Marle Woman: Emma Shepherd

Industry leaders, new talent, quiet achievers and progressive thinkers, Marle Women is a regular journal series featuring one-to-ones with women of all ages and stages of their lives; women who challenge, excite, teach and inspire us.

In our latest edition, we speak to Victoria-based weaver Emma Shepherd and find out more about her journey, her intricate and detailed process and what she’s most excited about.


Hi Emma, how would you best describe what you do?

I am a weaver, making work at the intersection of art and craft. I am interested in the fabrics that surround us, that we live with and interact with daily, so I make functional wares, as well exploring non functional works which open up different possibilities. Increasingly, I’ve been drawn to the art side of my practice as a way of exploring slower techniques and unconventional materials.

What led you to this career path and how did you get here?

I studied textile design at RMIT (2016 - 2018) and specialised in weaving. I fell in love with it immediately, the repetition, the tactility, the potential. There was never any hesitation in pursuing it, despite only two remaining weaving mills left in Australia. Over time I have managed to develop my weaving into a full and fulfilling practice (although I do have two other jobs!)

I have also travelled overseas to explore how other people and cultures approach weaving, I did a residency in Iceland, interned with weavers in Belgium (Esther Van Schuylenbergh), and the USA (Rachel Snack), as well as exploring the textiles in Japan and India.



Weaving has long been a craft used for storytelling. What approach do you take to your practice and what story does it tell for you?

The history of weaving is vast and so incredibly rich. Throughout time, it has often belonged to women, which is a history I am honoured to continue.
I look at simple principles. I am drawn to uncomplicated weave structures and to geometric forms reminiscent of the Bauhaus Era which also work in harmony with the grid of the warp and weft. I live in a really beautiful part of the world, (Flinders, on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria), the colours I am drawn to are those sympathetic to the bush and farm around me. I use materials like pine needles, horsehair, and bark I collect from the area which directly reference my surroundings.

I also look at historical folk textiles from all around the world. The humbleness and preciousness of simple cloth that clothed families and was utilised in homes is really special. There was a deep appreciation and care of textiles, when one had to grow and process the fibre from plant/animal, spin it, then weave it. Often the process took months and was a lifetime's work.



What is it about weaving that inspires you the most?

I find the hands-on, methodical nature of the process, and being able to work with the lovely yarns I have collected from all over the world, endlessly inspiring. I am always curious to discover what the cloth can be turned into, the possibilities feel like freedom.

What do you have coming up that you’re most excited about?

I am planning an exhibition with Thannie Phan, an incredibly talented ceramicist, for the end of the year, and some coats and lighting are in the works! I am also sending some works off to France for a group exhibition which will be the first time I’ve shown overseas! I also have some lovely collaborations and commissions in the works which I can’t share too much about but I’m excited to see them realised.


What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt to date?

Be patient, persevere, keep making work. Opportunities will come. Have faith in yourself.

Do you have any daily rituals or practices that you swear by?

I live on a farm and the ritual of feeding the horses, chickens and walking my dog is always grounding. The care they require everyday reminds me that life is so much bigger than anything going on in my day.


What do you do for self-care and why do you think it’s important?

I must admit, I’m not great at this! I try to travel a fair bit, so when I’m at home, I work a lot. But I am lucky enough to live near some National Parks with beautiful bush walks so on nice days I often go for a walk. I also prioritise making time for my friends.

How would you describe your personal style and how has this evolved over the years?

A wide leg pant is a staple! Preferably tailored. Over time, I have realised how important tailoring/cuts makes for a flattering shape. I also stick with neutrals and greens, interesting textures and natural fibres, which gives pieces longevity in my wardrobe.

Marle is designed to add effortless ease to a woman’s wardrobe, how does wearing Marle make you feel?

Stylish, elevated, put together.





What is your most treasured object and why?

A second hand book I found at a Japanese airport of the most beautiful photos of master craftspeople at work. An unexpected, precious gem.

Favourite home cooked meal?

Lemon pepper chicken.

Favourite thing to wear?

A soft knit.

How you start your day?


Spring/Summer or Autumn/Winter?

Spring/Summer - I love not putting four layers on in the morning.

Last Book You Read?

Brett Whiteley Studio - more pictures than words!

Current Podcast Recommendations

Maintenance Phase and Mamamia Out Loud are my favourites.

Favourite Spotify Playlist?

Can I admit it’s my own, called Chill - the only one I have made, which I have been adding to for years.



Photographed by Bri Horne

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