Saturday, December 31, 2022

Last day of 2022

 It is a year that I am glad is over- I managed to contract  Covid before Christmas and despite vaccinations and medication it has well and truly affected my energy levels, spending several days doing nothing at all ( flat on my back actually) and then somehow having it get into my sinuses and creating more problems to the nerves in my teeth- a little known ( but not unknown) side effect. My mother had contracted Covid earlier in the month and as she is elderly it has really knocked her around badly, requiring hospitalisation three times and extensive medication for the pneumonia that developed. I have not been able to see her for weeks because of my own covid which tested positive well and truly beyond the five days that is advised for isolating. It meant a planned mini break for Christmas with my daughters at the beach had to be cancelled- we had all been looking forward to it after a less than stellar year.

So things can only go onward and upward. I have to get cracking on creating new work as I am exhibiting in one of the gallery rooms at Meeniyan Art Gallery ( MAG)  in February. Covid meant I got absolutely zero done the last two weeks and even now I am feeling decidedly low energy on the creative side. I also have to finish the nardoo piece I have bene working on all year by the end of January- but  I am finally at the stage of putting in the background stitching which goes a bit faster than applying all the nardoo leaf shapes. It has been slow work but then this kind of hand stitching and the size that it is take lots of time- lots of reflecting on the story of Burke and Wills - what started out as a narrative on folly ( and still is a little) it is also a reflection on fools that bluster and stomp-as these explorers did pretty much. Their story was related in history books as one of heroes ( well when I was studying) but I see nothing heroic in any of the endeavour except foolish bloody mindedness and ignorance. It is kind of interesting and ironic that the nardoo that looks so beautiful and calm also contains the story of their demise.

My youngest daughter and I have spent a bit of time planning our trip to Europe (she will join me for  3 weeks of the trip I am planning- I will be there until mid June)- accommodation has certainly escalated in cost since I last travelled. We are finishing up in Rome for the last week of her stay, as she will catch a flight home from Rome but I will continue on. Given accommodation costs have risen a lot, I cast about for somewhere, where I had not been before and which is also not a tourist hot spot,  and I ended up deciding to spend two weeks in Perugia where I have never been. I am exploring the things to do in Perugia but if you know of anything that might not make it to the more obvious tourist websites please do pass on any information. I will be relying on public transport and enjoy getting into the rhythm of a place by doing lots of walking and people watching. I managed to find a small apartment not so far from the main railway station which means I can cook my own food which always a delight in Italy with so much fresh produce available at weekly markets.

I will be exhibiting and teaching a few one hour classes at  Patchwork Dagen in Rijswijk on the 13-15 of April and looking forward to speaking my mother tongue again! I have hardly spoken a word of Dutch since 2019.

I will also be attending Pour L'Amour du Fil  the following week in Nantes and really looking forward to it. I will teach two three hour classes as follows:  and One class is machine work making mini tifaifai's and the other making pods. I will also have a small exhibition and sell my linocut printed fabrics.

The Pods, Pods, Pods class is available as an online class as well and there is more information here.; It is a work at your own pace class with no group interaction. There are pdf notes and a video.

So I hope that everyone has a wonderful and safe 2023 and thank you for your support throughout 2023, especially for my last Traveller's Blanket on-line Class which finished in November- some wonderful work was made. You can buy the pdf notes (and there is also two/three small videos) if you are interested for $30AUS and payment can be made via Paypal or if in Australia email me for further information.

 I am looking forward to encountering friends again, I haven't seen for over 4 years and just enjoying all that Europe has to offer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Catching Up

 The time has flown , and I feel I have very little to show for the time. We have had two big exhibitions at ARC Yinnar where I am a very part-time ( 4 hours per week) gallery coordinator. When there are big exhibitions things take a lot more time than the four hours, but it is satisfying when the exhibition looks good. We had an exhibition of prints by twenty one  different printmakers from the region and there was some fabulous work on display. We used all the spaces at ARC Yinnar.

My daughter Siena Galtry had pieces in the exhibition as well- it's the first time we have had pieces in an exhibition together. The pieces behind my daughter are her multi layered linocuts.

I made four pieces that have been mono-printed and stitched by machine, so I guess I did make some things this last month. 

Since then we have been busy preparing the celebration of the existence of ARC for 40 years. It is an Artist Resource Collective and is still going strong after 40 years. This year we have had the opening of our new renovated spaces and we have had some wonderful exhibitions to celebrate the 40 years of arts practice that represents ARC. Some of the people involved were youngsters when it all started and it is wonderful to hear their stories of how the place was, and how it has evolved and to see their art as it has evolved over the years as well. It was an old butter factory, complete with massive milk vats and strange cool spaces, and it has been transformed into a multi purpose/functional arts space including two gallery spaces, print studio, ceramics studio, blacksmithing facility, community arts space, and private studio spaces, plus the Switchroom for musical/theatrette type performances and a retail space. Quite remarkable really, for a small country town and an incredible asset to the Latrobe Valley.

I am still working almost daily on my nardoo piece, which seems to be taking forever, but finally I have started the background stitching so the end is in sight( I have to get a move on as some of the writing  is due soon- the curators, Sharon Peoples and Carol Cooke, are  hoping to create a book which details the creative process of the artists involved) and the exhibition will be on at Craft ACT in July 2023.

Preparations are well under the way for 2023. I will be exhibiting at the Patchwork & Quilt Dagen in the Hague from 13-15 April. Really looking  forward to being in the Netherlands again, but not for long as I head of Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes, where I shall also be teaching for 2 sessions. My youngest daughter is coming with me to help out and after that we head to Italy and spend a week in Rome. This last month I have  participated in Nanowrimo to finally  get some shape into the story of Hortense Hazard, which I wrote about some years ago when I still lived in Geelong. I have had it in the back of my mind  since then to write it somehow but not strictly as a biography but as  a composite of a couple of different genres- I think I have finally worked out a way to meld things together that really is more about a remarkable woman, who would have been forgotten but whose artwork still exists both as sculpture and a book she wrote in Italian. I reached the 50,000 words, but hope to do some research whilst in Rome at the atelier where she studied sculpture and which still exists. I am hoping to spend a bit of time in Italy before returning to the North and teaching in Belgium. Any suggestions for budget accommodation would be much appreciated. I am also thinking of visiting Fabriano especially to visit the paper museum and Fabriano factory. 

Meanwhile I shall be teaching Linocutting at Amitie Textiles on the 21st of January. I love that shop- it's so lovely to have a cafe right there, and to teach within the shop space as they have such great stock plus have my favourite Aurifil threads. And at the end of March I am teaching at the Stitching retreat at Ulladulla.

I am also having an exhibition in February at Meeniyan Art Gallery in  Meeniyan ( it is on the way to Wilson 's Promentory) with  two other artists. it is a lovely little gallery and the little township has a lot to offer with Trulli ristorante and delicatessen adding a definite foodie flavour to the experience, plus there is also a very good bakery as well as some other interesting shops to visit.

Don't forget I still sell my linocut printed fabrics if you are interested and I am down to the last dozen copies of my book, Musing in Textile: France ( which is only available in Australia). It has been a journey selling books without a distributor and with the extortionate parcel prices to overseas which has meant I can only post within Australia. I really do wonder if I will make another such book- in a way I would love to but it has also been hard work not only in making the work but in selling the book as it is entirely self published and it was designed by my eldest daughter Celeste Galtry. We did all those videos for the dvd which is part of the book- but dvd is almost outmoded technology now. How things change in so little time.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Finally- My Tifaifai Quilts

Finally, after 5 months and 20 odd days my tifaifai quilts have come back to me.  In that time I have made two claims to Aus Post to find the quilts had the Ombudsman investigate to no avail, to find  last weekend that tracking information had changed to indicate that they had been in North Melbourne since 23 August. I can tell you that I checked tracking on a weekly basis and on no occasion until last week sometime had there been any indication that the quilts were anywhere. So first thing Monday I was on the phone to be told that yes the quilts were in unclaimed parcels- the person I spoke to could not tell me why and today they arrived on my door step. Why they were in unclaimed parcels is a mystery and why there was not a flag on the tracking record to indicate I had been searching for this parcel since the end of May... not only that, my name and address was on the parcel itself including my phone number and email address- this was apart from the label that was on the parcel. it would have been easy to see who the sender was.

I am feeling incredibly relieved that they are back- it was a years worth of original work which was done  in a time when my health was not great. I doubt whether the book contract will be resurrected- in any case I am not prepared to commit the work to the postal system or indeed courier system to anywhere- there is too much time and  myself invested in these works. I feel as if a great weight has been lifted and I can breathe again. I had tried to not let what had happened affect me too greatly these last months but the way I feel today I know that the loss of the work did have its impact- that it made me sadder and a bit more fragile- maybe that feeling will ease now. In all there were 12 quilts in the parcel- so it was a substantial box so a body of work you might say.

I love the colours in the bottom piece. It reminds me of the  poppies on the edge of wheatfields on an early summer's day- a happy  calm feeling.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Traveller's Blanket On-line Class- Last Hoorah

 I have given this decision a lot of thought, much of which has been brought about by the fact that Australia Post has recently declared missing twelve of my tifaifai quilts which were created as samples for classes I hoped to teach and for a book which is written but minus the professional photos needed for publication because the quilts are missing. My loss in this is substantial and whilst I don't want it to overwhelm me -it- and the fact that I have had a few major health issues which require ongoing management though to all intents and purposes I have made a good recovery, have made me rethink many things. One of which is on-line teaching. There have been rapid changes and advancements in on-line teaching, some are good, others a bit meh. There is no doubt that the technology to deliver on-line classes has increased somewhat spectacularly and students have gotten used to this kind of delivery. It is great for students but it also means a huge learning curve for those delivering the classes in addition to the need to buy equipment to be able to deliver in such a great way. For me it has created a level of anxiety that did not exist previously- do I keep up , do I buy extra equipment , do I spend the hours needed to get conversant with the programs and editing required ( and believe me all those great classes with great videos is the result of a lot of hard work and familiarisation with editing programs), let alone create the work?  I also get great joy out of teaching in the flesh- the interaction with students  is special and seeing how people are in the actual physical class room space beats anything online hands down. Being able to see a students work, to think about it and offer insights is a privilege indeed. And having done some in the flesh teaching this year I realise how much I  enjoy it. Plus I want to create work and branch out into some other endeavours of the bookish kind ( not how to books though- the Tifaifai book was going to be the last one of those and that won't happen now)

So I have decided to stop my on-line teaching.

 Therefore I am presently offering my Traveller's Blanket On-Line class one last time starting 3 October. In it you will learn to work in the way I have worked in creating the Traveller's Blankets which i started in 2001. I have made more than a dozen over the years each one taking many months to finish. They are heavily hand stitched and truly a labour of love whilst also being a meditation on all kinds of travel and place and expeditions. I am never without working on one and have found the rhythm of the stitching incredibly soothing whilst at the same time allowing the mind to wander or be still in the action of stitching.  So come and join me this one last time- we will get creative and  you will create your won traveller's blankets.

The class costs $75 AUS and has extensive pdf notes, an interactive facebook group as well as three Question and Answer zoom sessions. You work entirely at your own pace with some participants taking many years to finish but many people do finish and I have seen some stunning finished works. Email me if you would like to join or simply use the PayPal button

Here are some examples of my work.

This piece is inspired by Nardoo an Australian native plant growing  mainly on inland waterways. Its backstory has to do with the Burke & Wills expedition of 1860 and the folly,foolishness and ignorance portrayed by the European explorers and their disregard of indigenous peoples and their knowledge of land but most importantly their total disregard that indigenous people were on this land long before any white man set foot on it or in it. The fact that they got as far as they did was probably largely due to the fact that indigenous people did point to them to water holes and waterways. It  also looks like a four leaved clover but in order for it to be edible it requires special treatment  otherwise it results in beri beri.

This last image is of a griot of probably Nigerian origin from around the turn of the 20th century- so early 1900's. This image has inspired a lot of my hand stitching- that coat contains so many stories so many stitches. I wish I could stitch rough and wild like that but i don't, but that coat is patched, has amulets, wild stitches, bits and pieces and has  been stitched by the griot himself. it is like a book, like a big story book, and it is what I hope to achieve when I make my won traveller's blankets. one of these days I am going o stitch a wild coat!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Morning Walks Back in Full Swing

 The last time I went to my gp for a general check up- she tut tut tutted me for not getting out and walking more. I had been walking 5-6 times a week until the end of February and then it dwindled to twice a week and then once a week. I know it is good for my health and I also know it is good for my mental well being. I just had this little voice in my head going, just go another day and then go another day, it's too cold, it's too wet... all the excuses in the world, and I was letting the little voice win to the point that I could not get myself out the door. I don't meditate ( there is a whole lot of us in the world who can't meditate despite best intentions) but walking is a kind of meditation. I get lost in seeing and finding things and for a little while the world disappears and you just walk, dawdle, squat to examine and just get lost in the wonder of it all. So after seeing the gp I went home and decided this is just crazy, you are letting that stupid little voice in your head win. So I have started walking again, and I can't tell you how much I am enjoying it. It is still a daily fight with the little voice but the walking voice is winning and the weather gods have been obliging in holding off rain whilst I get out. The rain has been never ending as has the cold grey weather, but  in the little bushland reserve where I walk nature surges ahead and all kinds of fascinating fungi and little orchids are popping up.

The second last photo is of a corybas orchid helmeted orchid)- it's tiny, about the size of my pinky fingernail and is said to be rare hereabouts. The flower seems to grow straight out of a single flat leaf- I keep finding more. Nature is indeed weird and wonderful. I also love the flowering little sundews at the moment- they look so sweet and harmless  yet they are carnivorous.

I am back working on the nardoo piece- deadlines are looming and some words need to be written . I have been reading The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd.  The blurb says astonishing tragedy but I feel     like it was a foolish folly akin to sending out a football team ( but with less cohesion) to march for roughly 3000 kms and expect them to return in one piece. For a start Burke was the very worst type of leader to guide anyone through the unknown, he got rid of the scientists/artist as taking up too much time, and he had no sense of direction nor of the incredible force of nature that the Australian outback is. He saw nothing, he had no sense of seeing anything , he was just there to win the race to reach Australia's northern shores- a foolish man at best or an utterly dangerous idiot. The exploration committee in Melbourne were almost as bad, with factions and interests and fools. This is not to say the book is not well written or a good read- it is- but it's main character has a lot to answer for and none of it is good. And of course there is the whole sorry interaction with indigenous Australians- people who had lived int his country for millenia. I will follow up The Dig Tree with "The Aboriginal Story of Burke and Wills", Forgotten Narratives, a series of essays from a different perspective and edited by Ian D. Clark and Fred Cahir.  I have also been trying to find if there are indigenous stories surrounding nardoo- of course if there are I may not be privy to them but on the other hand there is information of other flora and fauna important to indigenous peoples out there but I can find very little on nardoo. 

 There is still a lot of stitching to do and whilst it is tempting to make it smaller, I feel it needs the whole length of cloth I dyed to give the feel of the murky waters of Australian outback creeks- which are often very dark from the tannins of the foliage and often littered with dropped branches.

I have also been doing some mono/nature printing on paper with found foliage from the little bushland reserve. Different papers give different results to fabrics and I am still playing around with getting it vaguely right. I am also using textile printing inks ( water based ) which is perhaps not ideal, but on the other hand it is just interesting enough to continue with the playing.

I love the way the kangaroo grass prints.

And my 12 tifaifai quilts are still missing. Thanks Australia Post for losing a year of my life.

Friday, August 05, 2022

July Disappeared

 July was an entirely forgettable month. Australia Post have not found my quilts and have offered me a paltry sum of money, in reliance upon their limitation of liability clause. I would actually like my quilts found- they add up to a years worth of work and income I can ill afford to lose. I try not to dwell on it too much, but it's hard not to. The hardest thing is to feel motivated about anything at all after this- the naysayer that lives in my head from time to time just says "What's the use? There is no point." So I have been pretty unmotivated to do anything at all. I think this is one effect from losing twelve quilts- how do I replace them- there was so much work involved in each one so why make more?

I did stitch new badges for the No Planet B piece- as I have submitted it to an event but won't hear for awhile. I almost didn't as I had to stitch quite a few new badges and I wanted to replace one or two as well, and I wanted to stitch a river through the piece which all added up to quite a lot of stitching. The idea is that when it hangs away from the wall the shadow it casts would look like a landscape from above.

 I got a bit overwhelmed whilst stitching in that there are so many things that are wrong in the world and as just one little person there is so little we can do, where do you start and can one little person do anything at all? I have decided to focus on climate justice as the concept is about greater equity for the environment and humanity- that we are a whole living organism interdependent not only on each other but for earth as well- that earth is an entity and a stakeholder in all of this. And I decided to narrow it even further to trees- they are the lungs of earth and regardless of all the science of all the knowledge out there that deforestation is devastating for earth, for creatures, for humans, still it continues. The bush/trees/country- it not only happens in the Amazon- it happens everywhere and Australia and Victoria are guilt culprits.

But in thinking about all this I do get despondent and worry for future generations. It does not help it has been a long cold and wet winter so far- too many grey days and nothing growing.

We did have a meeting of a fledgling Textile Experimental Art Group that will meet at ArcYinnar on a monthly basis- we hope to push some boundaries and try some new things. You are welcome to join if you are interested. It grew out of some textile workshops we did in June to create a community art project. We made a cloth book with each participant creating a page. The book will be displayed from time to time.

I have done a little bit of printing, but again that naysayer worm keeps on popping into my head. I have ideas (sometimes) but I tend to fritter time until it is too late to do anything or it is too warm to achieve some of the printing I want to do- so nothing happens at all.

I want to play around with fungi a bit more, but am a bit stuck on where to go next. I also want to explore book structures more, I have been wanting to do that for a long time- and occasionally  delve into it but then lay it aside as I struggle with the idea of content and what am I actually attempting to say at all? I have worked a little on the book about Absolutely Nothing- but in being about nothing it has become about something. I keep wanting to make it a big fat book  but then it becomes highly labour intensive again. I started ti at the beginning of the pandemic and work on it from time to time, and got to a point where I had planned to bind it but now find I want to make it a bigger book which will require more stitching.

Later this month I will be driving up to Ulladulla to teach at the Slow Stitch Gathering organised  by Marilyn Stewart- the dates are 15-18 August and I am looking forward to getting together with like minded people. I will be teaching traveller's blanket, pods, pockets or stitching my lino prints- it's up to you, it's simply going to be a stitch fest! Please come and join us!

Monday, June 27, 2022

Not Good Enough Australia Post

 Some of you who follow me on Facebook know this story but today I am so angry  that I just cannot keep quiet. I have written before how I have written another book on Tifaifai- and that in  rewriting a book I published in 2001 I actually  made all new work which incorporated all the things I have learned in teaching the tifaifai course since the beginning of the 2000's. I also created new work to be in tune with work I am currently making. To create the work and rewrite the book has taken a significant number of man hours- close on a years work as I created 12 new quilts for the book. I had a signed contract with Editions de Saxe which was supposed to have been completed last years but due to Covid restrictions and my heart attack we reached agreement to delay publication until this year. Due to ongoing covid impacts I have not travelled overseas  and had no plan to travel overseas, and so I decided to commit the quilts to International Express Pos with Australia Post for delivery to the photographer in Paris . I had inquired with another courier earlier in the day but got no reply so decided to opt for Australia Post  ( I also live in a regional small city so things you take for granted in cities are not always so easily available in the country).

The quilts then took more than 2 weeks to have attempted delivery in Paris ( they spent the whole weekend sitting in Morwell despite my having posted the parcel around lunch time in order to capture the express post out pickups) It cleared customs in France and delivery was attempted but the recipient was not at home. He was not left any notification and only became aware of attempted delivery when tracking notified me and I alerted the recipient. He then attended the french equivalent postal service and was told they could not find the parcel or that he had the wrong number. In any case the parcel was likely not there as it had been returned to Australia after only 5 days of being held and not the usual 10 business days. The parcel was then in transit for some 2-3 weeks . I was advised by tracking that it was in Sunshine sorting centre on 25 May after having cleared customs and the next day it is in Somerton Sorting Centre awaiting delivery- that was on the 26th of May and that was my last tracking notification. After several weeks of complaining on their social media as well as using all the avenues for complaint  and repeating myself over and over despite having furnished the information multiple times with the appropriate channels ( internet/email/telephone) and finally lodging a complaint with the Postal Services Ombudsman ( who have a backlog)  and after again  complaining on their social media today when they are chortling about how supportive they are of small business , I was notified that they cannot locate the parcel and that they are willing to compensate me $111.80 which is the reimbursement of postage- and basically the parcel is lost. They have been told  the importance  and value of the parcel ,the fact that a small value was put on the parcel due to the work not being for sale and that the works were to be returned to me, that I am in default of a publishing contract and this is what they offer me?????

These are some of the works that are missing

A years worth of work- so much work. It's what kept me going during isolation, knowing I had to make the work.

To say I am heart broken is an understatement and I consider Australia Post's offer to reimburse the postage to be an insult. It is appalling service.