Sunday, March 26, 2017

Moments of Quiet

The exhibition at Chartres finished last Sunday and I headed off to my cousin who lives in a rural France in the Indres region on the way to Chateauroux. Her brother, also my cousin, whom I had never met before and another cousin from their fathers side of the family were also visiting for a few days. It's uncanny meeting family you have never met  through circumstance and because your parents immigrated to the other side of the world, and to find you have so many commonalities and that my brother even looks a little like him. It was pleasant spending a few days getting to know them in front of the fire, as the weather was not very co-operative.It is lovely to enjoy the peace and quiet of the rural area where my cousin lives- so different to being in a city!

I have also stitched quite a lot on my pomegranate piece since I last posted- I think the black stitching is finished- just as well as I have 40 cm of black thread left! As I said this piece is a Travellers Blanket of sorts and a very personal journey but its morphing and changing as I stitch simply because so much of family is in this piece, and just the last few days spending time with cousins has added an extra dimension for me, and it has acquired even more meaning, and one that I did not think it would- but I know whenever I pick up this piece part of the memory will be of this week. Now I need to get onto embroidering the lighter indigo areas.

The travellers blanket book is being translated at the moment so there has been a few back and forths with the translators about certain words or ways of expressing which is very interesting in its own way. When I wrote it, I did think about how it might be translated into french ( even though my french is not good)  but there are ways of saying things in english that are difficult to translate into french. I completed the drawings for the book before I went to Chartres but as I did the drawings, a few ideas did pop into my head and it's been lovely having quiet time, so to speak, to explore those ideas a little.

I was a little intrigued as to how much like maps my drawings of the embroideries looked, and I guess when you think about  embroidery patterns they are a map really. But it did make a little buzz sort of go off inside my head, about lets put that into the thinking tank. I made about 64 of these little drawings so there was a bit of thinking to do lol! But then I played around with them this morning because I actually am thinking about the next blanket as well - the one after the pomegranate one- and well this is what I came up with.

And then my brain jumped to linocut linocut- because I was doing some looking around on the internet to share for the linocutting group I am teaching- so tomorrows job is a lot of  carving! It's quite big and a few changes will happen because of the way the tools work.

So there is still time to sign up to the Travellers' Blanket on-class which starts on April 3 - which is the only one I will be teaching this year-it's an online class to hopefully inspire you to explore your own stories in hand stitch. there is  more information on my previous last two posts with a Paypal button also.

And lastly but not least , and how did I not know this??? There is a Rilke connection to Chartres. He wrote a poem about the Meridian angel on the outside of the Cathedral ( he actually wrote six poems about Chartres but until I get home I will not be able to find out exactly  what those were)

round the strong cathedral 
like a denier thinking through and through,
your tender smile suddenly engages
our hearts and lifts them up to you.

O smiling angel, sympathetic stone,
your mouth distilled from a hundred mouths:
do you not mark how from your always-full
sundial our hours slide off one by one –

that so impartial sundial, upon which
the day’s whole sum is balanced equally
as though all our hours were rich and ripe?

What do you know, stone-born, of our plight?
And does your face become more blissful still
as you hold the sundial out into the night?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, tr, J. B. Leishman
  (slightly modified by Oriana)

Dans la trombe assaillant la forte cathédrale
Comme un dénégateur qui pense et qui repense,
On se sent tout à coup plus tendrement guidé,
Du fait de ton sourire, en ta direction :
Toi l’ange qui souris, figure qui ressent,
Et dont la bouche unique est faite de cent bouches :
Ne remarques-tu point comment pour toi nos heures
Vont glissant tout le long du plein cadran solaire,
Où le nombre du jour se tient, entier, ensemble,
Pareillement réel, en profond équilibre,
Toute heure étant tenue, croit-on, pour mûre et riche ?
Que sais-tu, toi qui es de pierre, de notre être ?
Ton visage est peut-être encor plus radieux,
Quand entrant dans la nuit, tu montres le cadran.

Im Sturm, der um die starke Kathedrale
wie ein Verneiner stürzt der denkt und denkt,
fühlt man sich zärtlicher mit einem Male
von deinem Lächeln zu dir hingelenkt:
lächelnder Engel, fühlende Figur,
mit einem Mund, gemacht aus hundert Munden:
gewahrst du gar nicht, wie dir unsre Stunden
abgleiten von der vollen Sonnenuhr,
auf der des Tages ganze Zahl zugleich,
gleich wirklich, steht in tiefem Gleichgewichte,
als wären alle Stunden reif und reich.
Was weißt du, Steinerner, von unserm Sein?
und hältst du mit noch seligerm Gesichte
vielleicht die Tafel in die Nacht hinein?
(in Neue Gedichte, 1907)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Aussie Bush project

The Aussie Bush Project will commence life at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair at the end of June in 2017- so there is still time to  finish or make your pieces! ( I have brought printed fabrics with me so I can send them from ChARTres) I have photographed the colours I have with me. If you would like to purchase a panel please go to the Aussie Bush Page and use the paypal button for each of the designs- please also let me know which colour you would like- which you can do when paying by leaving a comment. so below are the colurs I have available.

The bush project will travel to Sydney, Melbourne, Hamilton ( New Zealand) , Wellington ( New Zealand), Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and in 2018 to Quilt en Beaujolais in France and Berry,NSW in August 2018 where it will finish touring and all pieces will be returned to their makers. So there is still time- I will need finished pieces by mid June.

Travellers' Blanket On-line Class will begin on 3 April 2017- it will be the only time I run this course  for 2017 ,as the second half of the year gets very busy and then I am doing a residency in Timor Leste from mid October to Mid December and I may not have regular internet access. I am currently working on a blanket which is quite different to the ones I have previously worked on, because it is a story of an inner journey rather than one of encounters. But the blankets are a wonderful means of stitching  stories and creating tactile memories. There is a richness that seems to build of its own accord and all of the finished blankets I have seen over the years of teaching this course have been very beautiful each different and marvellous. If you would like to join I have an information sheet. I have added a Paypal button for ease of payment

I am working on indigo dyed khadi cloth and hand printed pomegranates- it is taking a lot of stitching, and I have been working on it whilst being at the ChARTres exhibition- so many people just want to run their hand over the stitching. The exhibition is being held at the Collegiale Saint Andre which is a wonderful  twelfth century stone building ( renovated)- however it is quite cold and I have a little heater to help combat the cold. I am staying at the higher end of Chartres so have to walk down a lot of steps to get to the Collegiale. One of the things I walk past are these formal gardens in the shape of a labyrinth.

  A struggling dandelion- it always amazes me how strong plants are- there can't be much soil there to nourish this dandelion, but it looks healthy and strong!

And the next  photo is one of the Queens of Chartres alongside her original inspiration.

And lastly- you cannot do things in France without thinking about food of some sort. I have to say the yoghurts in France taste so much better than those in Australia ( and fortunately they are not so obsessed with low fat yoghurt- I mean how do they make yoghurt in Australia if they are not using proper milk???? the mind boggles and I am sure they are full of sugar or something else that is bad) Anyway I love the la Fermiere yogurt- not only does it taste very good but it comes in the most lovely terracotta jars which will be going home with me-- I have seen the jars used in  restaurants around the place as well. 

Saturday, March 04, 2017


I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this event again this year. Chartres is such a lovely place to visit and it has also inspired some of my work, so it's really wonderful to be able to exhibit some of my work here. This years theme is a quote from Simone Weil from her book The Need for Roots ( L'enracinement), so I will put the text here ( we had to write and explanantion of our interpretation of the quote). it explains why I have been working with angels. The work itself is called Tweets from Heaven- and those of you who follow world news may may realise what this is a reference too- it's time for humanity to count!

"En chemin, l'empreinte de l'autre...". 

This quote proved to be a little enigmatic for me as I read the English version of Simone Weil's book L'Enracinement ( the Need For Roots in English) and I was unable to contextualise it within the translation. However as I read the book (and reread it) I found myself nodding and sometimes aghast at the unfolding of events in the present day bearing such similarity to that of which Simone Weil wrote in her last days in 1943. However I do not intend to delve into a political treatise. The quote seems to me to be more personally directed- the way forward, and if I am to be active in the way forward it requires me to examine my conscience and ultimately my beliefs, it is also in the end slightly optimistic.

I believe that for us to find solutions requires the input of all humanity, not just disparate tribes of humans- we are all human, our DNA attests to this, and as such we need to keep in mind at all times other humans, living wherever they do and believing whatever they believe. In writing of the needs of France to rediscover itself in the darkest hours of World War II, Simone Weil saw as indispensable the need for “a passionate interest in human beings, whoever they may be, and in their minds and souls: the ability to place oneself in their position and to recognize by signs thoughts which go unexpressed: a certain intuitive sense of history in process of being enacted; and the faculty of expressing in writing delicate shades of meaning and complex relationships” ( p197 The Need for Roots)

This belief of Weil's came out of her belief in God- and this God ,though essentially Christian was not of any particular nuance,rather a belief in one God- one who was ultimately the barometer of our obligations to our fellow human beings. Because without such belief ( and she did not really differentiate between religions as such ) there was a failure of ethics and morality. In this regard she expounded obligations that she felt were above this world and therefore in the sphere of godliness or eternity. She also felt that obligations were binding on humans individually and not to collectivities, such as countries, tribes etc, though there was a role for such collectivities. She saw these obligations existing towards every human being by the fact that they were a human being. She saw the obligation as eternal ( and therefore wound into her belief in God) and unconditional. She found evidence for it everywhere. She saw the eternal obligation towards the human being to not let him suffer from hunger when one has the chance to come to that human being's assistance- she identified these as vital needs which could be physical and moral which in turn raised issues of respect in collectivities.

But how to encapsulate this in an art work? There is no doubt that Simone Weil appreciated that art had the ability to “move” She said :“ The contemplation of veritable works of art, and much more still that of the beauty of the world, and again much more that of the unrealized good to which we aspire, can sustain us in our efforts to think continually about the human order which should be the subject uppermost in our minds.”( p11)

Last year I visited Padua and encountered the idea of an army of angels- there was a whole room in the Museo Civico di Padova devoted to angels and armies of angels. That thought intrigued me. Angels are the messengers in many different religions/cultures from the eternal or God, the idea that an army of angels might be sent had many implications for me. If angels are the emissaries from the eternal or God ,who from time to time to bring revelations or admonitions, then to send and army must be serious indeed. And so the angel image kept on reappearing as I read Simone Weil who in a sense was a kind of angel as well with her insight and belief in human good.

I also like to print and the mechanism of print making can leave a shadow , particularly when printing on fabric- a shadow of another print- or the “other” and therefore all the human beings to whom I am connected . My obligations to my fellow human beings is to ensure that they do not starve ,as too many do, and that they have a place in which not to starve, unbound by arbitrary borders. In contemplating the current state of the world- , it's inconsistencies and its failings, which is derived from human action and greed rather than an attention to the eternal, I feel there is a need at present for an army of angels to remind us of our obligations to each and every other human being. And so I have created this installation of angels, because our obligation is to our fellow human beings, not to nations and artificial boundaries or political motives, but to ensuring that every child woman and man does not starve- that is our eternal obligation and the angels are here to remind us of this and to remind me of what my obligations are.

I had hoped to make 100 stitched angels- thereby indelibly imprinting my hands and head with my obligation, but I ran out of time ( too many things happening and not enough time) so I reached the number 70 and in the end it was just as well I did not make 100 because only 70 would fit exactly on the backboard to which I stuck them- I had envisaged them hanging free- but did not like how they looked. So here they are Tweets from Heaven an army of angels!

And some of my other work- the two new Medieval Tree pieces and various other pieces from last year and  the years before.

And last but not least- had to include a Babbling Banksia- for they for me are also a symbol of all the human beings in the world- a little bit of Australia in ChArtres. There is information  on the event - just click  here.

There is still time to enroll for the Travellers' Blanket online class which starts on April 3- there is information on my previous blog post and also a Paypal button ( which has now been fixed)