Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Creating

This last month has been super busy and one of those months where I wished I had an extra day for every day that passed. I have been up at Gembrook working but also waiting for a car to be fixed which my children bought for my birthday last year. As it is an older car it needed  quite some things fixing and as my daughters all work  and study and are busy with their jobs and lives this has taken longer than hoped- but anyway finally a RWC has been issued- now to get to the Vic Roads appointment, and hopefully I will be mobile so that I don't have to hire or borrow cars to get to Gellibrand and I can finally get stuck into some much needed  pruning and I can also end this frustrating dance of carrying equipment and supplies for a four hour road trip  from west to east and  four hours back again. Now that I have adjusted to the idea of living in my shed when I am in Australia, I really miss not being there- but most of all I miss my books and having  all of the things I work with readily accessible. No minimalism for me especially not in the book department.

I have been travelling to  two Craft and Quilt Fairs with the Aussie Bush Project, and will be attending another next week in Canberra, which I am looking forward to. I have made a small installation piece of  strings of gum leaves to help create a bush feeling. I can't tell you the number of times people have asked if I have a pattern for it. Unfortunately the photo is over exposed because of the lighting, but at the Melbourne event where it was quite windy where I was sitting, the leaves moved and shivered as they would do in the bush.


I have also been working on another travellers blanket to have for my exhibition at Villa Burrus at  EPM at Ste Marie aux Mines in readiness for the launch of my book with Editions de Saxe. I will be exhibiting with Smaranda Bourgery and Marie-Christine Hourdebaight. I have also been working on quilts for the Through Our Hands which is being shown at Festival of Quilts next week




My Through Our Hands quilt- or part thereof that I was working on last week. They are meant to be portraits- so mine is a portrait of techniques I have used over the years combined with favourite imagery- it is a while since I have done anything with fire- so of course that had to be included, and trees.


My daughter asked if we could  catch up for a weekend in Gellibrand in September- but this is the way September is looking.... fly to New Zealand end August until 10 September with Aussie bush project- fly back sunday morning, swap suitcases, catch plane to Europe Sunday night- install exhibition at EPM, France , board flight back to Oz Monday arrive Tuesday ( we always lose a day coming back) swap suitcase, take flight to Adelaide early Wednesday morning to install Aussie Bush exhibition on Wednesday afternoon-  and finally after the exhibition I can have a bit of a rest and start preparing for East Timor and my residency.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Aussie Bush Project Onwards!

It's been an extremely busy few weeks since being back, and it's more of a challenge as the area where I live is a digital blackout area unless you have a dedicated phone line which I don't. So sometimes it is difficult to blog unless I plan very well and go into Maccas ( yikes) in Colac or am elsewhere where there is wifi.

The Aussie Bush Project had it's first showing in Sydney the weekend before last , and whilst I had hoped for some more entries, what arrived  in my mothers' mail box was  beautiful, the quality very high and I loved how each and every one of you made the  linocut printed panels your own.  I did take some  gallery shots, but I forgot to bring my mobile connector cord.In any case the lighting is always so awful at these big exhibition venues, and I have to say the lighting in Sydney was atrocious for a purpose built brand new venue. You can see some of the installation shots on my facebook page

There is still time to send your entries if you still want to join the project.  But the Melbourne  Craft & Quilt Fair exhibition dates 27-30 July are the absolute last date possible to submit work. Please email me if you would like to join and I will send you details of where to send and pay the entry fee.

I also  will be making a visitor book for the Melbourne exhibition- there were so many positive comments about all of your beautiful work that it should somehow be recorded. I also will be updating the Aussie Bush Page next week whilst I am housesitting as I know I will have wifi access. I will put all images on the page so you can share it with friends and famil and so you can see all the gorgeous work submitted. Please note the exhibition dates are on the  Aussie Bush page. I share with you some of the beautiful work submitted.


                                                           Denise Fordyce

                                                                  Sue Broadway

                                                          Lindell Green

                                                               Sally-Ann Westcott

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Aussie Bush Project

 UPDATE Just a reminder to everyone that I am looking forward to receiving your submissions for the Aussie Bush Project the week after next. Those that I have thus far seen are beautiful and even though using the  prints I made are definitely marching to the tune of the maker/artist.

The two images are of work made by Dominique Houles that she sent to me here in France so I can take them back to Australia next week. Just love all the detail stitching and the borders. If you have a piece to send please email me and I will send you address details  and banking details . Otherwise there is also a paypal button  on the Aussie Bush Project page where I have also updated the touring schedule!





Those of you who are not sure I do so hope you will join the project- I think it will be a wonderful installation . I have been working hard on making I hope hundreds of gum leaves to add to the installation and add to the "bush" feeling. Hoping to get at least another hundred done today- time is running out as I have a busy week ahead before heading back to Australia. I have a 19.5 hour layover in Qatar ( not only did I book to come back in the wrong month  but I also did not notice the layover- sigh) so there will be some hand stitching travelling with me.

The image below is of  the dozens of gum leaves I have already stitched!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Maria Furlan Bellis- a Living Treasure Alert!

This story started about 4 years ago when I was standing in the office of Cuci Service in Oderzo. I noticed some, what appeared to be free motion embroidered framed images. I asked who had made them  and so begins a story of one of Italia's living treasures. Denise Feltrin told me the free motion embroideries had been made by a 90 year old lady who lived in Oderzo, and that she had made many more such embroideries. She offered to take me to see Maria ( the ladies name). Maria was rung to make sure it was ok and next thing I was whisked off with Denise's sister Doris to visit Maria . What happened next just left me  stuck for words. I took photos at the time but I think I was so amazed by what I encountered I did not set my  camera correctly and only a few photos were good enough to share.

So when I knew that I was going to Italy this time and that I would be close to Oderzo I contacted Cuci Service to see if I could meet with Maria again. I also contacted Alex Veronelli  CBDO from Aurifil threads to see if  they would be willing to donate some threads for Maria's work.

So what can I say??? this is the  amazing story of  a lady who took up free motion embroidery on a treadle machine at the age of 80!!!!! She had painted prior to that and had  once a long time ago made a self portrait in thread.

She was a teacher and has very fine sewing skills. When I asked her why she commenced making free motion embroideries at age 80- she said she woke up one morning and knew that was what she had to do. She has made more than a 1000 embroideries and  the Feltrin sisters from Cuci Service were the first to convince her to exhibit her work. She does not sell her work, so many of her works adorn the walls of her house. Walking into her house is like walking into a cave of wonderment ( well for an textile nut anyway) She has made copies of many of the great masters ( even improving some of them) but has also made embroideries of some of her own paintings which are beautiful.

She works on a treadle machine ( unbelievable that she has made so many embroideries on this machine) with a bare needle and an embroidery hoop. She uses a zig zag stitch to build  up layers of colour in thread. She uses any old thread ( which is why I asked  Aurifil to donate some threads) which she sources wherever she can. Maria is now 96 years old, passionate about her  art and passionate about what she makes, passionate about music and art,still grows her own vegetables in  her vegetable garden and is seeking a renewal of her drivers licence- as the french say "formidable"! When I visited this time she was preparing for an exhibition of embroideries she had made inspired by a popular calendar in Italy.

I will share many photos I took with full permission from Maria . I took photos of the walls of her house covered in her works ( all are framed so there was some light glare form the glass covering the embroideries), some of her great masters works, and some of her own which can be identified because she signs  embroideries made from her own work.

 The first three photos of Maria are in her studio



The photos cannot do justice to the effect of walking into Maria's  house and seeing the walls laden with her beautiful embroideries- speechless is one way of putting it. And this is just a small selection of what she had on display.









The following photos are some closer shots where the lighting would allow- the glare of the glass  frames sometimes interfered with photographing.















Klimt's Three Ages of Woman received Maria's own interpretation she left off the old woman because she did  not like her.



I feel humbled and honoured to have been able to give Maria some Aurifil threads and to be able to visit her house and look at her work , which she so graciously allowed me to share. It was an extraordinary experience-0 and I hope  the Italian art world or certainly the Italian textile world makes her a living treasure!  And last  Maria explaining some of her work- full of passion and insights, on art and life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Italia

Aussie Bush Project-- please let me know if you are participating . I have updated the Aussie bush page with additional information . I need to get an idea of numbers as soon as possible. Even if you have not finished your work yet please let me know. You have until 14 June to finish work and deliver it. I would love to see as many panels as possible- and if you submit your work- it will definitely be exhibited and tour.

It's been a fast and furious last few weeks as I drove to Italy ( much longer than you might think), and very dodgy wifi most of the time. A friend decided to come along in the first week I was here, so we stayed near Ravenna. I did a 2.5 day workshop  at Montefiore Conca with Opficia della Rossa. The workshop was a combination of kamishibai , shadow and print making- and gave me lots of food for thought.
Some of the work I made for the workshop- we made puppets out of paper to create characters for the shadow theatre ( the puppets were inspired by tracing shadows of foliage and other things)- and I tried out some different printing- cutting stencils and such- it is quite different working with oil based inks.

The two  teachers were Umberto Giovannini and Anusc Castiglioni and I was very inspired by their work and approach. And I feel incredibly lucky to have swapped a piece of my work for Umberto's Ferrocarril 1- and ongoing project he is involved with in recording farflung places and peoples.I don't do many workshops , but have found over the past few years that Italy does offer some very good and innovative courses and they are worth looking out for and are often very reasonably priced. Anusc's shadow work for theatre and films she has made has reiginited my interest in lace- and well printmaking and books are my other passions.Being able to see Umberto's work on an evening visit to his studio for a meal and viewing  his new work was simply wonderful. His print works are on a very large scale and full of shadow and layer- really inspiring and atmospheric.

Some images from Umberto's book- he made wood blocks (xylographs) on each day of his travels for 23 days in the outlands in Argentina.Feel very lucky to be able to view this in the flesh.




Then it was onto Lido de Jesolo- not because I am a beach holiday resort  person, but because the season has still not started and it was possible to get very reasonably priced accommodation in a small apartment. Another friend , Caroline Higgs and I had arranged ages ago to visit Venice. She had seen many parts Italy she had never been to Venice. It was lovely catching the boat bus to Venice in the early mornings  with the local children going to school or local people going to work,before the tourist hordes descend. You end up arriving near Piazza san Marco- so you are also travelling against the tourist tide that invades from the railway station. If you ever go to Venice make the effort to get up really early in the morning- it is quite magical and it is easy to get around- none of the shops are open to distract- you simply concentrate on the ambience and you can get very good photographs because it is not as bright and the light is slightly diffused with water vapour.





 There is so many things to see in Venice and at present the Biennale is on. We did go to one or two fringe events but decided not to see it simply because so many were video installations or combinations of such in the top 10 rated exhibits. The one we did want to see was NSK Pavilion but we ran out of time because we did a half day mosaics workshop with Artefact Mosaic Studio, which we stumbled upon in our wanderings around the city. The course was for 3 hours and was very reasonably priced and included materials. Allessandra di Gennero and Romauld Mesdagh are extremely talented mosaicists, with awards under their belt and "master" qualifications from  the Scuola Mosaiciste del Friuli ( the best mosaic school in the world)- their passion for their work was palpable. It turned out that at one time Romauld had lived very close to where Caroline lived in the French Alps- the world is such a small place sometimes- and they had the loveliest "love" story  as only Venice can offer! Allessandra ( originally from Rome) wanted to study at the Scuola Mosaiciste del Friuli because she had seen a portrait made in mosaics when visiting the school- it inspired her to such an extent that she applied and was accepted for the school. During her study she got to know Romauld in classes and on discussing what had inspired her to study at the school she took him to see the portrait. The school does display work of students but usually with no name- so she was aghast when he reached for the portrait, because you cannot touch the work,  and then showed her the name on the back- yes you guessed it and now they run their inspiring studio together in  Venice. You can also commission their work. Take some time to look at their website- the work is stunning- plus  the restaurant they recommended for our last meal in Venice was excellent .




And every now and then you run into a piece of art that stops you in your tracks and simply has you gasping for breath and leaves you with tears in your eyes. We walked into the Chiesa della Pieta because it was a free  fringe exhibit of the Biennale and on the way to the boat bus station. What we had not expected was to find such incredible emotion. I took pictures and of course will give the artist Safet Zec's website- but there is no substitution for seeing the work in the flesh. He works on grounds seemingly made out of layered papers and newspapers, but it is the emotion in the plight of refugees that he has created that is breath taking. He and his family were once themselves refugees- he makes all those human connections seem alive and heartbreaking. For those that say painting is dead- this work proves that it is not. Caroline and I both had the same response to the work and we went back a second time. It  is powerful and moving and asks us the question of what it is to be human.My photo does not do justice to the work.