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!