Art Quilt Australia 2021

I’m delighted to have my work The Roads Often Travelled selected for Art Quilt Australia 2021. The exhibition opened last night and is on show at Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Nowra, NSW until 3 July, then will tour to Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale, Victoria 7 August – 31 October.

Artist Statement

Back and forth, back and forth, to kindy, primary then high school.  This twice-daily routine along well-worn paths called the school run. One kid chatted, one sat in stony silence, another either sang along to the radio or napped. For 18 years. Then suddenly one day it stopped. Independent adults.

The initial idea for The Road Often Travelled was sparked on the first day I took my son, who has Down Syndrome, to a new high school some distance from our house. I remember saying to myself, I am going to be doing this same run twice a day, five days a week, for the next six years.

Driving him to and from High School was actually the last of these often-travelled roads. With three children and for over 20 years, there were 6 other schools and many, many before and after school activities.

Most of the time it felt like being on a treadmill, but on reflection, all the emotions of life came to the fore on those drives. The kids might be full of excitement about the day ahead or telling me about the joy or disappointments on the way home. Sleepy, sad, happy or sick. One child chatted a lot, another sat in stony silence most of the time, the other had the radio up loud and singing.

Driving the kids to school was such a part of the daily routine, after it stopped at the end of 2016, I realised how valuable that time was to sort out my day and work through art pieces in my head. I felt at a loss when it ended. I have only just made the connection as I write this, that my daily morning walk, started 18 months ago has had the same benefits of a regular routine, “Groundhog Day” scenery and the space to think.

Technique and Materials

The techniques used for this piece I call Cutaway Technique. The basic process includes printing or stamping a top layer, then adding layers underneath, and backing fabric for structure, machine stitching around the print shapes and then with very fine scissors, cutting away areas to reveal what is underneath. I have been using this technique for about 12 years now and slowly refining. The early pieces were very bright and colourful, I used lots of handmade stamps, with large shapes (circles, squiggles, stripes, squares, flowers etc) I would cut them up and reassemble in a mosaic type pattern. Since 2018 I have been creating “whole cloth” works and started to add hand stitching, most often colonial knots.

In the Domestic Maps series, I have used a bubble wrap print as my top layer and cut away the map areas, I have then completely covered the works in colonial knots, one per un-cut bubble to create the texture of the worn paths.

I use mostly recycled fabrics in my work. The backing layer is an old woollen blanket, the middle layers recycled sari silks and the top my husband’s discarded shirts.


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