Monday, August 29, 2022

Traveller's Blanket On-line Class- Last Hoorah

 I have given this decision a lot of thought, much of which has been brought about by the fact that Australia Post has recently declared missing twelve of my tifaifai quilts which were created as samples for classes I hoped to teach and for a book which is written but minus the professional photos needed for publication because the quilts are missing. My loss in this is substantial and whilst I don't want it to overwhelm me -it- and the fact that I have had a few major health issues which require ongoing management though to all intents and purposes I have made a good recovery, have made me rethink many things. One of which is on-line teaching. There have been rapid changes and advancements in on-line teaching, some are good, others a bit meh. There is no doubt that the technology to deliver on-line classes has increased somewhat spectacularly and students have gotten used to this kind of delivery. It is great for students but it also means a huge learning curve for those delivering the classes in addition to the need to buy equipment to be able to deliver in such a great way. For me it has created a level of anxiety that did not exist previously- do I keep up , do I buy extra equipment , do I spend the hours needed to get conversant with the programs and editing required ( and believe me all those great classes with great videos is the result of a lot of hard work and familiarisation with editing programs), let alone create the work?  I also get great joy out of teaching in the flesh- the interaction with students  is special and seeing how people are in the actual physical class room space beats anything online hands down. Being able to see a students work, to think about it and offer insights is a privilege indeed. And having done some in the flesh teaching this year I realise how much I  enjoy it. Plus I want to create work and branch out into some other endeavours of the bookish kind ( not how to books though- the Tifaifai book was going to be the last one of those and that won't happen now)

So I have decided to stop my on-line teaching.

 Therefore I am presently offering my Traveller's Blanket On-Line class one last time starting 3 October. In it you will learn to work in the way I have worked in creating the Traveller's Blankets which i started in 2001. I have made more than a dozen over the years each one taking many months to finish. They are heavily hand stitched and truly a labour of love whilst also being a meditation on all kinds of travel and place and expeditions. I am never without working on one and have found the rhythm of the stitching incredibly soothing whilst at the same time allowing the mind to wander or be still in the action of stitching.  So come and join me this one last time- we will get creative and  you will create your won traveller's blankets.

The class costs $75 AUS and has extensive pdf notes, an interactive facebook group as well as three Question and Answer zoom sessions. You work entirely at your own pace with some participants taking many years to finish but many people do finish and I have seen some stunning finished works. Email me if you would like to join or simply use the PayPal button

Here are some examples of my work.

This piece is inspired by Nardoo an Australian native plant growing  mainly on inland waterways. Its backstory has to do with the Burke & Wills expedition of 1860 and the folly,foolishness and ignorance portrayed by the European explorers and their disregard of indigenous peoples and their knowledge of land but most importantly their total disregard that indigenous people were on this land long before any white man set foot on it or in it. The fact that they got as far as they did was probably largely due to the fact that indigenous people did point to them to water holes and waterways. It  also looks like a four leaved clover but in order for it to be edible it requires special treatment  otherwise it results in beri beri.

This last image is of a griot of probably Nigerian origin from around the turn of the 20th century- so early 1900's. This image has inspired a lot of my hand stitching- that coat contains so many stories so many stitches. I wish I could stitch rough and wild like that but i don't, but that coat is patched, has amulets, wild stitches, bits and pieces and has  been stitched by the griot himself. it is like a book, like a big story book, and it is what I hope to achieve when I make my won traveller's blankets. one of these days I am going o stitch a wild coat!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Morning Walks Back in Full Swing

 The last time I went to my gp for a general check up- she tut tut tutted me for not getting out and walking more. I had been walking 5-6 times a week until the end of February and then it dwindled to twice a week and then once a week. I know it is good for my health and I also know it is good for my mental well being. I just had this little voice in my head going, just go another day and then go another day, it's too cold, it's too wet... all the excuses in the world, and I was letting the little voice win to the point that I could not get myself out the door. I don't meditate ( there is a whole lot of us in the world who can't meditate despite best intentions) but walking is a kind of meditation. I get lost in seeing and finding things and for a little while the world disappears and you just walk, dawdle, squat to examine and just get lost in the wonder of it all. So after seeing the gp I went home and decided this is just crazy, you are letting that stupid little voice in your head win. So I have started walking again, and I can't tell you how much I am enjoying it. It is still a daily fight with the little voice but the walking voice is winning and the weather gods have been obliging in holding off rain whilst I get out. The rain has been never ending as has the cold grey weather, but  in the little bushland reserve where I walk nature surges ahead and all kinds of fascinating fungi and little orchids are popping up.

The second last photo is of a corybas orchid helmeted orchid)- it's tiny, about the size of my pinky fingernail and is said to be rare hereabouts. The flower seems to grow straight out of a single flat leaf- I keep finding more. Nature is indeed weird and wonderful. I also love the flowering little sundews at the moment- they look so sweet and harmless  yet they are carnivorous.

I am back working on the nardoo piece- deadlines are looming and some words need to be written . I have been reading The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd.  The blurb says astonishing tragedy but I feel     like it was a foolish folly akin to sending out a football team ( but with less cohesion) to march for roughly 3000 kms and expect them to return in one piece. For a start Burke was the very worst type of leader to guide anyone through the unknown, he got rid of the scientists/artist as taking up too much time, and he had no sense of direction nor of the incredible force of nature that the Australian outback is. He saw nothing, he had no sense of seeing anything , he was just there to win the race to reach Australia's northern shores- a foolish man at best or an utterly dangerous idiot. The exploration committee in Melbourne were almost as bad, with factions and interests and fools. This is not to say the book is not well written or a good read- it is- but it's main character has a lot to answer for and none of it is good. And of course there is the whole sorry interaction with indigenous Australians- people who had lived int his country for millenia. I will follow up The Dig Tree with "The Aboriginal Story of Burke and Wills", Forgotten Narratives, a series of essays from a different perspective and edited by Ian D. Clark and Fred Cahir.  I have also been trying to find if there are indigenous stories surrounding nardoo- of course if there are I may not be privy to them but on the other hand there is information of other flora and fauna important to indigenous peoples out there but I can find very little on nardoo. 

 There is still a lot of stitching to do and whilst it is tempting to make it smaller, I feel it needs the whole length of cloth I dyed to give the feel of the murky waters of Australian outback creeks- which are often very dark from the tannins of the foliage and often littered with dropped branches.

I have also been doing some mono/nature printing on paper with found foliage from the little bushland reserve. Different papers give different results to fabrics and I am still playing around with getting it vaguely right. I am also using textile printing inks ( water based ) which is perhaps not ideal, but on the other hand it is just interesting enough to continue with the playing.

I love the way the kangaroo grass prints.

And my 12 tifaifai quilts are still missing. Thanks Australia Post for losing a year of my life.

Friday, August 05, 2022

July Disappeared

 July was an entirely forgettable month. Australia Post have not found my quilts and have offered me a paltry sum of money, in reliance upon their limitation of liability clause. I would actually like my quilts found- they add up to a years worth of work and income I can ill afford to lose. I try not to dwell on it too much, but it's hard not to. The hardest thing is to feel motivated about anything at all after this- the naysayer that lives in my head from time to time just says "What's the use? There is no point." So I have been pretty unmotivated to do anything at all. I think this is one effect from losing twelve quilts- how do I replace them- there was so much work involved in each one so why make more?

I did stitch new badges for the No Planet B piece- as I have submitted it to an event but won't hear for awhile. I almost didn't as I had to stitch quite a few new badges and I wanted to replace one or two as well, and I wanted to stitch a river through the piece which all added up to quite a lot of stitching. The idea is that when it hangs away from the wall the shadow it casts would look like a landscape from above.

 I got a bit overwhelmed whilst stitching in that there are so many things that are wrong in the world and as just one little person there is so little we can do, where do you start and can one little person do anything at all? I have decided to focus on climate justice as the concept is about greater equity for the environment and humanity- that we are a whole living organism interdependent not only on each other but for earth as well- that earth is an entity and a stakeholder in all of this. And I decided to narrow it even further to trees- they are the lungs of earth and regardless of all the science of all the knowledge out there that deforestation is devastating for earth, for creatures, for humans, still it continues. The bush/trees/country- it not only happens in the Amazon- it happens everywhere and Australia and Victoria are guilt culprits.

But in thinking about all this I do get despondent and worry for future generations. It does not help it has been a long cold and wet winter so far- too many grey days and nothing growing.

We did have a meeting of a fledgling Textile Experimental Art Group that will meet at ArcYinnar on a monthly basis- we hope to push some boundaries and try some new things. You are welcome to join if you are interested. It grew out of some textile workshops we did in June to create a community art project. We made a cloth book with each participant creating a page. The book will be displayed from time to time.

I have done a little bit of printing, but again that naysayer worm keeps on popping into my head. I have ideas (sometimes) but I tend to fritter time until it is too late to do anything or it is too warm to achieve some of the printing I want to do- so nothing happens at all.

I want to play around with fungi a bit more, but am a bit stuck on where to go next. I also want to explore book structures more, I have been wanting to do that for a long time- and occasionally  delve into it but then lay it aside as I struggle with the idea of content and what am I actually attempting to say at all? I have worked a little on the book about Absolutely Nothing- but in being about nothing it has become about something. I keep wanting to make it a big fat book  but then it becomes highly labour intensive again. I started ti at the beginning of the pandemic and work on it from time to time, and got to a point where I had planned to bind it but now find I want to make it a bigger book which will require more stitching.

Later this month I will be driving up to Ulladulla to teach at the Slow Stitch Gathering organised  by Marilyn Stewart- the dates are 15-18 August and I am looking forward to getting together with like minded people. I will be teaching traveller's blanket, pods, pockets or stitching my lino prints- it's up to you, it's simply going to be a stitch fest! Please come and join us!

Monday, June 27, 2022

Not Good Enough Australia Post

 Some of you who follow me on Facebook know this story but today I am so angry  that I just cannot keep quiet. I have written before how I have written another book on Tifaifai- and that in  rewriting a book I published in 2001 I actually  made all new work which incorporated all the things I have learned in teaching the tifaifai course since the beginning of the 2000's. I also created new work to be in tune with work I am currently making. To create the work and rewrite the book has taken a significant number of man hours- close on a years work as I created 12 new quilts for the book. I had a signed contract with Editions de Saxe which was supposed to have been completed last years but due to Covid restrictions and my heart attack we reached agreement to delay publication until this year. Due to ongoing covid impacts I have not travelled overseas  and had no plan to travel overseas, and so I decided to commit the quilts to International Express Pos with Australia Post for delivery to the photographer in Paris . I had inquired with another courier earlier in the day but got no reply so decided to opt for Australia Post  ( I also live in a regional small city so things you take for granted in cities are not always so easily available in the country).

The quilts then took more than 2 weeks to have attempted delivery in Paris ( they spent the whole weekend sitting in Morwell despite my having posted the parcel around lunch time in order to capture the express post out pickups) It cleared customs in France and delivery was attempted but the recipient was not at home. He was not left any notification and only became aware of attempted delivery when tracking notified me and I alerted the recipient. He then attended the french equivalent postal service and was told they could not find the parcel or that he had the wrong number. In any case the parcel was likely not there as it had been returned to Australia after only 5 days of being held and not the usual 10 business days. The parcel was then in transit for some 2-3 weeks . I was advised by tracking that it was in Sunshine sorting centre on 25 May after having cleared customs and the next day it is in Somerton Sorting Centre awaiting delivery- that was on the 26th of May and that was my last tracking notification. After several weeks of complaining on their social media as well as using all the avenues for complaint  and repeating myself over and over despite having furnished the information multiple times with the appropriate channels ( internet/email/telephone) and finally lodging a complaint with the Postal Services Ombudsman ( who have a backlog)  and after again  complaining on their social media today when they are chortling about how supportive they are of small business , I was notified that they cannot locate the parcel and that they are willing to compensate me $111.80 which is the reimbursement of postage- and basically the parcel is lost. They have been told  the importance  and value of the parcel ,the fact that a small value was put on the parcel due to the work not being for sale and that the works were to be returned to me, that I am in default of a publishing contract and this is what they offer me?????

These are some of the works that are missing

A years worth of work- so much work. It's what kept me going during isolation, knowing I had to make the work.

To say I am heart broken is an understatement and I consider Australia Post's offer to reimburse the postage to be an insult. It is appalling service.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Gathered Threads

 There is some terrific work in  Gathered Threads an exhibition I have curated at ArcYinnar. It would be great to see lots of visitors, though I realise Yinnar is a little bit off the beaten track , but not that far  and certainly not as isolated as Gellibrand used to be. These exhibitions can only ever be as good as the number of visitors that visit and in my experience over all of these years it is word of mouth that is one of the best spreaders of information and exhibition news. A flyer, a poster or an instagram post can only do so much- what we need is foot traffic and for people to be amazed by these wonderful  works!

So I share some of the work here: Gathered Threads

Work by Lynette Weeks- the piece on the right inspired by the Grampians- Gariwerd and the ridge lines visible as you spend time in the Grampians. Lynette uses ecodyeing techniques and is inspired by the natural environment and also uses breakdown printing to create water effects inspired by the sea environment near her home. I have known Lynette since my Geelong years and have had our hand at organising a few things here and there.

Work by Beth and Trevor Reid. This couple have worked together ever since I have known them ( which is quite a long time ) and I have shown off their work  in  a few exhibitions over the years, and continue to find new ways to  express the quilt medium even using very traditional piecing methods which shine with originality and  clever use of light/dark. All of the pieces in the exhibition have been made using the nuances of denim to create these contrasts.

Work by Fiona Wright using the khadi fabric which has become synonomous with the Stitching Project a venture by Fiona and her partner Praveen Najak. This project employs dozens of women on a fair trade basis which sees those women being able to send their children to school and purchasing small amenities to improve their lives - even such things as toilet buildings. I met Fiona when I was doing my Masters degree in the very early 2000's and she was the recipient of the Henry Foyle scholarship for recent graduates which saw here venture to India and so onto the creation of the Stitching Project. Her work involves finding inspiration in words of encouragement and words of courage- In the Words of Ghandi " be the change you wish to see in the world" and of course using khadi.

Work by Sue de Vanny, a very painterly effect achieved with fabric and thread and a bit of paint. Sue is also a painter but her textile pieces bring another dimension- the textures are luscious and create images that beg to be touched- though we can't. These portraits of animals have all been inspired by Sue and her husband Carl's travels in Africa and as with all portraits it is the eyes of these great creatures that capture the soul of these wondrous animals and of course  the textures. I marvel at these works.

Works by Carolyn Sullivan whom I have also known for a long time and who continues to surprise me with the  finesse of her work and the wonderful explorations of macro views of natural objects. These two pieces show the gamut of Carolyn's work which includes machine stitching and applique and incredible hand  stitching on naturally dyed silks.

Work by Sarah Louise Ricketts  some with Alice Nothe. I can't remember when I first met Sarah but I do know I have toured some of her pieces over the years and we have hatched some crazy plots the most recent was her support for a project to bring 4 of the women from  Boneca de Atuaro in Australia in  2019. Sarah's pieces are felted, layered and stitched and no photograph will do them justice .

Gosh- how long have i known Robina Summers??  I think it goes back to 1995 when Robina was exploring transferring digital photographs onto fabric, that eventually led onto study at RMIT and really combining her great loves: photography, fabric, digital manipulation ,stitch, dye and exploration of the environment near her home at Kangaroo Ground and  the larger urban area of Melbourne. Over the years we have hatched many plots- Robina and Tony have been my sounding board for the exhibitions which I have  curated and toured since 2000 when Australian Bounty toured in France and Europe ( the only travelling exhibition of Australian art in the  Sydney Olympic year) and was instrumental in opening doors for Australian textiles to be shown in Europe- they have encouraged me in my crazy dreams and together we have created 3 catalogues of work by Australian quilt artists- the only  such works available in actual book format.

Cheryl Cook is a recent encounter for me- but when I first met Cheryl at a printing workshop at Arc Yinnar I was straight away enthused about how she was using felt, dye, ink and the natural environment in her work. She creates many of her own inks and uses texture  in such a free and interesting way that you almost want to dive into the works. I am sure we will hatch plots in the future!

And finally my own work, some of which I have shared here before but one new piece with the badges ( which are for sale - each badge is $60 AUS)- message me if you are interested.

As i write this I realise I have had a rare privilege that I would not have thought possible twelve months ago.  I have had to privilege of inviting old friends and new to show off their work, to show off their skill, to show off their passion  and create a beautiful exhibition altogether.  And my goodness we have had some adventures over the years! In becoming the very part time gallery coordinator at Arc Yinnar I have been able to put together a curated exhibition of art textiles of work by people whose work I admire, who show great diversity in the practice of textiles and embraced the challenge to create small bodies of work within the exhibition. It was a wonderful bonus that quite a few could attend the opening last Saturday.