Saturday, June 30, 2007

Horizontal or Vertical?



I pinnned this forest quilt before I went overseas in february and pulled it out of a pile of things sitting heaped in my room. Ipinned it up and immediately thought why did I pin this as forest- on the vertical it could also be river- I am still undecided at this stage.But I do have to finish it soon as I need the pins for some other work I want to get on with.

I have been reading the Matisse biography and his stays over summer in 1896 and 1897 at Belle-Ile in Brittany- where other artists would gather ( I am also a bit shocked by how appalling their diet was- it makes me grateful for our big garden). It is something I would like to do one of these days- to be working with other artists at close proximity- for a month or more ( I have given up applying for residencies, it takes tooo much energy and time and always leads to disappointment)- rather than the odd day here and there. I could do with some of that now- I neeed firing up! I have also from time to time craved a mentor. It seems as if Moreau- Matisse's teacher for some time really enthused art in Matisse's mind and in his imagination- that eventually lead to anothe rlevel altogether. I have sseen the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris- it is one of those Parisian treasures. His studio was housed in a quite large house- I could not get over how prolific Moreau was with drawing - and whilst his work and especially his later work was of a symbolist bent- he certainly also had an eye for pattern and decoration.
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Friday, June 29, 2007

How Green is My Valley

I just took this photo at the back of our property before heavy heavy rain arrived- the light was all golden and coppery- really unusual for this time of year without the sun shining.OK blogger won't let me- later...

I received a book in the post today entitled "The Ground of the Image" by Jean Luc Nancy ISBN 0-8232-2541-0 and published by Fordham. Part of the blurb says
"If anything marks the image,its a deep ambivalence.Denounced as superficial, illusory and groundless,images are at the same time attributed with exhorbitant power and assigned a privileged relation to truth.Mistrusted by philosophy, forbidden and embraced by religions, manipulated as "spectacle" and proliferated in the media,images never cease to present their multiple aspects, their paradoxes, their flat but receding spaces."

It has been said that the twentieth century saw the domination of appreciation of the world and thereby art through the process of vision- that vision is the most accurate and only way to perceive truth of the world- thereby relegating other senses to a lower echelon- for example touch. Textile is such a tactile medium in which to practice and it too has been relegated to the lower echelons of arts practice- is the relationship between touch and textiles a part of a push the privilege images only? I will be interested to read what Nancy's thoughts are on the image.

I have also found a an iffy assumption in the early chapter on Matisse- the type of sweets that he would have eaten; striped humbugs and twists of barley sugar. Given the diet my mother would have experienced in her childhood and something which is still common in Flanders- I think he is more likely to have had babbelaars ( a sweet made of butter and sugar and twisted) and kaneel stokken ( which i remember having at the kermis or fairs in my childhood and which were a treat as was sweet wood). It sounds like I am being a bit of a stickler but when i was doing my masters and my lacework I quoted some dutch and flemish authorities ( which I translated)- it was questioned - which started me looking in reverse as well- that is -what assumptions are made in english writing about europe?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's Finished


Did a quilting marathon- or that is what it felt like. But the coloured version is done.It looks quite different now the yellow satin stitching edging has gone in on each square. It is actually a bit darker than this in the real- the flash of the camera seems to pick up the shine of the rayon machine embroidery thread.It really looks quite different to the black thread and white background I did of the quilt for the book.

I usually keep a journal but have been really slack of late in doing anything visual in there- must get back in the habit. A blog I enjoy a lot is called Notebookism- it blogs all the different types of journals that are on the market ( and I am embarassed to say I have a few that are listed- actually more than a few) and often references articles about journal keeping and artist' books. It also has other bloggers share their journal making prowess from time to time. I have also started reading "The Unknown Matisse" A Life of Henri Matisse: The Early Years, 1869-1908 by Hilary Spurling. I enjoyed the second volume a lot.

It is also the time of year to think about vegetable seeds for the garden. We usually get seeds from Eden Seeds who have a lot of old style varieties and non-hybrid seeds so that they self sew or at least the seed is viable if we collect it.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Nearly There


Spent most of the day sewing and I still have not done all the squares- but it is nearly done!I hope to finish it tomorrow so I can get on with other things.

It is really cold and grey outside- miserable weather really- it does not enthuse you to do much of anything.So I made a couple of pots of soup- pumpkin and chicken and garden vegetable ( with mostly vegetables from the garden). We have got great leeks this year, they add such a nice subtle onion flavour to things.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Coloured 72 Ways


Thank you for allowing me to rant from time to time and your good wishes.

My book "72 Ways not to Stipple or Meander" is going to be published in French. I have been asked by the publishers to create a coloured version of the quilt- so I have chosen to use different coloured threads for each square. The background is a deep purple ( not bluish purple but more reddish) which allows my favourite coloured threads to really sparkle. The collage only shows two colours of thread I have used- yellow and orange- what amazes me as I look at the photos how the colour of the thread and the intensity of the stitching actually alters the colour fo the background fabric. I was aware thread had this effect but was surprised by how marked it was.It will be interesting to see the effect of other colours as well. I amim to have this doe by the end of the week so I cna send it to France.

Don't forget you can order the book or cd in English from me ( and I will retain the English rights) I have just had a frssh batch of books printed.
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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Early Morning Garden

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Ok some flowers from my garden and the early morning sun shining on the trees up the back of our property.

I don't often get too political on my blog but the last couple of weeks that I have been home I have tried to avoid the tv at all costs. When I am away I don't miss tv at all , and then slowly inexorably you get drawn into it- especially in winter which is what it is here right now. Our country is in pre-electioneering mode- a travesty of appalling tv at the best of times with all sorts of allegations and counter allegations flying around. Actually lets call it for what it really is- lies and lies and more lies. Has anyone had the feeling no matter where you are, that whatever we are being told by those who run our countries that we are being told the biggest lies? Not little fibs, not little white lies but huge encredibly counterproductive lies? If my child came home and told me such curlies I would have very serious words with her- possibly with banishment to a room until the truth was told.And does anyone find the word "sorry " overused- once it meant an heartfelt apology for a wrong done- these days it seems to mean "watch my mouth I am saying sorry but what I am really saying is get over it shit kicker" We are told there is no inflation? Scuse me do you know any pollie who has had to go to the supermarket with $200 and feed kids for a week? and pay utilities, run a car with petrol prices said to be declining but really at their highest for quite some time because the American driving season has started? The commencement of the "American Driving Season" has been given on most news services as the reason Australians have to pay for escalating fuel costs- exactly why the American drivcing season should have this impact we are never told . We are also told that employment is at an all time high- the thing they don't tell you that even if you are employed for one hour a week you are counted in the employment figures- hardly an accurate representation of full employment is it? I can't tell you the number of people I know to be holding down several part-time jobs in order to make ends meet.

And whilst I am on this rant- I want to say a word about ageism- technically or actually legally you are not allowed to discriminate in the Australian employment market because of age. Ok.... so tell me why my husband ( aged 51) has not even had one single job interview for a position as draftsman despite last year ( 2006) gaining a diploma in drafting ( he has an science degree from earlier in his life as well) and gaining marks of which the lowest was Distinction- and the average was High Distinction- with excellent efficiencies in Autocad and Rivet despite applying for dozens of jobs? Not one job interview despite being the top student of his year- that wouldn't have anything to do with age would it? And not one job interview from the employment agencies he has registered with in Colac and Geelong.

And on another note of ageism- I have had more than my fair share of dealings with government departments in the last nine months- some people are polite and pleasant to deal with and I feel that they are doing the best in the circumstance- but others are plain rude- they look at you, and just because they think you are the other side of forty or heaven forbid even 50 you are somehow a lesser person- and eyes can be rolled in meetings when you are making a point which does not suit their neat pidgeonholed view of things. My views have been questioned, my interpretation of things has been questioned- not nicely (I don't deny anyone the perogative of questioning - which is fair enough) but in a challenging "what would you know?" kind of way. The young seem to have a presumption that just because you are middle aged that you have no knowledge , no skills and no learning. I think what concerns me the most is ,that people are very quick to be judgemental- they feel they have you categorised within minutes of meeting you- however my training has always been to watch and observe- then make decisions.

Anyway enough of a rant today I have to work- at least it is sunny so I can go for a walk and blow away some of these simmering cobwebs!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Spark-a-Lark Cat


I wish my mood matched the sparkling little cat, but at the moment I could do with some cheer. I made the cat for my youngest daughter who turns 12 tomorrow- the time has flown. Next week my eldest daughter turns 16, again where has the time gone? Tomorrow I have to be up bright and early and be cheerful as I have a 12 year old busting to be a teen! She adores cats and loves the colour pink.

The workshop lists for Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork at Val d'Argent France our out now and I am teaching on four days- Thursday , Friday , Saturday and Sunday- from 13 Septemeber to 16 September. I am teaching the following:
13 Septemeber - Dye your own fabric ( you will learn how to make the fabric I make)
14 September- print your own Fabric- varios easy printing techniques you can easily do at home . I will bring some of my lino-cuts and stamps for use
15 September- Applique and free machine embroidery- we will explore various free machien techniques and create a small wallhanging.
16 September- Cretaing Journal Quilts- exploring pesonal themese whilst working small.If you want a list or inscription form I have them available in pdf format which I hope I can forward on.

On Saturday 15 September I will also be giving a lecture at 13.00 hours- about Inspirational Textiles, and how textiles have been used over the centuries to express all manner of things.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007



This is some of the fabric I have been dyeing and ironing up- it always looks so rich and well just beautiful!

I have three takers for a story for a doll! Great I will get in touch with you all tomorrow- and I am looking forward to hearing your stories!

I must admit to a little sideways motive with this one- Olga ,Robina and I are working on a course we intend to teach at Samson Hill- winery near Melbourne over the next 5 months- which will be more intensive than simply making an art quilt- we will look at how to develop an idea and then how to translate it visually. I love reading and stories and so often my quilts do contain stories. But like a written story it must have a beginning, a middle and an end- it must have a plot- it must have a point of relation for the reader. In a sense a quilt is no different to a story- you are communicating visually.Too often we turn up to quilt classes having done little preparation and we are expected to make something expressive and individual almost cold. I do ask people to bring things they like visually and fabrics to match, but there is no time to really develop and idea- a narration. I want people to have the time to build on an idea- ot treat it as a story- that will unfold- will have some false starts and will have some character amendments and will ultimately run off on itself( stories do that- I have done Nanowrimo three times now and I am constantly amazed at how characters take over the story and control the pace and the plot) I also think that strories connect some of my work to viewers and ulitmately buyers- not only the story of how it is made but the story that I am attempting to depict. I guess what I am saying is that often ideas will have been percolating and developing for years- just finding the right tools to express the language is often the trick. Being isolated I often have to invent my own tools- but i have also been hand dyeing since 1991 because i did want to understand my tools and how to use those tools expressively.I rarely make anything that does not have some kind of story,or otherwise I try and look at something in a new light- like banksia's for instance- I love the flower, but I have also sat hours with a flower- drawn it, studied it, scanned it , played in photoshop with it- gone back to the real thing- yet in the back of my mind are also the quirky stories of banksia men with which we grew up as children in Australia- how do I translate all those things into something that can speak to another person?

I do make art for myself- but I also like to communicate- textile is my preferred medium because it has so many elements- and its texture can read as a text under your hand....
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Motley Crew


Well the dolls are multiplying. The weather is so cold at the moment that it is too cold to sit and sew in my workroom- so I have been hogging the heater and handsewing these little chaps. I did make another lino-cut of a face. They remind me of griots and especially the old card I have of a griot which you can see in my first entries when I started my blog way back in October 2004- so once that thought struck me they took on an entirely new life.Griots used to be the singers and oral historians in many African communities- much like bards were in Wales and no doubt how many stories got passed around before the advent of printing and the ability to print many books.It made the hand stitching more appropriate and each seemed to take on a personality of story teller in some way.So with that in mind and being a lover of stories and seeing I missed my 100,000th visitor to my site whilst I was overseas- I will give away one of these chaps to three different people who pop up their hand first( ie the first three)- but there is a small snag - you will have to make up a story.Please respond via the comments function.You will need to send me the story, after , which I will put on the blog with your permission of course and full acknowledgement. I don't mind what sort of story- it can be true or madeup- it doesn't need to be long, but a story that you would like to pass on.

I had to brave the cold outside to dye some fabric, thankfully the rain stayed away- I will show some pics tomorrow- but wet, the colours looked pretty good- hope they stay that way as I have to send some to England to The Wittering Rainbow ( aka Annabel)
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Giotto Eyes and Dolls



I woke up this morning with the itching feeling of wanting to make some lino-cuts- I knew exactly what I wanted to do- I wanted to cut face and body shapes but I wanted the faces to have Giotto eyes. I purchased a two volume little book on Giotto published in 1963 called "All the Paintings of Giotto" by Roberto Salvinie and published by Hawthorn Books, Inc. when I was in Braidwood.The image of Mary Magdalene is from the book. Most of the images are in black and white and I am fascinated by how stylised his eyes of people were regardless of whether they were male or female. However I spent most of the day searching for my lino-cutting tools- i my shed-supposed to be studio btu which isn't, in my work room, all the shelves in the dining area- not a single lino-cutting tool to be found ( and I have about 6 sets). Eventually I found them late this afternoon and cut this little lino cut which i printed into my journal and then onto some fabric to make more dolls- I had in mind little Giotto like dolls. I was intrigued by the fact that the paper print did indeed look feminine but the fabric print didn't- the lines from the cutting away of th elino looking sort of like a beard. Anyway this one is a little experiment- I want to cut another.

I have been reading some of the essays in "When Books Die" edited by Finaly LLoyd. I particularly enjoyed the essay by Meredith Mckinney entitled "Reading in Tongues" on p39 .As a child she filled books with scribbles and writing which were of her own making ( my youngest daughter did the same- books and books she filled) and how these lines resonated:
"When I look at those passionate scribbles and flourishes now, I wish with all my heart that I could read the story I was telling myself as I made them.They contain in inaccessible code the deepest origins of my imaginative world" and a little further..." When I work best,I work as that child once worked,bending intently over the unfolding marks on the page,tasting and testing the words on my tongue, deep in the world they embody." It describes a lot of how I work- I am often surprised at how coherences and coincidences and meaning emerge as I work- they seem to come out of some subconscious area and yet come out of my finger tips to create work.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

So I made a doll


Ok ever since Veronique gave me the lovely little doll I blogged about in May, I have been itching to make one of my own. I think there will be a few more in the pipeworks and I want to play around with the face a little more- but she was fun to make! I scanned her on my scanner hence the blurring at the edges which does give the effect of dimensionality.I can see these with all kinds of beads and cross stitching and all sorts of other decorative stitching and playing around with eyes- I am thinking Giotto eyes! And they will be for my near and dear or me- just bits of fun.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Horse Blanket

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This piece of textile is actually a Syrian Horse Blanket.It is not antique but it it unusual as woven Syrian textiles are difficult to find. I was delighted to be able to buy this piece from Achmad my textile restorer friend near the Jeron Gate in Damascus.It came in whilst we were chatting and having tea with him and I immediately fell in love with it.He said that when they do come in- which is not often they often no longer have the tassesls, which is a charming part of the whole.Some years ago I purchased a book entitled "au Fil du Desert- Tentes et tissages des pasteurs nomades de Mediterranee" published by Edisud ISBN 2-85744-806-6, because I am a bit besotted by bedouin tents and well this book contains many bedouin tents as well as other woven objects made by desert nomads. There was a page from the book and I remember falling in love with the woven textiles on that page,it contained just such horseblanket in very similar colours to the piece I bought. So regardless of the fact that I was on an extreme budget when visiting Syria I could not leave this piece behind. It is quite heavy and the colour is deep and rich.

And France is moving one step closer. I may have found a small cottage not far from Vezelay ( I also have the choice of a much larger house near Perigord, but for 3-4 months of the year it is used by other people whereas the cottage can be a year round thing). I will go and look at both of them in September. The one near Vezelay is more central to places I teach and need to go and it is only about 2.5 hours from Paris. So whilst Perigord is beautiful - the small house is probably the better option for the time being.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Random Thoughts


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The first photo is of a clump of some kind of fungi found in my chook yard- alas all my chickens have gone- another fox attack whilst I was away. The second photos is of some leaves I found and rearranged.

I have been doing some research on printmaking- I want to get back to some more printmaking in the next couple of weeks.
Often the issue of copyright and copying comes up, however one of the first suits on this issue was brought in the renaissance by Albert Durer against Marcantonio- an engraver who had allegedly copied a series of Durer's engravings ( according to Vasari). Marcantonio also worked with Raphael making engravings from Raphael's work. It appears this may have been a true collaboration, in that Marcantonio didn't so much copy the paintings as work from Raphael's prepatory drawings thereby creating a new work. Rapheal seems to have been actively involved in the process- it was done in order for the work to be "publicised" more widely.

However I was bemused by Durer's claim for copyright for his work- so much more eloquent than the copyright symbol....

Hold! You crafty ones, strangers to work, and pilferers of other men's brains. Think not rashly to lay your thievish hands upon my works. Beware! Know you not that I have a grant from the most glorious Emperor Maximillian, that not one throughout the imperial dominion shall be allowed to print or sell fictitious imitations of these engravings? Listen! And bear in mind that if you do so, through spite or through covetousness, not only will your goods be confiscated, but your bodies also placed in mortal danger.

I found this quote on William Patry's Blog - dealing with issues of copyright.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The last 24 hours




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I think doing the taxes must have set in panic mode- sometime yesterday I decided that I needed to hand quilt one of the long cross stitch panels , as I had forgotten about one of the other quilts I was going to send- it wasn't in the immediate field of vision was it??? Anyway I now have really sore fingers ( I don't like wearing thimbles at all, and I don't hoop) as I spent most of last night and this morning hand quilting. I had thought of maybe doing it by machine , but then after some stitching the texture of hand stitching is so much richer- as the photo of the unquilted section shows-the stitching intensifies the colour a lot. So the three long panels are all going to Lyon ( they are about 100cms or more)- they were supposed to be the same length- well at least the two stone angel panels.

Then I did some doctoring on Persephone's Rug for the Underworld- I decided it wasn't dynamic enough so I added some free machine appliqued hand printed pomegranates. It has been sent as well, though I might do some more to it when it returns. Anyway I am happier with it now. And then as I was searching for the pomegranate cut-outs that i cut out last week I found another quilt I was going to send- so it meant I actually had an extra quilt, which I have decided to keep here. But gee my fingers are sore!!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

X Marks the Place


Another panel with X's and freeform cross stitch.I finished stitching it today. I have three of these panels and want to make still more ( they are the size of an A3 page). I am also stitching another X panel which has to be finished by tomorrow so I can courier it to Lyon for the Magic Patch Expo which will take place at la Sucriere from 21-23 June. So i think I will be stitching well into the night!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Jobs that Need Doing

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I have been doing taxes all day- I am running behind and simply must get them done.I don't think I could ever have been an accountant.The trouble is I get such a mental block about them that I put it off and off- in the end it isn't anywhere near as horrendous as I thought, but it still takes time. My promised reward is to finally do some work on the book I am working on with Marion Barnett, and to do some freeform cross stitching on the last piece for Lyon so I can courier all my pieces at the end of the week.

So I am sharing some pics of what is in my garden right now- gum nuts- these are quite big - about 4-5 cm in diameter, and they become all sorts of hidey holes for all sorts of insects. The other leaves are box gum and the red leaves are from the grape vine.

Then next week I can get on with new work- work I want to do and work which I have been itching to get to- but first I have to do all the have to's.

The country count has been slowly climbing to 120. There is said to be 194 countries in the world so only 74 to go!I would really love to know more about how these people come to visit the blog. When I was a child I used to spend time writing lists of countries and their capitals so this reminds me of that game.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Student Work from the Weekend


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I have been away for the weekend teaching in Braidwood, a small country town between Canberra and Nowra. It is a delightful town with many historic buildings ( I was lucky to stay in the old Post Office residence which has been beautifully renovated whilst keeping its old world charm) and I was teaching at Braidwood Townstay, which is an old bank building, the downstairs part of which contains a wonderful space in which to teach or utilise as a retreat space for a group in which to work, a lounge and diningroom and kitchen and , an upstairs part that sleeps eight people ( or more with some foldout beds). Kate Marshall is the delightful owner of the space, and it is her dream to see the space utilised for all sorts of textile activities. From a teaching point of view- the space was big with great design walls, well lit and warm ( important on cold winter mornings). Some of the students stayed in the accommodation and were able to keep working until all hours ( yes you Gerda and Carmel) and got up at sparrows fart to do even more sewing!

The collages are the work students who did the tifaifai workshop. I was delighted that nearly all students created their own designs ( in fact several had come along with designs already done- some even with two!!!!)I was also delighted that many of the students attached both the positive and negative of their tifaifai cutouts to backgrounds. I have to say Gerda and Carmel worked like trojans to get both panels sewn- and they were up late but lightened the load with a bit of bubbly here and there( and they even offered the tutor some ). The red and blue work and the green and red work in the second collage are by Carmel and Gerda respectively.Well done!!! Gerda also showed me ( and then gave me) some printouts she had made of my blog- wow- I have always thought of my blog as an internet thing- never thought to print it out- but the images were better quality than I would have thought, and well the whole thing was so booklike- it really blew me away to see my blog like that.And here I have been wondering what to do about another book???

I also visited Braidwood Print and Bookroom- a small company that did print its own limited edition artists and writers bookson their own printing press, but now also publishes books of essays one of which I bought entitled "When Books Die" 15 Essays edited by Finlay Lloyd published by Finlay Lloyd ISBN 0-9775677-0-2. The front cover flap ( and I just adore front cover flaps for starters) says;"The future of the book may be equivocal but its continuing power is demonstrated here by fifteen contributors to this collection of essays who examine,play with,and question the role and fate of reading in an electronic age." They also sell many other books- in fact their shelves looked a bit like my wishlistfor literature and philosophy!
There are other lovely businesses in Braidwood- cafe's, secondhand bookshops and small galleries with all manner of interesting objects and art and two patchwork shops. So if your group would like to have a retreat- i can't recommend it highly enough!