Isabel Foster: A lifelong textile love affair

Isabel Foster: A lifelong textile love affair

Delightfully bright, bold and bizarre textiles will be on display as part of The Challenge of Colour, the retrospective exhibition of flamboyant 92 year old artist Isabel Foster. The huge body of her lifetime’s work shows a devotion to thread, colour and the use of ‘reverse garbage’.

A textile artwork by Isabel Foster

Resilience, Independence, Creativity

As a child, born between two world wars, Isabel was raised in a time where thrift and up-cycling was a given and home furnishings were frequently handmade. This upbringing planted the seeds of resilience, independence and creativity, which have become the hall marks of this remarkable textile artist.

The exhibition will feature pieces from Isabel’s whole career from her ‘Tribute to Truganninni’ knotted cloak, rugs, wall hangings, colourful ‘Oddballs’ of all sizes, colourful arm chairs and an extraordinary piece featuring crocheted tendrils of copper wire. Putting together all these works in an exhibition of a life’s work can be tricky; Isabel says ‘All the things I’ve put away for years, they are saying choose me, choose me!

A piece from a retrospective exhibition of Isabel Foster's work

Letting materials loose

Isabel’s creative process has developed over many years, resulting in a style which blends technique, colours and materials with ingenuity and thrift; ‘I use all fibres – I never know what will come from a wrap and because I love my materials, I let them loose in my hands and they take over. I know something exciting will happen. Also what I do know is – there is a magic moment to be waited for when the work is complete – beyond this no more need be said.

Her relationship with colour is the driving force; ‘I’m controlled by colour. Red pounds inside me. It’s agony waiting to create new works… I’m on a journey making me very romantic with my work.’

Mini Oddballs - Isabel Foster

A passion to produce

Isabel has been overcome by a passion to produce which has remained with her until this day, As Isabel said herself during a phone interview, ‘Please excuse me, I have gotten dye all over the phone!……I have always got my hands in some colour or on some fabric.’

When she manages to escape from her artistic urges, she is heavily involved in many guilds, textile events and educational institutions including; acting as secretary for the Handweavers & Spinners Guild of Victoria and presenting stunning works at The Rug Event and Wool and Beyond conferences. She was also a champion Table Tennis player until the age of 90! Isabel has left a resounding impact on the Australian textiles world and she continues to share her knowledge and flair to this day.

Australian fibre artist Isabel Foster

The fascinating works on display show the remarkable honesty of fabrics and highlight a lifetime’s supply of resourceful techniques driven by an overwhelming passion.

‘I am really excited to be hosting this exhibition. It features an array of incredibly interesting shapes, colours, contours and ideas…. She is truly a lady that has been addicted to her work and that comes through in the breadth and variety of works on show.‘ Zachary Exner, Burrinja Cultural Centre.

The exhibition will be on show from the 14th of December until 16th of March (Closed from 23rd December – 2nd January). For details visit


Wednesday 29th, November 2023 / 09:06

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

View all articles by Joe



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9 comments on “Isabel Foster: A lifelong textile love affair”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing woman’s work. I hope to get to her exhibition in Feb…your site keeps getting better and better.

  2. Rachel Biel says:

    So inspiring! I love all of the colors, textures and organic feel. Just wonderful!

  3. Carol says:

    I love that Isabel is 92, and yet her designs look so modern. I am soooo far away, but would love to meet her.

  4. ibtissam rifai says:

    I like the idea of textile and colors. And I think it was a great project for the future to do an objet d’art. So go for do it

  5. Suzie Calrke says:

    I would love to know what is reverse garbage ?

  6. Jaszczurka says:

    Will someone be attenting this exhibition? I’m from Poland, but I’d really want to see it – if anyone would be kind enough to make some photos, I’d be very grateful 🙂

  7. Jaszczurka says:

    I just saw that this post is from 2013…. well, talk a about reflexes 😉

  8. Kathleen Trethewey says:

    I am so pleased to hear of Isabel again. we were friends when I belonged to the Victorian guild in the 60’s and 70’s .Isabel was such an inspiration with her crazy ideas about weaving that turned into colourful all-in-one-piece gowns that often hit the Wool Board cat walks at the Royal Show.
    I have been in Adelaide since “76 and enjoy being an ancient member of Adelaide Hills Spinners and Weavers.
    We have members aged from 15 to 90+. So many are talented artists who inspire each other.
    Greetings to Isabel .

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