Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fleeting Moments

I finished my Fleeting Moments piece today for the Colours  of Africa outdoor exhibition.I had to make something light weight but also able to endure a months worth of weather so I hope it will stand up to the weathering process. It is quite large about 1.6 metres square so i suspect the wind will have quite a role to play in how it survives. It was a bit of a dilemna making it,because how much time do you spend on something that  will disintegrate. Anyway it is off to Belgium and we shall see!
My eldest daughter Celeste  and I have been designing "dolls" that will form part of my "France" exhibition. We drew the figures and then made linocuts and hopefully will have them made into kits  by Fiona Wright's The Stitching Project so that they will come ready to stitch with threads included.At the moment they are still in the try out stage- they are both exactly the same size but because I put a bottom in the female shape she grew a bit taller. We have to think of a name for our project- any ideas anyone? I also used brown printing ink as I did not have any black ink on hand and I don't especially like the brown ink but I was anxious to see how they would stitch up.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Getting Hotter

I often work in the sunroom attached to this house which is not insulated- so in the depths of winter it's too cold and in the heat of summer it is way too hot.Today is one of those days- it's been hot all week, so even my other workroom which gets the full sun gets too hot to work, so it's been a week of uneven work habits- and yet I feel like I am shoring up for something- not quite sure what- but it creates that odd feeling of expectancy- but expectancy of what?

My tour of France has been cancelled- not enough travellers unfortunately and none for the tour of Italy.It's a pity there were some wonderful things to see and enjoy.

I have been  doing volunteer guiding at the Geelong Gallery. It's been fun, not that I have done a lot of guiding but it does get you looking at the collection on a regular basis and of course any new exhibitions. At the moment  there is an exhibition of glass  by Nick Mount entitled The Fabric of Work- which is just wonderful. I think I just about love every single piece in this exhibition from the scent bottle inspired urchin like pieces to the more statuesque sculptural assemblages and the fruit and vegetable inspired pieces.
 The  lustrous translucent aubergine glass piece is accompanied by some Lionel Lindsey woodcut prints.
 On my walk on Friday- again mistiness through heat and  in the middle ground that is the reflections in the water- it doesn't look like water at all.

There is a fallen tree trunk along one of the paths- I wondered why it had been left there but on closer inspection it had actually been  played with  with bands of coppery  sheets and rusty nails. Lovely textures which the camera doesn't really pick up.

Oh and I have more news on Hortense Hazard- but I will save it for another post- I found her novel written in Italian and quite a lot of other things including a living descendant!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paris , Homage a Raoul Dufy and On-line Lutradur Class.

I have  been working on a transfer printed piece inspired by some Dufy paintings and tapestry designs of Paris for my France work. I must say it's taken me some time to get a decent print because I made  a few mistakes as I went along- in the first instance I forgot to reverse the image, then when I did the paper shifted and I ended up with a blurred image, then I tried it with transfer crayons and the same thing happened. Then another print had movement, too much and finally i came up with this print, the paper still moved a little but I can rescue that with stitching, and in any case after five tries enough was enough as it took more than a day to paint the transfer paper. The stitching is progressing at breakneck speed in comparison to painting the papers to create the transfer which is approximately 90 cms square. The  image has been printed on polyester non-woven ( lutradur)

And...on working with lutradur

Last year when I was in France last year I made an instructional video for 2Mains Pour Creer on the use of polyester non-woven ( lutradur) the way i work with it which is slightly different to the way a lot of people work with it.  You can see a preview of the video here and you can enrol for the class ( which is in French or English) here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Coffee Pots and Heide

Last Sunday was my birthday and two of my daughters and I went to see the Louise Bourgeois Late Works being exhibited at Heide. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the work in the flesh rather than in books and loved the spider installation and some of the very late works where she had sewn pieces together , patchwork style from  her clothing which she had recycled in this way. There was also an exhibition of Albert Tuckers work from his European Years and  of Sidney Nolans' experimental works in the Reed's House. I would love to have a house and library like in that house- such lovely roomy yet not overly large  spaces. We walked around the kitchen garden and encountered these lovely sculpture above- I love the vignette viewed through the hole in the  matted reeds.
I also found a Sturts Desert pea in flower in the garden- I have never actually seen one flowering.
I have been working but things are going slowly. I am still working on the Paris  inspired Dufy scene- have made four transfer prints so far and am unhappy with all of them so have been working on a fourth and managed to spill some of the paint i was painting with- I did wipe it up quickly but I hope I wiped away enough colour for it not to print too strongly , otherwise I will have to start again!

And I have stitched a lutradur printed coffee pot linocut.I like. the way it turned out though I should have used a better background fabric ( the one I chose was int he same tones as the print) The coffee pot print ( without the stitching ) is available for purchase at $15AUS plus postage- the print measures 11 x 14 inches approx.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Morning Walks and Some Stitching

I don't know how this week got gobbled up so quickly- but it has disappeared and I haven't got nearly enough work done.

I have been going on morning walks with a neighbour from down the road and we have been walking  along the Moorobool river and the foreshore. It's lovely to get out early in the morning and do some walking whilst the air is still cool.

 The colours were lovely and there was still some mist coming up from the cool water. We walked as far as the old Fyansford Mill. What fun to discover an old petrol bowser still in gallons- that is pre-1965!

And despite the water looking dark and murky from all the tannin from the gums the reflections were wonderful.

I worked on a sample of stitching- I will be teaching  in Italy and France come April as well as attending Quilts en Beaujolais. The image is of a friends cat who has  wide green eyes ( she is not well at the moment so I am sending a little prayer with the image!) You can see the original photo and my translation- I was really happy with how it came up!

 I did finally manage to get a successful  transfer print of the Paris Dufy inspired scene- not without mucking up the first print and having to live with the second as it takes such a long time to draw the whole scene. This time I did it with transfer crayons which in a way were not fine enough pointed for fine detail, but allow me to wash the colour where I wanted it. The problem with crayons is that you usually get only one good print- and I mucked up the firt print as the paper is about 1 metre square and it moved - so I basted the  paper to the lutradur so it wouldn't move and crossed my fingers that a second print would happen- and it did on the whole and the bits that did not transfer so well i can rescue with stitching.

And last but not least......
Last year I also made a video for  Emma Coutancier in France and her on-line lesson  2Mains pour Creer. The video is about working with lutradur or polyester non-woven. There is an English version and a French version, depending on which language you would like to see it ( though the french version is not spoken by me as my french is not good enough). It's odd seeing yourself on a video and of course I did some dyeing before I left Australia so my finger nails have a bluish tinge- the hands of a working artist! here is the link

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Tentmakers of Chareh el Khiamiah

I have been lucky to have travelled to many places  as a result of curating quilt exhibitions and trying to show off Australian art quilts in the wider world. One of those places was Cairo and I spent many delightful hours accompanying Jenny Bowker  around Cairo on such a trip. Jenny  has been and is  passionate about sharing and exposing the work of the tentmakers of Cairo. You cannot help but be seduced by this covered street filled with bright booths filled with remarkable appliques- all patterns and foliage and birds. I feel truly fortunate to have spent time with some of these men, to have watched them work, to have drunk tea with them and to have purchased some of their work. And as many of you know I am passionate about history and the history of textiles- it is as if the work of the tentmakers has stood still in time and yet it is  also of this time. So how wonderful it is, that Kim Beamish a friend of Jenny Bowker's is making a film about the men and  their work and their life in Bub Zuwela ( also known as Chareh el Khiamiah) .

 But like all things making something takes money and so Kim is hoping to raise $20,000 for the film project through . At present you can pledge money, and if Kim reaches his target  on Pozible you will be asked to donate.You can pledge as little or as much as you can afford.  I can't imagine a more wonderful project to support, because not only does it create an  archive of what is a dwindling art form, but it all shares the remarkable work of these men to the wider world. You can find more information on This Facebook page
 My eldest daughter and one of the tentmakers.

I purchased this piece- it measures about 1 metre square and I loved it for it's embroidery details which were a little different than the traditional patterns.Just looking at these images have brought back memories of a wonderful and amazing trip.

So please if you want to help document  this wonderful and rich heritage which dates to pharaonic times and to share it with the wider world, help Kim bring his project to fruition. And please share this information with the wider world- but lets show what the textile community can do ....... we are powerful!

Jenny herself has written this about the tentmakers:
'The Tentmakers are a group of men in Cairo who make spectacular applique. Nowadays most of what they make is intended for the walls of houses or on beds, but in Pharaonic, early Islamic, and Ottoman times it
was intended for the inside walls of tents. With canvas behind it which formed the outside wall, the rich appliqué glowed with light on it, and was intended to amaze visitors to a leader's tent. Did you know that Cairo was originally called Fustat - which means the big tent? In pharaonic times the tents were appliqued leather, now all the work is cotton.

The art has been slowly dying. Big pieces of cheap, badly registered, printed fabric made in China have poured into Cairo and people buy this rather that the real appliquéd pieces. On top of that disaster - tourism has stopped with unrest for the last two years. Without the work sold in the exhibitions that I have been arranging in other countries they would all be gone by now - instead - stitchers who left are coming back and young ones are learning again. I am thrilled with the progress we have made and very happy with the AQS who committed to them for three years. But - it is still hardly documented at all. There is not one piece in the Cairo Museum or even in the Cairo textile museum. The best article I have ever found is in the Uncoverings magazine and there are no books. Older stitchers are dying and no history has been written.

Kim Beamish is an Australian friend who - when I took him to visit the street on his third day in Cairo - picked up the baton I offered and ran with it. He is making a film about the Tentmakers in these difficult times. He has given most of five days a week for the last seven months - or more. He has paid his own way to shows in England, and has had to pay for three more that have not even happened yet in France and two in America. He has become part of the street and the men are used to him and his camera. He has two young children and a wife who works in the Australian Embassy in Cairo. They have to pay a nanny so that he is free to film. He is, like I was, a trailing spouse. He did not choose to live the 'cocktail parties and bridge' life, but has chosen to go out on a limb
to tell a very moving and necessary story. I know that at the moment he is on the bones of his behind financially and simply cannot afford anything else

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Slowly but Surely

It is as if something is in the air to dampen the mood and feel like I am trawling in the doldrums, and sometimes I am at a loss how to lighten the mood- I have been walking, watching the vegies grow( i was given an above ground vegie garden for Christmas, though it only arrived a few weeks ago, but already we are eating lettuce out of it!), visiting the gallery as there is a lovely print exhibition on, trying to work. Watching the news and seeing  fire and floods affecting many parts of Australia does not help, and my heart goes out to everyone affected. What is even worse is that some of the fires have been deliberately lit or lit through negligent behaviour by people who should know better.

My youngest daughter started her final year of high school this week- it will be a tough year- it always is for children who set their aims high though I was  a bit  perturbed( well really perturbed to be honest) when she  announced last week that she was totally unmotivated about this year- we have not even begun- she seems to have perked up a little .Starting school also necessitated the buying of books etc and shoes and whatever else is needed for school ,some textbooks are scandalously expensive even second hand!

All in all it was a week where I intended much but did not achieve much. Gave a small talk at a neighbours' house- to other  creatives- so that was a lovely  experience. I met my neighbour on the bus stop a year or so ago, and  we started talking and now we go walking and  of course talking!

My friend Laura Liebenberg from Beligum is again organising Colours of Africa  in Essen with a group of friends. This time apart from indoor exhibitors they are also having an outside exhibition with the idea that the weather impacts on the pieces. January 31 was the deadline for the delivery of some images- and I had been procrastinating on this one for quite some time , not only procrastinating, but also lacking motivation. I know I wanted to combine cotton pieces with polyester non-woven pieces so see how differently the weather would impact on the pieces- but what to put on the pieces. I suspect that it will be quite an ephemeral piece so I have called the piece Fleeting Moments. In the bottom photo you can see the effect the wind has on the applied pieces of cloth- I had in mind a kind of giant prayer flag- with little thoughts or prayers sent out into the world- tread softly because you do not know who you tread on, snippets, wishes and small dreams.It's going to be about 1.6 metres square.

I like the way the pieces of applied fabric looks in the wind- almost like the pages of a book. I am also thinking I might tie strips of fabric into some of the in between spaces to add more texture- but I need to keep the piece light as it has to be sent overseas.

 The photos below are of  an autumn leaf which I have translated with solufix into a stitched piece.I tried not to use the original photo for comparison whilst I stitched so was  surprised  at how much the same it looked  to the original photo.I deliberately did not stitch in the background as I wanted to see how long this piece would take as it is a class sample.

Don't forget there is still time to enroll for the Travellers' Blanket Class which starts on Feb 11- just email me if you are interested and I can send you an information sheet.My own stitching on my tangerine  blanket is making slow progress, though I like what is happening with it.