Thursday, October 17, 2013

Acknowledging an Ian Potter Grant I received in 2000

The years 1999 and 2000 were pivotal in how my  arts practice evolved. It was in 1999 I hatched the crazy idea that I would like to go overseas with my then quite young family ( my daughters were 9,7 and 5) and spend 3 months in France. The idea had grown from the fact that I had entered a quilt in what was then known as Chassy D'Or  which was held annually at Chateau de Chassy and had won a kudos prize. The prize  was very welcome  for the resume ,though as I said if was kudos only, but the even better part was that the organiser Madame Tison wanted to purchase this quilt.

So why was this pivotal? Well I  had entered this particular quilt in Quilt National in the USA and it was not  accepted, and I had entered several other things from this series of work in Australia with similar results.It seemed like I was shelling out  quite a lot of money annually for  absolutely no return; even then life was on a strict budget( as a result of this I only charged an entry fee for all the exhibitions I have toured with the work  of other artists , if they were selected, i think it's a much fairer system ). As a result of Madame Tison purchasing the quilt we started corresponding and she had a passion for the environment. As we corresponded it transpired that she was preparing a friendship year for Chassy D'Or in 2000 and so I suggested (  where did I get that cheek from??) that maybe I could bring some quilts from Australia as part of that friendship? We agreed that Madame Tison would co-curate and that the number would be 30 and it would be by all different artists. I then suggested ( even more cheek) that maybe I could do a residency there during the day? Madame Tison said she would be delighted but that I could stay with her at Chassy. At this stage I said  I wanted to bring my family and that we were happy to camp as I knew there were camping grounds nearby. No no she replied she had a big castle and we could all stay...........So that is how we got to live in a castle for 3 months in the year 2000. And  even more surprisingly we were the only Australian travelling exhibition on the European continent in the  year of the Australian  Olympics and that in itself attracted attention.

I have always lived on a strict budget, as my ex husband  did not hold a permanent job and most of our income was generated by my textile pursuits and teaching, so it was obvious we would need grants to tour the exhibition. I also wanted to accompany the exhibition, which by now had the name Australian Bounty with a catalogue as there was  little documenting of Australian art quilts at that time and there were only the odd piece here and there in museum collections- hardly representative of what was going on. I felt we had some really exciting quilt artists. So we got a grant from the Australia France Foundation and I got a personal grant from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust for my travel expenses to not only do the residency at Chassy but also to study antique textiles at the Musee de l'Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse ( because  Madame Tison and I formalised that arrangement and I did create new  work and hold workshops and did demonstrations and talked and walked people through the exhibition. Bernina kindly lent me a machine for the period that I was at Chassy).

 The reason I mention this now, nearly 13 years later ,was that last week I was invited to attend the 20th birthday celebrations of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, and it was a  wonderful night of celebration- of stories of people who had been funded and the difference it had made to their arts practices.The Ian Potter Trust is funded by the Potter family as a private philantrophic trust and they have supported some 1200 artists over the 20 year period. I felt proud to be part of the audience but most of all I felt  extremely grateful that they had seen that my crazy dream was not so crazy at all....This is the Victorian Arts Centre- walking back to the station to catch the train after the celebration.



About The Ian Potter Foundation
The Ian Potter Foundation is one of Australia’s major philanthropic foundations. The Foundation 
makes grants nationally to support charitable organisations working to benefit the community across a wide range of sectors including the Arts, environment, science, medical research, education and community wellbeing.  The Ian Potter Foundation aims to support and promote a healthy, vibrant and equitable community for the benefit of all Australians.

And it has made all the difference, the  connections  I made in 2000 has in many instances turned into friendships and  it still underpins much of what I do in France, people still remember  Australian Bounty and how it sparkled amongst the soaring rafters at Chateau de Chassy and the sandstone walls and terracotta floor tiles, and funnily enough many people still remember the fund raiser we held in the Gellibrand  Community Hall  on a rainy winters day  when  buses and 500 people arrived to see Australian Bounty before it set off on its journey  to Europe.

But you know most of all, last weeks celebratory night reignited my enthusiasm which has waxed and waned over the last 6-7 years of divorce, and family upheaval and struggling to look after my family and work in a sick economy  and just keep all the balls up in the air.It was a worthwhile reminder to trust myself and  what I make, that it does take a little craziness to dream outside the box and that I need to keep dreaming.

And funnily enough what am I working on now? It is still France, but this time work inspired by France itself and the experiences of the last 13 years and it will turn into a book that is a hommage to that experience. So here is another lady of Chartres- this time done  on two different weights of polyester non-woven- one the normal one and the other  florists polyester non-woven which has a much more open layering of the fibres and also colours slightly differently. One is machine stitched and one is hand stitched- which do you prefer?


And I do realise they ended up reversed, which makes the wrong hand pointing  to the heavens in one.



There are still some Mirabelle kits available ( S16 AUS inclusive of postage).

Also the next  on-lineTravellers' Blanket class commences this  Monday on 21 October ( $60 AUS). There is still time to enroll for this class. I have also set up a FB group for all past travellers who have made blankets- to share and inspire each other. There are some stunning pieces out there with some equally wonderful stories. If you want to join the on-lineclass or the FB group ( which is for past travellers as well as commencing ones) just email me .

7 comments:

Shirley Goodwin said...

Both look pretty damn good to me. Looking forward to receiving my Mirabelle and connecting with others via the Traveller's Blanket group. Thanks for the background - although I first met you in 1999 at Queenstown, I lost touch with you for a few years so didn't know this information. Who would have thought that I'd end up staying with you in France? I have acquired a love of Dufy from that experience :-)

Living to work - working to live said...

I often wondered about the France connection. Thanks for this tale.

Fran said...

Goodness, that long ago now!!????

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Yes it was 13 years ago- and the France thing has never waned!

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Shirley so glad you liked that wonderful Dufy exhibition we went to see in Sete- he has a lot of inspiration to offer for textile artists!

Betrice said...

So interesting post, thank you !

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