Friday, September 01, 2023

Gathered Threads

It is 1 September and I find myself curating another exhibition of fellow textile artists which will be on at ArcYinnar , Gippsland and opens tomorrow at 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend if they are so inclined and  we would love to see you there. The artists involved are listed in the flyer below.

We spent yesterday and today installing and I am happy with the diversity of the work and how it looks in the space. Each artist is exhibiting a small body of work so you can get a real feel for their work and vision.

Work by Cheryl Cook using her natural inks and inspirations.

Work By Robina Summers and Beth and Trevor Reid.

                                                 Work by Lisa Anderson and Judith Oke

                                                           Work by Nicole Kemp

                                                                 Work By Lynette Weeks

                                                       Work by Sarah Louis Ricketts


                                        Work by Carolyn Sullivan and Lynette Weeks and gallery view.

I also put in some of my own work. Lately I have been embroidering some of the wonderful madonnas I encountered on recent travels and when I looked over my work I realised they have in one way or another been an ongoing theme for quite some time- whether as actual madonnas or icons or sentinelles or as faces from the past. So I decide I would make an installation of them and include some of the work i have done in paper/books  about them as well.

As part of the exhibition Cheryl Cook and I will be running a series of taster workshops in the Sparc Gallery as well as showing some of our work with natural inks and nature printing. The flyer below  shows the taster workshops we are running throughout September ( except for when I am at Geelong Fibre Forum when Cheryl will hold the fort). The cost for the taster workshops is $10 and all you need do is bring yourself.

It has been a busy few months, having been to Perth for Fibres West which was great fun and being involved with Exuberance that was on in Canberra as well as the book that was produced by Carol Cooke and Sharon Peoples with small essays about their work by each of the 20 artists involved in the exhibition. The book is available from their websites which I have linked. There was some fabulous work in the exhibition and it is wonderful to read of some of the thinking behind the pieces in the book.

I am really looking forward to teaching at Geelong Fibre Forum later this month- we will be creating some small linocuts to use in creating traveller's blankets.

 I have also  made a new linocut inspired by morning walks ( I seriously have to get back into the habit- I do go but  not every single morning like I used to and I don't know why as I love going).

It is quite large and took me quite some time to carve. I will be printing more soo and they will be for sale. I have to dye the fabric first though and that always takes time.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Preparing for Fibres West

 I have been back from Europe for two weeks and a bit, but it seems so much longer ago and the days are so short and cold. I don't think I suffered jet lag , but the cold seem to slow down my blood to such an extent I was having trouble getting out of bed. The last week or so of the European trip was spent in Portugal in the city of Porto with one or two side trips by train to the countryside- and whilst it was not super hot it was pleasant and warm. I loved Porto, the people were friendly and the tiles were wonderful and whilst we had been told the food was ordinary my friend Margo and I found no such thing. It did help that there was a very good restaurant within walking distance from the hostel where we stayed which was a bit out of the city centre- the set menu food was excellent and very good value, lots of fresh seafood, we ate there most nights. The wait staff were wonderful as well- they made us feel very welcome and at home. There was also a very good bakery around the corner where it was possible to get a good latte made with real milk and of course Pasteis de Nata though most of the local people seemed to eat a crusty bread and butter which was also very good. The first image is the tiled entrance foyer of the railway station.

Then it was back to France to sort through things I had left at my friends house over the years- a working kit of sorts, and as I had not seen it for 4 years some things needed to go. France has been experiencing rolling strikes for public transport and when I couldn't book a ticket for the train to Barcelona to catch my flight in the evening, I decided to go a day early and stay in Girona for the night rather than risk travel nightmare in the event of a strike. I am so glad I did, I had a lovely walk around the city and it has a vibrancy that used to exist in Barcelona but seems to have been touristed out. Lots of interesting small businesses and lovely coffee shops all run by young people- I guess the rents are much more affordable in Girona than Barcelona (everywhere I went in europe there is a housing crisis)

Then it was the long haul back to the cold- brrr- it is a cold and wet winter yet again- it chills to the bone and is hard to get used to after  walking around in sandals and cotton shirt.

It feels like I have done very little since being back but in all reality I have been steadily working. First of all  there was my Nardoo Meanderings piece to prepareand to parcel up and send to Canberra in readiness for the opening of Exuberance Curated by Sharon Peoples and Carol Cooke. There is a book edited by the curators that showcases the work of the twenty embroiderers involved with little essays by each artist  of their working methods and choices and thinking behind the creation of the pieces.

Above is the cover of the book. It is exciting to be a part of this. The book is self published so is only available through the website of Carol Cooke or from the exhibition. It is the first survey of embroidery practice in the book format for quite some time in Australia. I can't wait to see the book. There is a limited print run so if you think you would like this book I would order it now. The exhibition  opens on 6 July at Craft & Design Canberra and tickets are available here.

Unfortunately I cannot make it to the opening as I will be in Perth for Fibres West where I will be teaching the traveller's blanket and also linocutting for motifs to include in your blanket. Really looking forward to being in Perth and the buss of the buzz of such gatherings.

During the week I made a trip to Colac in order to deliver two sentinelles for a retrospective of CrossXpollinatioN  at Copacc celebrating 10 years of the event. I exhibited in the first two and was involved with installing the exhibitions along with Carole Redlich. I only have two of the sentinelles left after making a series of 10 in 2012/2013. The Ochre Earth Sentinelle and the Red Sentinelle are the ones that remain. I stayed the night in order to attend the opening and it was good to catch up with people I knew when I lived in Gellibrand. I did make a quick visit to Gellibrand to see how I would feel, but I can say I have no regrets about leaving and I only felt a little sad about the broken dreams.

The rest of the time I have been dyeing fabric and printing fabric in readiness for Perth and the Slow Stitch Gathering in Ulladulla later in July, and catching up with family. I will come home via Canberra so I can visit Exuberance. 

And I have been mulling all those wonderful Madonna images I encountered in Italy and Portugal and Spain, thinking, thinking, thinking. It is about the seeing and how things are  presented and idealised and yet there is also an element of  encountering the faces of women from the past.

Sunday, May 07, 2023


 It has been the longest time since I have blogged since I started blogging 19 years ago. The longer it went the less I thought I had something to share or say. I was also super busy, so busy my garden got quite neglected and  it took me some time to find a house sitter to look after Portia my rescue cat. After  my exhibition at Meeniyan Art Gallery finished I plunged into a round of creating for my exhibitions at Patchwork & Quilt Dagen in  Rijswijk, The Hague in the Netherlands and then to Nantes for Pour l'Amour du Fil. Both were busy events. In the Netherlands I did catch up a little with family but the event was busy so I had little time to do anything.

Some new work I created for Europe:

I must admit I faced the further planned travel with a sense of trepidation or was it anxiety ? I  just felt that after more than four years I might have forgotten how to travel, how to catch planes and trains and buses. My youngest daughter was with me for some of the time as she embarked on a 3 week European holiday and we traversed the continent. From Nantes we went to Paris, Venice (on the night bus a journey which I had not looked forward to but proved to be better than anticipated), Florence, Rome and Pompeii and back to Rome where I farewelled my daughter and headed onto Perugia. Venice, Florence and Rome were  crazy busy and as my daughter had never been to Rome she wanted to see everything. I had been warned that Pompeii gets crazy busy but in the end it proved not too bad and though  we ascended Mt Vesuvius by bus to where you get out and walk the rest of the way, I forewent that joy as it was windy and cold and looking at the incline I was not sure I would make it all the way up.

I will be staying in Perugia for two weeks and  am really enjoying it thus far. I rented a small apartment downhill from the old town, but the historic centre is easy to get to with the Minimetro which stops just behind the apartment block. I have spent two days wandering, visiting the Gallery Nazionale which is hosting a wonderful Perugino exhibition which I will go back and see, early in the morning, before the groups of school children arrive. And I am in Madonna heaven to be honest- I have never seen so many painted madonnas in one place. I love seeing how the faces change with the fashion and techniques of the time, and the times that the face of the model starts to hold a place in the composition. I also love the Perugino exhibition because  you can get close to the paintings and there is a definite development of his work until he reaches his peak, and here and there the work of contemporaries or students of his have been added into the mix. The collection of the gallery itself is also interesting with some more wonderful madonnas and a beautiful portrait by Suor Plautilla Nelli of Santa Caterina and said to be the likeness of Caterina de' Ricci.

There is a lot of history in this city, like so many Italian towns and many of the churches date to the  15th and 16th  centuries. When you walk around the old part of the city there is a sense that this city is still lived in and though there are tourists it isn't the thousands of Rome, Florence and Venice. The food has also been very good at the two different restaurants I have tried ( although I have rented an apartment to minimise eating out costs, however could not resist the first two days and tomorrow is a farmers/ bioproduce market).

I love the poster  for the bio market with its pomegranate trees and the  lovely rounded shape of the tree.

 The image is of Maramao Pane & Vin where I had a most enjoyable meal. One thing I have noticed now that I don't drink anymore is that so much food and eating out  in France and Italy is all about the wine with the meal- these days I drink fizzy water and  it does not quite feel the same. 

And  some images of the Perugia Historic centre.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Exhibition at Meeniyan Art Gallery

I have been slow to recover from Covid and that combined with mum's ongoing health issues meant i had a very slow start to the month indeed. My mother has refused to entertain aged care even though that was the advise from the medical team at Austin Repat Hospital- and that creates a whole other series of problems as she has to be safe and cared for. I live too far away to do anything on a weekly basis even though I partly moved to Gippsland to be closer to Mum to be helpful  (which I was when she lived in Gembrook) but she was moved to nearly the other side of Melbourne which means wasting hoursin city traffic. On the other hand she apparently made quite a recovery when she was told that she needed to consider aged care because of her inability to look after herself or her dog. 

However crunch time did arrive in order to create some new work for an exhibition I am a part of at Meeniyan Gallery starting 1 February with three other textile artists.  There will be a meet the artist session at 2.00pm on Sunday February 12 .

Yesterday I had  to deliver the works. I promised myself that I would create some new work for this, but going back and forth to Melbourne really depleted my energy levels ( and my garden is a weedy mess) and  then I had dyed some fabric which wasn't quite what I had in mind. The fabric was lovely, but  as I had set out with an idea , it was different to the idea. This meant adjusting my idea or dyeing more fabric and  I really did not have enough fabric to dye more so I had to readjust my idea. I had also wanted to create some of the nardoo work with free motion stitching on the machine.  So it has been a stitching marathon on my machine. I own a normal bottom of the range Bernina domestic sewing machine and I can tell you they are great for what I call free motion drawing. Essentially what I make are large drawings on the machine.

below are images of the nardoo pieces I made.  Each measures about 52 cm wide by 102 cm long. There are some differences between the two as I tried two slightly different things- can you spot the difference?

And then work started on the  whole cloth printed forest piece. If you recall seeing previous forest pieces you will remember that they are usually quite greenish and really suggestive of the forest. However when I dyed the fabric it was not nearly as forresty as I would have liked. This meant having to rethink thread colours and even how I stitched it. In the end it reminded me a lot of the bushland where I walk in the summer.

In the end I did not have time to procrastinate and I just had to do it. I quite like the outcome. I love the yellow in the top third- it reminds me of the summery scenes Bonnard used to paint but this time its the Australian bush- and I love yellow- in Australia (and the south of France) it is such a summer colour.

I am thinking about starting a newsletter . My question is would you be interested in subscribing to a newsletter ? before I run of  to do the homework to explore the how. I would envisage content would include some of my work methodology, some writing about the narratives that my work usually incorporates, updates of upcoming events/ teaching i might be doing. It would also includes some of the things that I find inspirational, including good books to read and inspirational books to read ( nothing beats a book) I would probably post out once a month or 6 weeks. I am also thinking of including a section where I would answer one readers question in the subsequent newsletter. As always it would be called Musings of a Textile Itinerant. Subscription would be free but with an option to donate a cup of coffee if you were so inclined ,that would be entirely up to you and content would be the same regardless. Let me know if a newsletter would be of interest and what kind of material would be of interest to you? You can either reply on my blog or email me.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Last day of 2022

 It is a year that I am glad is over- I managed to contract  Covid before Christmas and despite vaccinations and medication it has well and truly affected my energy levels, spending several days doing nothing at all ( flat on my back actually) and then somehow having it get into my sinuses and creating more problems to the nerves in my teeth- a little known ( but not unknown) side effect. My mother had contracted Covid earlier in the month and as she is elderly it has really knocked her around badly, requiring hospitalisation three times and extensive medication for the pneumonia that developed. I have not been able to see her for weeks because of my own covid which tested positive well and truly beyond the five days that is advised for isolating. It meant a planned mini break for Christmas with my daughters at the beach had to be cancelled- we had all been looking forward to it after a less than stellar year.

So things can only go onward and upward. I have to get cracking on creating new work as I am exhibiting in one of the gallery rooms at Meeniyan Art Gallery ( MAG)  in February. Covid meant I got absolutely zero done the last two weeks and even now I am feeling decidedly low energy on the creative side. I also have to finish the nardoo piece I have bene working on all year by the end of January- but  I am finally at the stage of putting in the background stitching which goes a bit faster than applying all the nardoo leaf shapes. It has been slow work but then this kind of hand stitching and the size that it is take lots of time- lots of reflecting on the story of Burke and Wills - what started out as a narrative on folly ( and still is a little) it is also a reflection on fools that bluster and stomp-as these explorers did pretty much. Their story was related in history books as one of heroes ( well when I was studying) but I see nothing heroic in any of the endeavour except foolish bloody mindedness and ignorance. It is kind of interesting and ironic that the nardoo that looks so beautiful and calm also contains the story of their demise.

My youngest daughter and I have spent a bit of time planning our trip to Europe (she will join me for  3 weeks of the trip I am planning- I will be there until mid June)- accommodation has certainly escalated in cost since I last travelled. We are finishing up in Rome for the last week of her stay, as she will catch a flight home from Rome but I will continue on. Given accommodation costs have risen a lot, I cast about for somewhere, where I had not been before and which is also not a tourist hot spot,  and I ended up deciding to spend two weeks in Perugia where I have never been. I am exploring the things to do in Perugia but if you know of anything that might not make it to the more obvious tourist websites please do pass on any information. I will be relying on public transport and enjoy getting into the rhythm of a place by doing lots of walking and people watching. I managed to find a small apartment not so far from the main railway station which means I can cook my own food which always a delight in Italy with so much fresh produce available at weekly markets.

I will be exhibiting and teaching a few one hour classes at  Patchwork Dagen in Rijswijk on the 13-15 of April and looking forward to speaking my mother tongue again! I have hardly spoken a word of Dutch since 2019.

I will also be attending Pour L'Amour du Fil  the following week in Nantes and really looking forward to it. I will teach two three hour classes as follows:  and One class is machine work making mini tifaifai's and the other making pods. I will also have a small exhibition and sell my linocut printed fabrics.

The Pods, Pods, Pods class is available as an online class as well and there is more information here.; It is a work at your own pace class with no group interaction. There are pdf notes and a video.

So I hope that everyone has a wonderful and safe 2023 and thank you for your support throughout 2023, especially for my last Traveller's Blanket on-line Class which finished in November- some wonderful work was made. You can buy the pdf notes (and there is also two/three small videos) if you are interested for $30AUS and payment can be made via Paypal or if in Australia email me for further information.

 I am looking forward to encountering friends again, I haven't seen for over 4 years and just enjoying all that Europe has to offer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Catching Up

 The time has flown , and I feel I have very little to show for the time. We have had two big exhibitions at ARC Yinnar where I am a very part-time ( 4 hours per week) gallery coordinator. When there are big exhibitions things take a lot more time than the four hours, but it is satisfying when the exhibition looks good. We had an exhibition of prints by twenty one  different printmakers from the region and there was some fabulous work on display. We used all the spaces at ARC Yinnar.

My daughter Siena Galtry had pieces in the exhibition as well- it's the first time we have had pieces in an exhibition together. The pieces behind my daughter are her multi layered linocuts.

I made four pieces that have been mono-printed and stitched by machine, so I guess I did make some things this last month. 

Since then we have been busy preparing the celebration of the existence of ARC for 40 years. It is an Artist Resource Collective and is still going strong after 40 years. This year we have had the opening of our new renovated spaces and we have had some wonderful exhibitions to celebrate the 40 years of arts practice that represents ARC. Some of the people involved were youngsters when it all started and it is wonderful to hear their stories of how the place was, and how it has evolved and to see their art as it has evolved over the years as well. It was an old butter factory, complete with massive milk vats and strange cool spaces, and it has been transformed into a multi purpose/functional arts space including two gallery spaces, print studio, ceramics studio, blacksmithing facility, community arts space, and private studio spaces, plus the Switchroom for musical/theatrette type performances and a retail space. Quite remarkable really, for a small country town and an incredible asset to the Latrobe Valley.

I am still working almost daily on my nardoo piece, which seems to be taking forever, but finally I have started the background stitching so the end is in sight( I have to get a move on as some of the writing  is due soon- the curators, Sharon Peoples and Carol Cooke, are  hoping to create a book which details the creative process of the artists involved) and the exhibition will be on at Craft ACT in July 2023.

Preparations are well under the way for 2023. I will be exhibiting at the Patchwork & Quilt Dagen in the Hague from 13-15 April. Really looking  forward to being in the Netherlands again, but not for long as I head of Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes, where I shall also be teaching for 2 sessions. My youngest daughter is coming with me to help out and after that we head to Italy and spend a week in Rome. This last month I have  participated in Nanowrimo to finally  get some shape into the story of Hortense Hazard, which I wrote about some years ago when I still lived in Geelong. I have had it in the back of my mind  since then to write it somehow but not strictly as a biography but as  a composite of a couple of different genres- I think I have finally worked out a way to meld things together that really is more about a remarkable woman, who would have been forgotten but whose artwork still exists both as sculpture and a book she wrote in Italian. I reached the 50,000 words, but hope to do some research whilst in Rome at the atelier where she studied sculpture and which still exists. I am hoping to spend a bit of time in Italy before returning to the North and teaching in Belgium. Any suggestions for budget accommodation would be much appreciated. I am also thinking of visiting Fabriano especially to visit the paper museum and Fabriano factory. 

Meanwhile I shall be teaching Linocutting at Amitie Textiles on the 21st of January. I love that shop- it's so lovely to have a cafe right there, and to teach within the shop space as they have such great stock plus have my favourite Aurifil threads. And at the end of March I am teaching at the Stitching retreat at Ulladulla.

I am also having an exhibition in February at Meeniyan Art Gallery in  Meeniyan ( it is on the way to Wilson 's Promentory) with  two other artists. it is a lovely little gallery and the little township has a lot to offer with Trulli ristorante and delicatessen adding a definite foodie flavour to the experience, plus there is also a very good bakery as well as some other interesting shops to visit.

Don't forget I still sell my linocut printed fabrics if you are interested and I am down to the last dozen copies of my book, Musing in Textile: France ( which is only available in Australia). It has been a journey selling books without a distributor and with the extortionate parcel prices to overseas which has meant I can only post within Australia. I really do wonder if I will make another such book- in a way I would love to but it has also been hard work not only in making the work but in selling the book as it is entirely self published and it was designed by my eldest daughter Celeste Galtry. We did all those videos for the dvd which is part of the book- but dvd is almost outmoded technology now. How things change in so little time.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Finally- My Tifaifai Quilts

Finally, after 5 months and 20 odd days my tifaifai quilts have come back to me.  In that time I have made two claims to Aus Post to find the quilts had the Ombudsman investigate to no avail, to find  last weekend that tracking information had changed to indicate that they had been in North Melbourne since 23 August. I can tell you that I checked tracking on a weekly basis and on no occasion until last week sometime had there been any indication that the quilts were anywhere. So first thing Monday I was on the phone to be told that yes the quilts were in unclaimed parcels- the person I spoke to could not tell me why and today they arrived on my door step. Why they were in unclaimed parcels is a mystery and why there was not a flag on the tracking record to indicate I had been searching for this parcel since the end of May... not only that, my name and address was on the parcel itself including my phone number and email address- this was apart from the label that was on the parcel. it would have been easy to see who the sender was.

I am feeling incredibly relieved that they are back- it was a years worth of original work which was done  in a time when my health was not great. I doubt whether the book contract will be resurrected- in any case I am not prepared to commit the work to the postal system or indeed courier system to anywhere- there is too much time and  myself invested in these works. I feel as if a great weight has been lifted and I can breathe again. I had tried to not let what had happened affect me too greatly these last months but the way I feel today I know that the loss of the work did have its impact- that it made me sadder and a bit more fragile- maybe that feeling will ease now. In all there were 12 quilts in the parcel- so it was a substantial box so a body of work you might say.

I love the colours in the bottom piece. It reminds me of the  poppies on the edge of wheatfields on an early summer's day- a happy  calm feeling.