Sunday, 30 November 2014

Materials ... and materials

Spent today deconstructing a vacuum cleaner and a Swedish Facit calculator (they were somewhere in between abacus and battery operated hand held devices in the 70s) - and with hundreds and hundreds of pieces and a perfect afternoon in the studio ... played with hybrid forms. Lots of interesting things happen when a material is taken out of its original context and re-imagined. Cogs become scales, armour plating, flower gardens - hoses become defense systems and numeric keys turn into feathers. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. Plenty of ideas for mark making and fabric too ...  great to be getting some "zing" back!

Monday, 24 November 2014

SAQA and Sentinels at the Festival of Quilts

Wonderful to be back at the Festival of Quilts in 2014 - and be able to share SAQA's 25th Anniversary Trunk show with so many visitors. caught up with Dijanne Cevaal who brought the Sentinels exhibition to Adelaide - spectacular exhibitions and wonderful to be able to see it in the cloth, as was Brenda Gael Smith's  Living Colour exhibition adjacent to my SAQA table. 

Life in Layers workshop - Adelaide

The SA Guild sure knows how to put on a workshop and look after a tutor.  Life in Layers at the Fullerton Centre was made so much easier with a great group and fabulous support crew. Ten participants each explored a different concept or idea about life through lots of experimentation and sharing of techniques, brought together in the creation of an art quilt - very challenging, inspiring and a pleasure to share Life in Layers with such an open and thought provoking group.We were able to effectively start the workshop weeks ahead of our get together through an online component so that when we finally met in Adelaide, a lot of pre-thinking and visual diary work had already been completed ... or ideas progressed sufficiently to let us make the most of our two days together. A fabulous weekend! Thank you everyone.

Murray River flows again ...

A wonderful few days at Victor Harbour and making the trip to see the mouth of the mighty Murray river - an exquisite experience crossinh the controversial Hindmarsh island bridge, then travelling a further 10 - 15 minutes to see the ocean The foliage was sublime - muted and softened in what must be a rather harsh environment. Next stop (for those thinking of swim) ... Antarctica.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Home grown ...

Today's challenge, after the printer deconstruction, was to work a little gastronomical wonder from the pantry and garden. So .. some sesame seeds and flat breads toasted; labna made earlier in the week from pot set yoghurt - now rolled into balls and sprinkled with garlic, freshly chopped rosemary and olive oil; home grown beetroot steamed then puréed with balsamic, garlic, chilli oil, olive oil and a little salt; and some puréed chickpeas, sesame seeds, pepper, bush lemon juice and parsley ... and more garlic! Thank you Stephanie Alexander for your wonderful recipes and a wickedly delicious Sunday  lunch.

Deconstruction of a printer ...

Latest sculpture project is to de-construct a large item and reinterpret it ... this could also be named "never-complain-about-the-price-of-a-printer-again". Every possible piece of wire, screw, spring, roller, motor, clip and circuit board has been laid out while its new context is considered. Many ideas ... and a deadline approaching. Still counting and labelling the components. Wonderful Sunday!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Scale, proportion, context and strawberries

Studying sculpture, along with time spent thinking about anything in depth, is providing food for thought in terms of the language of materials, scale, proportion and context in my own works. I walk by Her Maj in the park every morning en route to work. Her austerity and formality is both irksome and comforting. Fooling around in the office with this giant strawberry ... well that's just fun!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Regeneration and Spring

Waiting for yesterday's storm - the WMBM has about 17 different vegetables growing in the vegie patch - and unusually for him he is trying to deter the King Parrots from eating the newly forming tomatoes - they seem to adore the seeds in the green ones. In between treatments, WMBM is working in the gardens, pruning, trimming and welcoming Spring. It is such a wonderful time of year ...

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Log cabin revisited

 Spring is a time of colour and renewal. I am continuing exploration of the log cabin block and working on a small, experimental piece (approximately 24" x 24" or 60cm x 60cm) that looks at philosophical sameness and nuances in three Abrahamic religions. I wanted to take the log cabin, its Western representation of heart, hearth and home and reconstruct the block from different perspectives. Finding the log cabin represented in Egyptian artefacts, similar designs in the Waitangi Treaty House or in Manx patchwork - means different things depending on the context in which it is found. There were a few times when I  struggled with the messaging. I have that same sense if I listen to media coverage of the "news".The test quilt, although small, is something I'll develop into a larger format and remains an idea in progress.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sculpture is Everything! exhibition at QAG

A wonderful day with  SAQA friends at the Queensland Art Gallery then a chance to look at Sculpture is Everything!  and purchase the catalogue ... drove home listening to the Queensland Writer's Festival broadcasts which were being hosted along the Brisbane river, nestled between the Art Gallery and GOMA. It was the best of days ..... in the best of company.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


It has been a weekend of unexpected things, including some time spent working on a piece of art cloth - stitching a story of life, loss and wandering thoughts ... meandering in stitch.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Vital Signs @ QRAA

There are so many entries in this year's Queensland Regional Art Awards - and just as many interpretations of this year's theme "Vital Signs".  Watershed (left) interrogates the divide between those with access to water and sanitation and those who do not. The log cabin block represents the traditional concept of home, hearth, safety and protection. One half is comprised of hand dyed fabrics rubbed and printed in a modern, western style shower using the shower head, drain and mat. The other half of each block is comprised on mono-printed fabrics taken from scrubbed glass, representing the idea of cleaning the shower, removing those things that bring disease, infection and compromise good health.Watershed has been quilted with the shapes of germs and bacteria - from the perspective of under the microscope.

You can see all this year's entries, and vote for Viewers Choice here.

Monday, 11 August 2014

This is work?

It is hardly what I call work! A glorious end-of-winter weekend with the WMBM and Rebecca Staunton Coffey dyeing and hand printing fabrics. As the WMBM says "It's another stitch in the rich tapestry of our lives". And so it is ....

Thursday, 7 August 2014

A few of my favourite things ... from Perth

Back from Perth where Dad and I spent a few days doing all the things that really matter - being with our people as another friend would say - family, friends, friends who are as close as family, family who are also life long friends. Rebecca Staunton Coffey and I tested our range of art fabrics and sold out in a frenzied but orderly stampede on Day 1 of the WA Craft and Wood Show, we caught up with the effervescent Caroline Sharkey whose laughter filled our end of the show building for three days, the SAQA exhibition was a hit, our community cloth from Open Studio got a little closer to being finished and as always, some magical treasure to be found at The Thread Studio - thank you Dale and Ian for an inspirational time. A little top up of Wonderfil threads from the gorgeous Helen Rhodes - it was a wonderful trip and can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What is it worth?

Community Cloth - work in progress
from Open Studios 2014
For the last few weeks I've been working with Jolanta Szymczyk   professional photographer and Queensland  President of ATASDA (Australian Textile Arts and Surface Design Association Inc). While I've learned a lot from fellow art quilters who are also gifted photographers, I simply don't have the equipment or expertise to take sufficiently high quality images of my work for submission to magazines and the like.  I have also come to appreciate that I don't need to acquire those skills in this lifetime.
Media outlets no longer have the resources where I can assume they will arrange for photography of my submission. That is where Jolanta gets involved. I followed up on her offer to photograph the Queensland Quilters Art Quilt Group quilts for this year's State of the Art Quilt exhibition. We spent a gentle morning together at her studio, chatting and sipping tea before it was time to let Jola and her camera get to work.  I cannot say I was comfortable with the process to start with - and that's where Jola works her professional magic. In the end the session  was thoroughly enjoyable. I now have a collection of fun, serious, and thoughtful images of me that can be used in a variety of settings, as well as having my art quilts appropriately and digitally documented.
This exercise is one of the best investments in my work I can make right now. Aside from the affordability, my decision came down to some enlightenment from 1996 (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells):  "sometimes honey, you just can't afford not to!". Thank you Jola.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

In full retreat ... at Boonah

Three days of magic time spent with friends at The Outlook in Boonah last weekend let me finish a quilt top (that has travelled with me to at least three retreats), share the SAQA 25th anniversary exhibition of art quilts, hand dye about 14 yards of fabric and collect enough scrim for a gorgeous bowl. Thank you ladies.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Design and Print your own fabric - with Jane Dunnewold

I recently had the opportunity to review Jane Dunnewold's latest DVD - Design and Print Your Own Fabric. I have to declare that I am a big fan of Jane's work and teaching, and recently completed her 10 week Artist Strength Training Course. As someone with an existing print on demand account (Spoonflower is just one entity providing this service), I wondered what value add I would get from the DVD – because I am already very comfortable using the Spoonflower site and digital images to create and design fabric.
Jane’s DVD is like having Jane sitting beside you in the studio chatting about what might seem a daunting topic – how to design and create, upload, manipulate and customise a personal range of fabrics.  The focus is on improvisational design, as much as the how to of embracing print on demand websites and all they offer the textile and mixed media artist.
It is the improvisational design aspects that got me interested – using readily accessed, easy to use products already available to most of us – a camera, computer, thumb drive (USB stick) and scanner.
The DVD covers the creative aspects and functional reality of using a print on demand service provider such as Spoonflower.
Jane’s tuition on improvisational design took me somewhere new – and a whole new design world has opened. That alone justifies for me, the investment in the DVD. The ability to better understand the link between what can be created on the computer, through the use of an image manipulating program was a huge plus. In addition, the technical advice about use of images, explanation of pixels and ratios for exporting photos or images to the Spoonflower site is provided in a way that everyone can manage – something I’d previously found challenging. I particularly liked that I can listen to a section a few times – such as the demystification of pixels – then work “live” on my images while listening to the DVD.
Jane’s presentation is friendly, helpful and her explanations are suited to both the first time and experienced user of print on demand services. If you can’t have Jane sitting with you in the studio, then I think this DVD is the next best alternative.