Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Vienna, Stitching, Dyeing and House Sitting

It was an extremely long journey home from Austria as I had a seventeen hour layover in Doha. Did try and book an hotel but Qatar Airways have changed their system so i could not be sure if I could book a hotel for the time period of 5 am until 7 pm at night- so I sat in the airport instead and stitched. The airfares I travel on don't allow hotel accommodation for long layovers, and even entry to the Oryx lounge was going to cost $55US for 6 hours- I am beginning to wonder why I am a frequent flyer with Qatar Airways- as there seem to be yearly reductions in any benefits that you might accrue for using them several times a year for long haul flights. Thankfully the flights were not full and I arrived at around 6 pm Oz time- which means after eating dinner you get to bed at a reasonably normal hour- which seems to allay the jet lag to some extent.

 Since arriving it has been  hurtling and skirtling- and now I am housesitting- my usual menagerie ; 4 dogs, 3 cats,  a dozen sheep, 15 odd chickens, 6 bantams, 2 puddle ducks ( who thought tonight was a good night to try out a puddle for their night sleep and took some persuading that the chicken house is ultimately the safer place) and some lorikeets . The animals seem to  know my habits better than I do myself, especially the dogs who are now happily ensconced on all the couches and who occasionally nick a ball of thread if they think I am not looking.

As the housesitting is close to where my mother lives I go and hand dye fabric at her house, as well as visit my mother ( as I have no running water or electricity in Gellibrand which means dyeing fabric is a little difficult). I am hoping to solve one of those problems soon. I seem to have solved the rat problem, at last, in the shed ( I am still not sure if they are rat rats or native rats, but the dead rat I found looked too big to be a bush/native rat, which are not truly native to Australia as they came across the waters on a boat some thousands of years ago), but was also hit by a millipede invasion whilst away. Most of them end up on the slab floor rather than other surfaces so a good sweep seems to get rid of most of that problem!

Meanwhile I am stitching and stitching on the traveller's blankets, and have fallen a bit behind, which means  days of 12 hour days of stitching once I am back in Gellibrand- it's the only way I will finish what I set out to do for the Craft & Quilt Fair in Sydney from 20-24 June, where I will be one of the guest exhibitors for their 25 year celebration . At this stage I feel like I need an parallel life that does not include sleep as I have also had ideas about making a small accompanying  booklet after I write and overdue article about the Waste Not Want Not indigo  traveller's blanket.

The teaching in Austria seems like weeks ago but in actual fact was only last week. It was a real pleasure to work with some of the women for the entire 7 days of the workshops. We covered lots of techniques but it also allowed them to build little bodies of work. Other people came for only a day or two as their time permitted. Having seven days really allows you to push a bit further and really develop new work. The venue Seminarhof Schleglberg in Rottenbach ,was also excellent with good food , friendly staff and good amenities. I loved the home baked bread that was available!


 The owner, Mr Fritz unloading the  bread oven. Their enterprise is centred around organically and sustainably  grown foods, which they now also sell in a store in another village, and they employ a number of people to help achieve this. They grow their own vegetables and grain.

Thank you to Karin Felbmayer for organising the workshops and finding a wonderful venue and  stopping at your town on the way to the train to Vienna so I could buy a snow globe for my daughter ( which she loved) Some of the work by students:

And a close up of the birch tree inspired piece which was developed in the trees trees workshop and added to. Tanya made this particular piece  and the other pieces in the photo above.


The following piece was from Breaking all the Rules- it was large 2.2 metres ( if I don't mention students names it is so at their request) Made with all recycled and redyed fabrics and denim offcuts- the squares are going to be embroidered and some printed.

 Below are some images of linocutting- Frieda made this lovely  abstract kind of village scene and amazing achievement seeing she had limited mobility for using the tools in her hands.
And after creating a turtle Ingrid was not sure linocutting was for her but then went on to make the village scene below!


 On the Monday I returned to Vienna as my flight left form Vienna on Tuesday night.  On the monday I arrived after one but my hotel was right across from the main Bahnhof   ( Motel One- I highly recommend it as the amenities are good , you can check in early, the price good for the amenities which are a bit upmarket, but as it  was one night and my suitcase very heavy it suited my purpose and right across the Bahnhof, and Vienna's public transport system is not difficult to use at all- there are more emerging across Europe).

 So i took the metro into the centre of Vienna,walked and walked and walked and spotted the same old designer shops you see in every city ( boring boring boring) and decided on a visit to the Leopold Museum in the  Museum Quartier. They had a retropsective of Egon Schiele's work as it is a hundred years since he and his pregnant wife died form the Spanish flu ( make sure you get those flu shots) and what an absolute delight the exhibition was. There were many pieces I have never seen in any books including city scapes from shortly before his death and off course some of his iconic pieces.


 A very early drawing, and of course later pieces. I was so happy I went, it was enthralling seeing so many of his pieces and I would have gone back another day had I had the time. Would have loved to buy the catalogue ,but alas my luggage already weighed 29 kilos although in hind sight it probably weighed less than a kilo ( but I didn't know my lugagge weighed less than 30 kg at that time)





On the tuesday morning - I stitched and stitched and then checked out of the hotel around noon and was able to leave my luggage until later in the day and made a foray into the area where Hundertwasser decorated an apartment building and communal area. I had intended to see this  way back in 1990 when I visited Vienna but it was so cold we went to Sicily instead so I never got to see it

Unfortunately you cannot go inside the building but he lived by the premise of trees everywhere and no straight lines. It was a delight to see all his works in Kunst Haus Wien and the building  that had been built to house his collection as well as host other exhibitions. No photographs inside- but his work is well documented.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Flown Week!

Another flurry week. Last week this time I was very briefly in Le Triadou walking my favourite dog and catching up with my good friends Liwanag and Michel,after having taught in Pals in Spain.


Then it was back to Moux briefly to pack up my European life for a journey to Austria. I had looked at flying , but because I can carry 30 kgs internationally but not within europe decided that was not an option. There have been train strikes in France the entire time I have been there so decided that an overnight bus to Munich and then another bus onto Salzburg was the best option. In a way thank goodness I did as there was indeed a train strike on the Saturday I took the bus, but the downside was  the bus was very full and with quite a number of people with colds and goodness knows what other maladies sneezing and snorting and sniffing them into the bus airconditioning system- so now I am happily sniffing and snuffing as well..... I am so sick and tired of sick people just frothing whatever ails them into confined spaces, like buses and aeroplanes, for all to be able to luckily capture it.

So I arrived in Salzburg a bit worse for the wear after a long night on the bus and was met by my hostess for the workshops this week in Rottenbach. We  had seriously delicious  icecream in Mondsee and visited the Cathedral before heading to the workshop venue at the seminar centre Schlegberg, which is in the Upper Austrian countryside.


  Tha Catherdral in Mondsee and  someone reading the riot act below!


The photo below is the seminar centre where the workshops are being held. Lovely country side all around and the smell of cow poo, because the local farmers are hoping that finally some rain will come and if the thundering and lightening were anything to go by tonight I hope it arrives.


And who can resist dandelions??


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Busy...

Our National day of rememberance along with New Zealand- Anzac day  25 April 1915,the beginning of the attempt to  take the peninsuala at Gallipoli in World War I- often said to be the birthing of our nation- when we lost thousands of young men at Anzac cove at Gallipoli and where the "enemy" lost many thousands more. When I was a teenager I was asked to read a poem on an Anzac day commemoration ceremony held at my school. I was allowed to choose the poem and I remember my teacher asking if I was sure? But I think I had just read All Quiet on the Western Front and then discovered this poem by Wilfred Owen Dulce et Decorum Est. I wasn't  attempting to denegrate the sacrifice  that had been made but just trying to show the awfulness of war and the awful loss of bright shining lives ( we were in the midst of the Vietnam war at that stage) .  I know I got a letter of great indignation from the local RSL, needless to say it was not well received .So i share the poem because  along with remebering those that died and the sacrifice they made we must never ever forget the bloody awfulness of war and the havoc and misery and pain that it wreaks.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

It has been a busy few weeks since my exhibition at Chartres. I taught in West Flanders for a couple of days and then went on to Prague to meet Jane Rollason the curator of Crossing Oceans, an international exhibiting group to drop of my quilts. As it was easter it was easier to take the quilts in person than to courier them. Then back to Holland and  teaching at the Lapjesgaard and then a day with my aunt at the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. It was beautiful but it was the beginning of the season so it was only partially in bloom.

Tulips at the Keukenhof gardens. We got there early so it was not packed with tourisst yet and we parked almost at the front door.

A photo with Ira Labordus ( one of my online Traveller's Blanket students) and my unfinished waste not want not indigo travellers blanket at the Lapjesgaard. I was lucky enough to find accommodation on a houseboat in Almere- believe it or not it was amongst the cheapest accommodation I could find and there was a bar and restaurant there so i could have my meal there. It was actually wonderfully relaxing had I not been so busy. Watching the birds and their spring time antics was quite amusing. I discovered that male water coots are very sneaky in trying to get female attention- they dive underwater and then try and pop up behind the female- but  the female water coots were up to this game!

  Then I gave Els Mommers a lift to Bienale International d'Art Textil in Villefranche sur Saone where I discovered to my surprise not only was I showcasing the Aussie Bush Project but also my own work ( just as well I had all my quilts from Chartres in my suitcase, as I had thought it was only the Aussie Bush Project) I am sorry for the lack of photos for the Aussie Bush project ( I forgot my battery charger for my good camera in Australia and my phone camera was not up to take a decent photo in the prevailing lighting)- but people loved them and all the wonderful interpretations. The Aussie Bush Project will have its last public outing at the Berry Quilting Retreat in Berry in August of this year ( I will also be teaching there at the same time) I don't have very many potos to share, as I was there on my own, and whilst friends  were willing to give me a toilet break I can't expect them to man exhibitions.


 Then it was two days in the Alps before teaching in Lyon  at brin da Talent with a group of enthusiastic ladies to make their own linocuts and embellish them with hand stitch

And then it was onto Moux to try and get some serious stitching and writing done on the Waste Not Want Not indigo traveller's blanket for a series of articles I am writing for Downunder quilts. Tonight it is on to Spain for some teaching of linocut carving, printing and embellishing and then later this week by overnight bus to Austria for more teaching- the risk of strikes was too great to take the train. Hopefully I will get some stitching done on the bus. To say it has been busy is an understatement, though quietly stitching at moux has  helped me to breathe! The view from teh terrace of my friends house is rather lovely!


 I also caught up with my le Triadou friends briefly and  found waiting for me a book which included an article I did for Edi de Saxe last year on machine quilting ( yes I do stitch by machine sometimes and can't wait to get back to the machine after this marathon of hand stitching is over)


Inspired by roadside weeds I was trying to show what great effects you can create with simply using hand dyed cloth and coloured machine threads ( I use Aurifil cotton  28 weight threads)- how you can even create borders with thread work.


Monday, April 02, 2018

Traveller's Blankets and Aussie Bush Project Going to Berry Retreat

A very quick  post as I am heading out to the airport to deliver some of my travellers blankets for an exhibition with Crossing Oceans a project organised by Jane Rollason in Prague.

But meanwhile am excited to announce that  the travellers blankets will be exhibited alongside the Aussie Bush Project at the Berry Retreat in Berry on 18-19 August so  you will be able to see them up close and personal. They are so different in real life as compared to photographs which show none of the texture.

I will also be teaching the travellers blanket class at the  Berry retreat- this  is the only time this year that I am teaching this class person to person- and it is very different  simply because  of the creation of texture and movement which you can't really see with the online class. I will also be teaching linocutting- so you cna make your very own linocuts which we will embellish after the retreat. Making your own linocuts enables you to make your own unique fabrics which can be incorporated into other work or embroidered any old how!

 Here is a little of the history of the blankets which also alludes to a history of travel and exploration like  the great travellers of the past like Marco Polo- if you were in the entourage and you could not write how would you have captured the  glorious textiles you encountered ( and which was mostly the reason for the journey)
Travellers Blankets (Plaids Nomads) began life in the early 2000's when I made my first one with fabrics I had purchased in Africa in 1990. Since then I have made various ones over the years , as they are a long process of stitching motifs and the background. I try and think of them as stories about a journey, as they are invested with heart and soul and often carry inspirations of my travels and many of them have been on journeys themselves in my bag or suitcase.
They marry my love of fabric and thread and storytelling. I would never write such an elaborate story but with stitch I can make dozens of stories each of itself but also a part of a larger piece. Some tell the story of journeys, for example the urchin one is about Atauro Island , others are about heritage and exploration.

And here are six of the finished blankets thus far.... there will be another four I hope!









I am also starting another on-line course for those not lucky enough to get to the Berry Retreat. It starts on 7April so there is still time to enroll! Just email me for the information sheet

Monday, March 19, 2018

Traveller's Blanket On-Line Class

Goodness I have been chilled to the bone these last few days at Chartres and meanwhile fire warnings were out not so far from where my shed is in Australia and places where friends live, so a bit of overnight worrying  whether everyone and everything was safe. I am still at Chartres as the Croisements des Arts continues until 25 March when I go to Belgium and teach for three days at Adinkerke, de Panne, just over the French border.I am teaching the Traveller's Blanket/Plaid Nomad for two days and Tifaifai/machine applique one day ( there is still places in the Tifaifai workshop, which always delivers great results and students create their own designs.) If you are interested in joining  email me please. ( 26/27/28 March).

I have managed to do a lot of stitching on my blue and white piece which has now grown a name- True Blue ( it was called a walk on the wild side as this colour combination is a bit outside of my ken but things change...). As I worked on it I realised that the blue and white combination was very much in tune with my heritage as well as reflecting my love of blue and white ceramics and of course Delft's Blauw . So what to name this blanket was whirling around in my head  and I coined true blue which I mentioned somewhere and someone said- but oh yes it also reflects Australia- in that true blue means dinky di or the real thing especially relating to Australianess- so the name reflects both of my worlds, my dutch birth and my adopted country Australia and of course my love of blue and white ceramics. This piece did not begin with a story but it acquired one and as it did I grew to like it much better than I ever expected. I hope to finish it this week, so I can commence another piece to meet this  deadline I have made for myself .


I sometimes wonder why I do so much stitching. but the texture it creates is a bit mesmerising.




I am staying in the old part of Chartres in a little studio apartment called  Studio-Adulaire, which is a nice brisk walk to where the exhibition is at the Collegiale Saint Andre. It means I can cook my own food  and there is a good market for food in Chartres on Saturdays and everything is within walking distance.I highly recommend it if you intend to spend anytime in Chartres. The owner is very helpful  and the  studio is well equipped.

And then i discovered the Depot-vente in Camphol- a kind of flea market, brocante all rolled into one....so much to see , so many good things, but what to choose? I could not decide and only came away with a book and a bunch of fish knives ( silver with marks for 2 euros) as they are great for mixing textile pigment with base extender- hmmm maybe these are too good for that!


An archway near the cathedral- with gnarled some kind of vine- I wonder how old that vine is?

One of the buildings I walk past everyday has these wonderful wooden pillars embedded in the wall. the motifs look medieval so again I wonder how old this is? The details has  been weathered but even so they are still  gorgeous.

Traveller's Blanket On-line Class- I  am still taking enrollments for the  on-line class which is  designed to help you record memories in textile and create a rich memory laden cloth that you will never want to part with! Just email me if you are interested. Course consists of the delivery of 4 pdf lessons, a private facebook group to discuss our developing stories/ blankets- and your very own memory cloth/blanket. It is amazing how these pieces acquire meaning as you work. There is a lot of time to invest in the process so a lot of time for contemplation , and it shows in every piece that has been made,

I taught a one day workshop for the Traveller's Blanket at Gallery Cardamome last Friday. Of course one day is not enough time to make anything big. So we made a sample piece with one motif to try out different stitches and then a start was made on  a larger piece which  was a square of about 40 cm.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

ChARTres- Croisement des Arts

I had meant to blog prior to leaving Australia last week, but as life was digitally challenged that did not happen, plus things were super busy. I agreed to a crazy deadline of 10 Traveller's Blankets  for the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair late in June. I will use one very early piece to show how the work has developed but all other work will be new ( as the the  traveller's blankets I have sold  in the past belong to new owners ). So I feel my hands are whirling dervishes at the moment and as I don't wear thimbles they do sometimes succumb to needing a rest , which fortunately coincided with my flight to Europe, and I am determined to make that deadline!

I arrived in Barcelona last week, and took the train from there to Narbonne, to spend a night with Margo and Trevor Bimler, in order to pick up things I had left there ( more things than I had realised) and then headed up to my cousins near Chateroux. I do have a lot of family in Europe but as my parents emigrated when I was nine, I don't know that much of my family , but this cousin is a similar age and we enjoy each other's company so I always try and catch up when I am in Europe. Then onto Chartres the next morning to install my exhibition for ChARTres- Croisements des Arts that afternoon. It is always good to be part of this exhibition and it seems to be getting better all the time. The exhibition venue is a deconsecrated church called Collegiale Saint Andre dating from the twelfth century and it  was built right on the edge of the River Eure.So at the moment it is rather damp and cold but nonetheless a  beautiful venue




The weekend was busy with vernissage and an artists evening  at the house of the organisers Ethia- which is always a lot of fun. it would be so nice to sell a piece, but the traveller's blankets ar enot for sale at present!

And then I have been working on a white and blue piece. A bit uncharacteristic for me, but  as I was in a place two weeks ago without my usual supplies, and this was all that was at hand, it started to grow,  and I am beginning to like it. It is starting to remind me a little of Delft's blauw- which is suppose is appropriate seeing I was born not that far from Delft ( well in Australian terms)



I can't wait to see what the background stitching will add to this piece, and the temptation to already begin it is a great- but I am trying to be disciplined and finish all the circles first. I have tried to make each and everyone different.

A little bit of Chartres:


After Chartres I will be teaching in Belgium and at the Lapjesgaart in Amstelveen ( traveller's Blanket and tifaifai) and then onto the Textile Biennale ( formerly Quilts en Beaujolais which is what everyone still calls it) in Beaujolais with the Aussie Bush Project!, and then a quick catch up with my friends in Le Triadou and  Moux and then onto Austria for more teaching.

Traveller's Blanket On-line Class
I have had a lot of emails from people asking  if I will be running the Traveller's Blanket on-line class again. Initially I thought I would not , but I have spent a  lot of time rewriting and making the content reflect current work and am still writing an entirely new lesson 4. So I have decided to run another on-line course starting 7 April. I have been asked why I call these works blankets- and the reason is that someone once called my work blankets- so being a bit tongue in cheek that is what I have called these works. They are intensely stitched and grow as you stitch- they are such an investment of time and love and contemplation they really do take on a life of their own. They are a slow process  and it is an incredibly soothing process- I lose time in a good way and the work has built, and the story has increased in that lost time- it is like taking some moments away from our ever busy lives and just stitching, enjoying the rhythm and the story as it develops. If you are interested in joining the class please email me and I will send out an information sheet .


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Traveller's Blanket/Plaid Nomad

Have been stitching steadily most days on this traveller's blanket  entitled "walk in the Shadow of Pic St Loup". It measures 57 cm x 85 cm and is very densely stitched. I  realised when I was about three quarters of the way through attaching the vignettes that I had not made a print of Nesta the dog. She was such an integral part of those morning walks, I could not possibly leave her out. Her exhubarence was part of the joy of those morning walks, I guess that is why it came out so bright.





On the image of the whole piece you will see that one oval has been placed horizontally, so that I could make sure to include Nesta's tail which was always up and wagging.

I have a lot of work to do before I leave for Europe on 6 March ( and I am housesitting  the Gembrook menagerie this week; dogs, cats, chooks, birds, ducks and sheep). Once I arrive I am once again exhibiting at ChARTres, so I am trying to make as much new work as possible. The website now lists all the events that are part of this  event. I love being a part of this event and it is so much more than an exhibition. It includes lectures and music and of course art as well as small essays  from each of the artists addressing the quote "la Sagesse..un chemin vers le bonheur".

I have had quite a number of requests asking if I am teaching my on-line linocutting class again, so I have decided to run it again. I take you through many steps and exercises to hone your linocutting skills as well as your design skills for making linocuts. I also take you through the printing process of printing on fabric and how to get really good prints on fabric- it involves a bottle of wine! The cost of the class is $75AUS and is delivered with PDF files and I set up a private Facebook group for discussion and sharing and questions. I love lino-cutting and have been itching to make some new ones- especially after watching the women at Boneca de Atauro have such fun with the designs and resulting prints.  It is such a fabulous way to make distinctive fabric that is a good ground for embroidery or can be worked into larger pieces and machine stitched, and I will be adding a new lesson on how to stitch and work with your resulting prints. of course linocuts can also be used to print on paper and is great for making your own cards and other paper arts.If you are interested please email me and I shall send you an information sheet. Class will start on 1 March 2018







I will also be teaching in West Flanders in De Panne/Adinkerke, Belgium, right near the french border on 26 , 27 , 28 March 2018. I will be teaching the Traveller's Blanket  for 2 days ( which is all hand work) and machine/tifaifai applique for one day. There are still some places left so if you are interested in joining us please email me.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In the Shadow of Pic St Loup Traveller's Blanket

I have been house sitting in outer Melbourne and whilst doing that I thought I would try and get as much stitching done as possible. So I have started doing a new Traveller's  Blanket with the working title In the Shadow of Pic St Loup. As well as having  an exhibition of my Traveller's Blankets at the Sydney Quilt and Craft Fair in June this year I am also part of the group Crossing Oceans so some of my traveller's blankets will be doing double duty- I simply don't have the time to make extra as in march I depart for Europe to exhibit at ChARTtres from 10 -25 March. I am really excited about exhibiting there again as I love Chartres the small city, and I love participating in this event.

So I printed up some fabrics with grape vines and and french roadside weeds. I wanted to capture the feeling of those morning walks with Nesta the dog amongst the rows of vines and the fascinating  weeds. I thought this would be a really greenish piece but it seems not- it has lots of colour in it- and when I think about it- as I walked each day i noticed the tiny changes of colour. i did the same walk every morning, so I really noticed the changes in the vines , in the weeds and the colours.



The bunch of grapes is actually a woodcut I had made in India. The other print is a linocut I made when I was housesitting in Le Triadou.

During the week I taught at open Drawer in Camberwell, and was really chuffed to receive Deirdre Hassed's beautiful book Illuminating Wisdom from Dierdre herself. Deirdre is a calligraphy artist and she has illuminated many quotes that she and her husband have sourced and provided commentaries on. I am sure it is a book I will be dipping into many times! The back of the urchin quilt seemed to really complement the cover of the book.


I have brought all my quilts with me because of the fire risk at Gellibrand. I realised that I  had never shared a photo of the finished quilt I made for the Through Our Hands exhibition at Festival of Quilts. I am still nto sure what to call it but it contains many techniques I have used  over the eyars. There is both machine and hand stitching.



This quilt is for sale for $1,000AUS and measures 130 cm x  100cm. if you are interested please email me.
If anyone in the Netherlands or Belgium is interested in my teaching a workshop  early April please let me know, as I will be teaching a workshop at Amstelveen