Saturday, 28 January 2012

Portraits and portrets from the Netherlands

Gearing up for 2012 and Queensland Quilters Art Quilt Group (2QAQ) - and had a play with self-portraits (our first challenge and workshop on 25 March). Thanks to Ankie for sharing the work and talents of another fantastic textile artist from the Netherlands Nienke (and if you follow the link and scroll down her 2011 Gallery you will see her portrait work in all its glory). This year 2QAQ will meet every second month and will commence each meeting with a demonstration / play / workshop-type activity. Our first challenge will be "portrait" which has involved lots of internet surfing and researching copyright free or publicly available e-publications (such as through Interweave and to inspire the launch of a thousand faces. So my first attempt at a portrait (left and below)  - still in the "raw", and at the unadorned, hairless, "fused only" stage is based entirely on Nienke's work and style - at present I am interested in the technique and processes she may have used - and the fun to be had in being able to re purpose those bags of thready scraps! Nienke's blog is well worth the visit. For those of us not fluent in Dutch, Google translator opens the portal to the world of possibilities and appreciation of the gifts of others even further ... and the light of artists like Nienke can filter through ...

Postscript: After emailing Nienke for permission to post my efforts (inspired by her creation) Nienke has advised she was inspired by the work of  Bodil Gardner from Denmark, who has been making pictures for many years - Bodil hopes her portraits inspire the rest of us.  Bodil's website includes a wealth of information on creating portraits and the techniques she uses at her website. Well both of these artists have inspired me (albeit a work in progress) and I hope you get to enjoy Nienke's and Bodil's works too.

Rainy days and brain storms in Sanctuary

I am working on a way to represent "sanctuary" as a textile art piece - my place in the garden firstly  in a linear and then in a dimensional format. Today I combined lots of photographs that have been taken since New years Day and made a map of the area - from dry to wet, still to windy, dead and crispy brown to supple and green. And here's my little movie of it .....

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tick that Box

Beneath the Southern Sky entry  submitted - CHECK
State of the Art Quilt 2012 entry submitted for Queensland Quilters - CHECK
Vacuuming and housework completed - sorry, what was that?

This sketch was going to form the basis of a Beneath the Southern Sky entry - the Queensland Coastline near Innisfail coming home from work recently - farmland, rivers emptying into the Pacific Ocean, coral quays and a container ship or two ... I do love aerial views and the way they quickly become abstract with height (I think we were nearing 40,000 feet). My actual entry is 150% completely different from this idea ... maybe another idea for another quilt on another day ...

and this is a Nankeen Kestrel (tiny blimp out front, far right),  telling off a Wedgetail eagle (big blimp centre) both of which were being harassed by a crow (moderate sized blimp, slightly below). Sunday mornings are always busy out here .... sometimes we are lucky enough, in the breeding season, to watch the parent eagles teach their young the finer art of flying, fishing and catching thermals.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Food for thought

Mushroom leather - dried from large field mushrooms that were sacrificed for breakfast this morning and had their skins dried on paper towel throughout the day. They stitch easily, especially in layers - there is a residual smell (not offensive) after storage - just make sure they are really dry before putting away!

Tonight, while finishing off my entry for Beneath the Southern Sky the WMBM brought a plate of sustenance. Yum squared - peaches and kiwi fruit.

Some weeks ...

Some weeks I leave the tea-bags to dry for 4-5 days, only unfolding them when absolutely "crispy". The patterns are always beautiful to me - this one reminds me of rock art! It needs to be stitched and perhaps will be the basis of the postcard art that needs to be sent off to Philadelphia PA by the end of the month ...

This is the reverse of something I've now finished quilting and hopefully in the coming weeks or months we can do a "reveal' on the front. It has a cadastral theme .....and yes, I still thread baste - much prefer it to pins (and I know that makes me so out of step with the rest of the world).

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sketching, books and doodling

Part of spending time in the garden has also been to consider time, space and change (no I'm not particularly cerebral, it's the last assignment in exploration of textiles).  I've taken to date stamping my pages so that I can track my journey more accurately (and I just love those roll-around-the-date-pick-your-own-adventure-it's-my-version-of-the-tardis date stamps). I may even start a separate log of journal page musings ...  Above is a time line of change for our property. Pre-1800s there was forest akin to that now protected in the Main Range National Park behind us - the floorboards of our home are made from a single tree  - when the house was built in the early 1900s. That part of the time line is all house and cattle, next to no trees. Finally, under a different type of care by the WMBM more than 1300 trees, shrubs and bushes have been reinstalled.  All eras have been of caring for the land and expressing that care in different contexts.

Another look at change - from the established trees to the 4-6 year olds and the ongoing mission of WMBM with the tube stock, duly supported until well enough established to survive scorching summers, frosty winters, drought and flooding rains - all in the space of a good year! There's another change, from tree top to the water table below (we reside on an aquafer that produces something akin to diffused soda water from about 40 feet underfoot)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Finding inspiration

This is my special place in one of the gardens where I can think about things. This morning I took some photographs trying to look at this place of rest with fresh eyes. I especially loved the gumnuts on the floor of the garden - it wasn't until I enlarged the photos that the seeds became evident - another lesson about my perception of empty space.  This was reinforced by the hive of activity, literally, occurring in that place between the dried bark and the dead stump.  Almost an oversight, there are a number of ants conversing and scurrying before this afternoon's predicted showers and there's even a little winged bug resting under a leaf of grass (bottom  of picture, between 5 and 6 o'clock). An accident of camera settings and the dreamy play of light through the fimbriata also captured a sense of hammock and restful contemplation ... which is where I intend to spend the next part of this beautiful day.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Speaking of narratives ...

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing an assignment today. One of those moments when the reverse side of the piece ended up doing all the talking. So here's to surprise outcomes, the unexpected, and an (edited) version of the tale ...

Narrative: The images represents the imbalance of power in a relationship as the dominant mug overpowers the more delicate, saucered tea cup. The mug is neither physically violent nor abusive towards the tea cup, it is about controls in the absence of presence, the lack of materiality about the mug and the relationship. It is about ... instant coffee. The mug fails to understand the cup can be fragile and needs to be held, balanced and supported. The cup realises that marriage is for life, not forever. The marriage, like the broken tea cup, does not hold anything of substance or sustenance for life. After many years, the cup breaks free, accompanied by a box of Tupperware. The cup and saucer are immediately reborn, cherish the consumption of Twinings English Breakfast tea and grow on many levels.
Post script: after finding God in three different places after the cup left, the mug became comfortable it was okay just as it was – and combined with the inability to self reflect, the mug lived happily ever after).

Below is the front of the intended assessment piece - using recycled / used tea bag papers - the tannin stains, copper thread and black thread didn't create sufficient contrast for the purpose of the exercise. I really enjoyed the process - to be filed away in the "remember for next time folder".

Precious memory holder ... or The Book

Today was a day for quiet reflection with just a splash of mild panic. Reflecting on how peace-filled days at Tarome can be, and mild panic that today was not that kind of day. Fiddled with this piece which, when beaded and otherwise embellished, will form the cover of a book that is coming to fruition - albeit slowly. The three tags across the base are constructed from ... you guessed it, the WMBM's repurposed shirt. Maxine's silk roll was couched into a border, Jan's bag of goodies from the last 2QAQ swap meet came in handy with some glorious silks and Lisa Walton's beading course is the gift that keeps on giving. However, today was more about thinking through the execution of my "Beneath a Southern Sky" entry which is due on 25 January. The specifications (100cm x 40cm in the vertical rather than horizontal) are really interesting because there is such an opportunity for a narrative that perhaps a more "square" or slightly rectangular shape doesn't lend itself to in the same way. So what story can be told beneath a Southern sky? I got to thinking about our Keith who would have been 71 today - one of  the last of the true, old bushies and of all the campfires he and Lorraine must have sat around as they travelled mile after mile of this country. They never missed an opportunity while they had it and nor should I - so it's back to the studio (I always wanted to say that ...)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Take one old shirt ...

Last night the WMBM gave me one of his old shirts - I am serious here about old - as in pre-Goddess days - open weave, mustard colour - and absolutely perfect for converting into something of use. It was like a chemistry lab in that room 'til quite late .. and here's the end result - a new fabric that has layers of wrapping paper, cards and tissue embedded in what was once the back of that shirt - Beryl Taylor's book is full of so many ideas - and when I play I make quite a few "samples" which are then filed and stored for later use ... I haven't thought too much about how this piece will be stitched but I sense the copper thread coming out of retirement.  I also started making a book - the old fashioned way. Maybe a sneak peek tomorrow ..... I do love working with black velvet. Assignment? What assignment? 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Mola and the additive / reductive process

Going home today and packing a few clothes and 20 kg of study materials for the weekend. This week the dining-table studio helped produce some layering (additive) and revealing (reductive) pieces including further work on this piece from the previous post. I fused two of the rusted interfacing pieces  then added the rusted silk which had been Shiva rubbed (see earlier post) over a lino cut stamp made last year. The next phase was to stitch layered, small squares of water soluble paper over the lino-cut design and produce the negative (or positive) form of the lino cut - so where the spiral is highlighted in the gold Shiva rub by its absence, the moulded paper produced delightful ridges and bumps which were painted with watercolour and also gold rubbed when dry. The three hearts made from pepsimax cans (cut, flattened and blow torched by Kate) are now veiled under rusted chiffon. The selvage from a  rusted piece of old hospital sheet (still thick and rich after all these decades ) has been wrapped in small pieces of  chiffon opening at one end like flowering buds. It's still a work in progress - assignment due next Tuesday which really means Sunday night. I have enjoyed thinking about these processes - the end product is not so important as what happens in the head - and heart.

An example of using mola as a reductive and then additive process. One layer at a time removed before adding a piece of the second layer in a rolled form, couched into the space.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year, Many Passions

Happy New Year and best wishes for a creative 2012 in whatever form that takes. One of the  ways I've held myself to account in that sense is through the SAQA Visioning Project which I joined in 2010. SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) is an organisation that, among many other things, promotes art quilts to the world. The visioning project is where members can commit to a particular project or task (perhaps a solo exhibition, or developing a website, carving out time to experiment, create a body of work etc)  and report back to the group each month by uploading into your visioning journal page. In 2012 I've committed to continuing my art studies and getting my website up and running. The ever-patient Brenda-Gael will be pleased about that! One of the reasons (distractions) that has slowed me down over the holidays has been playing with the fabrics Ankie and I rusted - interfacing that now resembles tanned leather, silk embellished with gold Shiva - it is veiling three stitched metal hearts (thanks Kate for the sheets of Pepsi-Max) and who would have thought the old meat mallet would come in so handy? Beaten Pepsi-Max sheets rule! There's also some Tyvek paper which was layered with wrapping papers and tissue paper - another distraction for which Beryl Taylor's "Mixed Media Explorations" is responsible. I'm also sharing the SAQA Oceania Representative role with Lisa Walton in 2012/13 - and looking forward to meeting many of the other SAQA representatives and members in Philadelphia this March.
This year I am also undertaking the Queensland Quilters Teacher Accreditation which has prompted me to progress a box of blocks made some time ago. I managed to get them all joined and now basted for hand quilting which I will be able to progress on my return to Cairns.  I could hear Ruth Stoneley in my ear every time I thought I had basted a quilt sufficiently well - "just another row" and so it went - this quilt top has been basted to within an inch of its life and well worth taking the time to do it properly.  Here's to your 2012 - may it be everything you want it to be - and more.