Friday, July 13, 2018

Renaissance Red and Angels


 I have  restarted work on the red renaissance traveller's blanket in order to finish it for exhibition later this month. Am thrilled to have been invited to  be guest exhibitor at the Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair  from 26-29 July. It's wonderful to show the work again as in all reality it has taken more than a years work to finish all the pieces, and working on a daily basis. I would love to sell them but I also want to exhibit them and therein lies a dilemma for sure.

​ This  red blanket is inspired  by a month spent in Florence in 2015​ and I spent days walking around the city. The religious art became a little overwhelming, everywhere stunningly beautiful art so I decided to focus on angels. The angel I have used in the red blanket actually was a smalls statue in the museum attached to the San Croce Basilica, and seemed somewhat forlorn with its broken arms and sweet expression and then I found a quote from W B Yeats "be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise" , a kind of perfect motto when travelling really.



The round motifs have been cut from the  linocut print of the Davanzati tree which was inspired by the frescos on the wall of the bedchamber in the Davanzati Palace in Florence This motifs almost sparkle and seem rich and opulent, just as you might imagine the renaissance to be.



There is still time to join the Traveller's Blanket on-line class which starts on 1 August.  I hand out extensive notes via pdf file and Open a private Facebook group for discussion. I hope to inspire you to tell your own stories in stitch and cloth. Someone ( Linda Clift) coined the phrase nomadic stitching , I like it a lot as my book about two Traveller's Blanket in French is called Plaids Nomades, and I do feel like a nomad at times-having to work out of my suitcase for at least 6 months of the year. The blankets are a perfect way to keep hands and thoughts occupied whilst waiting or travelling.

Nomadic Stitching - stitching whilst on the move, wherever a wait of time occurs. Be not idle, fill it with a stitch or two. Time passing by the windows as we sit on trains and buses, on planes, in waiting stations, cold winds heckling at the edge of our clothing, or heat embracing our armpits, or forehead perspiration starting up the body's air conditioner.

And yet a gentle rhythm offers reflection , a moments pause in the passing imagery; a willing to have our own rhythm in this whirling fast moving world.

Or simply enjoying quiet repose whilst your hand moves gently through the cloth creating another mark and another mark that together will make a story.

The cost of the course is $75AUS and encompasses four lessons over an eight week period though I keep the group open for longer as the work is a slow process.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair

You could be forgiven for thinking I had fallen off the planet, but in all reality I sat and stitched and stitched to try and finish all the traveller's blankets for the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair at the end of June. I almost got there- the last one is almost finished but not quite but I hung it anyway. However it will be finished for the Melbourne Craft & quilt Fair  from 26-29 July. I have had a week off from stitching since returning from Sydney, and have done a big tidy up in my shed and also have been burning off some of the dead wood on my block. My hands needed a rest.

I also hope that I will be able to blog more regularly from now on, as I hope some of my connectivity problems might be resolved!

So the Waste not Want not indigo piece is finished- it took some stitching and measures 120 cms squarish. This piece is worked through two layers only so I had to work carefully to prevent any puckering of the stitches. The whole background has been quilted with  running stitch.




And then I worked on a piece using the naturally dyed fabrics and threads that the Stitching Project sent me some time ago. I thought long and hard about this one as the colours were out of my comfort zone, being soft and pastel like. Eventually I decided that I would use the woodblock I purchased in a woodcarvers shop in Delhi and make my own linocut of a boabab tree- trees of life from different cultures. When I began I felt I was not going to like it at all but it grew on my as I worked ( I suppose trees have that effect!) and then when I had finished I decided it needed some Indian bling so I added the little diamanti flowers for some zing.



So I have decided to run another Traveller's Blanket on-line class starting 1 August 2018. My new notes are entirely updated now to include more recent work and as I said hopefully connectivity  problems will no longer be an issue. The class  will consist of four  pdf files outlining how I work and giving dyeing instructions as well as stitching ideas, as well as story telling ideas. I will also set up a private Facebook group for sharing and discussion. I keep this group open for quite some time as I realise the making of a traveller's blanket is quite a long process! The cost for the course is $75AUS




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Vienna, Stitching, Dyeing and House Sitting

It was an extremely long journey home from Austria as I had a seventeen hour layover in Doha. Did try and book an hotel but Qatar Airways have changed their system so i could not be sure if I could book a hotel for the time period of 5 am until 7 pm at night- so I sat in the airport instead and stitched. The airfares I travel on don't allow hotel accommodation for long layovers, and even entry to the Oryx lounge was going to cost $55US for 6 hours- I am beginning to wonder why I am a frequent flyer with Qatar Airways- as there seem to be yearly reductions in any benefits that you might accrue for using them several times a year for long haul flights. Thankfully the flights were not full and I arrived at around 6 pm Oz time- which means after eating dinner you get to bed at a reasonably normal hour- which seems to allay the jet lag to some extent.

 Since arriving it has been  hurtling and skirtling- and now I am housesitting- my usual menagerie ; 4 dogs, 3 cats,  a dozen sheep, 15 odd chickens, 6 bantams, 2 puddle ducks ( who thought tonight was a good night to try out a puddle for their night sleep and took some persuading that the chicken house is ultimately the safer place) and some lorikeets . The animals seem to  know my habits better than I do myself, especially the dogs who are now happily ensconced on all the couches and who occasionally nick a ball of thread if they think I am not looking.

As the housesitting is close to where my mother lives I go and hand dye fabric at her house, as well as visit my mother ( as I have no running water or electricity in Gellibrand which means dyeing fabric is a little difficult). I am hoping to solve one of those problems soon. I seem to have solved the rat problem, at last, in the shed ( I am still not sure if they are rat rats or native rats, but the dead rat I found looked too big to be a bush/native rat, which are not truly native to Australia as they came across the waters on a boat some thousands of years ago), but was also hit by a millipede invasion whilst away. Most of them end up on the slab floor rather than other surfaces so a good sweep seems to get rid of most of that problem!

Meanwhile I am stitching and stitching on the traveller's blankets, and have fallen a bit behind, which means  days of 12 hour days of stitching once I am back in Gellibrand- it's the only way I will finish what I set out to do for the Craft & Quilt Fair in Sydney from 20-24 June, where I will be one of the guest exhibitors for their 25 year celebration . At this stage I feel like I need an parallel life that does not include sleep as I have also had ideas about making a small accompanying  booklet after I write and overdue article about the Waste Not Want Not indigo  traveller's blanket.

The teaching in Austria seems like weeks ago but in actual fact was only last week. It was a real pleasure to work with some of the women for the entire 7 days of the workshops. We covered lots of techniques but it also allowed them to build little bodies of work. Other people came for only a day or two as their time permitted. Having seven days really allows you to push a bit further and really develop new work. The venue Seminarhof Schleglberg in Rottenbach ,was also excellent with good food , friendly staff and good amenities. I loved the home baked bread that was available!


 The owner, Mr Fritz unloading the  bread oven. Their enterprise is centred around organically and sustainably  grown foods, which they now also sell in a store in another village, and they employ a number of people to help achieve this. They grow their own vegetables and grain.

Thank you to Karin Felbmayer for organising the workshops and finding a wonderful venue and  stopping at your town on the way to the train to Vienna so I could buy a snow globe for my daughter ( which she loved) Some of the work by students:

And a close up of the birch tree inspired piece which was developed in the trees trees workshop and added to. Tanya made this particular piece  and the other pieces in the photo above.


The following piece was from Breaking all the Rules- it was large 2.2 metres ( if I don't mention students names it is so at their request) Made with all recycled and redyed fabrics and denim offcuts- the squares are going to be embroidered and some printed.

 Below are some images of linocutting- Frieda made this lovely  abstract kind of village scene and amazing achievement seeing she had limited mobility for using the tools in her hands.
And after creating a turtle Ingrid was not sure linocutting was for her but then went on to make the village scene below!


 On the Monday I returned to Vienna as my flight left form Vienna on Tuesday night.  On the monday I arrived after one but my hotel was right across from the main Bahnhof   ( Motel One- I highly recommend it as the amenities are good , you can check in early, the price good for the amenities which are a bit upmarket, but as it  was one night and my suitcase very heavy it suited my purpose and right across the Bahnhof, and Vienna's public transport system is not difficult to use at all- there are more emerging across Europe).

 So i took the metro into the centre of Vienna,walked and walked and walked and spotted the same old designer shops you see in every city ( boring boring boring) and decided on a visit to the Leopold Museum in the  Museum Quartier. They had a retropsective of Egon Schiele's work as it is a hundred years since he and his pregnant wife died form the Spanish flu ( make sure you get those flu shots) and what an absolute delight the exhibition was. There were many pieces I have never seen in any books including city scapes from shortly before his death and off course some of his iconic pieces.


 A very early drawing, and of course later pieces. I was so happy I went, it was enthralling seeing so many of his pieces and I would have gone back another day had I had the time. Would have loved to buy the catalogue ,but alas my luggage already weighed 29 kilos although in hind sight it probably weighed less than a kilo ( but I didn't know my lugagge weighed less than 30 kg at that time)





On the tuesday morning - I stitched and stitched and then checked out of the hotel around noon and was able to leave my luggage until later in the day and made a foray into the area where Hundertwasser decorated an apartment building and communal area. I had intended to see this  way back in 1990 when I visited Vienna but it was so cold we went to Sicily instead so I never got to see it

Unfortunately you cannot go inside the building but he lived by the premise of trees everywhere and no straight lines. It was a delight to see all his works in Kunst Haus Wien and the building  that had been built to house his collection as well as host other exhibitions. No photographs inside- but his work is well documented.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Flown Week!

Another flurry week. Last week this time I was very briefly in Le Triadou walking my favourite dog and catching up with my good friends Liwanag and Michel,after having taught in Pals in Spain.


Then it was back to Moux briefly to pack up my European life for a journey to Austria. I had looked at flying , but because I can carry 30 kgs internationally but not within europe decided that was not an option. There have been train strikes in France the entire time I have been there so decided that an overnight bus to Munich and then another bus onto Salzburg was the best option. In a way thank goodness I did as there was indeed a train strike on the Saturday I took the bus, but the downside was  the bus was very full and with quite a number of people with colds and goodness knows what other maladies sneezing and snorting and sniffing them into the bus airconditioning system- so now I am happily sniffing and snuffing as well..... I am so sick and tired of sick people just frothing whatever ails them into confined spaces, like buses and aeroplanes, for all to be able to luckily capture it.

So I arrived in Salzburg a bit worse for the wear after a long night on the bus and was met by my hostess for the workshops this week in Rottenbach. We  had seriously delicious  icecream in Mondsee and visited the Cathedral before heading to the workshop venue at the seminar centre Schlegberg, which is in the Upper Austrian countryside.


  Tha Catherdral in Mondsee and  someone reading the riot act below!


The photo below is the seminar centre where the workshops are being held. Lovely country side all around and the smell of cow poo, because the local farmers are hoping that finally some rain will come and if the thundering and lightening were anything to go by tonight I hope it arrives.


And who can resist dandelions??


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Busy...

Our National day of rememberance along with New Zealand- Anzac day  25 April 1915,the beginning of the attempt to  take the peninsuala at Gallipoli in World War I- often said to be the birthing of our nation- when we lost thousands of young men at Anzac cove at Gallipoli and where the "enemy" lost many thousands more. When I was a teenager I was asked to read a poem on an Anzac day commemoration ceremony held at my school. I was allowed to choose the poem and I remember my teacher asking if I was sure? But I think I had just read All Quiet on the Western Front and then discovered this poem by Wilfred Owen Dulce et Decorum Est. I wasn't  attempting to denegrate the sacrifice  that had been made but just trying to show the awfulness of war and the awful loss of bright shining lives ( we were in the midst of the Vietnam war at that stage) .  I know I got a letter of great indignation from the local RSL, needless to say it was not well received .So i share the poem because  along with remebering those that died and the sacrifice they made we must never ever forget the bloody awfulness of war and the havoc and misery and pain that it wreaks.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

It has been a busy few weeks since my exhibition at Chartres. I taught in West Flanders for a couple of days and then went on to Prague to meet Jane Rollason the curator of Crossing Oceans, an international exhibiting group to drop of my quilts. As it was easter it was easier to take the quilts in person than to courier them. Then back to Holland and  teaching at the Lapjesgaard and then a day with my aunt at the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. It was beautiful but it was the beginning of the season so it was only partially in bloom.

Tulips at the Keukenhof gardens. We got there early so it was not packed with tourisst yet and we parked almost at the front door.

A photo with Ira Labordus ( one of my online Traveller's Blanket students) and my unfinished waste not want not indigo travellers blanket at the Lapjesgaard. I was lucky enough to find accommodation on a houseboat in Almere- believe it or not it was amongst the cheapest accommodation I could find and there was a bar and restaurant there so i could have my meal there. It was actually wonderfully relaxing had I not been so busy. Watching the birds and their spring time antics was quite amusing. I discovered that male water coots are very sneaky in trying to get female attention- they dive underwater and then try and pop up behind the female- but  the female water coots were up to this game!

  Then I gave Els Mommers a lift to Bienale International d'Art Textil in Villefranche sur Saone where I discovered to my surprise not only was I showcasing the Aussie Bush Project but also my own work ( just as well I had all my quilts from Chartres in my suitcase, as I had thought it was only the Aussie Bush Project) I am sorry for the lack of photos for the Aussie Bush project ( I forgot my battery charger for my good camera in Australia and my phone camera was not up to take a decent photo in the prevailing lighting)- but people loved them and all the wonderful interpretations. The Aussie Bush Project will have its last public outing at the Berry Quilting Retreat in Berry in August of this year ( I will also be teaching there at the same time) I don't have very many potos to share, as I was there on my own, and whilst friends  were willing to give me a toilet break I can't expect them to man exhibitions.


 Then it was two days in the Alps before teaching in Lyon  at brin da Talent with a group of enthusiastic ladies to make their own linocuts and embellish them with hand stitch

And then it was onto Moux to try and get some serious stitching and writing done on the Waste Not Want Not indigo traveller's blanket for a series of articles I am writing for Downunder quilts. Tonight it is on to Spain for some teaching of linocut carving, printing and embellishing and then later this week by overnight bus to Austria for more teaching- the risk of strikes was too great to take the train. Hopefully I will get some stitching done on the bus. To say it has been busy is an understatement, though quietly stitching at moux has  helped me to breathe! The view from teh terrace of my friends house is rather lovely!


 I also caught up with my le Triadou friends briefly and  found waiting for me a book which included an article I did for Edi de Saxe last year on machine quilting ( yes I do stitch by machine sometimes and can't wait to get back to the machine after this marathon of hand stitching is over)


Inspired by roadside weeds I was trying to show what great effects you can create with simply using hand dyed cloth and coloured machine threads ( I use Aurifil cotton  28 weight threads)- how you can even create borders with thread work.


Monday, April 02, 2018

Traveller's Blankets and Aussie Bush Project Going to Berry Retreat

A very quick  post as I am heading out to the airport to deliver some of my travellers blankets for an exhibition with Crossing Oceans a project organised by Jane Rollason in Prague.

But meanwhile am excited to announce that  the travellers blankets will be exhibited alongside the Aussie Bush Project at the Berry Retreat in Berry on 18-19 August so  you will be able to see them up close and personal. They are so different in real life as compared to photographs which show none of the texture.

I will also be teaching the travellers blanket class at the  Berry retreat- this  is the only time this year that I am teaching this class person to person- and it is very different  simply because  of the creation of texture and movement which you can't really see with the online class. I will also be teaching linocutting- so you cna make your very own linocuts which we will embellish after the retreat. Making your own linocuts enables you to make your own unique fabrics which can be incorporated into other work or embroidered any old how!

 Here is a little of the history of the blankets which also alludes to a history of travel and exploration like  the great travellers of the past like Marco Polo- if you were in the entourage and you could not write how would you have captured the  glorious textiles you encountered ( and which was mostly the reason for the journey)
Travellers Blankets (Plaids Nomads) began life in the early 2000's when I made my first one with fabrics I had purchased in Africa in 1990. Since then I have made various ones over the years , as they are a long process of stitching motifs and the background. I try and think of them as stories about a journey, as they are invested with heart and soul and often carry inspirations of my travels and many of them have been on journeys themselves in my bag or suitcase.
They marry my love of fabric and thread and storytelling. I would never write such an elaborate story but with stitch I can make dozens of stories each of itself but also a part of a larger piece. Some tell the story of journeys, for example the urchin one is about Atauro Island , others are about heritage and exploration.

And here are six of the finished blankets thus far.... there will be another four I hope!









I am also starting another on-line course for those not lucky enough to get to the Berry Retreat. It starts on 7April so there is still time to enroll! Just email me for the information sheet

Monday, March 19, 2018

Traveller's Blanket On-Line Class

Goodness I have been chilled to the bone these last few days at Chartres and meanwhile fire warnings were out not so far from where my shed is in Australia and places where friends live, so a bit of overnight worrying  whether everyone and everything was safe. I am still at Chartres as the Croisements des Arts continues until 25 March when I go to Belgium and teach for three days at Adinkerke, de Panne, just over the French border.I am teaching the Traveller's Blanket/Plaid Nomad for two days and Tifaifai/machine applique one day ( there is still places in the Tifaifai workshop, which always delivers great results and students create their own designs.) If you are interested in joining  email me please. ( 26/27/28 March).

I have managed to do a lot of stitching on my blue and white piece which has now grown a name- True Blue ( it was called a walk on the wild side as this colour combination is a bit outside of my ken but things change...). As I worked on it I realised that the blue and white combination was very much in tune with my heritage as well as reflecting my love of blue and white ceramics and of course Delft's Blauw . So what to name this blanket was whirling around in my head  and I coined true blue which I mentioned somewhere and someone said- but oh yes it also reflects Australia- in that true blue means dinky di or the real thing especially relating to Australianess- so the name reflects both of my worlds, my dutch birth and my adopted country Australia and of course my love of blue and white ceramics. This piece did not begin with a story but it acquired one and as it did I grew to like it much better than I ever expected. I hope to finish it this week, so I can commence another piece to meet this  deadline I have made for myself .


I sometimes wonder why I do so much stitching. but the texture it creates is a bit mesmerising.




I am staying in the old part of Chartres in a little studio apartment called  Studio-Adulaire, which is a nice brisk walk to where the exhibition is at the Collegiale Saint Andre. It means I can cook my own food  and there is a good market for food in Chartres on Saturdays and everything is within walking distance.I highly recommend it if you intend to spend anytime in Chartres. The owner is very helpful  and the  studio is well equipped.

And then i discovered the Depot-vente in Camphol- a kind of flea market, brocante all rolled into one....so much to see , so many good things, but what to choose? I could not decide and only came away with a book and a bunch of fish knives ( silver with marks for 2 euros) as they are great for mixing textile pigment with base extender- hmmm maybe these are too good for that!


An archway near the cathedral- with gnarled some kind of vine- I wonder how old that vine is?

One of the buildings I walk past everyday has these wonderful wooden pillars embedded in the wall. the motifs look medieval so again I wonder how old this is? The details has  been weathered but even so they are still  gorgeous.

Traveller's Blanket On-line Class- I  am still taking enrollments for the  on-line class which is  designed to help you record memories in textile and create a rich memory laden cloth that you will never want to part with! Just email me if you are interested. Course consists of the delivery of 4 pdf lessons, a private facebook group to discuss our developing stories/ blankets- and your very own memory cloth/blanket. It is amazing how these pieces acquire meaning as you work. There is a lot of time to invest in the process so a lot of time for contemplation , and it shows in every piece that has been made,

I taught a one day workshop for the Traveller's Blanket at Gallery Cardamome last Friday. Of course one day is not enough time to make anything big. So we made a sample piece with one motif to try out different stitches and then a start was made on  a larger piece which  was a square of about 40 cm.