Open House Perth 2017

Described as “When residents become tourists in their own city” Open House Perth, ran for it’s 6th year last weekend. This year we concentrated on the inner east and north discovering some gems.
 Old Perth Girls School 1936 -1962, and more recently occupied by the Police department until 2002, is now ready for the next phase, a 3 – 5 year use until the developers are ready to start the more permanent project. Cafes, tourism, arts, community involvement  are all considerations for this time frame. I can envisage some wonderful possibility here.
Above- view from the projection room into the assembly hall.
The building itself is a quality build, the original lockers, fire places, bookcases were a delight, as were the anecdotes from past students on our tour.
 I imagine they’ve given up trying to match keys to lockers 🙂
Edward Millen House in Victoria Park is at a similar stage. It was built in 1912 as the first maternity hospital in Western Australia, becoming a repatriation hospital in 1920 – 1960, and until 1995 for various medical purposes. Current owners, the Town of Victoria Park spent over a million dollars in 2007 on  maintenance works. The community visiting over the Open House weekend were invited to share their views on the future of this beautiful heritage listed building. I hope its use will mean it’s available for the public to enjoy.
 Next was The WA Ballet. A beautiful example of new use for a stunning Art Deco building. Government, councils, private donations all coming together to make this work. I loved the tour so much last year, I went again and am now hoping to get an in-depth look at the wardrobe dept 🙂
Lastly, a couple of residential houses. The Triangle House in Mt Lawley that I drive past regularly was a spacious surprise inside that we all loved. The build on this awkward triangle 170m2 block is a great example of what good design can do and the creativity that arises from limitations.

The Time of My Life – in review

Canadian independent creative magazine Uppercase asked for submissions recently on the theme Diagram Your Life. If you drew a Venn diagram of your life, how would your life and creativity intersect? What would a data-driven self-portrait look like? 
I am delighted my work “The Time of My Life” was selected for inclusion in issue 35. The work was originally made for the WAFTA InTension exhibition in 2011. In late 2010, I documented my time spent on the activities of the day for 100 days, each with a colour representing a separate activity. At the time of making the work I felt very frustrated about my lack of time in the studio. All the pink areas are studio time. Reviewing this seven years later, with my darling children all now beyond their teen and schooling years and mostly independent (although all still at home) my art practice has significantly changed and developed, and I do have more time available. The mad rush to get everyone out the door early in the morning is much less of a challenge and no longer am I running kids to appointments or after school activities and cooking dinner in spurts between the drop offs and pick ups.
In other ways there are still lots of demands on my time, however my priorities have also moved much more towards making art and art related activities. Sometimes often the housework is at a minimum, my garden is designed to thrive on neglect and I don’t go shopping without a specific purchase in mind.
In hindsight I can see the time spent away from the studio not so much as a frustration, as it can be just as valuable to my art practice as the hands on activities at my desk. That time helps me process ideas, find a solution to design challenge, see new possibilities, and relieve my sometimes aching back and shoulders!

City of Stirling Art Awards

My work Silver Linings #5 Seeds of Hope received an Highly Commended at the City of Stirling Art Awards last night !
 Out of darkness and disaster come seeds of hope, regeneration, new beginnings, an opportunity to do things differently.
The Silver Linings theme began in response to a series of back to back personal challenges in 2015. As the series has progressed, the inspiration for works has trended toward explorations into nature and life cycles. In this work I was inspired by travels along the Forrest Highway after the Yarloop Bush-fires. Amongst the blackened devastation new growth appears, a sign that our Australian bush is tough, resilient and adaptable to the circumstances presented. 

Back to the Studio…and Back to the Routine

It’s already two weeks since we returned from our lovely holiday in Italy and Germany. I’m over the jet lag and have caught up on most of the jobs “to do after our return”. Below are photos of the beautiful Lake Garda, Italy.
My daily/weekly routine has returned and I’m happy to be able to make a start on my next wearable art piece after only being able to think and dream about it for over a month. Some purchasing of materials and a quick dyeing session yesterday means I have made a start on some samples.
The first full day session of WAFTA@WAM was last Saturday. In this program I am helping others through all the steps to create their own Wearable Art garment to enter in Wearable Art Mandurah (WAM) for 2018. I’m really looking forward to seeing their amazing ideas develop into finished garments.
I was delighted to find in the mail on our return, amongst all the bills, my copy of Down Under Textiles Magazine. Back in February I was asked to become a regular contributor and this Issue 29 has my first column. The magazine, also as of this issue, is available in Barnes and Noble in USA.
In the mail this week was a copy of the beautiful catalogue for Art Quilt Australia 2017. There are many stunning works in this exhibition and I feel honoured to have my work juried for inclusion amongst them. If you have the chance to be in Launceston, Tasmania before 22 October I think it would be well worth a visit.

WAFTA @Wearable Art Mandurah 2018

Would you like to enter Wearable Art Mandurah in 2018? I have loved being a part of this competition over the past four years. I’ve made lots of great friendships in this wonderful community of designers, and there are many many opportunities to have your work shown. Along with making my own garment for the 2018 competition, I am running a five month long – one day per month program WAFTA @ Wearable Art 2018 starting 30th September. This program is designed to help you step-by-step through the processes and challenges to create and enter your work in the upcoming 2018 competition. I’m going to share my successes and my disasters! We will cover:

  • Concept development
  • Material choices
  • Tips and techniques
  • Judging criteria
  • Mentoring and instruction
  • Pre-selection photography
  • Artist statements

Suitable for Beginners, Tertiary Students, Groups (1 or 2 people) and Individuals.

It’s going to be loads of fun!  I hope you can join us, places are filling fast!

Click here for further details

WAM Head Wear Workshop

Head Wear, like footwear in wearable art can cause a lot of angst.
The footwear challenge is due to the shoe size guessing game of your model. Head Wear has a few more challenges; for the artist and the model. As artists/designers we want a head piece to complement our garment and create that wow factor. We also don’t want it to fall off mid-showcase! Models and dancers require something secure, comfortable and lightweight.
Lou Grimshaw, Props Assistant at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts presented a wonderful workshop on Sunday to address these issues. Sharing her wealth of experience, we learnt techniques to make balanced, lightweight wire frames to build our designs upon. Below is one of Lou’s pieces.
 Using a jig we learnt to shape wire and solder the joins to make the basic headpiece.
We then looked at the endless variations and alternative materials, always considering the wearability of the piece. Lou shared many tips, suggestions and products to try for our head wear. The very experienced group of participants were also happy to share their knowledge. There were lots of aha moments and “ooh, I want to try that!”
Above – the wire frame of one of Lou’s pieces.
Many thanks to Barb Thoms from Wearable Art Mandurah for organising this fantastic workshop. I’m really looking forward to seeing some amazing head wear next year!


It’s been a busy week…and a bit…

Firstly a transformation of the studio into boudoir for our friends from Sydney for a long weekend. It’s amazing what you find when you have a good clean up…
Five lovely days including an unheard of visit to the beach on a Monday morning…what an extravagance. The beach and weather stunning – it was meant to be 🙂

Then the submission of my 2017 entry for Wearable Art Mandurah WAM. The work has been finished for a while, photos taken, but pressing that “submit” button…it’s when you let go of your work.

On Saturday I gave a talk to the WAFTA WASG (Wearable Art Study Group) about my journey and experiences over the past 4 years making wearable art followed by a mini workshop.A simple way to start making Wearable ArtDiscover the possibilities of upcycling your recycling bin!WASG2
Participants worked directly on dress forms, playing with recycled materials. Using pins, staples and masking tape to speed up the process.WASG
It’s always interesting to see a garment develop on a body shape. You can do lots of drawings and designs, but when you place the items on a body form it comes to life.WASG10

WASG11WASG9All the participants made wonderful and unique starts to wearable art garments, including two 10 year old girls present by default.WASG6 I could see the start of some wonderful garments for the 2018 WAM competition!WASG4WASG13WASG8


The workshop reminded me that I really enjoy teaching, something that I have been pushing aside for a long time.

I’m well into the next deadline and it’s slowly progressing with machine and now hand stitch. This needs to be my focus for the next few weeks.13 Feb 004 13 Feb 023

A short break, a new outlook

A much needed overnight break away last weekend was welcome relief in our current, very busy life. We went to visit our son Josh Wells who is Artist in Residence at Beverley Station Arts in the beautifully restored 130 year old Station Masters House, now Artist-in Residence accommodation and gallery.Josh Beverely Station ArtsJosh has an exhibition and a photography workshop scheduled among his time here to focus on new works….both writing and photography. I’m really excited to see what comes from this residency. If this photo (taken by the owner of the field and Beverley Station Arts committee member) is an indication…Canola fieldThe vibrant and friendly community was out in force on the weekend at the Agricultural Show. I love a country show, the exhibition hall…love these children’s exhibits.Children's exhibit the animals…the chooks!

Chook 21

Chook 11Chook 12Chook 6Chook 18Chook 1Chook 14
Chook 9Chook 2Chook 25Chook 24Just a tad of excitement seeing all these gorgeous chooks…they are wearable art!

Pattern, texture, design…all in a lovable pet.


Colour Project Update

Last week I received this comment on my blog…

I was browsing through google images for screen print textures and I fell in
love with yours! I was wondering if you’ll grant me permission and allow me
to incorporate one your photos above in a personal project of mine…

Firstly, I really appreciate that she asked for my permission to use the image. When I found out a little more about her project I was delighted to see what she was doing and happy for her to go ahead.

Sabrina Lam is from British Columbia, Canada and is a second year Communication Design student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Here is Sabina’s completed album cover design.

daydreamers album coverdaydreamers back cover + spine label

My original image below is one of the samples I made in The Colour Project  I stamped a rubber mat directly onto hand dyed fabric.

Purple 30Another of my colour samples was used with permission on this book cover. It still amazes me how people randomly find the images through google…

I love how The Colour Project continues to live on. The project was a year long investigation into “textile techniques” where I made a small sample of work everyday in 2012. Each month I chose a different colour for the samples. The result for me, was that it got all the techniques I was wanting to try “out of my system”. I no longer have the need nor desire to purchase or try everything textile wise that is out there and it’s a great reference source.

I am delighted it has also inspired others to do their own version of a project like this… A friend of mine is currently exploring circles…The make something everyday idea is not mine, it’s stolen and adapted from many other sources such as a photograph a day, a quilt block a week etc…Simply a way to get working…small chunks at a time. Austin Kleon describes it here Say something small every day. My suggestion would be to chose something specific, reducing the decisions you need to make each day to get started. I committed to a colour each month, I also followed techniques and themes such as hand embroidery stitches, natural dyeing, recycling, soy wax, paper folding…

I hope you give it a go, and if you do, I’d love to hear from you!

The Details

A close up look at the works of others recently has made me go WOW!

I was on roster at the Common Threads Wearable Art display at the Craft Fair recently, in the early morning quiet I took the opportunity to photograph some of the works in detail. These works looked spectacular on stage, this was the chance to see some of them up close, the techniques, construction methods, how they attach to the body…

Elizabeth MorleyElizabeth Morley’s Satori above and belowElizabeth Morley 2Jacq Chorlton’s A Dress to Im’press – made from flattened plastic bottle topsJacq ChorltonCapillary Action by Val Hornibrook – layers of feltingVal HornibrookThe Secret Garden by winner of the Youth Award Catherine KellyCathrine KellyHope Lights the Way by Julie SmithJulie Smith 1

An exhibition of 22 garments (including my work Fire Flies) will be on show at CASM 3 June – 3 July.

At the Quilt and Textile Study Group was privileged to see and touch Cynthia Harvey Baker’s collection of textiles from South Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan…Embroidery, batik, print, appliqué, patchwork, ikat weaving…
Most had stories of their history, purpose, technique and how they came to be in Cynthia’s possession.

I was taken by the detail. The simple stitch, the design, the colour combinations. Some were exquisite in the fine detail, others using simple stitch to create lovely patterns and designs.Quilt and Textile Study 16Tiny stitches below had us all guessing if this was really made by hand…Yes!Quilt and Textile Study 14

Quilt and Textile Study 13The back are just as interesting…Quilt and Textile Study 10

Quilt and Textile Study 7

Quilt and Textile Study 15Quilt and Textile Study 4Quilt and Textile Study 3Quilt and Textile Study 2Quilt and Textile Study 1Quilt and Textile Study 8Quilt and Textile Study 9