Wednesday, July 03, 2024

 Creative Thinking

I have been doing a bit of writing and making and thinking especially around an exhibition I had recently at ARC Yinnar Gallery with Marita Anderson and Cheryl Cook entitled "Riding the Brush" ( Marita) and Bush Palette Scribbling. I should have posted about it here but the month seemed to race by and the exhibition finished last Sunday. I did manage to self publish a booklet entitled Bush Scribbling which can be purchased for $20 inclusive of postage in Australia only. It really was some thought meanders around daily walking and how that inspires some of my creations for the exhibition, but it is also  about noticing and really looking and wonderment I guess. I really have missed walking the last 10 days or so as the nerve in my leg has decided to spasm after sitting in city traffic for too long - the pain takes a little while to subside and though I can walk easily it does flare up the pain if I walk too much. I also managed to finish the big Bush Scribbling book, which was all manner of natural vegetation printed onto mulberry paper and then hand coloured.

I am now in full making mode for the project I will teach for  the Stitch Club for Textile Arts Org  and I will be intensely concentrating on that for the next month at least. It will air in January 2025, but workbook, inspiration book and videos have to be made  as well as the work itself. I decided to combine linocutting with stitch as that is what I do a lot of and have made a small project that can be done in the two week time span. However for myself I am creating another traveller's blanket inspired by the travel in Perugia last year.  The large blankets take me over a year to stitch but I wanted to start one as an example of where you can take linocut and stitch if you were inclined for a longer project.

I Usually attach  each square as I work but decided to place each linocut square on the hand dyed linen to see how it would look and then decided to attach them into place ready for stitching. I made nine little square linocuts inspired by Perugia and surrounds, things like  woven textiles, the dozens of madonnas encountered , creatures, olive trees and pomegranates.

It was all inspired by the photos I took and drawings I made at the time- and  looking at them altogether it has  quite an late medieval/early renaissance feel. The stitching I will be doing will be quite simple but quite dense, nothing like going overboard with the stitching. Background stitching still needs to be added to  this little pigeon, which is I think my favourite of the linocuts I made.

Anyway the next month is going to be all about stitching and more stitching and making videos and writing notes. In August I am involved in another exhibition at ARC Yinnar- I will try and share information about that before the exhibition and then from Mid September Gathered Threads will once again be shown until mid October showcasing some of Australia's top textile artists.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Back from European Travels

 I have been back in Australia for about a week. It is always such a long journey home. Though there was not much time to recover as I had to visit Mum in Melbourne, and a quick dash into AQC to pick up some quilts from Reece Scannell, then wedding dress shopping on the Saturday for daughter eldest. What has happened to simple and elegant is all we want to know?? Over the tope froth and bead and balloon with plunging necklines seem to be all the go and as my daughter wryly remarked - for a white dress that is sometimes said to represent one's purity the necklines seem to say something completely different. We are still  looking....

Had a busy trip to Europe and the five weeks flew by. Taught in Milan for Roberta de Marchi in her shop, free motion stitching of both the quilting and applique kind. It was a busy two days with students from all over Italy, and my Italian very rusty indeed- but the language of stitching somehow makes up for that! I shall be teaching for Roberta in May 2025 and am looking forward to it!

Then onto Lyon for a few days. We crossed the Alps in a Flix bus, and as there had been fresh snow the Italian side of the Alps, they looked spectacular. Lyon is always such a lovely city- could have walked around a lot more, but sad to see so many little artisan shops had shut down since the last time I visited. The apartment we stayed in was in a building that had seen better days up three flights of stairs- a bit of a marathon with heavy luggage, but it was close to Perrache Station, so that it was easy to catch the Ouigo train to Marne la Vallee and then onward to Chartres where I exhibited for two weeks at Croisement des Arts.

The exhibition was varied and interesting , I love being part of this event as there are some wonderful artists who exhibit and I am chuffed to be a part of it. Plus it is always a delight to stay in Chartres. Caught up with old friends and even found another Australia resident who  I will catch up with next time around. I will be back next year to teach a Masterclass at Villa Fulbert prior to the exhibition the last two weeks of March 2025

 We did hire a car for a week to make a side trip to Chenonceau and then onto Bayeux to see the Bayeux Tapestry where we had the great good fortune to be only one of a few visitors early in the morning so the tapestry could be viewed at a leisurely pace and you could back track to examine interesting parts. Whomever drew the cartoons for the embroidery surely knew a horse back to front and back again- they are really marvellous. Loved that the threads used had been dyed with natural colours  of a limited palette and it is amazing that the colours from the 11th century have lasted as they have despite all the adventures the tapestry encountered.

The last week we spent in the United King  near Lancaster- a part of the UK I had not seen before. We did visit the Lakes District ( which was pretty busy because of the school holidays) and we made a trip to Farfield Mill in the Yorkshire Dales to visit the exhibition of work by Kay Leech and Gillian Cooper. The mill  buildings also house a number of artists studios as well as the Galleries which could be visited and was delighted to find the studio of Stuart Wilkie and his wonderful lino and wood engraving prints so evocative of the wildlife of the Yorkshire Dales and very reasonably priced , so a heron and hare made it back to Australia.

It has been hard to get back into work mode, but I have had to put the head down and develop a class for Textile Arts Org that will air in January of 2015. Can't reveal much yet but it is inspired by travels , especially my stay in Perugia last year. 

Little linocut print- there is a booboo in this one- can you spot it. Have done it again because once I noticed it really annoyed my that I had made such a simple error= been out of linocutting mode too long!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

 Happy New Year 2024

It is hard to believe  but 2024 marks the 20th year I have been blogging.  Are any other bloggers out there having a 20th birthday? We could have a party! There have been many changes online since I started and when I started my blog all those years ago it was with some trepidation about putting myself out there and thinking I had anything to say that anyone could possibly want to read. Since I started several computers have died including a back up drive where I had much material stored from 2004-2011. I had thought of making a book from my blog posts but there are too many pages. I seem to be on instagram more these days like many others and of course we are still doing more work on the Inkpot Alchemists website and will blog there. To be honest I have thought of closing this blog because I get so many spam comments on it- it takes more work to delete them than it does to make a blog post (almost)- yet something keeps me staying here. It is almost like, now that I have been here this long I would be sad to see it go. I know my posting has been more intermittent these last years though I have not been less busy apart from the pandemic years.

So 2024 is shaping up to be busy. I shall be travelling to Europe in March and April. Cheryl my inkpot Alchemist friend is coming along with me, as we want to trail some European plants for the inks and see how the water interacts with our recipes and what tweaking we need to do. This is all research for the book we are writing and will self publish. We also have a newsletter available, if you would like a copy send an email. We will write a newsletter quarterly with all sorts of information.

The grasses have been phenomenal this year- I don't ever remember seeing them so tall and such variety. They print so beautifully.

We are heading to Italy first and landing in Venice. Cheryl has not been to Europe before and you can't go to Italy and not see Venice. Then it is on to Milan to teach at Roberta de Marchi's  shop on the weekend of 9-10 March. If you are interested in coming along contact the shop. We leave Milan for a few days in Lyon and hopefully some botanical encounters there- any suggestions will be most welcome.

Then from 16-31 March I will be exhibiting at Croisement des Arts in Chartres. It is such a thrill to be invited to exhibit at this event in 2024. The last time I exhibited was in 2019. I am the only Australian to have ever been invited to exhibit at this multi-arts event which includes artists from France and Europe and sees a program of not only art, but music and lectures as well . It is such a thrill to be involved and Chartres holds a special place in my heart for its welcome that it has given me . I will be exhibiting much new work that I have not shown previously as well as some work from my book Tifaifai. I am really looking forward to being in Chartres again and Cheryl and I will also be doing some experimenting whilst we are there and a little bit of castle visiting.

On the 2nd of April we depart for the United Kingdom and a village near Lancaster to visit a friend of Cheryl's and hopefully get in a bit of a walk in the Lake District which I have not visited before- and then its home again. Could not be away too long as my vegetable garden needs my attention and hopefully there will be some things that  can still be harvested. It is always such a  balancing act- garden/travel/ work at home- and then there is my  feline friend who needs to be looked after whilst I am away.

I have not done much stitching of late, been too busy trialing printing inks and printing- there is so much fun wild foliage to work with including roadside weeds ( I did a whole series of work about roadside weeds from my morning walks in the shadow of Pic St Loup in France)

I would love to hear what you have enjoyed most from my 20 years of blogging. It has been such an incredibly supportive community for all this time and I am truly grateful to those who have followed this journey through its ups and downs and have purchased books and prints and quilts over the years. I doubt I could have achieved what I have without my blog and you its readers- so from the bottom of my heart thank you! And  I will send a special small gift to my favourite comment!

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

New Adventure

 It has been awhile since I blogged and there has been a reason. Apart from being very busy with teaching associated with the Gathered Threads Exhibition, Geelong Fibre Forum and Slow Stitch in Ulladulla, my friend Cheryl Cook and I have been experimenting, playing and creating some exciting  art and textile art using natural inks created by using recipes developed by Cheryl and pushing them further to encompass a range of textile techniques. They behave and work differently to eco dyeing and eco printing and allow all sorts of ancillary explorations on both cotton and paper. We are excited and have been working hard and we have now launched a website entitled Inkpot Alchemists. There are still more materials to add but we  are offering workshops and some eye candy as well as sharing our ethos in working in this way and as we are both passionate about extending our creative muscles as well as yours. I case you are interested this coming Sunday  we will be exploring printing with natural inks and  including linocutting. Just email me if you would like to come and I can send details. The cost is $80 for a day workshop up at Cheryl's studio at Tanjil South

For me this has been a very exciting development in a slightly different direction and opens the door to lots of exploration in both textile and book form ( something I had been dabbling in). Cheryl and I also intend to write a book exploring the work we have been doing  both creatively and the processes we have used, though the book will also delve into the creative process and how the natural inks have fuelled exploration and contemplation. We have both inspired each other and get a great deal of joy out of working together and meet up weekly in order to explore further. Anyway have a look at our website and see some of the things we have been working on and what we have been thinking about.

Meanwhile here are some of the things I have been working on. Some of the things I have shown will be discussed in the future on our blog attached to the new website. I have not done very much stitching as I have been too busy exploring. I have printed with some of the inks on mulberry paper purchased at Geelong Fibre Forum in September and I am stitching the pages I printed and loving what happens with the stitching in combination with the natural ink printed linocuts. The linocuts were inspired by my  two week sojourn in Perugia earlier this year and I love how the inks really have a medieval feel about them which seem to marry well with the linocuts I have made. I have found some naturally dyed linen threads in France from Fonty which stitch beautifully. I must admit this palette I am working with is quite different to the one I  use with the procion dyeing I did, but this new way of working is al about nuance and embracing nature as both inspiration and work friend

Friday, September 01, 2023

Gathered Threads

It is 1 September and I find myself curating another exhibition of fellow textile artists which will be on at ArcYinnar , Gippsland and opens tomorrow at 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend if they are so inclined and  we would love to see you there. The artists involved are listed in the flyer below.

We spent yesterday and today installing and I am happy with the diversity of the work and how it looks in the space. Each artist is exhibiting a small body of work so you can get a real feel for their work and vision.

Work by Cheryl Cook using her natural inks and inspirations.

Work By Robina Summers and Beth and Trevor Reid.

                                                 Work by Lisa Anderson and Judith Oke

                                                           Work by Nicole Kemp

                                                                 Work By Lynette Weeks

                                                       Work by Sarah Louis Ricketts


                                        Work by Carolyn Sullivan and Lynette Weeks and gallery view.

I also put in some of my own work. Lately I have been embroidering some of the wonderful madonnas I encountered on recent travels and when I looked over my work I realised they have in one way or another been an ongoing theme for quite some time- whether as actual madonnas or icons or sentinelles or as faces from the past. So I decide I would make an installation of them and include some of the work i have done in paper/books  about them as well.

As part of the exhibition Cheryl Cook and I will be running a series of taster workshops in the Sparc Gallery as well as showing some of our work with natural inks and nature printing. The flyer below  shows the taster workshops we are running throughout September ( except for when I am at Geelong Fibre Forum when Cheryl will hold the fort). The cost for the taster workshops is $10 and all you need do is bring yourself.

It has been a busy few months, having been to Perth for Fibres West which was great fun and being involved with Exuberance that was on in Canberra as well as the book that was produced by Carol Cooke and Sharon Peoples with small essays about their work by each of the 20 artists involved in the exhibition. The book is available from their websites which I have linked. There was some fabulous work in the exhibition and it is wonderful to read of some of the thinking behind the pieces in the book.

I am really looking forward to teaching at Geelong Fibre Forum later this month- we will be creating some small linocuts to use in creating traveller's blankets.

 I have also  made a new linocut inspired by morning walks ( I seriously have to get back into the habit- I do go but  not every single morning like I used to and I don't know why as I love going).

It is quite large and took me quite some time to carve. I will be printing more soo and they will be for sale. I have to dye the fabric first though and that always takes time.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Preparing for Fibres West

 I have been back from Europe for two weeks and a bit, but it seems so much longer ago and the days are so short and cold. I don't think I suffered jet lag , but the cold seem to slow down my blood to such an extent I was having trouble getting out of bed. The last week or so of the European trip was spent in Portugal in the city of Porto with one or two side trips by train to the countryside- and whilst it was not super hot it was pleasant and warm. I loved Porto, the people were friendly and the tiles were wonderful and whilst we had been told the food was ordinary my friend Margo and I found no such thing. It did help that there was a very good restaurant within walking distance from the hostel where we stayed which was a bit out of the city centre- the set menu food was excellent and very good value, lots of fresh seafood, we ate there most nights. The wait staff were wonderful as well- they made us feel very welcome and at home. There was also a very good bakery around the corner where it was possible to get a good latte made with real milk and of course Pasteis de Nata though most of the local people seemed to eat a crusty bread and butter which was also very good. The first image is the tiled entrance foyer of the railway station.

Then it was back to France to sort through things I had left at my friends house over the years- a working kit of sorts, and as I had not seen it for 4 years some things needed to go. France has been experiencing rolling strikes for public transport and when I couldn't book a ticket for the train to Barcelona to catch my flight in the evening, I decided to go a day early and stay in Girona for the night rather than risk travel nightmare in the event of a strike. I am so glad I did, I had a lovely walk around the city and it has a vibrancy that used to exist in Barcelona but seems to have been touristed out. Lots of interesting small businesses and lovely coffee shops all run by young people- I guess the rents are much more affordable in Girona than Barcelona (everywhere I went in europe there is a housing crisis)

Then it was the long haul back to the cold- brrr- it is a cold and wet winter yet again- it chills to the bone and is hard to get used to after  walking around in sandals and cotton shirt.

It feels like I have done very little since being back but in all reality I have been steadily working. First of all  there was my Nardoo Meanderings piece to prepareand to parcel up and send to Canberra in readiness for the opening of Exuberance Curated by Sharon Peoples and Carol Cooke. There is a book edited by the curators that showcases the work of the twenty embroiderers involved with little essays by each artist  of their working methods and choices and thinking behind the creation of the pieces.

Above is the cover of the book. It is exciting to be a part of this. The book is self published so is only available through the website of Carol Cooke or from the exhibition. It is the first survey of embroidery practice in the book format for quite some time in Australia. I can't wait to see the book. There is a limited print run so if you think you would like this book I would order it now. The exhibition  opens on 6 July at Craft & Design Canberra and tickets are available here.

Unfortunately I cannot make it to the opening as I will be in Perth for Fibres West where I will be teaching the traveller's blanket and also linocutting for motifs to include in your blanket. Really looking forward to being in Perth and the buss of the buzz of such gatherings.

During the week I made a trip to Colac in order to deliver two sentinelles for a retrospective of CrossXpollinatioN  at Copacc celebrating 10 years of the event. I exhibited in the first two and was involved with installing the exhibitions along with Carole Redlich. I only have two of the sentinelles left after making a series of 10 in 2012/2013. The Ochre Earth Sentinelle and the Red Sentinelle are the ones that remain. I stayed the night in order to attend the opening and it was good to catch up with people I knew when I lived in Gellibrand. I did make a quick visit to Gellibrand to see how I would feel, but I can say I have no regrets about leaving and I only felt a little sad about the broken dreams.

The rest of the time I have been dyeing fabric and printing fabric in readiness for Perth and the Slow Stitch Gathering in Ulladulla later in July, and catching up with family. I will come home via Canberra so I can visit Exuberance. 

And I have been mulling all those wonderful Madonna images I encountered in Italy and Portugal and Spain, thinking, thinking, thinking. It is about the seeing and how things are  presented and idealised and yet there is also an element of  encountering the faces of women from the past.