Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Women of Boneca de Atauro are Here!

Firstly an apology to all of you following this story and who have helped with the fundraising for not telling you sooner that at the eleventh hour we did get visas-  and did get flights to Melbourne and that the four Boneca de Atauro women, Virginia Saores, Maturina Araujo, Tachya Gorrette and Jacinta da Costa safely arrived in Melbourne. There were quite some anxious nights and moments in many parts of the world and it was with immense relief that we welcomed them in Melbourne at 6.40 am last Monday after they flew overnight from Darwin.

What a relief it was to see Tachya's smilling face!

Of course they were exhausted from the nervous wait for visas and the overnight flight and the much colder climate in Melbourne. The first day we walked around and visited Saint Patricks Cathedral as these women come from a strong Catholic community- Melbourne is so different than Atauro Island and it is fun seeing it with the eyes of the women. The second day we also walked around, Melbourne is big and we indulged in sushi which they love because it has rice!


Photographing each other on the walk bridge across the Yarra River.

Wednesday we set up their display and prepared everything in readiness for Thursday.




 My daughter Siena Galtry  came by to see the display.

It has been non-stop since! We did manage to get the treadle machine going with some help from some of the stall holders I know and Maturina's mechanical skills. Jacinta has been demonstrating printing with the linocuts she and Aguida and Virginia have made.


All round people have been so welcoming and it has been lovely to touch base with some of you who supported the fundraising- It means so much to these women who come from a tiny island at the bottom of the Timor sea. This event is huge for them and a big step and risk- to hear you say that their stand is your favourite makes them glow with a well deserved pride. The fact we did it all ourselves without the help of any governments or NGO's , but with help from you ,the people who believed in this project, is a tribute to their willingness to work incredibly hard and their tenacity to succeed for the women who work in the co-operative on Atauro Island and dare I say it- the power of the textile community!

I would also personally and on behalf of the women from Boneca de Atauro ,like to thank Sarah Louise Ricketts for her incredible support, for accommodating the women's stay whilst in Melbourne for this event and for believing in this project. I would also like to thank Judy Newman and Expertise Events for the opportunity to exhibit at such a wonderful event as AQC, and for the stand space to allow the women of Boneca de Atauro to exhibit their work and demonstrate their skills.

We thank you dearly for the opportunity you have given these women to grow, to see and to experience and to show what they do so well.

Tomorrow after the  event we will indulge in a few touristy things like Puffing Billy and the Healesville Animal Sanctuary as they want to see koalas and kangaroos and then Wednesday they will go home with many stories and I hope smiles on their faces ( after another overnight flight).


This last image is a detail shot of a piece designed  made by Maturina Araujo  and Eva especially for this event. It measures 2.4 metres by 1.8 metres and has been entirely stitched by treadle machine. The background cloth is Turquoise and the red you see is entirely the result of free motion stitching- awesome or what?

Friday, March 29, 2019

More Chartres

I have had such lovely responses about the photos I have posted from Chartres that I thought I would add some extra delightful Chartrean finds and partly to distract myself from the anxiety of waiting for visas for the women from Boneca de Atauro. Last night I slept very badly, hoping that an answer would have come through this morning- the other side of the world already has it's workday over- but nothing and early next week I fly back to Australia so little internet access, plus there is the small matter of having work to do. Applying for a visa for Australia is not for the feint hearted especially if you come from a third world nation.

I want to share a close up photo of one of the work of Marie Gueriot-Flandrin a weaver, exhibiting at the  ChARTres-Croisement des Arts. Her work has been at the last three exhibitions I have been at , and each time there are new nuances and details in her work. She often incorporates found objects, or glass, interesting fibres and also creates coils of fibre. It's been a pleasure to spend time with her work and really look closely at her additions to  her weaving.


Most visitors to Chartres tend to come for one day only to see the Cathedral, so  it is lovely to be here longer and find the city unfolding itself as I get to know it better. There is a couple of other lovely churches not far from where I am staying one of which is Saint Aignan dating from the late 15th early 16th centuries. The stained glass windows are lovely, but the ceiling is wonderful as is the internal painting, which though in bad repair gives you a sense of the colours that adorned churches from this period.

  The patterning on the ceiling is beautiful and the central star decoration  on the supporting beams of the dome is stunning- wish I could get closer.


A details of some of the motifs in the church- it would make a gorgeous more traditional applique design and the colouring is interesting too- the green of the leaves occurs throughout the church especially in the central aisle.


 Some more street art- a bit weathered like the paint work inside Saint Aignan's.


There are some lovely walks along the river Eure with a number of wonderful old stone bridges over the river at regular intervals. The black box in the river is the projection equipment that is used to illuminate the bridges along the river when the illumination season starts.

I have been spending most days at  the Collegiale Saint Andre  doing a bit of stitching when I don't feel too cold. I have been stitching more circles and this one is one of my prints which I have cut out and embroidered.

 I am not quite sure what I will do with it yet. Below is an image of the Blackwoods Dancing linocut print that i started embroidering quite some time ago and thought I would finish whilst I was in Chartres. I haven't finished the top because I haven't quite got the right coloured thread so I may need to detour via one of the Mercery shops. I liked the moodiness of the fabric in the background of the print. I still have this print available for sale if you are interested.( though I am not sure if I have that colour)


 So whilst i was debating as to whether I would buy more thread ( as I know the colour thread  I want is back in Australia- you can't pack everything when you travel) I started embroidering this linocut print made by Jacinat da Costa whilst i was on Atauro Island- I love the bold shapes of the shells- so may simply keep stitching this piece and get a bit more colour on there and see whether I can finish it before I leave early on Tuesday morning.


 And last but not least I have been staying at a small studio apartment called Studio Adulaire whilst in Chartres- its in a lovely old part of the city but close to everything. I found the little book in the photo below in the apartment. So I share a photo of the apartment how it is now, and how it looked quite some years ago. The large tree has disappeared but otherwise the streetscape is not much changed. And last night I had a very odd experience. A couple were walking along the street, with maps in hand and knocked on the door. They insisted they wanted to stay but I explained that I was already staying there- but still they insisted- I repeated that i was booked until monday morning to stay there and that they should contact the owner-  and then they wanted to come inside and look- I said I think not???

Monday, March 25, 2019

Chartres- Croisement des Arts

Have been in Chartres this last week for the annual Croisement des Arts held in a magnificent 12th century building , Collegiale st Andre, on the river Eure. However because it is on the banks of the Eure it is also bone-chillingly cold even when the sun is shining. There has been plenty of visitors but few sales unfortunately. I sometimes think that  when people visit these events they view it pretty much as visiting a museum- as in you look at the artwork, but in the museum situation it cannot be bought- so you don't even think about it. And it is not just a hobby, it's a job. when people ask me how many hours it takes to make one of my pieces I don't actually give a direct answer any more but say- it is my job, it's like going to the office, but more- I turn up for work most mornings at 8 and don't finish until 6 pm and often on the weekend as well especially when things have to be finished. So if something takes 4 weeks how much would a salary earner expect to earn? Every week has to count, especially as during my illness and recuperation I could work very little.


 The sculpture in the foreground is a bronze by Manuala Papeians from Belgium.

On the upside it has been quite beautiful spring weather with lots of sunshine so I have been trying to walk as much as I can, simply to build up strength in my leg again.

The theme for this years Festival was "La Joie, dans tous ses eclats..." and I made a forest quilt of sorts in response to the theme. One of the requests from the organisers is that you provide a written explanation of your work addressing the theme which is collated into a booklet. It is interesting to see how other artists responded to the theme. Here is what I wrote:

Recently I have had many reasons to engage with thoughts about joy and how it touches so much of my life if I let it. I realised joy is not some big effervescent bountiful moment but many little moments that start with waking and end with sleeping. A whole day of joyful moments, and when you let the joyful moments reign you can encounter happiness even in the darkest hours.
But I think my greatest joy derives from the fact that I am able to walk and enjoy nature. About 4 months ago I found myself unable to walk due to an operation. The result was unexpected, and it’s restitution was largely up to me if all things went well. The nerve in my right leg had somehow stopped communicating with my leg and it was up to me to reawaken the channels of communication, with exercises and visualising what I expected my leg to do. It was an unusual task to have to actively think how I wanted my leg to move when I was so used to simply being able to do it. Each time I slightly moved a muscle where previously it had not moved, and each time the sensation was a little different than the day before meant somehow that I was reawakening the nerve to begin it’s talking with my leg muscles.
I progressed through first steps with a walker , then a crutch and finally walking without a crutch about 8 weeks after the operation. That first walk without a crutch was one of wonder, that i could simply walk without something to aid the walking. As time progressed I found myself to be able to go on long walks again and to walk on beaches, in parks and in forests.

Every time I step out it is with a sense of joy that somehow I can do it- that I can enjoy the marvels of nature by simply ambulating myself to a place of wonder, and to feel part of the magic of existence. I love how the light dances amongst the trees in the forest, how there is dark and hidden places, and how nature finds ways to be breathtakingly beautiful even in the darkest of places.


This piece is called "Light in the Forest" and measures  approximately 105 cm square, has been hand dyed and printed with bracken leaves and sheoak leaves. It is for sale for $1500 AUS plus shipping.
There are many lovely encounters to be had in Chartres., lovely old tertes ( stone stairways/walkways) and old cobbled streets. And of course there is the magnificent Cathedral- one of the Notre Dames. It has been sunny and in the late afternoon light she looks beautiful indeed .( I am never here for the illuminations they do at night on the front of the cathedral which is a pity as i am told they are very beautiful)


Below is the lovely cobbled road I walk every day to get to the exhibition venue .


Below is my favourite window display in Chartres- it's a shop for bookbinding/restoring and always has a lovely display of books and working equipment.


 As always there is street art, part of all modern cities, this is one by EZKStreetArt - there are several pieces by this artist around the city , and he is part of a small Street Art exhibition in a small city gallery around the corner from where I am staying.


My cousin came to visit last week and we went to Picassiette- which is always a delight.  It is just outside the old part of the city and was the house and garden of Raymond Isidore. I guess it is art brut, in that his paintings are naive, and his passion  and obsession turned his entire house and garden into a surface for mosaics which he gathered from initially the graveyard where he worked but acquired more and more whimsy as  he covered more and more surface







 Chartres is famous for its stained glass, and there are studios around the  region of artists making stained glass. There is also the  informative Musee du Vitrail, that allows you to get up close to fragments of very old  stained glass pieces. I love the image below because the braids of the woman in the foreground is beautifully executed, and of course braids in the early medieval period were much admired
I am still fundraising for the women from Boneca, and we are very close to our target even after the amount we were seeking had to be increased- so we are incredibly grateful for your support! However we are still waiting on visas- what a process, and actually very stressful, , 20 pages of documentation to fill in ( and I can tell you it challenged my english, plus one question that was completely unintelligible) plus all the support documentation to accompany- times that by four for four women- it took more than a week to get everything together . Who devises these things??? I understand the need to vet applications but when I go to East Timor- I pay $30US to a small window, say I am staying for 30 days , no further questions, just the address where you are staying and bob's your uncle, oh and if you overtsay your visa there is a hefty fine.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Preparing for Pour l'Amour du Fil

Life has turned busy again in a good way! I have been busy stitching on a quilt for the theme at the exhibiton at ChArtres- Croisement des Arts which starts this Saturday. This festival includes art, music, films and lectures and this year offers many delights. I also get to spend two weeks in Chartres, which is always a delight! So if you intend to come to the event let me know , I will make sure I am there! My piece for the theme, "La Joie, dans tous ses ├ęclats..."  


It has been a joy to be able to go for walks again, and particularly walks in nature!

I have also been busy preparing a list of work  that I will be exhibiting at Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes in April, which will be all my Traveller's Blanket work ( Plaides Nomads) and realised it has become quite a body of work. My last blanket which is not finished yet, and  will be my wellness blanket- the words that I embroidered  every day until my radiotherapy finished. But I thought I would share the work thus far.











And last but not least my  piece inspired by early morning walks on Atauro Island. On my first trip I often found sea urchins on the shore, also known as buli matan in Tetum.I find something joyous in their shape and whilst the piece isn't anatomically correct I wanted to create the wonder that  the humble sea urchin inspires!

We are still fundraising to have four women from Boneca de Atauro come to to AQC in Melbourne in  April. The visa applications cost $140  per applicant- and the amount of paperwork to apply took more than two days to fill in ( and English is my first language), let alone the time taken to gather supporting documentation. Australia really is not an easy place to visit! For example they wanted copies of banking statements- the women do not have bank accounts- and there is just one bank on Atauro Island- which nobody seems to use and there is no ATM. How to explain to the first world that the third world does not have such luxuries as bank accounts.

So we have reached the point of having covered the cost of the Visa applications and  almost three airfares. The women of Boneca de Atauro are incredibly grateful, as am I ,for your incredible support. However we need to raise just that little bit more for the last airfare and insurance- approximately $1500 all together. Any help will be much appreciated. You can donate  using the button below.

Friday, March 08, 2019

International Women's Day: Empowering Women


Today I want to honour and try to help empower these four amazing women from Boneca de Atauro- Jacinta da Costa, Virginia Saores, Tachya Gorreti and Maturina de Ajuaro to come to Australia in April for the Australasian Quilting Convention to show what they do and to share their passion. 

Boneca de Atauro is a women's co-operative on Atauro Island, part of Timor Leste. The co-operative consist of  60 or more women  who create textile dolls, bags, wall hangings and also run a guest house and small restaurant on Atauro Island, and a small gift shop in Dili. Their goal is to employ women from all backgrounds and their dream is to run an education centre to help with language and vocational skills for all who want to learn more. Their hard work , their dedication and their vision is inspirational. Their lives are not easy yet their vision embraces those around them and touches all those who meet them. They are a quiet but determined revolution on this small island to see women reach their potential and to be able to give their best for their families,





I want to thank the women of  Boneca de Atauro for letting me into their lives and  sharing their dream with you. I know there are many worthwhile projects in the world that have just such goals and dreams, and  all of them start out of need. This project really touched my heart  because it is driven by the women themselves: not an NGO or a Charity group- they have received very little funding in the past and everything they have achieved has been through hard work and a willingness to work together and for each other- it is why they formed a co-operative. It is a wonderful example of the power of women!

Below is an image of the Bonecas ( dolls) that started it all. They were commissioned  for schools in East Timor in 2007, and continue to be made.


You can help the women  come to Melbourne with your donation- every little bit is appreciated. I also want to thank all of you who have donated so far- I am amazed from how far and wide donations have come- and just as amazed that I know most of you through textiles- what a world we weave!! We have almost funded two airfares- still a way to go but we are immensely grateful to be at this point! ( things haven't been helped by a price rise in East Timor airfares late last year when an airline company bought out the competition and created a monopoly- it is having a very adverse effect on tourism in Timor Leste)



Thursday, March 07, 2019

In Europe

I constantly keep saying time flies but it really does. My father died just before I left Timor-Leste, he had been ill, but in the end things went very fast and I couldn't get back to Australia in time, as the earliest flight back was the one I was booked on anyway. He requested no funeral which made the being and not being difficult to process. Also I had tried to visit him on the day before I left for Timor-Leste, but could not as there had been a gastro outbreak in the residential care facility where he was so I did not really say goodbye apart from on the phone.

 I was barely home from Timor-Leste and I was on my way on a long haul flight to Europe. Fortunately I left myself a few days to recover from the flight in order to head to Liege in Belgium to teach earlier this week. It's a bit hard getting used to the colder weather, but the classes have been fun filled with enthusiastic students, some as old as 95 years young! Mathilde at the back of the photo worked hard and had fun with the embroidery. There is still some places in Fridays ( 9 March) hand stitching class- Plaid Nomads in which a small sampler will be made using the techniques I use in the Plaids Nomades/Travellers Blankets. If interested just message me and I can send details.




Still working hard on getting the Boneca de Atauro ladies to the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne. I am  so grateful for all the donations that have been coming through  , but we still need more.

 The hoped for funding from  an Australian funding body fell through whilst I was in Timor-Leste- and despite last minute meetings with the funding body there was no way they were going to change their minds- so that left us in a bit of despair. The officer i talked to from the funding body was rather disparaging about the Australasian Quilting Conference which was disappointing , as was their decision.  So if you feel you could help ,it is as much needed as ever. I will place the donation button again . So instead of  finding funding for two airfares we need to find airfares for four women. It is important that four women come because I also want them to  learn from this experience and to be able to see the other things on exhibit at AQC as well as demonstrating what they do so wonderfully. And this event is very busy with many visitors so I think they will be kept incredibly busy!


A new linocut design made by Jacinta da Costa, one of the young ladies coming to Melbourne- whose designs just keep on getting better and better!

 Whilst I was on Atauro Island we also worked on creating some new items for the Boneca de Atauro shop and came up  with  ear rings and necklaces inspired by Buli Matan( sea urchins) which are a common find on the beach at Atauro Island . Jacinta da Costa is modelling the proto types!.




 So any help is much appreciated. And I will respond individually to the wonderful donations we have received so far when I have a bit more time. I am so grateful that some of you have the same vision for the ladies from Boneca de Atauro as I do. They work hard in sometimes difficult conditions  ( no electricity during the day , not much running water) and what they make is amazingly creative and lovely. The Boneca ladies  ( all 60 of them) and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts! and hope they can put on a wonderful display in Melbourne.

I have another request- whilst I was recovering from my operation and radiotherapy I sold my  block of land and shed in Gellibrand which meant all my belongings had to go into storage. Somehow my treadle machine which I had bought for the ladies to use at AQC ended up towards the back of the storage which means it is difficult to get to ( the chaps who did the  loading and unloading misunderstood that I wanted the machine at the front of the storage). Is there anyone in Melbourne that could lend us a working treadle machine to use for the four days of AQC ( 10-14 April)- if so please message me, I would be immensely grateful.