Friday, May 20, 2016


I am feeling a bit gefrumpelled- I thought I had sold my block of land in Gellibrand (price agreed etc etc) for the buyer to pull out at the last moment. Now I have to find the upside of this journey. I suppose the first thing is I don't have to pack everything up yet again and find somewhere else to live. Thankfully I have a wood heater in the shed....But there is also a few things I need to work out as well , like getting a car, work out a way to access the internet and get some power for my sewing machine.Anyway onward as they say.

A couple of weeks ago I created a new page of  work for sale- work that I have made since last year ( 2015). I am actually surprised at how much work I have produced in that time as there has been quite a  lot of moving,travelling and spending the summer in the shed without access to power.If you see anything you would like to purchase please email me ( I can be paid by Paypal or internet banking in Australia). Of course some of my older work is for sale and I am prepared to consider reasonable offers.

Of course last weekend was the wedding of my friends daughter Rebecca- it was a lovely wedding catered for  by a traiteur in their garden. of course there were many visitors before and after and I can't tell you how many new I rolled or how much cooking we did- but a lot!

My program for June is quite bsuy and I return to Oz on 2 July- Election day- what fun!
So here is my program for june

11 June at Cuci- Service in Oderzo- creating your own linocut for stamping/printing fabric and embellishing it with stitch
12 June at Cuci-Service in Oderzo- a lecture about my work with many demonstrations of how I work and some fun embroidering/stitching your own little piece of printed fabric as a memento

18 June at Festival du Forcafil in the Luberon Working with Transfer dye/printing and stitching
19 June at Festival Forcafil- Form and Variation-

I have an information sheet I can send of  the Festival du Forcafil which I am happy to send to you - just email me. The Festival itself runs from 24-26 June with many exhibitions to visit in different villages.

Then I head home for awhile for winter cold .

Had  a wonderful day yesterday visiting Michel Garcia in Lauris- he is an amazing fountain of knowledge about natural dyeing  but in a measured scientific way as he consults on many projects that need accuracy and consistency to reproduce  natural colours around the world . My friend Liwanag also came along as she is involved in a biodiversity project in the Phillipines and his approach also seeded many ideas about sustainability . I came away with a lot of food for thought and to come up with an idea of what I would like him to teach me before I go back to Oz- and maybe it was the universe's way of telling me that my block of land could be a source for natural dye stuffs- who knows? And whilst it is not easy to extract colour from Banksias it is not impossible.

The photos above are some of his samples and dyer's hands! And I leave you with another banksia on the way!

Monday, May 09, 2016

The Quatrocento in Siena and Some Tree Linocuts

Have been travelling with my daughter until early last week and have then returned to Le Triadou to get stuck into some serious work ( 2 articles to write for a magazine in Australia and one in France) and work to prepare for  exhibition at Festival des Arts du Fil  ( Forca Fil) in Provence  for 24,25,and 26 June. I am also teaching there on 18 and 19 June Transfer printing and Stitching and Form and Variation. Plus my friends daughter is getting married next week and the wedding will be hosted from their home. I am also teaching at Cuci-Service in Oderzo on 11-12 June 2016.

My daughter and I ended up back in Italy as I wanted her to check out a course on printmaking at Il Bisonte in Florence. Unfortunately it is not within her means to do both the course and afford living there whilst doing the course- it was a nice dream- or maybe I might get lucky and  sell some of my bigger works. However we enjoyed Florence and all it has to offer and we also spent a day in Siena , the city she was named after. The marble floor in the Duomo is always a marvel and the Quatrocento of Siennese painting in the Pinacoteca so worth a visit ( and with surprisingly few tourists for this magnificent period of Siennese art) The Met have an on-line catalogue available with some interesting essays noting the difference between the renaissance in Florence and Siena in case you are interested. I must admit it reignited my idea to do  a book Musing in Textile:Italy on  inspirations from Italy.

A shop window in Florence and a selfie of sorts.

  Inside the Duomo in Siena with my daughter Siena. And then the glory of the Quatrocento.

I have been working on another Babbling Banksia quilt,

 and I think this will be the last for awhile whilst I muse about Italy and the inspirations it offers, do some research and see how I can translate that into cloth and stitch- lace might make a reappearance in my work somehow and I  am feeling very inspired by the ethereal faces of Sano di Pietro- and also the beautiful detail of the cloth in  his paintings.

I also started a quilt with meytree linocut- and drove the sewing machine to distraction so I did not finish it prior to Quilts en Beaujolais unfortunately, but I will finish it now. I also have for sale the tree linocut which measures  50 cm and 40 cm and is double the size of the next nearest linocut I have made. It is printed on hand dyed cloth and costs 20€ plus 3€ postage ( a total of 23€). Email me if you are interested in purchasing the fabric print. The colours in the image are a guide only and as I will be dyeing more cloth next week I can print on any coloured cloth you might like. ( also have available prints of kings and queens of Chartres and the folkloric girl and the rabbit inspired by the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry)

And it is still possible to purchase my book Musing in Textile: France in Australia or here in Europe ( and anyone who might be interested in the US- shipping form Europe is much cheaper than shipping from Australia) Some sample chapters can be read here. The book also includes a dvd with explanations of how I use the techniques of dyeing cloth, making linocut prints, printing fabric, transfer printing and stitching ( lutradur), breakdown printing my way, freemotion stitching, hand stitching and a video demonstrating the techniques. The price of the book is $49.95 in Australia plus postage ( but postage to anywhere overseas is almost as expensive as the book- thank you Australia Post)  and 45€ plus postage from France ( the price difference is due to the different taxes that have to be paid) but the postage is 8€ Anyway if you are interested in purchasing the book please email me.

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.