Thursday, July 30, 2015

India and the Stitching Project

This is my year of self directed residencies and it  has been really good for getting a perspective on things and changing the way I was thinking about some things. It is good to get away from the usual ( though my usual has been a bit all over the place these last two years) and rethink, refocus and have a good look at what is and what can be  and just  discard what is detritus.

So earlier this year I joined the Creative Camp organised by Creative Arts Safaris ( aka Fiona Wright) near Pushkar in India. I loved the encounters and I also explored a little  how I might represent banksias with the aid of some Sujuni embroidery. I have always loved indigo but using my own wood stamp and mud printing before dyeing with indigo was like going to carnivale! I also had to buy an urgent and expensive visa as I had misread the instructions for getting an on-line visa which isn't so on-line. However it opened the door for returning to India, which I decided to do as I could not find any house sitting and it's too cold in Gellibrand to go and live in my shed ( plus it needs a few things done to it- would love some help come late October to get some things sorted out there so I can live there)

So back in India I am on a self directed residency and already Fiona and I ( we are both earlier risers) have generated a ton of ideas and also are hatching a collaboration that will  hopefully result in some of our ideas reaching fruition and which we have called "#Where Things Change". We both have a passion for stitch, cloth, indigo , woodblock and getting colour onto fabric, but our approaches are a little different, determined both by the lives around us and the means by which we sustain ourselves.We will both be blogging about it as time goes on , on a regular basis and we have a few other surprises in store.

I spent a few days in Delhi on the way here, and on the first day after I arrived we went to Bagru to see Mr Satnaryan, who had cut some woodblock designs I had sent Fiona earlier. I was really delighted with the results ( unfortunately it has been too humid to do any real printing apart from trying out the stamps as it is the monsoon season)

Mr Satnaryan with some of my wood blocks and some of the men working in his workshop. After the woodblcoks have been carved Fiona soaks them in oil for three days so that it toughens up the wood. We then went to the indigo dyer Mr Rambabuji who  works in another part of Bagru. Unfortunately we could not look at any mud printing as again the conditions were too humid but just getting a piece of muslin indigo dyed was exciting enough for day 1!  These were all things I encountered on the Creative Camp earlier this year so it was lovely to renew acquaintances and have more of a look.

The colour  indigo is just so wonderful, so rustic but also so rich. The town of Bagru is one of the areas where indigo dyeing is practised and there has been a bit of a revival as the world starts to engage again with natural dyes and natural handlooms. The hand loom fabrics like Khadi and dhoti are not  only  brilliant to stitch with ( and I will talk about that more in my next blog post) but the colour is rich and dense- just wonderful. If anyone wants me to dye them some  handloomed loosely shiboriedor folded  cloth email me and we can discuss as  we will be going back to Bagru before I leave in mid August.

So after the first days excitement I have been trying to fit into the busy and hectic schedule at the Stitching Project workshop whilst trying to get a bit of my own stitching done and trying to record our early morning sparks of ideas and collaborations.Fiona describes India as gentle anarchy, and I find this description to be pretty much like it is- it is also infectious and I love seeing things reduced down to  elements- which is what has to happen for the workshop to function.

I promise to be a little more diligent in my blogging- there are so many things to tell you about, not only from encounters but also things happening in my own work. I am so happy I made the decision to return on many levels! And last a few impressions- a little backyard shrine to one of the many gods worshipped in Hindu religion- I don't know how they keep a track of them all, but gentle anarchy describes the gods as well, and modes of transport. Now if I was the wife I would be hanging on for dear life, but this lady sits casually and lightly as her husband negotiates pot holes and road undulations caused by the recent rains.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Linocutting and Banksias

Just a quick post as I have been quiet for the last while because my mother has been ill and I have been back and forth trying to gather all my things. Then I am going to India at the end of next week to do some more indigo exploration and block printing - I am having some wood blocks being made.

I  am holding a linocutting workshop at the studio at Appleton Street, Richmond on Saturday 11 July. You will learn to design and make a linocut and lino will be provided. Cost of the course is $70 and byo lunch and fabrics on which to print. Printing ink will also be provided. Please email me if you are interested in joining the workshop .Below is the latest linocut I have made finally printed- and I must say I am just a little bit pleased- really looking forward to stitching this. If you would like a panel they can be purchased for $15 plus postage by emailing me. The linocut measures about  12 inches  x 10 inches

Other than that I have been doing more stitching on the banksia  in the sujuni style which consists of  chain stitch, back stitch and running stitch- each one is slightly different.Channeling banksias!

I love how quirky each babbling mouth is and will continue stitching this, though there is also much else to do!

Also if anyone is interested in sharing my studio it would be wonderful. I am away a lot of the time in any case and the  the studio is quite spacious so we could set up two distinct areas with a print table that can be dismounted. It would save me having to move everything. Email me if you are interested and I can give you details etc.

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's Winter Here Brrrr

The experience of beautiful warm weather in Europe landed with a thud as of course it is the middle of winter southern Australia, and I must admit I am more of a summer person than a winter person at the best of times. I stayed with my mother initially but she has no internet, I do have one  of those sticks but as I knew a week after arriving I would be housesitting with good wifi access there was no point wasting the money. I do have a mobile of course but my texting skills leave something to be desired....I had hoped to have organised more house sitting, but  I have found out that many house owners are overwhelmed with applications when they post  a house available on the website to which I have paid to belong. So of course you do not get street cred if you do not have plenty of  references. I have also found it disconcerting that there is no place to put the fact that I have a working with children's check which is much more thorough than a police check ( and I don't feel like paying for two lots of checks, given it already costs a goodly sum to join the website )

( don't read if not so inclined ...I will  move to my shed but not  until the weather warms up in late October ( when I get back from Europe)- it's too cold and damp there at present and I have not stockpiled any wood  for the  heater either.The suggestion of  BNB was a good one but not one I can do as essentially due to the legislative changes no one can live on the block despite the fact that it is zoned residential. Basically the new legislation ( from late 2011) that is causing me the headache has stated that there will be no building/waste water renovations on blocks less than 40 hectares in water catchment areas, until such time as the Council brings up a Waste Water Management plan- and that is what I am (and many others) are waiting on- there is still no plan in sight and if and when it does come, it has to be put up for public input- meanwhile no one is applying for permits, or selling vacant land and of course blocks with houses on have seen increases in price- which means that my rates have gone up despite the fact that nothing can be done on my land- i think its grossly unfair that vacant land is rated on the same  basis as occupied land- I think it's grossly unfair that a council can put my life on hold for over three years and now and it looks as if it will be longer and the tone of letters I am getting from the council are bordering on obnoxious.I feel as if my land has been compulsorily acquired for "clean " water without the benefits of compulsory acquisition and with a rate increase to boot! Council have it  in their power to grant a moratorium until such time as their plan comes into place, which they refuse to exercise because wait for it my land is is presumed I have another property to live on despite the fact that I have told them this was my share of the property settlement when I divorced)

So meanwhile I am treading water  and so have decided to go to India for a month after the middle of July and see my friend Fiona Wright from Creative Arts Safaris- we want to do some further searching on the indigo and wood block  printing fronts.

Yesterday I went to see the John Wollesley exhibition at the NGV at Fed Square in Melbourne and as I overheard someone in the exhibition say "They have to drag people off the street to see this!" I wish I could share images but in all reality the whole exhibition has to be seen. Have a look at this video to get some idea of how John Wollesley works- the exhibition was simply breath taking- glorious actually and the NGV volunteer guide Elizabeth Douglas, offered insights on so many levels.  As this exhibition is FREE I think I shall be making a weekly pilgrimage. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at my aforementioned situation....long have I  played with banksia and banksia images- these knobbly weird seed pods have captured my imagination since childhood... there are some on my block in Gellibrand, perhaps they can be my totem- plus the Gellibrand river is home to  species of life that is forever shrinking... maybe  whatever the universe has in mind for me one is  mapping that area in my own way and for that I need to live closer to the earth and be in my shed- the notion certainly put a spring into my step and has had my imagination racing all night and all morning and I can see something positive in it all and something that at the same time  allows me to express my  concerns for the environment and clean water.... and be creative as well. So thank you John Wollesley for your marvellous insight into marginalised land, its minutae, its diversity, it's wonder, its miraculousness ,it's harshness, it's rhythm, its ancientness , it's vitality and it's endurance, it's ever increasing marginalisation at the hand of our greediness for land , but ultimately your hope as well..... in fact I might head back there Sunday- anyone want to join me?

Did you know some dutch citizens have taken their government to court and won in the first ever climate change liability suit? The Dutch government has been ordered to cut its carbon emissions !!! one for the people!

And last but not least. I still have dragon, rabbit, King and some Queen panels available for the Medieval Project ( there is more information on the tab  on the tool bar of the blog). They can be purchased from me by emailing me . There is also some olive tree panels ( they are $15 plus postage- approx $2) and some  rabbit panels ( bottom left and $10 plus postage).

And of course my book Musing in Textile:France is available from me- again email me as prices vary depending on destination. However if you order and pay before 30 June 2015 ( panels or books is does not matter which) a hand print on hand dyed fabric will also be yours at no extra cost.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Goodbye Europe Until Next Time

Well I am at the airport waiting for my plane and have some time to  kill. It's been a great trip with a few mishaps and I am actually dreading going home. I have some housesitting next  week for two adorable cavalier spaniels and I will pack up my studio ,simply because it's a bit of a luxury.

Some wonderful things happened... I have been invited to exhibit at:
Creatif ' art Aix en Provence in September. 
I hope to be at Ste Marie aux Mines not as an exhibitor but in another role( more information later)
I am also guest exhibitor at  Salon Tendances Créatives TOULOUSE in October
I will be exhibiting at the offices of Ethiea Gestion  next door to the Hausmann Printemps ( in the centre of Paris) but most exciting of all this group who are in partnership with organisations in Chartres and organise a mixed artist exhibition in Chartres have invited me to exhibit in March 2016-it's been a dream to have my Chartres pieces exhibited in Chartres!

Some less wonderful things...
I managed to kill my camera- my friend , my companion and well go every where piece of equipment. Thank you Bill Volckening for your kindness and trust in lending me your camera- it will come back!
My newish ( still under warranty) laptop has developed a very sad list on  one side of its screen hinges....and I did nothing to it
My Kafkaesque experiences with my block of land in Gellibrand continue, to such an extent that I go between despair and what the heck's at present a worthless asset , which I cannot sell, on which I cannot live and for which I have to pay premium rates- despite the fact that at present it's worthless. So I think my solution will be to call a bit of a work party, come help me fix up my shed please? and fix my shed so that I can live in it when I am in Oz- it's mostly lined already , has a wood heater- just need  to do something about a water tank,bathing/toilet facility( which can be solved in a camping kind of way) and power and something kitcheny.I may as well continue to Kafkaesque experience and see what happens if I do live there can only get better right? it also frees me up to be more in Europe and as you will see from the exhibition list this is obviously where I need to be for my work...
I will have to give up my studio in's a luxury to some extent and too far from Gellibrand in any case.

But most of all I was inspired...
India was 10 times maybe 100 times what I thought it would be  and no small thanks to my friend Fiona Wright and Creative Arts Safaris
Florence was wonderful- the unit I rented was in a suburban area, so I had to do things like a local, but also got to see some wonderful things- I think the one image that stays with me all the time is this one form the Duomo in Siena in marble....

Saturday, June 06, 2015

De Fil en Fil

If the previous three weeks was filled with art and duomos in Florence and its surrounding region then this last week has been filled with flowers and quilts.

I spent Thursday installing my work and some of the medieval project late arrivals in the little church dedicated to St Anne at Barcellone.It is one of the exhibition sites for the De Fil en Fil exhibitions organised out of Chabeuil. It is a lovely little stone church looking out over golden wheat fields and walnut trees, shaded by big plane trees....the bell rings every and each hour as well as the half hour in case you forget what the time is.  I do hope we get a few more visitors though!

Medieval project pieces from left to right , top to bottom, Neroli Henderson, Lyn Weeks,Lyn Weeks, Sherry Boram, Zak Watts, Jane Rollason, Judth Oke and Lyn Weeks ( and yes I took the photo before I put on the name labels). They will join the other pieces in Australia when I return at the end of next week.

Columbina is enticing customers for my book Musing in Textile:France ( which can be ordered by emailing me if you are not visiting the little church at Barcellone)

I visited some friends near Mantova at the end of my Italian stay in particular to see the little Castello Castiglione- but as luck would have it the keeper of the key was not prepared to use its opening powers on the only night I had so alas I could only photograph it from the outside. The tower of the castello was designed by Julio Romano for the Castiglione family.

The gardens  on northern Italy were filled with flowers of all kinds and I could not resist pomegranates ...... and Columbina was rather taken with water lillies....

I also visited another friend in Seyselles, and could not resist a visit to Marie and Lydie Coste of le Train Rouge, marionetteers I have visited before. They had a new Marionatte, Cassanova, and he was a bit taken by Columbina, but she would not have any of it as Pierrot had won her heart! She only posed for the photo in the arms of Cassanova because she had to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 3 Florence Dreaming and a Linocut

That week certainly flew by like lightening. I had a friend, Margo Bimler come and stay for a week or so at the little apartment I have rented, and as she had never been to Florence we also visited some of the bigger museums like the Uffizi ( my goodness what treasure , too much to take in really) and the Bargello Museum. One of the exhibits I had earmarked as must see for me ,the Museum of Santa Maria de Fiore is shut for restoration so alas I could not see the ecclesiastical embroideries I had so hoped to see- designed by Antonio Pollaiolo and dating from the early renaissance. I did write to the Museum but it is shut until the end of October and they are taking the opportunity to restore the embroideries at the same time.

Colombina is coming along- I have nearly finished all the stitching just as I am about to leave and she did hang out with some  iconic Florentine paintings and sculptures.

The beautiful portrait by Bronzino of Eleanora de Toledo and her infant son- there was a heater shelf just underneath the painting and no one paid Colombina any regard. The image below was of a statue at the Bargello Musuem,  I have no idea who the sculptor was as I did not record the information as it was too high up to see, but she did have a tambourine, and Colombina being of a theatrical bent  decided to make her acquaintance.

We also visited the charming city of Siena ( my middle daughter is named after this lovely city) and we spent a good while at the Pinocoteca which has an incredible number of  Madonnas form the Siena school  dating from the late 14 th century onwards. Some of these are gorgeous, but the gold leaf is so intense and reflective it was hard to get good photos especially with the glaring lighting reflecting on the gold leaf. The Duomo is spectacular with  white green and pink marble on the outside and banded white and black marble inside. The floor  which is inlaid marble is simply stunning, it was also packed with visitors whilst the Pinocoteca had but few visitors, making the visit most enjoyable.

The detail  on the Incoronazione della Madonna by Bartolo di Fredi (1353-1410) is just gorgeous and a lot of the detail work on the gold leaf was created with a punch of sorts. You can see tha punches used better on the following image which is a detail of a painting by Niccolo di Segna (1331-1345) entitled I Santi Benedetto e Michele Arcangelo

ThisMadonna by Matteo di Giovanni (1433-1495) had a sweet face and the baby was sort of passable as a baby- but I particularly liked the angels- they were quite beautiful.

The Santa Maria chapel dome and details of the marble floor ( the taking of Jerusalem) and Siena sky-line.

And I am trying to produce a little work, though after walking around all day and Florence certainly is a walking city, sometimes the energy is a bit lacking! We did revisit the Palazzo Davanzati because I love the frescoes in this museum and I loved the trees in the frescoes- it has inspired me to make a design for a linocut. course the linocut is much more graphic than the fresco, but I liked the shape of the tree.

Also it is possible to order  my Musing in Textile: France book directly from me, Just email me and I shall send you details of  cost and postage. In Australia they will be posted by my daughter and in Europe ( for the US/Europe) they will be posted  from Europe where the postage is much cheaper than Australia.I have had such lovely responses from people regarding the book and also the instructional dvd. I can also be paid via Paypal and again email me for details.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 2 Florence Dreaming

The reason for being in Florence is to research for my next book, and to find some inspirational subject matter, and in that regard this week proved to be a bit of a gem.I caught up with friends who I will go and see later in the month. I have been working on a counter ego doll- Colombina- I want her to track around with me and see the sights. Colombina is a character from the Commedie Dell'arte, which developed in the sixteenth century and she was a servant though often the only one with any sense or intelligence on the stage and the mistress of Harlequin. All the characters in Commedie Dell'arte wear masks and are the basis of the Venetian carnivale masks but in the beginning it appears Colombina did not wear a mask though she did wear a patched dress as a servant girl would and sometimes also the diamond shaped patches of the harlequin costume. Anyway I will look more into her history but at the moment I am having fun with her in weird and wonderful places ( and she is not quite finished yet- that old enemy time and more time)

Yesterday she went to the Artigianato e Palazzo a fair for artisans and their crafts.The  booths were spread throughout the garden, which is quite lovely with formal elements.Lots of potted lemon trees and orange trees, peonie roses and artichokes.

My favourite booth however was the Fabriano booth. My daughter and I have used Fabriano paper in the past and indeed all the cards we made for the Pozible campaign were printed on Fabriano card paper. Sandro Tiberi was demonstrating how to make hand made paper and how to  emboss the paper with designs.It was not very busy as I got there quite early so I asked Sandro some questions amongst which were, whether he would be prepared to try one of my linocuts for embossing. He said yes, so I immediately caught the bus back to the apartment, picked up some linocuts, and took the bus back to the Artigianato. Sandro not only used one of my linocuts but all the four I had brought with me- and I was completely blown away by the results ( he also made a set for himself)- they are so different to  printing with ink- so textural and the feel on the hand made paper is just beautiful- so thank you Sandro for letting my imagination take a leap ! Sandro is based in Fabriano and  runs a Accademie where  the art of paper making can be learnt- you can access it through his website.

  The olive tree linocut came out so gorgeous, I couldn't believe it! The rabbit linocut also came out to great effect- the areas so well defined. The linocut of the vase of poppies ended up coloured because the last time it was used in a transfer printing workshop it had not been washed properly so the transfer paint transferred and as the paper was dried with a heat press the colour turned to black.I quite like the effect.

Last Friday evening I went to the Eataly knitting cafe which was held in the  instruction rooms above Eataly near the Duomo. It was lovely to meet some local people and to have some of their insights on what I should see .It was suggested I go to the Palazzo Davanzati- and I did- and what a morning it turned out to be! I went early ( i find it hard to deal with big crowds of people so  try and get places early so there are less people around) and was  delighted by the Palazzo and it's frescoes and furnishings showcasing a 16th century merchant house.It is also the home of one of the few copies of the the Coperta Guicciardini from the 14th century the original of which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The copy was made and donated to the Palazzo by Silvana Vannini Morgantini from drawings by Maria Silvestri Sardini- and it's gorgeous- just a pity it is lying on a bed though of course it suits the ambience it is supposed to  reflect. I have long wanted to see the original , sought permission on 3 occasions from the V&A but was never rewarded with even an answer except once and then could not because you had to  book to see it so long in advance, so was completely delighted to be able to see the copy of it. Then to top of a wonderful morning there was a small concert held in the court of the Palazzo- 3 different short pieces from the seventeenth century beautifully sung- just magical! And all this cost just 2 Euros!

And just some shots of the frescoes around the Palazzo. The Palazzo contains the fresco cycle know as the Chatelaine de Vergy- depicting the story of an adulterous relationship and it's tragic outcome.

And because it is taking me forever to write this blog post I wanted to leave you with and image of these lads in their headgear!