Today is my last day as a 50 year old something and tomorrow a new decade of 60's begins. I am no longer one of the young ones in my quilt group unlike when I started . When I first went to a quilt group I had two young children, somewhere along the way a third daughter came along and she used to come to AQA meetings with me because I wasn't going to miss a meeting. In those days around 1995 there was a stellar group of quilters at AQA and meetings literally buzzed. Ynez my youngest daughter would be in her carry basket under my chair, and once I got so carried away with some demos going on that I completely forgot she was under the chair- until I suddenly realised and called out in panic- the last time I went to an AQA meeting last year, several reminded me of that event- it had stayed in their minds and had caused much amusement. Irving Green , bless his soul, used to say I had such a beautiful quiet baby because I exposed her to the hubbub of quilterly noise, whilst with his baby granddaughter he had to tip toe around for fear of waking the child. I don't know, but I have to say these things seem almost like yesterday.
I started quilting in 1989 and knew almost straight away I had found my passion. I had sewed and even embroidered as a teenager, I had also knitted and crocheted, making my own fairisle designs and knitted motifs inspired by Jenny Kee- but when I made that first quilt, a grandmothers flower garden block variation from a Pauline Burbidge book, and even though I did not like the resulting quilt, as a result of the fabrics i chose - I had found what I had wanted to do.
The passion stayed alive despite a few years ago when I really felt like bailing out and getting a full time job to pay the bills instead of the uncertainty of income that quilting and teaching brings.I think my passion waned a bit because since 2008 I have been a single mum- and I found that the needs of teenage daughters and running a business was crazily hard- harder than when they were babies, teenagers do not have afternoon naps for a start, and I seemed to be in the car a lot of the time for one reason or another. It was a phase that all mothers go through and I have to say that despite the teenage years and their angst my girls have grown into beautiful, independent , talented young women, that I am incredibly proud of and who are following their own paths into the world . I could not ask for more.
And now I am house sitting the house of a friend in Le Triadou close to Montpellier. I spent time here in 2010 because in all reality I had struggled to find equilibrium after divorce. My friend Liwanag Sales ( also a quilter) had been through a similar thing, except she had more children , but together we talked and talked and talked away a lot of the bitterness that surrounds such events. It started me on another journey. The idea of creating a book that talked about my creative process and how travel affected my creativity, because literally my suitcase is often my studio.I dilly dallied around with the idea when I returned to Australia, and the Sentinelle series intervened including a certificate course in desk top publishing which I loved. The Sentinelles somehow inspired people, though I never really exhibited the whole series in Australia- but people responded to their sense of spirituality and the opportunity to create a story in stitch. I never expected such a beautiful ethereal and deeply moving exhibition would result.The work of many other hands working with a linocut image I had made. It restarted me touring things again, which I had stopped doing in 2010.
Then my daughter studied Visual Communication and Design at RMIT and I have to say she pushed me to finally get the book made that I had been talking about. I had made pieces for it, I had kind of created a story, but I had not pulled it together in any coherent way. To create this book as a collaboration with my daughter Celeste ( Celeste Galtry Creative)was a wonderful experience. She helped me with the Pozible fund raising campaign- which so many of you supported and made self publishing the book possible, and for which I am eternally grateful. She bossed me around, she kept my nose to the grindstone and she designed a beautiful book that sings of her aesthetic, but also showcases my work and the story I wanted to write. Then my good friend http://www.christinemoulin.fr/Christine Moulin did the translation so the book could be bilingual. I am very proud of what we all achieved and it was a huge learning curve. and I am thinking of embarking on another journey like it in a year or two. It combined two things- my love of textile and my love of books and being able to do it with my daughter and a good friend was a special experience.
Part of a series of work in that book , the Chartres chapter is being exhibited in Chartres from 12 March 2016- 20 March 2016- and I have to say it's a thrill to be able to show the Chartres inspired pieces in the place that inspired them. And then onto Quilts en Beaujolais in April- it's the fourth time I have been guest artist at the event and I am very grateful for the support of Monique and Geoff , but it also means I have to make new work!. Then in June I will also be exhibiting as a guest artist along with some other incredibly talented textile artists at Forca Fil in Provence. How can I not love this southern part of France?
So I want to thank all of you - my readers, my friends, and my family who have been so supportive since I first started on this journey. When I began I had no idea, the many friends I would make, the laughter and the fun and the sheer hard work that would ensue, but all of you have helped and nurtured the creative part of my soul, you have kept me going when things were tough and you have kept my buoyed during those times and you have embraced my work so thank you!
And then last but not least- my daughter designed some Moo cards for me- which arrived this morning. Whilst I have had business cards in the past I always printed them myself- this is the first time I have had ones printed by a professional company. There is always room for a new thing! And I love them.( the cards are much nicer in reality- not a very good photograph by me)
So if you leave a comment- I would like to send one lucky reader a gift as my birthday gift to you. Your names will all be put in a hat and I shall send the winner something. I will close the comments on Sunday evening- french time .