut their original utilitarian purpose), bare canvas peeks through as if left un-primed and tonal shifts emulate brushstrokes as different shades of thread overlap or are worked back into one another.

Each work in the Sky Piece series is titled according to the places in which they were made, such as Sky Piece (Melbourne, Barcelona, Madrid, Leon, Gijon, Palermo, Koh Samui) (2023) or Sky Piece (Cottesloe) (2020); ‘I collect threads wherever I am in the world and it becomes routine—part of walking through a city.’1 While we might read such works as two dimensional images–a form of landscape painting, a skyscape or upward-looking vista–George is most interested in the sky as an abstract, non-representational, poetic force. Her objects compress time, sometimes years, with geography; they capture an atmosphere of place.2

George describes her commitment to documenting the sky as a Sisyphean pursuit – an ancient Greek figure doomed to a life of pushing a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again.3 There is futility in her attempt to capture the immaterial. ‘Layers are not always transformative — sometimes they are just an accumulation of experience, not a movement to an end.’4 Although Sisyphus was cursed to a life of action without meaning, George’s material pursuit ‘reflects a fundamentally human desire to represent, communicate and a will to keep.’5 Through diaristic titles and the intuitive logic of her hand, George is building an archive both deeply personal yet universally shared.

The urge to document underpins George’s longstanding interest in material archives and collections, and how objects might ‘hold and communicate stories and ideas—like portals.’6 In Sky piece, falling (Melbourne, Perth) (2020–21), George has created a bronze scaffold to support a fallen sky, both objects replete with the idiosyncratic impressions and traces of the artists hand. The bronze object doubles as a prop and a frame; like a landscape painting, it offers a window onto the world. Across the Sky Piece series we observe George’s pursuit of the portal, her works acting as material threshold between us and an immaterial place.

Books and Articles

Cai, Sophia. ‘On Time and Timelessness’, Art Guide Australia, 7 August, 2020.

Da Silva, José. Inner Sanctum | 18th Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2024.

Maslen, Kylie. ‘Hang me on a Wall: Invisible illness reflections and the Ramsay Art Prize’, fineprint magazine, issue 12, October 2017.

O’Sullivan, Jane. ‘Teelah George: Alternating Currents’, Art Collector, issue 89, July-September, 2019.

Snell, Ted. ‘Teelah George’, Artist Profile, May 2016.

Walsh, Elli. ‘Sky’s the Limit: Teelah George’, Artist Profile, Issue 53, 2020.

Weston, Gemma. ‘Teelah George’, Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 23 August – 19 November, 2017.


‘Teelah George’, artist website.

‘Teelah George’, Neon Parc Gallery.

‘Teelah George: Sky Piece, 2016-2017’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.


‘Teelah George – Like watching rage’, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 8 December, 2017, Youtube video, 3:24mins.

‘Teelah George – The Boxer is The Lover With The Flower Is The Naked Motif’, Gallery9Sydney, 21 August, 2020, Youtube video, 5:57mins.

  • Look closely at George’s works of art. What do you think it would feel like to touch? Being made from thread, do you think the work of art would be heavy or light, smooth or stiff?
  • Each work in George’s Sky Piece series has its own subtitle which references the place in which they were made; Melbourne, Barcelona, Madrid, Palermo, Koh Samui, Cottesloe. Before looking at the titles of the work, look up where these places are in the world and find out a bit about their climate, landscape and atmosphere. Looking now at each work, identify which location matches the Sky Piece. Discuss how you came to your conclusions.
  • Select one embroidery from the Sky Piece series and write a poem or story to accompany the work. It might include some information about the place it was made or describe what it would like to be in that place – what does is feel or smell like – what can you see and hear?
  • There has been a resurgence in the use of craft techniques by both male and female contemporary artists. Compare Teelah George’s work with another artist from the list below who utilise textiles. What key themes are being explored? What similarities do you notice in aesthetics and themes or ideas?

    Nick Cave
    Sarah Contos
    Grayson Perry
    Julia Robinson
    Rosemarie Trockel
    Sera Waters
    Laura Wills
  • George’s embroideries have been described as painterly and, in a way, capture the atmosphere of a particular place. Compare the Sky Piece series by George to the work of Australian artist John Russell (1858-1930). Despite working in different centuries and using different materials, how are these two artists alike?

John Russell, born Sydney 1858, died Sydney 1930, A clearing in the forest, 1891, Antibes, France, oil on canvas, 61.0 x 55.9 cm; A.M. and A.R. Ragless Bequest Funds 1968, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Tracking temperatures and Mapping Time

  • Create a year-long collaborative work of art with your class. Investigate the range of temperatures in your area, these may go as low as 11 degrees and as high up as 40 degrees. As a class assign a colour to each temperature or range of temperatures. Each day of the year, on a long sheet of calico, paint or stitch the colour that corresponds with the day’s temperature (or range). At the end of the year display the class textile work.
  • Select your favourite music or podcast to listen to. Create a small embroidery piece in response to this audio. Listen and stitch. Once finished – turn over your embroidery. Which side do you prefer? Sometimes there is beauty in the reverse side of a work of art, this is called the verso – it is where we can really see the maker’s mark. Photograph the back of the embroidery and as a class, stitch these photographs together to make one large piece.
  • Through repetition of minimal marks George’s works gives an impression of a place. Look at an outside scene or use a photograph of a place special to you. What are the three most dominant colours or elements? Try squinting to reduce the scene and quickly paint or block in these elements with watercolour paint. Now recreate your watercolour painting into an embroidered work of art. Experiment with different types of stiches such as cross, blanket or long.
  • George has an interest in material archives and collections, and how objects might hold and communicate stories and ideas. Select an object that is special to you that holds or communicates a story – something that reminds you of a particular person, place or moment in time. Create a work of art that pays tribute to or immortalizes your special object.

The Gallery’s Learning programs are supported by the Department for Education.

This education resource has been written by Dr. Belinda Howden with contributions from Kylie Neagle and Dr. Lisa Slade.