Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mountains to Move

I arrived back from India on Friday night and taught a workshop yesterday at the Camberwell Sewing Centre so I finally have some time to blog properly. My apologies for not posting more frequently but my laptop conspired against me- it decided the top two rows of keys would only partly work.

India was a fabulous experience ,but apart from some time in Delhi and Bhuj and Mandvi I spent most of my time at the workshop of the Stitching Project near Pushkar. There is a reason for spending time in one place, actually more than one reason. It was great to spend time with Fiona Wright, we seem to be able to nudge each other along a little and for my part I can see things more clearly with a little nudging, and it is wonderful bouncing around ideas and exploring whether we are daydreaming or whether things can become a reality.We intend to keep the nudging going into the future and we hope we can nudge you along too! But more of this later.

 I also  came away very inspired after the Creative Camp in February earlier this year and there was some finishing I needed to do. I  kind of focused on my banksia journey whilst I did  the camp and its kept going so it was really great to finish a project I started in the workshop with Sanju in Sujani embroidery. To say a lot of stitching happened is an understatement.But without that little workshop my Babbling Banksia piece would not have happened in the way it did.

I love being in one place for a certain amount of time- learning to understand the minutae of the rhythm of a place. So I enjoyed watching Fiona and Praveen's Stitching Project unfold day by day. This is such a wonderful inspired project- yes it's a business and as a business they employ people ( many women who would otherwise not have work and men too) but it is structured on the philosophy of working ethically, paying fair wages and creating high quality product, and if these principles are adhered to it creates more opportunity for everyone involved.I sat and watched and stitched and sometimes was able to  help in a small way, but hats off Fiona and Praveen- its a wonderful project and business you have created from scratch...I think you have set the bones for a good ethical business that  can only be a win win for everyone involved and adds to your community and world.

So one of the things that really inspired me from the February camp was the woodblocks. I do lots of linocuts and love the effect, but woodblocks are subtly different and equally as mesmerising.I knew  i was going back to India so I sent some designs for the woodblock carver the Stitching Project uses to make me some more woodblocks.And as I seem to be on a banksia bent of course I sent a banksia drawing. So these were duly printed on hand painted and hand loomed fabric . Each panel measures 45 cm x 38 cm and they are for sale at $25 per panel inclusive of postage. There are four colour ways which you can see below.

Email me if you would like one of these hand painted and printed pieces to create your own Banksia world! Colours are as you see, as well as a grey/limey green which you can see Mahindra printing in one of the photos below.

No trip is complete without a visit to a museum- well for me anyway. So  before leaving India we went to the Indian Museum in Delhi. Absolutely wonderful things in there pertaining to the incredibly diverse and ancient Indian heritage. This is not a diaspora though no doubt there is influences of that- but it is a long and vitally interesting heritage. The images below were from an exhibition entitled Cosmology to Cartography  with this pilgrims map showing the pilgrim how to travel on their pilgrimage. And of course a tree from the Miniature art section- just love trees and this one was particularly beautiful.

My finished Babbling Banksia piece with a thousandfold of stitches and a Nudge project in the form of a hand bag. Using indigo scraps from the Stitching Project workshop and not wasting a thing - made into a travel bag with lots of zippers and just great for travel.

Printing with woodblocks on to hand painted handloom fabric and a little shrine in the backyard of a friend of Fiona and Praveen's who has started a bakery, making  bread inspired by his exposure to german breadmaking. The bread is delicious

Ladies inspecting my stitching on my Babbling Banksia piece and Fiona and Praveen instructing women on the stitching that is needed on some of the work  that has been created. The focus is on quality and making sure everyone understands the right way to do things. However there is still room for the individuality of the stitch to shine through the hands that make it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pcr lls 000 wrds

The keys on my laptop have spat the dummy .....s phs nly

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.