Tuesday, November 07, 2023

New Adventure

 It has been awhile since I blogged and there has been a reason. Apart from being very busy with teaching associated with the Gathered Threads Exhibition, Geelong Fibre Forum and Slow Stitch in Ulladulla, my friend Cheryl Cook and I have been experimenting, playing and creating some exciting  art and textile art using natural inks created by using recipes developed by Cheryl and pushing them further to encompass a range of textile techniques. They behave and work differently to eco dyeing and eco printing and allow all sorts of ancillary explorations on both cotton and paper. We are excited and have been working hard and we have now launched a website entitled Inkpot Alchemists. There are still more materials to add but we  are offering workshops and some eye candy as well as sharing our ethos in working in this way and as we are both passionate about extending our creative muscles as well as yours. I case you are interested this coming Sunday  we will be exploring printing with natural inks and  including linocutting. Just email me if you would like to come and I can send details. The cost is $80 for a day workshop up at Cheryl's studio at Tanjil South

For me this has been a very exciting development in a slightly different direction and opens the door to lots of exploration in both textile and book form ( something I had been dabbling in). Cheryl and I also intend to write a book exploring the work we have been doing  both creatively and the processes we have used, though the book will also delve into the creative process and how the natural inks have fuelled exploration and contemplation. We have both inspired each other and get a great deal of joy out of working together and meet up weekly in order to explore further. Anyway have a look at our website and see some of the things we have been working on and what we have been thinking about.

Meanwhile here are some of the things I have been working on. Some of the things I have shown will be discussed in the future on our blog attached to the new website. I have not done very much stitching as I have been too busy exploring. I have printed with some of the inks on mulberry paper purchased at Geelong Fibre Forum in September and I am stitching the pages I printed and loving what happens with the stitching in combination with the natural ink printed linocuts. The linocuts were inspired by my  two week sojourn in Perugia earlier this year and I love how the inks really have a medieval feel about them which seem to marry well with the linocuts I have made. I have found some naturally dyed linen threads in France from Fonty which stitch beautifully. I must admit this palette I am working with is quite different to the one I  use with the procion dyeing I did, but this new way of working is al about nuance and embracing nature as both inspiration and work friend

Friday, September 01, 2023

Gathered Threads

It is 1 September and I find myself curating another exhibition of fellow textile artists which will be on at ArcYinnar , Gippsland and opens tomorrow at 2pm. Everyone is welcome to attend if they are so inclined and  we would love to see you there. The artists involved are listed in the flyer below.

We spent yesterday and today installing and I am happy with the diversity of the work and how it looks in the space. Each artist is exhibiting a small body of work so you can get a real feel for their work and vision.

Work by Cheryl Cook using her natural inks and inspirations.

Work By Robina Summers and Beth and Trevor Reid.

                                                 Work by Lisa Anderson and Judith Oke

                                                           Work by Nicole Kemp

                                                                 Work By Lynette Weeks

                                                       Work by Sarah Louis Ricketts


                                        Work by Carolyn Sullivan and Lynette Weeks and gallery view.

I also put in some of my own work. Lately I have been embroidering some of the wonderful madonnas I encountered on recent travels and when I looked over my work I realised they have in one way or another been an ongoing theme for quite some time- whether as actual madonnas or icons or sentinelles or as faces from the past. So I decide I would make an installation of them and include some of the work i have done in paper/books  about them as well.

As part of the exhibition Cheryl Cook and I will be running a series of taster workshops in the Sparc Gallery as well as showing some of our work with natural inks and nature printing. The flyer below  shows the taster workshops we are running throughout September ( except for when I am at Geelong Fibre Forum when Cheryl will hold the fort). The cost for the taster workshops is $10 and all you need do is bring yourself.

It has been a busy few months, having been to Perth for Fibres West which was great fun and being involved with Exuberance that was on in Canberra as well as the book that was produced by Carol Cooke and Sharon Peoples with small essays about their work by each of the 20 artists involved in the exhibition. The book is available from their websites which I have linked. There was some fabulous work in the exhibition and it is wonderful to read of some of the thinking behind the pieces in the book.

I am really looking forward to teaching at Geelong Fibre Forum later this month- we will be creating some small linocuts to use in creating traveller's blankets.

 I have also  made a new linocut inspired by morning walks ( I seriously have to get back into the habit- I do go but  not every single morning like I used to and I don't know why as I love going).

It is quite large and took me quite some time to carve. I will be printing more soo and they will be for sale. I have to dye the fabric first though and that always takes time.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Preparing for Fibres West

 I have been back from Europe for two weeks and a bit, but it seems so much longer ago and the days are so short and cold. I don't think I suffered jet lag , but the cold seem to slow down my blood to such an extent I was having trouble getting out of bed. The last week or so of the European trip was spent in Portugal in the city of Porto with one or two side trips by train to the countryside- and whilst it was not super hot it was pleasant and warm. I loved Porto, the people were friendly and the tiles were wonderful and whilst we had been told the food was ordinary my friend Margo and I found no such thing. It did help that there was a very good restaurant within walking distance from the hostel where we stayed which was a bit out of the city centre- the set menu food was excellent and very good value, lots of fresh seafood, we ate there most nights. The wait staff were wonderful as well- they made us feel very welcome and at home. There was also a very good bakery around the corner where it was possible to get a good latte made with real milk and of course Pasteis de Nata though most of the local people seemed to eat a crusty bread and butter which was also very good. The first image is the tiled entrance foyer of the railway station.

Then it was back to France to sort through things I had left at my friends house over the years- a working kit of sorts, and as I had not seen it for 4 years some things needed to go. France has been experiencing rolling strikes for public transport and when I couldn't book a ticket for the train to Barcelona to catch my flight in the evening, I decided to go a day early and stay in Girona for the night rather than risk travel nightmare in the event of a strike. I am so glad I did, I had a lovely walk around the city and it has a vibrancy that used to exist in Barcelona but seems to have been touristed out. Lots of interesting small businesses and lovely coffee shops all run by young people- I guess the rents are much more affordable in Girona than Barcelona (everywhere I went in europe there is a housing crisis)

Then it was the long haul back to the cold- brrr- it is a cold and wet winter yet again- it chills to the bone and is hard to get used to after  walking around in sandals and cotton shirt.

It feels like I have done very little since being back but in all reality I have been steadily working. First of all  there was my Nardoo Meanderings piece to prepareand to parcel up and send to Canberra in readiness for the opening of Exuberance Curated by Sharon Peoples and Carol Cooke. There is a book edited by the curators that showcases the work of the twenty embroiderers involved with little essays by each artist  of their working methods and choices and thinking behind the creation of the pieces.

Above is the cover of the book. It is exciting to be a part of this. The book is self published so is only available through the website of Carol Cooke or from the exhibition. It is the first survey of embroidery practice in the book format for quite some time in Australia. I can't wait to see the book. There is a limited print run so if you think you would like this book I would order it now. The exhibition  opens on 6 July at Craft & Design Canberra and tickets are available here.

Unfortunately I cannot make it to the opening as I will be in Perth for Fibres West where I will be teaching the traveller's blanket and also linocutting for motifs to include in your blanket. Really looking forward to being in Perth and the buss of the buzz of such gatherings.

During the week I made a trip to Colac in order to deliver two sentinelles for a retrospective of CrossXpollinatioN  at Copacc celebrating 10 years of the event. I exhibited in the first two and was involved with installing the exhibitions along with Carole Redlich. I only have two of the sentinelles left after making a series of 10 in 2012/2013. The Ochre Earth Sentinelle and the Red Sentinelle are the ones that remain. I stayed the night in order to attend the opening and it was good to catch up with people I knew when I lived in Gellibrand. I did make a quick visit to Gellibrand to see how I would feel, but I can say I have no regrets about leaving and I only felt a little sad about the broken dreams.

The rest of the time I have been dyeing fabric and printing fabric in readiness for Perth and the Slow Stitch Gathering in Ulladulla later in July, and catching up with family. I will come home via Canberra so I can visit Exuberance. 

And I have been mulling all those wonderful Madonna images I encountered in Italy and Portugal and Spain, thinking, thinking, thinking. It is about the seeing and how things are  presented and idealised and yet there is also an element of  encountering the faces of women from the past.

Sunday, May 07, 2023


 It has been the longest time since I have blogged since I started blogging 19 years ago. The longer it went the less I thought I had something to share or say. I was also super busy, so busy my garden got quite neglected and  it took me some time to find a house sitter to look after Portia my rescue cat. After  my exhibition at Meeniyan Art Gallery finished I plunged into a round of creating for my exhibitions at Patchwork & Quilt Dagen in  Rijswijk, The Hague in the Netherlands and then to Nantes for Pour l'Amour du Fil. Both were busy events. In the Netherlands I did catch up a little with family but the event was busy so I had little time to do anything.

Some new work I created for Europe:

I must admit I faced the further planned travel with a sense of trepidation or was it anxiety ? I  just felt that after more than four years I might have forgotten how to travel, how to catch planes and trains and buses. My youngest daughter was with me for some of the time as she embarked on a 3 week European holiday and we traversed the continent. From Nantes we went to Paris, Venice (on the night bus a journey which I had not looked forward to but proved to be better than anticipated), Florence, Rome and Pompeii and back to Rome where I farewelled my daughter and headed onto Perugia. Venice, Florence and Rome were  crazy busy and as my daughter had never been to Rome she wanted to see everything. I had been warned that Pompeii gets crazy busy but in the end it proved not too bad and though  we ascended Mt Vesuvius by bus to where you get out and walk the rest of the way, I forewent that joy as it was windy and cold and looking at the incline I was not sure I would make it all the way up.

I will be staying in Perugia for two weeks and  am really enjoying it thus far. I rented a small apartment downhill from the old town, but the historic centre is easy to get to with the Minimetro which stops just behind the apartment block. I have spent two days wandering, visiting the Gallery Nazionale which is hosting a wonderful Perugino exhibition which I will go back and see, early in the morning, before the groups of school children arrive. And I am in Madonna heaven to be honest- I have never seen so many painted madonnas in one place. I love seeing how the faces change with the fashion and techniques of the time, and the times that the face of the model starts to hold a place in the composition. I also love the Perugino exhibition because  you can get close to the paintings and there is a definite development of his work until he reaches his peak, and here and there the work of contemporaries or students of his have been added into the mix. The collection of the gallery itself is also interesting with some more wonderful madonnas and a beautiful portrait by Suor Plautilla Nelli of Santa Caterina and said to be the likeness of Caterina de' Ricci.

There is a lot of history in this city, like so many Italian towns and many of the churches date to the  15th and 16th  centuries. When you walk around the old part of the city there is a sense that this city is still lived in and though there are tourists it isn't the thousands of Rome, Florence and Venice. The food has also been very good at the two different restaurants I have tried ( although I have rented an apartment to minimise eating out costs, however could not resist the first two days and tomorrow is a farmers/ bioproduce market).

I love the poster  for the bio market with its pomegranate trees and the  lovely rounded shape of the tree.

 The image is of Maramao Pane & Vin where I had a most enjoyable meal. One thing I have noticed now that I don't drink anymore is that so much food and eating out  in France and Italy is all about the wine with the meal- these days I drink fizzy water and  it does not quite feel the same. 

And  some images of the Perugia Historic centre.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Exhibition at Meeniyan Art Gallery

I have been slow to recover from Covid and that combined with mum's ongoing health issues meant i had a very slow start to the month indeed. My mother has refused to entertain aged care even though that was the advise from the medical team at Austin Repat Hospital- and that creates a whole other series of problems as she has to be safe and cared for. I live too far away to do anything on a weekly basis even though I partly moved to Gippsland to be closer to Mum to be helpful  (which I was when she lived in Gembrook) but she was moved to nearly the other side of Melbourne which means wasting hoursin city traffic. On the other hand she apparently made quite a recovery when she was told that she needed to consider aged care because of her inability to look after herself or her dog. 

However crunch time did arrive in order to create some new work for an exhibition I am a part of at Meeniyan Gallery starting 1 February with three other textile artists.  There will be a meet the artist session at 2.00pm on Sunday February 12 .

Yesterday I had  to deliver the works. I promised myself that I would create some new work for this, but going back and forth to Melbourne really depleted my energy levels ( and my garden is a weedy mess) and  then I had dyed some fabric which wasn't quite what I had in mind. The fabric was lovely, but  as I had set out with an idea , it was different to the idea. This meant adjusting my idea or dyeing more fabric and  I really did not have enough fabric to dye more so I had to readjust my idea. I had also wanted to create some of the nardoo work with free motion stitching on the machine.  So it has been a stitching marathon on my machine. I own a normal bottom of the range Bernina domestic sewing machine and I can tell you they are great for what I call free motion drawing. Essentially what I make are large drawings on the machine.

below are images of the nardoo pieces I made.  Each measures about 52 cm wide by 102 cm long. There are some differences between the two as I tried two slightly different things- can you spot the difference?

And then work started on the  whole cloth printed forest piece. If you recall seeing previous forest pieces you will remember that they are usually quite greenish and really suggestive of the forest. However when I dyed the fabric it was not nearly as forresty as I would have liked. This meant having to rethink thread colours and even how I stitched it. In the end it reminded me a lot of the bushland where I walk in the summer.

In the end I did not have time to procrastinate and I just had to do it. I quite like the outcome. I love the yellow in the top third- it reminds me of the summery scenes Bonnard used to paint but this time its the Australian bush- and I love yellow- in Australia (and the south of France) it is such a summer colour.

I am thinking about starting a newsletter . My question is would you be interested in subscribing to a newsletter ? before I run of  to do the homework to explore the how. I would envisage content would include some of my work methodology, some writing about the narratives that my work usually incorporates, updates of upcoming events/ teaching i might be doing. It would also includes some of the things that I find inspirational, including good books to read and inspirational books to read ( nothing beats a book) I would probably post out once a month or 6 weeks. I am also thinking of including a section where I would answer one readers question in the subsequent newsletter. As always it would be called Musings of a Textile Itinerant. Subscription would be free but with an option to donate a cup of coffee if you were so inclined ,that would be entirely up to you and content would be the same regardless. Let me know if a newsletter would be of interest and what kind of material would be of interest to you? You can either reply on my blog or email me.