Monday, October 30, 2006

Admin instration urghh

I spent most of the weekend with Robina and Tony ( whose website will be functioning soon so I will link when it is) sorting out the photos, banner and letterhead for Sense of Place. All those things had to be sent out in proposals today- always at the eleventh hour of course.And it always takes forever to do and then dash into the post office to post it all. I always start to feel frustrated doing this for whilst it is a very real part of the work I do, I always feel guilty if I haven't sewn or done something creative for the day.

The collage is of the bush around Bend Of Islands where Robina and Tony live- it is a part of the Yarra river just outside of Melbourne where the residents themselves have agreed to an environmental code for their surroundings- this means no dogs or cats and only a small area of European or non-native garden and leaving the bush intact. I am always surprised by how messy the Australian bush is- the forest floor is littered with all sorts of leaf and twig litter. The picture bottom right is of scribbly gum where insects get between the bark of the tree and the wood and carve the squiggles.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thinking About the Binding

During the night the 75,000th visit happened and I think it must be Alison Schwabe from Uruguay- Alison is a friend- last time it was a friend too- how strange is that? At least I think it is Alison as I do sometimes have another visitor from Uruguay as well but have no idea who that is. Alison has just had a quilt accepted into Quilt National too! And her blog is worth checking out for life in Montevideo in Uruguay.

And I have finished the stitching on the Seriously Big Banksia ( in Australia we have "big" everythings as tourist attractions- from merinos to pineapples , crayfish, bananas etc)- only a couple of days late. The green thread looped the whole time , but as I am struggling with time I left the looping as the flower of itself is quite textured with loops. If you click on the image a larger version willl appear where you can see the stitching better. I need to think of a really good binding for this one- have been thinking about picking up the lime green of the threads or even orange ( I have some shiboried orange and black which might do the trick) but I want to think about it overnight. This quilt is made for the Sense of Place ( In the Spirit of Goodwill) exhibition I am curating. It will be shown at Samson Hill Winery just outside of Melbourne. It will be shown all of January and early February and there are some more exciting developments in the cooking pot fo which I will talk later. For a start we will be doing workshops every Wednesday for quilters and non-quilters alike during the whole month of January. The idea is that you just bring yourself - we provide everything else ( materials and lunch) for a fee - we teach you something new, that you might not ordinarily have done, that can be made into something small- but you will make two- one for you and one as a gift to people on the other side of the world- in the Spitirit of Goodwill and of course we will have fun!. Olga Walters, Robina Summers and myself will be doing the workshops. If you are interested let me know and I will put you on the list.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My work Table in the Shed

Thank you for all your good wishes- it is going to be a long journey but we are hopeful that the outcome will be good, but it will take time to know.
On another note , the blog is 472 visits away from the 75,000th visit! It is phenomenal to me that so many people have visited since I started, the camaraderie that has grown, which is different to the dynamics of a yahoogroup. I visit others blogs daily, don't always leave comments but I enjoy getting to know people and seeing how their creativity is spurred and getting a sense of who the people are, the shape of their lives.People's blogs have spurred me to buy books which I might have overlooked, sent me to websites I would not have found and generally added to my daily life. I tried Ilva's recipe from Luculian Delights for Rosti with Sun-dried Tomatoes yesterday , except I didn't have tomatoes so I did it with marinated roasted capsicums instead and made a green mayonanise to dip them in - and they were delicious. Yesterday I found an incredible resource for the latest writing on art and related philosophies- a 138 page pdf download listing all recent writing- the tomey stuff but still some that looked very interesting.So thank you one and all, and I am trying to think of a present for the 75,000th visitor!

I have set up two tables in the shed studio- hopefully we will pour the slab in the not too distant future- having the money and time at the same moment in time is the problem. Meanwhile I have set up some tables in there to work and I am slowly moving out of my old workroom which I shared with my eldest daughter ( most of my things have been packed away- and it is amazing what an art resource my room was for everyone- the number of times I have been asked do you have this or that? And I do, but it has been packed away) This table is set up for drawing and other things- the other table is for sewing- some people like neat clean spaces in which to work but looking at the photo I seem to make shrines of materials and leave myself little space in which to actually work.I tend to need all these things around me to help clear my mind and focus.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Week that Was

Ima y not be posting much over the next few weeks, as it has been impossible to do any work. I have just spent the worst week of my life- I cannot say what happened because that would invade the privacy of those around me, but I need your hugs and good thoughts. Meanwhile I send you a waratah- not as beautiful as other years or as large but pretty amazing nonetheless.Ok blogger is not letting me do this- but I am sending a waratah!

Blogger finally let me- thank you for all the hugs and prayers and good thoughts.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Just a bit of fun

I was intending to sew all weekend but for one reason or another that did not happen- and I can't really put my mind to it. So I sat and drew these little chaps in my journal. My daughter thinks they are really cool and I should make them into a screen print and make bags with them. Maybe I will- I can make screens on my Print Gocco machine.I think i will need to redraw them and clean up the art work a bit.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Seriously Big Banksia

I have been working on making a seriously big banksia based on the studies I did last week. First trick was to get the fabrics just right.. The deep maroon isn't quite as dark as I would have liked but as I tried a few times it will have to do. I have also run out of white fabric to dye and have to get some more. Then the yellow- I didn't quite want the variations you get in hand dyed cloth and I wanted texture on the surface as well. How I visualised the texture to work in the appliqued pieces did not quite come off- so then I procrastinated and decided to continue on with it. I imagine this banksia to be stand alone as is- and that a lot of texture and detail will come from stitching which is yet to go in. It measures 74 cm bu 145 cm long .Hopefully I will get it pinned today and start the stitching. I hope to have it finished by Monday sometime .

Thursday, October 12, 2006


This photo came out of a French Travellers Guide Book for Sienne ( Siena) by Pierre du Colombier and published by B Arthaud of Paris in 1955 ( This publishing house still seems to exist). The photograph was actually taken by M.A.Trincano of Lyon.

Doesn't it capture a delightful moment? Two men and a donkey and age old brick walls. And really it is not all that long ago- the year before my birth- life has certainly changed. I wonder if it the photograph was taken on a Monday because all the washing is out.I bought the book in an antiquarian bookshop when I was in Annecy and it contains a delightful loose leaf map of Siena and many other rather good black and white photographs, many of paintings. There was also a guidebook on the Languedoc in the same shop- but I was worried about the weight of my luggage on the way home so I refrained and now I am regretting it.

I have mentioned Lucullian before in regards to food but have also found that Ilva has a photograph site- there are some wonderful photographs there, capturing small moments and there are also some links to other interesting sites with photographs. With spring well and truly on the way and a hot summer to come by the looks of it, I will be trwaling Ilva's Lucallian blog for recipes and inspiration for fresh produce.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The image is the invitation to the opening of an exhibition of the drawings of Hassan Harouni. Hassan had been working on a book called Hassan Everywhere but he unfortunately drowned before he finished. Hassan was a Palestinian artist and this card fell out of one of my diaries yesterday ,as I had attended the exhibition opening. It came at a moment when in a sense I was being overwhelmed by the world and it suddenly caught my breath as I remembered the feeling that the exhibition had engendered in my head and heart. You might think that the unfinished drawings for an unfinished book do not warrant an exhibition, but there was magic in that room the day I was there- it was palpable and it was special. The thought of magic and whimsy cheered me up immeasurably- it seems to appear so little in our busy lives.It also started me thinking about art- which has to be serious, weighty, intellectual and thought provoking and whatever else- but where is whimsy in all of this? Those little stolen moments of magic which I felt in the exhibition of Hassan's drawings.

We read stories to children full of whimsy and magic. My children built many fairy gardens in the hope of attracting a fairy ( and I still find the remains of some around my garden)- they were wonderful little collages of moss, twigs,mushrooms and flowers often placed in hollowed logs- every bit as whimsical as the delightful installations of Andy Goldsworthy - not "art" but on the other hand designed to transport into the world of the imagination and magic.

Just like piles of wood are installations of an almost bygone era- the image that it conjures of woodfire, leaping flames,crackling and skipping,glowing and glinting;imagine camping without a glowing fire to talk into the night.

Sometimes living is an art;I watch my children , nearly all teenagers pulled and tugged by peer pressure,tv and media and the internet; there are few moments of whimsy in a teenagers life. I know this is part of growing up but I do hope somewhere sometime they will seek to find a refuge from the madding crowd and indulge in moments of whimsy- of immersion in the world of magic. The power of imagination is strong- we need to indulge it now and then and fly on whisps of whimsy.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pomegranate Cards for Sale

A number of people have asked me which pomegranate cards are for sale, so I have photographed those I have left. They are numbered 1-24 from left to right. They are 5" x 7" , so a large postcard size not a standard postcard size.The price is $30 US inclusive of postage for each card ( there are 24 and #2,#8,#11 are sold) and you can pay me via Paypal- but please email me first so I can give you the details. Yes and one isn't a pomegranate- I had to make up the numbers!

Also I received yesterday a translation into French of my booklet Seventy Two Ways Not to Stipple or Meander- Ideas For Free Machine Quilting. Marie Goddard of ">Centre Europeen du Patchwork translated it for me( well the text part- the pictures speak for themselves). The cost is as follows ( as a few people have asked me as well)
The booklet is( all prices inclusive of postage)
$23 US Dollars, $25 Australian Dollars, 18 Euro or 12 Pounds Sterling for the UK
The Cd is ( all prices inclusive of postage)
$15 US Dollars, $20 Australian Dollars, 12 Euro , or *.50 Sterling

I have had quite a lot of feedback about the booklet and thankfully it's all been very positive with people saying it was exactly what they need to help generate ideas. In French it is called 72 Facons... Idees de Matelassage en Pique-libre ( sorry the accents aren't there I forget how to do that in word). I had to have more booklets printed but forgot to take the cd with me to Geelong for the print job last Tuesday - so it is going in today. Marie also has some of my work at her gallery and I shall be having an exhibtion there in 2010- that sounds like such a long way off- but it is a big space and needs quite a lot of work.

Also my friend Agnes De Lange-Macdaniel has put some new work up on her website for 2006. There are some delightful pieces there.

Also check out Sandy's blog- she has been to Egypt! It reminds me so of the wonderful time I had there earlier in the year. I still look at all the photos I took regularly and my daughter made a really lovely album of her experience.

Also next year I will be taking Australian work : "Sense of Place"( work by Jenny Bowker, Gloria Loughnan, Beth and Trevor Reid, Helen Gray, Beth Miller, Dianne Firth, Sue Dennis, Fiona Wright, Robina Summers, Olga Walters and myself ) to Patchwork-Art Textile at le Palaiseau 2007 from 24 March until 9 April at the Le Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture-I have linked the contact for anyone interested. I am delighted that the Australia/France Foundation, administered through the Australian Embassy in Paris has lent some support to this event ( they also helped with Australian Bounty in 2000)- it is wonderful to have support for art quilts at this level on cultural co-operation .I shall also be teaching some workshops during that time. So my love affair with France continues.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Banksia

Banksia studies . Yesterday I got a bit of a fright as I thought I had to have another quilt done within the week. I want it to be "Australian" as well as pertinent to my place ( it's for an exhibition which is travelling to Syria and France next year with the title Sense of Place which I am curating). I have done the first piece- Forest, as we are surrounded by Forest- The Otways National Park. There are also banksias which are native to the region, and I also have many in my garden- they flower all through the winter and are evergreen. Apparently Josephine and Napoleon were so taken by the banksia that they had a special garden built.

I have in the past made banksia quilts, but decided I wanted to revisit the flowers, to see if I could see anything new. I started out with a coloured scan on the scanner and was surprised at how well the flower actually scanned ( the flowers are round and this one would have had a circumference of 15 cm or so). I then reduced it into greyscale ( I do this often to see areas of light and dark-values- positive and negative space) and then played around in photoshop filters a bit. I Then printed it and drew back into the picture and rescanned and then drew freehand the line drawing. The last drawing( at least that is what I am hoping will show up- blogger is not co-operating) was done with my left hand ( I am right handed).It was a little trick I leraned from reading about Raoul Dufy who did this from time to time. I actually find my left hand drawings more characterful then my right hand drawings, but they are a bit of a struggle- I never know quite how to hold my fountain pen. Anyway the pictures/drawings have given me some food for thought how I might go about tackling my next "banksia" quilt.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pomegranate Contemplations

I really like soft covered books- not paperbacks as such but ones that have an almost leathery cover. I have made some over the years and have used Japanese momogami paper as the inner stabiliser/leathery outside cover- it is soft and pliable and strong, apparently the poor Japanese workmen used to make clothing from momogami as it was strong and even warm. I made another one on the weekend for the contemplation of pomegranates and the photo is of the cover ( it is A4 size) which is hand stitched and ended up taking way longer than planned( it was all that hand stitching- the threads are crocheting yarn which I buy in the Netherlands at the market- it's called glossy crocheting yarn and is actually mercerised cotton and dyes beautifully) . I bind Khadi papers as the inner pages - they are kind of rough and textured though do take watercolour paints. They do not like my fountain pen ( another pet kind of obsession- you can buy cheap fountain pens in the supermarches in France- and some of them write beautifully and they are so much nicer to write with than biros- on the up end of the fountain pen market I have two Lamy fountain pens, and I converted a lot of my fellow solicitor coleagues in days gone by to their use, but seem to have lost one- it will turn up, but my current favourite is one of the cheapest ones I bought a couple of years ago at Intermarche- french school children still write with fountain pens at school) The Kadi pages can be stitched and again the fibre is strong so a lot of stuff can be done to it.

Several people have asked me about the cost of the pomegranate cards- they are all 5"x7" which is larger than normal sized postcards ( think the next size up). Tomorrow I will post a picture of the ones I have left. They are priced at $30 US including postage.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Variations on a theme

Over the years there has been quite a lot of discussion about working in a series, and particularly if you want to consider yourself a "serious" artist then the advice from many quarters in the upper echelons of the "quilt" art world is to work in a series and work it into a long progression of works that all relate.That is fine if you want to work in that way, but there are other ways of working as well and one of them is thematically.

I tend to work to themes- they set my imagination more alight than endless variations in abstraction.And yes they are variations on a theme so they do have that in common with working in a series. I suppose I am a semi-romantic still wallowing on the edges of realism.I have over the years made fire quilts. I think they number 17 or 18 plus some smaller ones- I only have one and a half left ( the half being one part of a diptych). I hesitate to call them a series as the imagery is quite wideranging and identifiable , though some are a bit more abstract than others, but they do relate to each other both by theme and technique. I have images of them in all sorts of format- but not digital to see how they do relate to each other.

And in recent years I have been working with variations of pomegranate- again I hesitate to call them a series as such though the inspiration is all pomegranate with its mythical overtones, as well as its modern religious iconography and its medicinal properties, which seems to be so much the basis of the so-called "mythical" fruits..There are a few more waiting in the wings arising out of the postcards I made. I painted a piece of cloth the other day which will form the basis of the new work ( but I have to buy some more fabric to dye)

And since my visit to the Middle east I have been playing around with Crosses and by connection noughts as well. Variations of crosses, colourings, stitching- looking at ethnic clothing, the use of cross stitch in western society, and as mark making and identity . The page from my sketch book was variations I came up with whilst sitting and waiting for connecting flights in airports. The page made one waiter at Heathrow very interested- ( I had about 6 hours to kill there so had something to eat and a glass of wine) he kept coming back to see my progress and said he wished he could do such a thing. I said he could- he said he would try. I hope he did!