Monday, April 25, 2016

Internationale Arte Textile Biennale Beaujolais

Is time flying faster or have I simply been ridiculously busy? I know that since my last blog post I have been stitching like crazy trying to get new work finished  for Quilts en Beaujolais (Internationale Arte Textile Biennale Beaujolais) and printing fabrics and trying to make some explanatory notes for a french audience about banksias as most people have not encountered banksias. I then thought I had killed my friends' sewing machine, but fortunately it has lived to tell another tale and sew another quilt.

Then I met my middle daughter in Milan for a few days before returning to le Triadou. However by this time a little worm had got into my head. Some years ago I did a week long printmaking course in Florence- they also run a year long program or a 6 month program, and the thought struck me that this might be the ideal course for my daughter to do, as she loved her travel in Italy and loved Florence and makes wonderful drawings. The course is also well respected. So on a whim we are leaving later today for Florence so we can visit the print making studio and explore possibilities, after all it is not possible to just  get there and see when you are in Australia.It meant changing plans a bit but I am a bit excited about visiting Florence again( I was there around this time last year and loved it)

So I wanted to quickly update what I have been making and some of  my encounters! I also ran out of my favourite threads but Aurifil came to rescue and sent me some threads thank goodness! Thank you Alex Veronelli!

The banksia piece above was hand printed and machine stitched and appliqued.

The Babbling banksia mouths beside the previous banksia piece- all hand dyed fabrics and machine stitched

The small hand stitched piece seems a little dwarfed by all the other babbling banksias, but I wanted to show variation on one subject matter.

More olive tree variations- these pieces were touched so many times that Ineke van Unen  my QenB neighbour kindly lent me some of her red hand don't touch signs- but it still did not stop the pawing.
And my hand stitched babbling banksias hanging side by side. Had a terrific four  days at Quilts en Beaujolais, catching up with old friends and making new ones and as always the  cameraderie amongst artist was lovely! Then it was up early on Sunday morning to catch the train to Milan to meet my daughter ( I had thought trains would run earlyish on Sunday morning from Villefranche Sur Saonne to Lyon- but unfortunately no so had to take a very expensive cab ride to get my TGV to Milan on time) We stayed in a hotel  towards  the  peripherique that runs around the old part of Milan and quickly learnt to negotiate the public transport. We were also blessed to be, 20 metres from a wonderful cafe Cinema Teatro Trieste which we treated like home for 3 days. it has great food , live music and wifi and was open early in the morning until late at night- the staff were really welcoming and friendly- we loved it.

Of course we visited the Duomo- with all its lacey decorations and the Duomo museum was well worth a visit. Below is a detail of a tapestry and  a stained glass angel.

We took the train to Stresa for a day to visit Lago Maggiore and Isola Bella- and  caught a water bus for 5 euros each which took  us around all three Borromean Islands and a glorious sunny day. The view below is looking towards Isola Bella.
  And then to my great delight there was a William Kentridge exhibition showing at Galleria La Rumma. Loved the scale and multifaceted aspect of the exhibition. You walked into a darkened space- set up with screens around the space to create a panorama which was animated by  film of a drawn landscape and printed  images as well as actual performing artists enacting the unfolding scenario- with music especially written to accompany the animation-absolutely fabulous! Then on the other two floors of the Gallery there were works used in the film and  several tapestries and printed works and sculptures used for the film. And from a fan I have turned into a devotee!

And to end on an Italian note- there is a small roman bridge near le Triadou- you can still walk across it 2000 years after it was built- my goodness they built things to last!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Preparing for Quilts en Beaujoalis

One of the things about being invited to exhibit at  big quilt events is that you have to have work that has not been seen before. I have created few pieces by hand last year and also some small bits and pieces by machine , but really last year was a year where I did not actually produce much work. I think getting the book done and then getting it all sent out took a lot of energy. I also seem to have done a lot of printing and then of course the medieval Project has been touring as well. So all  in all I produced less work  of the quilted variety than I normally do.

So since being back from Chartres I have had the nose to the grindstone. My work which I will show at Quilts en Beaujolais will be inspired by nature- a bit of a return to a theme I have explored in the past but haven't really done much about in the past few years except for Coqueclicots. Quilts en Beaujolais will be on at Villefranche sur Saone from 13- 16 April. I love this event- there is always great quilts with lots of interesting  work by different international artists and there is also great cameraderie amongst the artists which is always fun!

I made a pomegranate Tifaifai (the positive cut out) for Chartres for the theme Confiance. I have now finished the negative cut out. Both pieces are heavily quilted on a domestic sewing machine with Aurifil 28 weight Mako threads ( they are cotton and I  love how they sit on the surface of the cloth)
I know I have posted the image of the positive tifafai before- but it's nice to see the difference between the positive cutout and the negative cut out. I am still undecided whether to also paint in some seeds on the  pomegranates on the negative.

I am always surprised how different they look even though the reddish fabric is exactly the same and the dark fabric only varies  a few shades from the  positive to the negative.

And then there have been banksia explorations ...

The first image is of fabric I hand painted in India last year during my residency at the Stitching Project, and then hand printed with the woodblock I had made through the Stitching Project.I must admit I struggled a bit with the colours of this , even though they are very Australian- I wanted very dense quilting to make the banksias pop out.So what you are seeing is the quilted piece and on the right the stitch work on the banksia pod itself.

Then there is the Transfer printed banksias I did- with a hand painted banksia pod and woodblock printed surround, again  through the Stitching Project. The effect is quite different. I have another print from this transfer- in which the colours are much redder- can't wait to see what it will look like once stitched. Again this piece is stitched with Aurifil Make 28 weight thread. The weight of the thread gives me  good lines especially as I tend to stitch the lines twice, sometimes three times.

 I have been drawing and thinking about banksias since arriving here even though I had not produced much work until now. I really wanted to capture their weirdness in lots of different explorations. ( I intend to make a hand made book to accompany the exhibition to explain  what I am on about- time permitting) So the drawing on the right was another idea- I had thought I might  have to piece to get the effect that I wanted, but then a thought struck me-I like dyeing what if I could dye the effect I wanted? So the result is on the right. I fold dyed  four different colours, though the outline colour is all the same dye colour  to give uniformity. I am still undecided whether I will cut this piece into a banksia shape or just leave it as is. It is actually quite large for me.This really does look like mouths babbling for me. Can't wait to see what stitch will do to it. If I had pieced the shapes they would have been much more regular- and I wanted each "mouth" to be different.

I must admit Nesta my doggie companion has been a bit disgusted with me- we are still walking but when I sew I am tucked in a room inside the house and she has to entertain herself. She likes it much better when I go down to the atelier downstairs.

Spring has sprung here. Everywhere there is flowers and trees in blossom. Even the gutter on the little old stone shed looks like it has been purposely planted.I love the colours in the plant below- it just grows by the roadside.

 And last but not least- these are the Aurifil Mako 28 weight threads I use.These new ones arrived this morning- which means I can now sew up even more of a storm! I love the colours and the sheen on this cotton. I am extremely grateful to Aurifil for  sponsoring me with thread  for my work- thread and stitch is such an important part of my work so I try and use the best there is.And thank you to Alex Veronelli for your continued support!I have tried a lot of different threads in the past but I keep coming back to Aurifil- their colours  suit my work and the Mako 28 weight comes in big bobbins , and the sheen on the cotton have made me abandon rayon threads .

Thursday, March 24, 2016

There is Still Time

To join the Travellers Blanket class which starts on 25 March 2016. Price for the course is $60AUS and you can email me for the information sheet

The idea of the travellers blanket is to tell stories with stitch- it is very much a process class as it is all about hand stitching and using fragments to relay the story. I am always amazed at the beautiful work produced with just these simple concepts and often simple stitching. People have used fabrics collected on trips, or given to them by friends or even fragments from family members, of hand printed memories encapsulating the seashore, or bright Indian memories, to sari scraps, or hand rusted fragments. Because of the lengthy process each piece seems imbued with a kind of cloth memory of all the thoughts that passed through your hands as you work with the cloth.

The following blanket is  from a few years back and records my ideas about the discovery of Australia and the  journeys of discovery inland. Just a little over 200 years ago white man landed in Australia and proceeded to scurry across the land claiming it for  British government and settlers. Murder  and genocide was perpetrated on the indigenous population that was present at the time of landing and settlement. Explorers perished in the harsh desert and tropical conditions- not a single one of them consulted the lore and knowledge of the local indigenous people who travelled the land on foot from one end to the other for thousands of years. Such was the explorers confidence that they knew better- were more scientific and therefore superior they preferred to die than have a conversation with the local indigenous people. So the  wriggling lines represent the explorers moving around the circles of intense local knowledge- not once consulted but rich with knowledge and stories. It seems to me that much of the world still travels in this way.

 Each circle has been made with quite simple stitches, but I have tried to create a visual richness for each circle to suggest their stories.
 The background cloth is hand dyed Khadi cloth- and you can see how the dye wicks along the hand spun threads almost ikat like. The cloth is also beautiful and soft to stitch through and seems to love hand stitching.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Workshops at le Triadou

Just a quick note. I will be teaching workshops at the atelier in le Triadou when I get back. I just have not had time to  put it on my blog.
Workshops will take on Fridays and one or two Saturdays.There is only place for 4-5 students at a time because of the space. Cost of the Workshops is 50 € , and for some workshops there is a materials cost. I will provide coffee and tea and something for lunch , but it would be good if you brought something to share.

I will posy more information tomorrow.

Friday 25 March 2016
Dyeing fabric- dye fabric to create a palette to use for later workshops or just to build your fabric collection!
Sunday 27 March- a come and play day- more information tomorrow.

Friday 1 April 2016
Tifaifai- create your own design Polynesian inspired  quilt. If you cut out your positive carefully you will be left  with the negative cutout which can also be used. This can be a one or two day class- depending on how big you would like to work. This technique is good with  bali batiks or fabrics you have dyed yourself.
If you do the one day class you will make a small piece only.
Saturday 2 April
Tifaifai- this is the continuation of the two day class or if you can come only on this day you will make a smaller version.

Friday 8 April 2016
Form and Variation -This class will explore how you can change Play around with a form and abstract and  also concentrate on ideas

If you would like to join the class  please email me

Examples of the dyeing- I will post more tomorrow.

Some ideas on the Banksia seed pod for Form & Variation

Monday, March 14, 2016

Travellers Blanket On-line Class

A quick post from Chartres- will share images later int he week, but until now my phone kept on going  flat every time I was near anything picture worthy and I left my camera behind in Le Triadou. The week has been busy with travelling to Chartres- necessitating quite some trains and setting up my work  at the Collegiale Saint-Andre in Chartres- a magnificent stone building dating to the 1200's , but oh so cold! Very glad  I borrowed a woollen coat from a friend!It has been a delight to meet the other artists involved and we are all hoping some sales will happen! People have been quite surprised that Textile Art can be what my work encompasses, and the response of the other artists has been very encouraging!

But firstly I wanted to remind you of the Travellers' Blanket on-line class starting on 25 March 2016. If you would like further information I have an information sheet that I can send. But basically the class is to encourage you to create your own stories in cloth using fairly simple stitches. Dyeing instruactions are given for the background and the stitches are shown-though I do use quite simple stitching.You enroll by emailing me and I will send you payment details.

And I have finally finished my tifaifai piece which  I made form the theme La Confiance- the theme for the exhibition in Chartres.It is the first tifaifai I have made for quite some time and am always delighted with  how well this design technique works!

The colour is a little off because I have used my phone to photograph the piece and it measures about 125 cm square ( it is for sale if anyone is interested).  We had to write a page long statement about la Confiance and the way we had interpreted it  ( how is that for an  artists' statement! ), and I am surprised by the number of people who have actually taken the time to read the whole statement.
La Confiance
I have chosen the pomegranate motif as it has many historical connections and was important in early textile designs. The mythical associations of the pomegranate have to do with the changing of the seasons- with periods of dormancy and regrowth, this is the ebb and flow of life, of eternity  and we have to trust that it will continue.

In the Greek myth Persephone is abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld . Her mother  the goddess Demeter ( the queen of corn and growing things) was so devastated that she laid to waste the earth in search of her daughter. After many trials and tribulations she manages to locate her daughter and asks Zeus to prevail upon Hades to release Persephone. Persephone had become accustomed to Hades and had agreed to be his wife.  It was said that those that tasted any fruit in the underworld would be destined to remain there. When Zeus insisted Persephone return to her mother Hades invited her to eat the seed of the pomegranate, which she did. Persephone returned to the world of her mother and brought with her flowers and growth, but because she ate the seed she was also destined to return to Hades for 6 months of the year.

The story is an allegory for the changing seasons, of  rebirth and growth and  dormancy in the winter period. It represents nature and the cycles within nature that we need to respect. It is a reminder that if we trust in this way, that life will continue, that it is an eternal cycle.The pomegranate it also a fruit with many life enhancing  and medicinal properties and it’s juice is rich and red. You could find it on the corner of every market when I travelled in the Middle East.

So to represent the trust I have chosen the pomegranate tree as the symbol of life- it’s circular motion suggests eternity and the border with the quadrilobe motif again  inspires eternity. If we adhere to  the cycles of nature, and trust that those are what will carry the world forth into the future then we must stop subverting nature.To trust that things will continue also means to be active in relaying the trust.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

To The Grindstone

Thank you to all those who responded to my previous post both on my blog and privately. Your thoughts and advise are much appreciated and I value all sides of the story as it is not easy I know.

I have found it hard to get anything done, but I am getting to the panic side of making things for events that I have been invited to ,so there is nothing for it  but to put the nose to the grindstone and just work work work.I miss my own sewing machine a lot, I think if I do spend periods of time in France I may need to buy one.

This week we had a linocutting class and the beauty of small classes is that you can actually also make some of your own work and still keep an eye on the work of participants . Sometimes it is good for them to see how you work in any case.  So I made a new linocut this week inspired by the weeds and drawn extrapolations thereof encountered on my walks.

Some sketches I made of weeds in the vineyards that we walk through every day.

The weeds were drawn onto the lino with a black permanent marker and then the cutting begins. Once the lino has been cut I make a proof print on news paper or magazines just to see if it needs fine tuning or some more cutting away.

I am still undecided whether I will actually cut this into four separate linocuts or leave it as is. And then once I am happy the print  will print well on fabric, I print on fabric.

I am quite happy with it and I think will lend itself quite well to some stitching or combining with other prints.

I have to come up with a piece for the theme "Confiance" for Chartres- yes I know I have left it  a bit late to some extent, though I know I can finish what I intend to make in time. I have struggled to come up with any ideas as I am feeling anything but confident, and in any case how do you portray trust ? Last year  Joyce Hammond who did her Phd thesis on Tifaifai (and I referred to it in my book Tifaifai Renaissnace as there was very little information available) requested the use of an image of one of my tifaifai quilts for an article she was writing. A month ago she sent me a copy of the article about tifaifai and the  internet, published by the Pacific Arts Association . It is the first time an academic has mentioned my work and the article is interesting ,and it started me thinking about tifaifai again. It is such a lovely way to create a design and when I have taught it  students are always surprised at how well their own designs turn out, even simple ones. I ask them to trust their designs will work. So I trust, in the idea that the design will work and create a  tree of life of sorts which is after all the trust we must have  in nature that life will continue.

So I decided something tried and true and I am confident the design will work.As it happened when I was moving my stuff into my shed I found an old piece of Vliesofix with a partial tifaifai design of pomegranates drawn on it.I stuffed it into my suitcase at the last moment on a whim. Once upon a time I made quite a few of these and used to sell them at the Metro Craft Centre in Melbourne, before it was shut down. So this week I dyed the fabric ( I had forgotten how much I needed to dye) and crossed my fingers that the vliesofix wasn't too old and would stick to the fabric. It took quite some time to cut out, as the design was quite fine. The first image is the commencement of the cutting.

The image below is the pile of spaghetti like cut out that you get when all the cutting is done.  You look at it with a bit of desperation wondering if anything will come  out of it.

  Then the laying out, which takes ages as this design is about 90 cm square.

The whole design laid out, and finally you can see how it will look sort of, as it undergoes more changes with the pressing and then quilting/stitching and of course the borders.

And finally the pressed top ready for the attachment of borders. The last tifaifai I made was in 2009 so it 's been 7 years since I made one, and I must say I am  pleased with it so far, but know stitching will make all the difference.

Another image of the Pic- it dominates my life every walk we make and it's always different. Spring has been in the air and the old stone shed continues to bring up intriguing things. This morning I decided to lift the piece of corrugated plastic on the old wagon and found  a myriad of wasps cocoons- built mud cocoons.

And I have had several requests as to whether I will be running my  Travellers Blanket on-line class this year as it is  awhile since I ran it. I have decided that I will seeing I have started another blanket of my own- though it's a bit different to the other blankets I have made- but it is still about a story.

The on-line  course consists of pdf files which are delivered fortnightly and a closed Fb group  for discussion and sharing. The course will start on 25 March 2016. The idea of the travellers' blanket is that  you use stitch and fabric to tell a story with simple shapes and ideas.It is a contemplative process and  participants have often said that in the end the blanket itself kind of determines how it will be stitched and how it will tell the story. The cost of the course is $60 AUS ( 40€ or $43 US). Just email me if you are interested and I will send you details of how to make payment ( by internet banking or paypal) Some images of stitching in progress can be seen here. The blue Travellers' Blanket I made was on the cover of Quilting Arts a couple of years back.