I Op Shop Therefore I Am

“When preparing to move Mandurah from New Zealand eight years ago, I assumed that my new home, which I had never been to, would have a full range of second hand shops. Therefore, I sold most of our furniture assuming that I would be able to whip around to Mandurah’s range of beautiful antique shops, cool mid-century boutiques and utilitarian second-hand furniture stores to easily source replacement furniture for my family. I was so wrong! What I discovered instead was that Mandurah’s only second hand shops are basic op shops, but there are loads of them and I have come to love them.”


These textile “stitch sketches” highlight a unique aspect of the Mandurah community: they pay homage to Mandurah’s treasure trove of sixteen amazing op shops. This work is both an affectionate thanksgiving for the rich resource these shops provide for Mandurah’s creative community and an acknowledgement of the vital role they play for the many local people who shop there out of necessity.

These sketches represent the essence, aesthetic and stories of Robb’s op shopping experiences, for example: the enormous difference between the treasures dreamt of finding and the often grim reality of what is on offer; the entertainment, inspiration and enjoyment received from rummaging through the random and often intriguing goods; the signage, conversations, music being played; the repeating patterns both of the same goods seen over and over again and the “same, same but different” feeling that all op-shops have; the time capsule nature of the handcrafted goods found there, especially dying textile crafts and kitschy folk art; the perseverance and hard work of the staff who create order from the chaotic jumble of donations; the imperfect nature of many of the goods; and the poignant stories told by finds, such as unfinished craft projects or exquisite hand embroidered but never used tablecloths that were maybe “saved for best”.

All the stitch sketches are made from materials purchased from Mandurah op shops – from other makers’ craft stashes, now Robb’s to treasure.

Deidre Robb considers herself a maker rather than an artist. She studied clothing and textiles and was also once a librarian. She makes functional, utilitarian objects such as clothing, quilts, accessories and homewares, and is occasionally seduced into creating non-functional objects for exhibitions. Robb loves working with found and imperfect materials and reinterpreting traditional textile and needlework techniques in contemporary ways.