Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Today I have  been blogging exactly 10 years! Hard to believe I have been blogging for this amount of time. I had intended to write something well a bit more than usual, but my week went completely pearshaped. 

Firstly my father went into hospital on the weekend with mystery severe internal bleeding and at 81, well that is always a worry, but today after a colonscopy and gastroscopy the news is positive- and abraded oesophagus so he can go home again.Also my father has a partner who is high care ( he is her carer) so we had to call in respite, as she would not budge, but the relief in home respite worked well thankfully, so that is good to know.  
Then  today my mother went into a hospital ( my parents have been separated for a long time) with  intestinal infection and they have decided to move her to a big hospital that is better at caring for these conditions. My mother lives about  3 hours form where I live , so it all gets a bit complicated. The infection has been ongoing, she said she was clear on Monday night but said she still had some pain, so I asked her to please go and get another blood test, and the results were that the infection was not better.. Even so I feel a bit frazzled, as my daughter starts her end of high school/university entry exams next week. So all of this  could not have happened at a worse time. Anyway I suppose dottie might be a good word for it somehow.

I have been making samples for a workshop I am teaching  on Saturday and they wanted to do the  travellers blanket but it can't be done in one day so I ran up some dottie samples.

 The humble dot can have lots of interpretations!

On my mantel piece in the late afternoon sun- it looks a bit outlandish....

And thank you thank you all my followers and readers- for all your comments, for all your support, for all your positive thoughts and all your putting up with me.... if you leave a comment , I will put all your names in a hat and one lucky commenter will receive a bag  of  goodies ( I am too dottied at the moment to say what it will be  but it will be a nice surprise)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Acknowledging an Ian Potter Grant I received in 2000

The years 1999 and 2000 were pivotal in how my  arts practice evolved. It was in 1999 I hatched the crazy idea that I would like to go overseas with my then quite young family ( my daughters were 9,7 and 5) and spend 3 months in France. The idea had grown from the fact that I had entered a quilt in what was then known as Chassy D'Or  which was held annually at Chateau de Chassy and had won a kudos prize. The prize  was very welcome  for the resume ,though as I said if was kudos only, but the even better part was that the organiser Madame Tison wanted to purchase this quilt.

So why was this pivotal? Well I  had entered this particular quilt in Quilt National in the USA and it was not  accepted, and I had entered several other things from this series of work in Australia with similar results.It seemed like I was shelling out  quite a lot of money annually for  absolutely no return; even then life was on a strict budget( as a result of this I only charged an entry fee for all the exhibitions I have toured with the work  of other artists , if they were selected, i think it's a much fairer system ). As a result of Madame Tison purchasing the quilt we started corresponding and she had a passion for the environment. As we corresponded it transpired that she was preparing a friendship year for Chassy D'Or in 2000 and so I suggested (  where did I get that cheek from??) that maybe I could bring some quilts from Australia as part of that friendship? We agreed that Madame Tison would co-curate and that the number would be 30 and it would be by all different artists. I then suggested ( even more cheek) that maybe I could do a residency there during the day? Madame Tison said she would be delighted but that I could stay with her at Chassy. At this stage I said  I wanted to bring my family and that we were happy to camp as I knew there were camping grounds nearby. No no she replied she had a big castle and we could all stay...........So that is how we got to live in a castle for 3 months in the year 2000. And  even more surprisingly we were the only Australian travelling exhibition on the European continent in the  year of the Australian  Olympics and that in itself attracted attention.

I have always lived on a strict budget, as my ex husband  did not hold a permanent job and most of our income was generated by my textile pursuits and teaching, so it was obvious we would need grants to tour the exhibition. I also wanted to accompany the exhibition, which by now had the name Australian Bounty with a catalogue as there was  little documenting of Australian art quilts at that time and there were only the odd piece here and there in museum collections- hardly representative of what was going on. I felt we had some really exciting quilt artists. So we got a grant from the Australia France Foundation and I got a personal grant from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust for my travel expenses to not only do the residency at Chassy but also to study antique textiles at the Musee de l'Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse ( because  Madame Tison and I formalised that arrangement and I did create new  work and hold workshops and did demonstrations and talked and walked people through the exhibition. Bernina kindly lent me a machine for the period that I was at Chassy).

 The reason I mention this now, nearly 13 years later ,was that last week I was invited to attend the 20th birthday celebrations of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, and it was a  wonderful night of celebration- of stories of people who had been funded and the difference it had made to their arts practices.The Ian Potter Trust is funded by the Potter family as a private philantrophic trust and they have supported some 1200 artists over the 20 year period. I felt proud to be part of the audience but most of all I felt  extremely grateful that they had seen that my crazy dream was not so crazy at all....This is the Victorian Arts Centre- walking back to the station to catch the train after the celebration.

About The Ian Potter Foundation
The Ian Potter Foundation is one of Australia’s major philanthropic foundations. The Foundation 
makes grants nationally to support charitable organisations working to benefit the community across a wide range of sectors including the Arts, environment, science, medical research, education and community wellbeing.  The Ian Potter Foundation aims to support and promote a healthy, vibrant and equitable community for the benefit of all Australians.

And it has made all the difference, the  connections  I made in 2000 has in many instances turned into friendships and  it still underpins much of what I do in France, people still remember  Australian Bounty and how it sparkled amongst the soaring rafters at Chateau de Chassy and the sandstone walls and terracotta floor tiles, and funnily enough many people still remember the fund raiser we held in the Gellibrand  Community Hall  on a rainy winters day  when  buses and 500 people arrived to see Australian Bounty before it set off on its journey  to Europe.

But you know most of all, last weeks celebratory night reignited my enthusiasm which has waxed and waned over the last 6-7 years of divorce, and family upheaval and struggling to look after my family and work in a sick economy  and just keep all the balls up in the air.It was a worthwhile reminder to trust myself and  what I make, that it does take a little craziness to dream outside the box and that I need to keep dreaming.

And funnily enough what am I working on now? It is still France, but this time work inspired by France itself and the experiences of the last 13 years and it will turn into a book that is a hommage to that experience. So here is another lady of Chartres- this time done  on two different weights of polyester non-woven- one the normal one and the other  florists polyester non-woven which has a much more open layering of the fibres and also colours slightly differently. One is machine stitched and one is hand stitched- which do you prefer?

And I do realise they ended up reversed, which makes the wrong hand pointing  to the heavens in one.

There are still some Mirabelle kits available ( S16 AUS inclusive of postage).

Also the next  on-lineTravellers' Blanket class commences this  Monday on 21 October ( $60 AUS). There is still time to enroll for this class. I have also set up a FB group for all past travellers who have made blankets- to share and inspire each other. There are some stunning pieces out there with some equally wonderful stories. If you want to join the on-lineclass or the FB group ( which is for past travellers as well as commencing ones) just email me .

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mirrabelle in a Different Way

I have been working on a piece I needed to make for Voyageart, a group I belong to, with members from all over the world. We will be exhibiting last years work at  OEQC at Veldhoven, in the Netherlands next weekend. The brief is that we make an A3 piece every 2 months and this year we are exploring a theme set by ourselves- so I have chosen faces of the past. I was a bit bereft of ideas so I thought I would use the printed panels I made for the  Mirrabelle doll kits and use them  as an applique rather than as a doll.

I have photographed the stitched piece with the dolls and am surprised at how different they look!It also became a bit of a stitching marathon as I decided to  cross stitch the background fabric as it was a bit loud against the embroidered figures.In the photo below are all the ones I have stitched this year....displayed with some of my wooden printing blocks and batik stamps.

The doll kits are still available in a few different colour ways, and I would really like to sell them as I have to move house in February, and I have no new place to move to, as I don't want to rent another house in Geelong as it is way too expensive to rent, plus my youngest daughter will move into student accommodation (I hope) so this house will be too big to live in alone. I am going to Europe at the end of February for the Voices of Women Festival in Palaiseau, and then for a show in London, and then  to Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe at the end of May- so I am trying to lighten my storage load as I don't think I will  try and find something to rent if I am away for nearly three months. So as a Christmas special, I have discounted them and am willing to sell the remaining kits for $16.00 inclusive of postage ( AUS).

Each kit contains a hand printed outline of the figure ( male or female) on khadi cloth ( which is sourced from the Stitching Project in India), the backing fabric ( khadi ), anchor pearl 8 weight threads for the stitching, a colour photo with instructions.

Please email me if you are interested in a kit. I can be paid using Paypal but you will need to email me for details.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Small Linocuts

Nothing major has come out of my hands this week, so I made some small linocuts to use up a left over strip of lino which had been sitting around but was too wide to waste. Little linocuts can work really well as fillers and there were a few small ideas I wanted to try without committing to making a large linocut. So there are some grapes, stylised roses and the quatrilobe motif. When I make linocuts I am always looking to print them onto fabric and so some different considerations need to be taken into account. I usually do a paper print as well but as I use the textile ink and don't really prepare properly for the paper printing process the prints are  far from perfect. The  linocuts measure just under 10 cm square ( about 4 in).

Would anyone be interested in buying linocuts of this size? I am thinking they would sell for $20 plus postage.

It was a bit of a crazy week really- another health scare with my father and then his 81st birthday yesterday. he has to  undergo further tests so am not sure what to think.

Went for a walk with my neighbor on Friday along the Barwon River. it was very swollen after all the recent rain and some of the picnic areas were flooded. I am always bemused by the fact that birds are the ultimate opportunists...these two ducks squating and waggling their tails on a bench..

 And a heron enjoying the sunshine and the sparkling water despite its muddiness.

And last but not least- a sentinelle panel which I found  in my bag as I was looking for my camera. There are still panels for sale though their number is dwindling.If you  would like to purchase one and join the project please email me- cost of the panel is $15 plus postage( they measure approximately 8 inches x 18 inches)

There is also still time to join the on-line Travellers' Blanket class which starts on 22 October.Email me  if you would like some more details. I have dyed some of the muslin for some of the participants this time as not everyone has the space or the dyes to make the fabric.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

More Cocteau's Cat Inspiration

I have been busy making linocuts of late. Here is another new one , inspired by jean Cocteau's cat at Chapelle Saint Blaise des Simple. Jean Cocteau said of cats  "I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul."

I guess the same could be said for my cat Mitsou. So here is my new linocut- Cocteau's cat. I have added in the foliage because it reminded me of the lovely herb garden that had been established at Chapelle Saint Blaise des Simple, and also of the herbs that Cocteau painted all over the walls of the chapel.I have just looked at the website devoted to the chapel and realised it has been 50 years since the death of Jean Coteau and that there are celebrations inspired by the works of Cocteau. Of course, if you are in France a visit to Milly la Foret is well worth while  for the little chapel, the museum in Cocteau's house and the lovely gardens around it and the wonderful old covered  market building in the centre of the town.

 These panels are for sale for $15 plus $2.60 for postage and measure approximately 12 inches square. The panel below I have transfer printed onto heavy weight polyester non-woven and then stitched by hand without any batting or backing. I am thinking this may become a page of a book.

And below is a not very good photo of my Traversing the Land- which travelled for nearly 2 years with Brenda Gael Smith's  Beneath the Southern Sky which went to many corners of the world. It's lovely to see it back after all this time. It measures 40 cm wide by 100 cm long and has been made from hand dyed khadi cloth and has been embroidered and hand stitched. I am  offering it for sale at a once only price ( available until this coming Sunday) of $1200AUS ! The colour is much warmer than is showing on the photos.