Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I have one of those horrible head colds, which makes you want to crawl into bed, but in all reality I have to keep my nose to the grindstone because if I don't I shall lose impetus. I know  I  often say  I struggle, and sometimes people don't want to hear that, but the artists life, whilst it has many freedoms has its down side in harsh economic times. I would trade for a steady job  any day and would have done so  for quite some years now. But the reality is , no jobs, so I have got to keep going at this. Some weeks I don't even know where money for food will come from as the rent in Geelong is high, energy costs are high, ( and despite a new hot water service being installed in the house I rent, I have to boil water to do my dishes, and yes I have complained but nothing can be done...),, running a car is expensive.... but my daughter must finish high school and the school where we lived previously just wasn't sufficiently supportive. I did not have a mobile until very recently, much to kids consternation, because I simply could not afford it, and my eldest daughter gave me her recycled one. I have tried to use every skerrick of material from years past, and what I can't use I have sent to better quarters. And then I am writing a book- I hope it will be worth it in the long run, but meanwhile  it's difficult to make things for sale because I need them photographed for the book and for styling shots.

 So the last few days I have spent thinking about how I cna change things. I think I need to devote daily time to making small pieces for sale and to spend at least 1-2  days developing entirely new things.I need to be more marketing savvy but I am my own worst marketer. I like to talk but I find blowing my own trumpet difficult and Imust admit there is a fine line between too much trumpeting and  simply being proud of what you have achieved and there is nothing wrong with feeling a sense of achievement.Also after my daughter finds out which university she is going to  I can look for more affordable accommodation.. my shed, even though I would rather have sold my block of land and moved elsewhere- it is not my most favourite option.

I have befriended a number of people in Geelong, been president of the Patchwork and Quilters Guild and am convening the  exhibition later this year. I have initiated a project called Envisioning Geelong which will be part of the exhibition- it asks people to  project their community in quilts.The Sentinelle project is also starting to grow and looks like it will get good exposure.All of these things have been enjoyable and at times take up time but they don't exactly earn you money, but if I want to belong to this quilt world I also need to contribute, and often the rewards are greater than the energy spent.

So one of the things I plan to do  is hold a last Travellers Blanket Class frm home- after February I will be going to Europe to work ( and I am hoping  I can snare a grant of some sort to at least cover my airfares)The class consist of 5 lessons in theevening and we will be starting Monday September 16.  We get together in the first session to dye the fabrics and then will get together 2 weeks later to make a start on the project. Each session is 2 hours and the cost is $110 for all 5 sessions and includes the cost of the dyes. Please email me if you are interested. The project is entirely hand stitched.

And I have made some small poppy pieces for sale.They are designed to fit into the Ikea Shadow box Frames. The poppy pieces have been transfer printed on lutradur and then  machine stitched, you could say they are embroideries. I wondered how these pieces would look in the 8 inch x 8 inch format ( approx) because all the other pieces have been bigger, but I am happy with them - they are quite luminous. The prices is $50 AUS inclusive of postage.

I have to send my Voyageart pieces off to theNetherlands soon as they will be shown inVeldhoven in Ocotber of 2013.

And this morning on our morning walk this wondrous piece of nature....

Friday, August 23, 2013


I seem to have been treading water for forever and finally this week I  got to some real stitching on the machine. I had to finish the indienne inspired piece as it has been accepted for exhibition at Botanica at the Red Rock Gallery- photos later. I also wanted to make a piece for the Artis 12 x 12  contemporary art prize, here in Geelong, as they do accept textiles. The piece did have to be mounted on 12 x 12  stretched canvas

It feels good to be in a better frame of mind  to get on with things, as the worry of making ends meet was really getting me down, along with some other factors. To say the last 3 years of living in Geelong have been a struggle is an understatement and then there have been  other issues impacting on it, like  my separated ( but never divorced) parents with health issues as they get older and  partners, and being a single parent. I really thought I would get a job by moving here, but to the world of employment, I must be brain dead and that has been hard to deal with as well, it affects your sense of self worth. So the last month of  invites to exhibit and support for my work has really lifted my spirits.And the sentinelle project is taking off in a way that I dreamt of but never thought would happen- that is largely due to two quilt groups in Palaiseau and  in Geelong, and of course you my readers around the world, so I am so grateful you have embraced the idea.

And then as I was rummaging through a box of  fabrics I found a couple of pomegranate panels I had prepared but never stitched. So I finished them as I don't like to have unfinished things lying around if I can avoid it.These panels are for sale . They are approximately 8 inches x 8 inches ( 20 cm square) with hand dyed fabric and hand printed fabric and machine stitched. the price of each panel inclusive of postage is $50AUS. They are made to fit inside Ikea shadow box frames. . Email me if you are interested in buying one.


There is one which is postcard size (5 inches x 7 inches) and its price is $30 inclusive of postage.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Indiennne Inspired

I have been stitching on the indienne inspired printed fabric- I really wanted the feel of hand printed blocks as the early indiennne fabrics would have been made but also the texture of the stitching. And quite a lot of stitching has gone into this piece and it is still not quite finished.It is quite different to my normal work so does it have my stamp do you think?

And in today's post a journal for me to play with in preparation for the Mirabelle Trail of France next year with Creative Arts Safaris in September of 2014. If you are interested please contact Fiona through Creative Arts Safaris. The idea is that we will create a journal and workpieces on-line after the tour using the tour as your inspiration.

And last but not least- it is still possible to buy sentinelle panels and join the Sentinelle Project. The  price is $15 plus $2.60 postage and you can embroider them however the fancy takes you. Some of the colours are starting to run out.If you are interested please email me. If you have already  purchased one and would like to join the project please let me know and I will put you on my list.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Productive Frame of Mind

I spent most of the weekend doing some kind of stitching, painting or reading, as the sun was out and then the sun room is a pleasant space to be in despite the fact that it is cold outside.- the cat likes it too.

Friday I went to Colac for a meeting and am delighted to tell you that CrossXpollination will take place again in July of 2014. Council have also agreed to provide some funding given the last CrossXpollination was a resounding success. If you are from Victoria, we will be offering a great program of workshops ( which we will announce in November). The theme for  2014 is Love & Loss, so get your thinking caps on as there will be a competition for a 3 dimensional  creation addressing the theme. The them for RRTAG ( red Rock Gallery ) is likely to be Love Letters- it is an opportunity to exhibit in a dedicated gallery space.

In March of 2014 I shall be international guest artist at Palaiseau at Voix au feminin.  The Sentinelle project will also be shown as part of  the festival. So if you have purchased a panel which you have emboidered and would like to be included in this exhibition please let me know. It will also travel to a Textile Festival in Canberra in May 2014.  I still have a good range of colours available but the actual linocut has now been retired as I want to conserve it as part of the project. Price of one panel is $15 AUS plus postage ( which is $2.60). The panels are made of hand dyed fabric which I have hand printed.

 In April ( early) I shall be in London for the Creative Stitches shows helping Gillian Travers mind the Voyageart  works and also displaying some of my own work in an adjoining space. I am very excited about this as it  has been some time since I have been to London or the United Kingdom in fact. I am available to teach after the first weekend in April if anyone in the UK were interested? Just email me. I am also looking for a reasonable priced place to stay in London- so any suggestions will be welcome!

Then onto what i did this weekend. I finished a replacement piece for last years Voyageart- so now they are all ready to send.This was from a small gocco print I made of the face, and the rest is all hand stitching. I like the circuar stitched shapes, they remind me a little of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, though I only realised that afterwards, i was simply looking for a contrast to the dark blue background and the dark blue stitching.

 I am playing, well more developing  really, some motifs for my work next year.It involves working in a large sketch book so that i can also print my linocuts into the book. I do journal and have done for many years, but it often involves writing with a drawing her or there. I have decided I wanted to be more focused particularly as I often get asked where do my ideas come from. Some things I have been writing about or drawing in one way or another for many years, but others come out of working  directly onto fabric or some direct source of inspiration. So the photo below is  some developmental work I did on the weekend.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Once Upon a Time

I will get to the once upon a time a bit later, so you  can turn off. I have been finishing up work for  the Voyageart Exhibition which will take place at Veldhoven/ Open European Quilt Championships in October 2013. I must admit that I had sold some of the works, simply because  I needed to and there was a buyer. So it means I have had to remake some of the pieces which of course takes time and which I was putting off.  However this week I decided to catch up on things. I also had to finish a piece for this years challenge we have going, as I was behind on that too. So firstly the replacement pieces I have made ( I made an extra because when you use the tifaifai technique you end up with a positive and negative , and I had lost the negative for the piece I made last year). The top piece is the positive image and I have hand printed the seeds into place. Thenext piece  is the negative , which remained after cutting out the top piece. I quite like the negative, it seems much more medieval looking to me and you can see I have done a lot of stitching. So which one to choose?

 Then of course there are poppies. I have sold a few of these- they are quite popular.  Unfortunately I am running out of the Mettler 30 weight silk finish threads they sponsored my exhibit in Vicenza last year ( I absolutely love these threads) and have not been able to source them in Geelong. I have written a few hopeful letters in the hope of getting some more sponsorship but so far not a reply.

Below  on the left is the image of the piece  I have created for this years Voyageart challenge. I will write more about it on the Voyageart blog

I also have work at Festival of Quilts this year as well with Beneath the Southern Sky exhibition curated by Brenda Gael Smith and with  the Through Our Hands exhibition as well. Wish I could be there, maybe next time!
 The image on the right is stitching with Printfuse. Victorian textiles sent me some samples  to play around with,as someone told me it was similar to  Solufix. I find the photo print quality slightly better on Solufix but otherwise the Print fuse works in exactly the same way and after all the importance of the photo quality is not important to the end product. One amusing thing I have found though , that if I do not print off the original photo on photo paper as a guide, then the  resulting stitching becomes a bit more abstract than the original, and I quite like that!

 And then ...
once upon a time on a cold blustery windy day  on the 8th of August 1965 a young dutch family arrived aboard the Flavia in Melbourne, i was the 9 year old daughter in that family. It was freezing  especially as the sea journey had crossed tropical waters. We had left Holland in June, and had anchored in South Hampton ( or was it Portsmouth?) to pick up English migrants who were on a different part of the ship, we had crossed the Atlantic to spend a day or so in Curacoa, through the Panama Canal, where children were not allowed off board in Panama City for fear of kidnap, on to two idyllic days in Tahiti and Papeete, then through a horrid hurricane that washed cars overboard and where i was one of about 8 people not sea sick so I was allowed up to the Captain's Bridge, to Auckland, then a day in Sydney before landing in Melbourne. We arrived towards evening time and it was freezing- we were bused to Spencer Street Station ( now Southern Cross) in all it's glorious windiness of how it used to be and then onto the night train for Albury with all the other non-english speaking migrants. The English migrants were allowed to stay in Melbourne and  we were sent to Bonegilla in order to learn English and acquire the Australian way of life We arrived in Albury at midnight and were then  put on buses for Bonegilla (called Bone- gilla by locals  but called Bonnegilla by every migrant I have ever known). Remember it was dark, and we had no idea where we were going, but we had emigrated for a brighter future.

We arrived in Bonegilla well after midnight and because we were a family, we were allocated a two room unit in the old army barracks. I remember the grey prickly army blankets that was our bedding and it was bitterly cold with no visible form of heating that I can recall ( i think my parents did get a  bar heater from the office the next day) It seemed dismal, like we had come  to the end of the world and were in a locked compound confined to army barrracks ( we had lived on a lovely old farm in the Netherlands , that always had extra people staying because we had so much space). We must have slept and I can remember waking to the peculiar warbles of magpies, a sound that is very very Australian, there is nothing like it on earth.We were shocked that we seemed to be in a camp that consisted of galvanised iron barracks, surrounded by high fencing and barbed wire- the food was another matter, barely edible.Many nationalities were in Bonegilla and some had been there for years. My father got the first job out of there at a large farm called North Yathong  station  between Narrandera and Jerilderie. Our furniture was still in transit and we were allocated an old cottage.  The owners wife had made a lovely attempt to welcome us by leaving half a sheep in a washing basket  on the kitchen table ( we had never eaten sheep) and basic groceries in another basket including Vegemite( vegemite is an inconic Australian sandwich spread, inedible to most but you do get a taste for it, and now I make sure I always have some in my travel kit). She tried and she was generous- and so started my life in Australia.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Stitching is a Slow Process

I had a busy week and made a number of decisions regarding next year, so whilst I have been quiet here I feel as if some progress has been  made. I must admit August is my least favourite month of the year- it is long , cold and wet which means I can't get out into the sunroom to print etc much as it is way too cold out there.

I visited my friend Robina Summers up at Montsalvat during the week. She and Margaret Summerton are doing a residency in one of the studios that is all about yarn bombing and making yarn bombed things. I had a largish amount of wool which I had been carrying around for 20 odd years with the idea that one day I might get back to knitting, but as it hasn't happened and as I am trying to rationalise how much stuff I have i thought Robina and Margaret could make better use of it than I. Check out the link to see what fun things they have been up to.Montsalvat is always such an interesting place- so many nooks and crannies and it is good to see things happening there and to see tne Nillumbik Prize.
Yes this steed which was apparently created by Judy Jacques for a jazz festvial some years ago is getting a yarn make-over- it will do her the world of good as she is rather worse for wear and has some odd protrubances.

  Painters studio at Montsalavat- although there was no one around and below the door to the kitchen of the studio Robina and Margaret are  habitating.

 Wonderful iron gate  near the Great Barn.

I have also been working with the figures from the Royal Portal at Chartres and had reduced one drawing ready for  making a gocco print ( similar process to thermofax printing). It's been a while since I made a print this way so I  had not used the riso screen material for awhile and so I did not realise that it had actually been affected by the heat because where I had stored it gets direct sun. So the print was not entirely successful and the plastic film not only burnt off but was also lifting off in various places. Sigh shall have to be buy some more  riso screen material and unfortunately it is not cheap.
I am still stitching pages int he khadi book but using photos for colour clues- i like the effect of the lines of stitching and love how the feel of the page changes form a papery feel to a much softer feel.

And decisions. I aim to be in Europe a lot more once my youngest daughter goes off to university in february of 2014 and my dilemna has been that I did not want to rent a place, as I will be away so much and I had hoped my block of land in the Otways would sell so that I could buy something in France, but  nothing is selling down there and our economy seems to be worsening . So what to do.... I do have a shed on my block and it is lined so I will go and live down there as  it means I don't have to pay rent. I am not actually enthused about the prospect of living in a shed , but we will do some work to fix things up and I shall have to do something about the power situation.Anyone want to come help once the weather warms up a bit?We will have to build a bathroom of sorts . At least it has finally  resolved itself as a solution to a dilemna , being a place where I can store my things and I won't be there all the time, and that has actually given me some peace of mind.