Pamela Kleemann-Passi
Photographer & Visual Artist

Sweet Dreams


Ironically titled Sweet Dreams, this work sprouts human and cat hair, the waste we’re always trying to brush off our quilts and doonas! Hair is ubiquitous; there’s no escaping from it, and it’s often seen as the key to a person or animal’s identity. It is acceptable in its presence or absence and people engage with equal fervour in the process of its growth and removal. As a fetish, it is tactile with a tantalising smell. It can be a source of individuality, beauty, eccentricity, authority, ridicule or class distinction. There’s the hair we can talk about and the hair we can’t. Luscious long cascading locks can feel like a security blanket; pubic fly-aways found between the bed sheets are vile and disgusting…

A good night’s sleep, drifting off into dreamland buried under the comfort of a cosy quilt, is often seen as the key to unlocking a healthy life. Given the materials, this quilt could be teased out as simply frivolous and fanciful. Exquisitely beautiful but ticklish and irritating, it is the antithesis of comfort, rendering it nightmarish. The hairy slippers and bed lamp were added for the Perth showing to complete the ‘bedroom’.

Sweet Dreams was created for the group exhibition Embedded, a contemporary quilt exhibition featuring seven artists,to celebrate and commemorate International Women’s Day in 2019. Embedded 2020 shown in Perth was curated by Sandy Murray and expanded to include nine women. The artists aired their personal interpretations of the domestic quilt. They were unconventional and bold, unpicking and re-stitching stories and meanings to reveal their personal politics about the bed and what embeds them in it. Artists featured: Ruby Armstrong-Porter, Olga Cironis, Nikita Dunovits-Ferrier, Michele Elliot, Tania Ferrier, E Anne Jeppe, Pamela Kleemann-Passi (2019) + Claire Bushby and Molly Werner (2020).

Accompanying Embedded 2020 was an Angry Underwear Workshop run by Tania Ferrier, assisted by Pam Kleemann-Passi for any participants who wished to make a hairy bra under her guidance. The results were ticklish and delightful!

Mixed media – human and synthetic hair, cat hair, tulle, cotton fabric/thread, ambulance blanket, metal framed bed, mattress, synthetic slippers, ceramic/fabric bed lamp

Quilt dimensions: 216 cm x 137 cm

Feline contributors: Willie Mae, Turbo and Zembi

Media Coverage

Embedded 2020 Catalogue
Art Almanac
Subiaco Post
Pelican Magazine

“If there is a single piece that draws together all the individual threads of the gallery, it is Pamela Kleemann-Passi’s Sweet Dreams: a quilt overlaid with hair, flanked on one side by a lamp overlaid with hair, and on the other, by bedroom slippers stuffed with hair. Initially whimsical, the piece seethes with the uncanny, and grows unnervingly nightmarish to look at for long periods. The quilt itself conjures images of Cousin Itt from the Addam’s Family, and the seemingly-endless waves of hair create the illusion that there is movement at the peripheries. Each strand of human and cat hair has been stitched and combed meticulously, mirroring the (sometimes ridiculous) processes we simulate in our own grooming. In its playfulness, Sweet Dreams uncovers the irony of our routines, and the great lengths we go to in maintaining appearances. In her didactic label, Kleemann-Passi writes, “Hair is ubiquitous… there’s the hair we can talk about and the hair we can’t.” So it is with the human psyche: there must exist the messy and the laughable, the memories we speak of proudly, and our darkest hours.” Rushil De Cruz, Pelican Magazine


2020 – Embedded 2020, Flux Gallery, Perth, Western Australia

2019 – Embedded, Noir Darkroom and Gallery, Coburg, Vic Australia

All works/photos copyright The Artist 2019-2020

Visitor Comments

Embedded is an exhibition SO well worth seeing. Small in scale – the work of only seven artists, it’s huge in concept and in its visual impact! Using human hair, old band t-shirts, blankets, tea as a dye medium, and a plethora of others materials, it hits you in the eye with the artists’ ideas and imaginative realisations. The materials themselves reflect the lives of the creators of these quilts as much the finished artworks do. Feminist in statement and womanly in execution, quilting being a traditional feminine craft, EMBEDDED combines the traditional with the radical, decoration with polemic and is an exhibition for the 21st Century.”
Susanne Silver, Director, Magnet Galleries, Melbourne

“Lovely work! Well thought out concepts with great presentation.”
Kate Williams, Melbourne

“The work is beautiful to look at, humorous and very provocative. Stimulates one’s thinking how art can short-cut to important concepts of today.”
Shoshanna Jordan, Photographer/Visual Artist, Melbourne

“Wow! What a show… wonderfully serious (and funny too). Well done curious female artists!”
Carolyn Lewens, Visual Artist, Melbourne

“An interesting range of responses to the conceptual theme. Very timely and well-considered.”
Erica, Melbourne

“Thought-provoking, original and entertaining about a serious and timely subject. Very poignant.”
Jill, Melbourne

“A really creative approach with nurturing (quilts/blankets) to a deeply emotional and individual journey/issue.”
(Anon) , Melbourne

“A wonderful, powerful and thought-provoking show… #Metoo; not just a doona, a new way of seeing.”
Jill Morgan, former CEO, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Melbourne

“The work is tremendous; I enjoyed the depth and stories. Excellent show!”
Adrian Pierce, Melbourne

“Thank you for the opportunity to share in the narrative that is important to the women in this exhibition. Pam’s work with hair touches on so many intersections in the emotional power of hair – along a continuum from disgust through to empowerment… and, through the loss of hair, disempowerment… and shame. A rich story.”
Helmut Lauckenhausen, Torrens University Australia, Melbourne

“Fab premise! A strong curatorial framework and line-up of women who shout loudly through their vulnerability and honesty. The stories/experiences shared through textiles are universally relevant. I’m energised! Thank you. Keep shouting.”
Kate Mullen (former Curator, Moana Gallery), Melbourne

“What I love about this exhibition is that it’s so tactile; the fur of cat, the cotton of worn T-shirts, the soft and slippery silks, all feelings that can’t really be captured well in our digital age where metal and glass dominate our senses. Each of the seven women has found ways of stitching together a story for us. Some are whimsical, some are warm, some are challenging, some are fraught… but whether it is Emma-Ruby’s voluptuous folds, Olga’s bold statement about immigrant homes, Nikita’s music T-shirts, Michele’s reflection on homelessness, Tania’s humorous bite back at sexism, the loose ends of Pam’s eminently pattable bed or Anne’s mixture of words and ideas… each of these women has allowed us to think about our relationship with our bodies, our bedrooms and our histories.”
Ann Tonks, Arts and Cultural Management Consultant, Melbourne (except from her opening speech)