Monday, 17 April 2017

Stitched Together Project - FGM repair

In her most recent offering on SBS Viceland, Gloria Steinem says "the greatest indicator of the world's stability, wealth and safety is the status of women" and then, "more than poverty, natural resources, religion, or degree of democracy, violence against females is the most reliable predictor of whether a nation will be violent within itself or will use violence against another country — and gender violence has become so great that for the first time, there are now fewer females on Earth than males."  Personally, I'm not one for international borders. The estimated 2.2 million women each year who experience FGM are my sisters. Our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, daughters and nieces.

Dr Marci Bowers and Dr Harold Henning Jr
My friend Miranda is heading to Africa in May to assist Dr Marci Bowers and her surgical team perform up to 80 FGM repair surgeries. Miranda will join a team supported and sponsored by Clitoraid, a not for profit, supported by Dr Marci Bowers who donates her time and incredible surgical skills.

The surgery restores sexual function, corrects physical damage and appearance, restores nerve sensation, reduces pain when passing urine, menstrual flow and during sex, reduces infection and the risk of maternal and child morbidity and mortality due to obstructed labour. The surgery also reduces fistula occurrences caused by FGM complications. For me, it's about the restoration of a basic human right and dignity.

The majority of women will return to their villages while some may start a new life. Some of these women are hoped to become champions for anti-FGM missions for protecting, empowering and educating our girls and success stories on clitoral reversal surgery.

Costs for each surgery are:
  • operating theatre costs $300 USD or $400 AUD  (less $200 covered by various agencies for the May mission)
  • FGM repair surgery - no cost
  • post operative medical care - no cost
  • accommodation, food and beverage costs $40 USD or $50 AUD per day 
That's a shortfall of around $140 USD or $175 AUD for each sister undergoing surgery. It's a prohibitive cost for many of these women.

Postcards from the Shot Quilt Series

The Stitched Together Project is going to help offset those costs. In the next few days a crowd funding event through will launch where you can support these 80 women. The campaign will run for 28 days. In return for your donation you can opt to receive a piece of textile art. The featured piece is a postcard created from my Shot Quilt series - where the purity of white, log cabin blocks was destroyed by a shotgun blast and the injuries were sutured together with red thread. Stitched together seems an apt title for the project. There are other hand made post cards, art quilts and works available in response to your donation. You can help in many ways, including by making a donation direct to Clitoraid or participating in the Stitched Together campaign on I'll be posting updates on Facebook and provide a link to the campaign.  We can do this. It's important we do this. Thank you for being awesome in your support.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Week 5 - Weekly Art Challenge 2017

Week 5 of the #wac2017 saw a move to printed lines on our hand dyed hand printed fabrics.  I chose fabrics that responded to the colours of Uluru in the light - the strength of oranges and purple infused by sunsets. I used a mix of machine and hand stitching to create the outer cover of a journal. This week my research comprised a lot of video links and different articles that focused on aerial views of Uluru. So the inside of the journal cover comprised free motion quilting techniques that looked like hundred and hundred of Uluru's or bird's eye views of desert rocks. The blended colours where achieved by using two threads (orange and burgundy) through the top needle and an orange yellow in the bobbin. I try to go around each shape 3 times (sometimes two) and find this gives me a really great shape and texture. This combination of techniques is going into my three day workshop for Uluru in 2018 - you can register your interest with Caroline Sharkey so you don't miss out on any of the existing tutor and workshop information. Loving this yearly challenge thanks to Brenda Gael Smith!

Friday, 3 February 2017

WAC#4 - more lines

Week 4 of the challenge for 2017 - and further exploration of the Uluru theme through use of line. This time I use two different threads through the needle and another in the bobbin. This gives a rich textural feel to the work. By building layers and connections through the physical act of free motion work into a soluble base, the act of creating mimics the connections between people and places. I got to thinking about the spaces in between the threads - filled with that which we cannot see but know exists. Dreaming. Stories. As Ankie once taught me, making the invisible visible.

I am using the same bowl as the basis for this series of works - the common thread and using the same hoop as a limiter / constraint for the work. Looking forward to the following weeks.

10 months of Creative Strength Training with Jane Dunnewold

As some of you may know, I joined one of the original Creative Strength Training workshops offered by Jane Dunnewold and Zenna Duke and some of my writing / work is included in the book version published in 2016.  Jane and Zenna are now offering a 10 month extended version of CST and I've decided to revisit the program for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wouldn't lightly offer up the chance to work with Jane and the other CST participants - Jane and Zenna build communities of support and also opportunities for challenge at a personal level. Secondly, joining the 1 March program gives me ten months to explore more deeply the themes from the original CST in an expanded context and will give me a chance to put more concrete strategies in place for my creative future.  I found CST enriched my writing, what I write about and brought me into a more thoughtful and meaningful relationship with my art - as well as the spin offs for other relationships and life more generally. For those considering participation in the 10 month course, consider listening to Jane's recent talk at La Conner, WA (September 2016)  - Reflections on Creative Strength Training- another chance to listen to the quiet wisdom and encouragement of Jane Dunnewold. You can also catch Jane and Zenna talking specifically about the 10 month course and structure here.  I hope to share the next 10 months with you!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

WAC #3

Week 3 and line found yet another expression in this small collage (about 8 inches x 8.5 inches) (20cm  x 21 cm). From my colour study used for last week's bowl inspiration, I found lines (strips) of fabric and made a quick collage. Quick - in the sense that I didn't want to fluff about overthinking the project and stall progress which just kills the creative process for me.
Many lines - of fabric and within the patterns of the fabric - organic and structured. The two decorative stitches I used represent flora and fauna - footprints and flowers - and their tracks. The geometric lines that fill some of the available spaces represent an intervention in the environment - structures, buildings, infrastructure that co-exists with dreaming tracks, stories, culture and history. Curved and straight. Soft and rigid - but more than oppositional. The hand stitching brings a more personal touch to the piece in the sense that I really feel present in the work. 

Footprints and florals
 Fabric, printed paper and hand dyed thread
 Collage pieces fused to charcoal interfacing

Sunday, 8 January 2017


Second week of line inspired by Uluru as part of Brenda Gael Smith's #weeklyartproject2017.  This week I isolated the colours from an image of this sacred place and used strips of our hand-dyed fabrics to wrap the cord.  Very therapeutic to sit for a few hours and plan out a project. This week the lines flowed and coiled while strips of fabric behaved similarly. Looping the final piece back into the body of the bowl has given it a sense of continuum  - honouring and acknowledging a 40,000 year continuous history of our country's first people.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Weekly Art Challenge - 2017

Lines of thought
This year I'm working on a special, weekly arts project and my theme is Uluru. I am kept accountable by joining Brenda Gael Smith in her weekly art challenge for 2017. Last year I completed a 100 days project, working in my journal every day - and it's time to take the next step - translating journal and diary pages into tangible responses. I've broken the year into four blocks of thirteen weeks, each with a different focus. The first is LINE.

Each week I'll post progress - and if you'd like to join in for all or part of the project, you can! Pick a theme - a word - and somewhere to record further consideration. It might be digital - I prefer the physical act of drawing into a journal or visual diary.  I'll start this week by exploring the word Uluru and learning all I can about it - meaning, location, colour, history, spiritual  and see where these lead. I'll also think about  the subset of LINE and how research makes connections to LINE. Above all, it's about enjoying the year in the studio - with renewed focus, purpose and output!