Friday, December 30, 2016

The Year That Was

The year 2016 saw me away  for more than half of the year. Firstly house sitting for a friend near le Triadou in the shadow of Pic St Loup which saw many walks with my doggie friend Nesta and then various exhibitions and demonstrating for Bernina France and learning new skills. I also visited new places ,such as Trieste, with which I fell in love, and got to know Milano better. One of my daughters came to Europe for a few weeks.I also travelled to some Australian cities with the Medieval Project and also New Zealand and then back to Europe for Ste Marie aux Mines and Vendee Quilt. Looking back on the year it seems like a bit of a blur- most of it was lived out of a suitcase and quite a lot of time was spent on trains, buses and planes, and devising a new project entitled the Aussie Bush Project which will start touring in June 2017 ( there is still time to join and I will be printing new panels over the next few days, just visit my blog page for the information)

So a quick overview:
I walked kilometres and kilometres in the shadow of Pic St Loup with my faithful companion Nesta. I loved the clear blue Languedocian skies and the crisp air of the early spring.

I exhibited at Chartres at the Collegiale Ste Andre in Chartres it was cold cold cold, but wonderful to be a part of and am very happy to be invited again for 2017. From Chartres it was on to Quilts en Beaujolais- always a delightful event with high quality work- it's always a great place to meet other artists- I have made some good friends through this event over the years and happy to see it will continue in 2018!

I then went on to meet my daughter Siena in Milano where we stayed for a few days and was thrilled to be able to attend a William Kentridge exhibition. I had recently read his Six Drawing Lessons so much of what he wrote about in that book suddenly made sense on seeing the exhibition.

Then it was onto Florence and Siena the city after which my daughter was named. There is so much to see and encounter!

I love this image on the floor of the Duomo in Siena- it's so wonderfully expressive despite the fact that it is two dimensional and executed like a drawing in marble. It seems very alive to me. Then it was onto Oderzo where I teach for the  Feltrin sisters and ultimately to Trieste at the invitation of the patchwork group there. I had never been to Trieste before but what a lovely lovely place- the fact that the weather was perfect of course added to the whole experience. I was delighted to walk the Rilke path after we had set up for the patchwork day in Duino.
 I had travelled to Padua on the way to Trieste to finally see  Scrovegni Chapel painted by Giotto. They only allow in 15 people at a time so tickets have to be booked and you are allowed 10 minutes to see this masterpiece.I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it is and how it will be part of any future pilgrimages!
 From Padua it was a short hop to Verona to meet up with a friend, Sandra Reford who callse Verona home part of the was  wonderful to find little corners and nooks of the city and find out some of its history.

And just before returning to Australia in early July  i exhibited as part of a textile festival in a little church in Mane in the high Luberon.

Then it was back to Australia and winter. I stayed in the bungalow of friends because I do not have power or running water in my shed nor do I have a bathroom ( hopefully a solar panel will be installed soon and the other matters are on the wish list)

Then it was back to Europe in early September to demonstrate fore Bernina France at Ste Marie aux Mines and  having a play on the Q24 and Q20. A learning curve for sure!

We did climb up to Chateau Hortus near Le Triadou- I had long wanted to photograph some of my work at this Cathar ruined castle- the climb is rocky but so worth it. However as we went in the middle of the day the light was not brilliant for photography.

The second half of the year was busy but somehow less inspirational than the first half. I was also working out ways in which to be able to live in my shed- to have a place I could sort of call home because to be perfectly honest it has been  a little exhausting not having my own place as such. Despite the fact that  travel is part of my life- I also seem to need a place that is "home"- it doesn't matter that it is basic, but that it is somehow a place where i can refuel and refine and work on new work.

I did manage to however make quite a lot of new work in 2016 , mostly inspired by Banksia explorations.

So 2017 promises to almost be as busy as 2016 but I feel a little bit more settled in that my shed is now "home". There is lots of things I need to do including putting up the guttering which fell down so that I can install a rainwater tank.Sometimes these tasks seem really daunting when you are on your own. I also need to buy a car. A solar panel will be installed in the not too distant future to at least be able to power my laptop and charge my phone ( even though it is still a digital blackout area without a landline)

I will be returning to Europe after the first week in February 2017 to teach near Geneva ( in France though) and then to exhibit at ChARTres 2017 in March and then further teaching in Germany and  in Normandy around the time for Pour l'Amour du Fil. In May I hope to be teaching in Italy at Oderzo and Trieste. I made a mistake when I booked my ticket- I thought I had booked my return for early May- hit the buy button and when I got my e-ticket realised I had booked for early June. So if anyone would like me to come and teach late May or early June in Europe I will be there!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In the Shed

I have finally managed to borrow a car so I can be down in the shed. I had been trying to survive without a car but unfortunately Gellibrand is 22 kilometres from the nearest shopping town, so a car is a necessity. It made me a little crazy not being down here simply because I live out of a suitcase about 6 months of the year ( when I travel) and it is hard to  make new work when there is no base at which to recharge and think and prepare.

I finally have most of my things in one place after having them spread between various places for the last three years and it is nice to become reacquainted with favourite things and small things acquired on travels. I never buy big things because it is too difficult to carry and I only want small little reminder of places I have been.

The boxes below were purchased in Syria- in Damascus. I really do worry about all the people I knew there- are they alive- how hard must their lives be amidst all the destruction and war.

I did manage to put some colour on fabric a few days ago- something that always makes me happy- thinking about what I will do with the colours- do they speak to me- what can I make with the many possibilities. The colours are much better in person!

 And then to be reacquainted with printing done in the past- simple but effective !

I am hoping to  be a little inspired in the next few days and really get stuck into some work , making new things.

I wish all of my faithful readers a safe and peaceful  2017- hope your year is filled with inspiration and kindness- I feel the world needs much more kindness and empathy and awareness.

Don't forget there is still time to enrol for my online Linocutting class which commences after the first week in 2017. See my previous blog post for details or message me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I had intended to double my blogging output this  year but at this stage I have blogged slightly less than last year. I still like the platform in that it allows more discussion than the instant quicks of Instagram and even Facebook, comments are less these days but that may simply be because what I have to say is not so very interesting.

I have been busy but I cannot exactly say what with. I have been down to Gellibrand a few times- to organise my shed a lot better so that I can actually do some work in there, though I am still without power. There will be a solar panel going in in the next few weeks, so that I can charge my laptop and phone, and hopefully in the next year I can put in another panel so that I can use a sewing machine. The area is still digital blackout- so without a land phone line there is no internet.Needless to say the grass is long, we have had so much rain, but at least it keeps the fire risk at bay!

I have had a friend  from France ( well actually she is a Kiwi, Margo Bimler, living in France) staying last week- and we did a fair bit of sight seeing around Melbourne and the Otway region. It's been awhile since I have been down to the coast.

The photo is where  the ocean meets the land close to the southernmost point of the Australian continent- the ocean is very cold along this part and there are times when whales can be spotted- but not on this day.

We went to the State Library , and of course saw Ned Kelly's  armour suit, which was somehow smaller than I imagined it. Also saw a lovely exhibition on books - Mirror of the World - some beautiful beautiful books in this exhibition and has fuelled my desire to make more hand made books. I loved this page form a William Morris decorated book.

My goodness can you imagine finding  such treasure in a second hand bookshop or trash and treasure market? And I did earlier this year- not as beautiful as the William Morris book ,but treasure nonetheless and quite rare as only a small number of copies were printed. Unfortunately I do not have the book to hand to tell you its name but here are some images from the book- made with hand carved woodblocks.The text was also carved on a woodblock. It is a devotional book of Belgian origin- I can't wait to spend more time with it.Some of the images in it are beautiful.

We also indulged in a very touristy  rail journey. Gembrook is the end station of the Puffing Billy line, a steam train ( weather permitting- on high fire danger days they run diesel engines due to the risk). My children have been on the train, but I never have and it was rather fun really. It is one of Victoria's big tourist attractions. The train is manned by volunteers , the tracks maintained and wood to run the engine collected, all by volunteers. The rather interesting cart with vintage suitcases and baskets creating a lovely display remembering slower times.

Aussie Bush Project
It is full steam ahead with the Aussie Bush Project which will start it's exhibiting life  at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair  in June 2017. It will tour around all the states and also New Zealand. I am still negotiating a venue in Europe, which is likely to be in 2018. If you would like to join the  project please check out the Aussie Bush Project  page on my blog. I still have many prints available ( there is a choice of 4 different linocut printed fabrics) and will be dyeing more fabric for printing after Christmas. The due date for pieces will be mid June.

On-line Linocutting class
This class will commence after the first week in January, and has been designed for you to learn linocutting and to build your skills at linocutting and printing fabric ( especially) and paper if you are so inclined. The course consists of a number of exercises to build your skills with the tools and to create effective designs,  and guides you through using your own photographs to create linoblocks. The course material is delivered by way of pdf files and I set up a private Facebook group for discussion and interaction. Linocutting is such a fun medium, and it is exciting to see the developments in recent years with many young artists using the medium because it is inexpensive and can be done on a kitchen table. It is also a wonderful way to create unique fabric . I often use my linocut printed fabric as a base for stitching or embroidery. The cost of the course is $60AUS- you work at your own pace, and lessons, which contain  a series of exercises , are delivered fortnightly ( 4 times- 8 weeks total)
You enroll by emailing me ( and using internet banking if in Australia) or using the Paypal button below;

The photos below are all of work I have created  using hand dyed fabric and linocut printed trees. The pieces have been machine and hand stitched to create texture and contrast.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Time? Where does it go?

Last weekend we had an exhibition at the house of a friend of mine in Gembrook. So it was busy preparing everything and then it was over. Old friends dropped in, new friends were made and there were even some sales.

My Aussie Bush Panels will now also be available form the Sewing Connection in Pakenham. The Project will be shown at the Quilt and Craft Fairs around Australia and New Zealand, and I am negotiating for a venue in France for 2018. The exhibition will start it's touring life in May 2017. If  you are interested in joining the project- just  take a look at the Aussie Bush project page on my blog. Colours have started to dwindle a bit so I will be dyeing and printing a whole new batch in the  not too distant future. The fern below is from the project. it is all machine stitched  with Aurifil threads.

And then immediately outside of the window where I am staying at the moment  are the actual fern fronds that inspired the linocut.I must admit the "bush" linocuts have been inspired by the things I find in the Otways and down at my block. I really have started looking at the block differently since seeing the John Wolseley exhibition last year and I can start dreaming again about how the Otways can inspire my work. And there is some excitement too- some solar panels are going in next week to provide me with power for a bit of light and power for my laptop/phone. I will be adding to it when I can in order to be able to run my sewing machine as well. Plus I have to install a water tank somehow. I think I need to do a handyman course!

I will definitely be running my on-line linocutting course starting  at the end of the first week in January 2017. Just look at my last post for details- there is also a Paypal button for easy payment. The course  is pretty much work at your own pace and I tend to keep the FB page open after the  course has been delivered for discussion- as you can work at your own pace .

And I have been busy parcelling up all the Medieval Project so that the pieces can be back with their makers well before Christmas. There are still a few to send out- but the bulk of them have been sent out yesterday and today. Thank you so much for entrusting me with your work! They have seen a bit of France, quite a lot of Australia and the North Island of New Zealand- so they are well travelled!