The transformation of repurposed materials, alongside extensive research and attention to detail, is the common thread through Björnsson’s work. Raised in a creative family, Svea Björnsson learned the art of and love for textiles, painting, music and recycling from her mother and father. Born in Dharug Country, in Granville NSW, and moving to Awabakal country in the Watagan Mountains for high school, Björnsson loved nature, art, textiles, violin, and mathematics.
Graduating in 1994 from Newcastle University with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Björnsson developed her passion for interactive multi-dimensional work. She moved to Bundjalung country in 1997 in the Byron Bay hinterland to raise her children, build her house and gardens, evolve her arts practice, and work with community. Active in textiles and visual arts Björnsson attended ten TAFTA forums and was dedicated to life drawing classes. In 2006, she completed teacher training with Woodwork for Women and in Vedic maths. Björnsson created several wearable arts pieces awarded first place using recycled materials including used teabags, twist-tops and chocolate wrappers. In 2010, Orange Regional Gallery invited Björnsson to showcase her first solo exhibition ‘Svea’s Cup of Tea’. At Warwick Gallery QLD, she exhibited and taught workshops in 2010 and 2014, plus an Artist in Residency. Twelve group exhibitions include Norway’s 2012 ‘World Transformation’.
She completed a Certificate IV in Visual Arts at Lismore TAFE in 2012 and received the student of the year award of excellence in 2013 for Costume for Performance at Wollongbar TAFE. She designed and created all the costume and stage sets for Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2014 Mullumbimby. In 2016, Björnsson graduated from Lismore Southern Cross University Bachelor of Visual Arts, majoring in sculpture. Lismore Regional Gallery awarded her the solo 2016 exhibition ‘AlphAmaze’, exploring the origins of the alphabet in an interactive installation of woven electrical wire and bicycle rims.
Björnsson is now studying a Master of Teaching through SCU and CSU, majoring in mathematics and visual arts for secondary school, hoping to share her passion and experience to inspire students and community. Her masters research project is connecting mathematics and visual arts. As an artist, Björnsson is continually learning new skills, exploring materials, and researching to expand her knowledge and arts practice.
A Tale of 10 Busby Street is an interactive sculptural piece. It is a 1:25 scale model of a worker’s cottage, typical of Busby Street and colonial Australia. The model is designed as a suitcase with a piano-hinged roof. It encloses an inked, pastel and sewing machine-stitched illustrated narrative of Australian history on an 8m length 90-year-old Mastertouch pianola roll. The scroll is manually turned with two car window winders, gradually revealing the tale of 10 Busby Street, the origins of the home of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley in Bathurst NSW.
This work explores the importance of place and belonging, of land, culture, history, humanity and identity. The worker’s cottage model, made with precision and scaling, carpentry and engineering, contrasts the free-style ink and stitched drawings on the pianola roll like an ancient scroll. The story highlights the contrast of the 40,000 plus years of the Australian Aboriginals custodianship of country, with the British displacement of these original inhabitants. Settled as a penal colony with the occupation and the quest for land, material wealth and possession. In the crossing of the Blue Mountains, the tale includes my own place and belonging as a descendant from the first fleet convicts.
I learned to crotchet for this project, and made the Victorian lace ironwork on the workers cottage veranda based on the Chifley cottage. Materials are all recycled, including scraps of exterior 6mm and 12mm plywood, corrugated cardboard, piano hinge, old handle, umbrella strut, house paint, car window winders, and a 90-year old pianola roll (Beautiful Dreamer by Stephen Forster played by Lettie Keyes).
A Tale of 10 Busby Street
36cm x 36cm x 26cm
Plywood, cardboard, car window winders, crotchet, pianola roll, ink, pastel, and stitch.
1. Model front elevation
2. Model front/side elevation
3. Title view of scroll, A Tale of 10 Busby Street with Acknowledgement and maps
4. Wiradjuri Nation
5. Eora, Dharug and Gandangara People
7. Sydney settlement
8. Blue Mountains crossing, my ancestral tree
9. Bathurst settlement
10. Bathurst wars
11. Gold rush 1851
12. Locomotives and workers cottages
13. 10 Busby Street house plans
14. History of 10 Busby