Calm in the Chaos

Ironically, this is the title of an artwork I made, in a less chaotic time, for the inaugural Australian Textile Art Award. The exhibition opened last Friday, then the gallery immediately closed for an indefinite time due to the Corona Virus.

Last October, in what seems like another life, we spent a wonderful week at Lake Garda, Italy. We walked along the lake edge, caught ferries to lake side villages, ended the days with an Aperol Spritz and a delicious dinner.

My plan was to make work inspired by this beautiful lake, focusing on the enjoyment of life.

Artist Statement 

Big skies and large bodies of water calm me, I take a deep breath and sigh, all is right with the world. This work began after a lakeside holiday with a goal to reflect and inspire this simple joy in life. However, back home life got in the way, with responsibilities, interruptions, and the negative influences of social media and the news. Working through the many iterations of this piece has helped me accept that the chaos will continue, and that we need to look for the glimpses of calm amongst it.

Materials and Techniques

Materials – silk organza, silk dupion, recycled business ties, woolen blanket, polyester machine thread, embroidery thread. Techniques – Fabrics were printed and hand dyed, then layered together and machine stitched throughout. Some layers have been cut away. Colonial knots were then stitched throughout. Individual circles have been assembled with hand stitching.

A lot has happened since I last wrote…

A wonderful big holiday to Europe in October. If you are a fan of German, French and Italian rocks, stones, brick walls, doors, windows, Mosaics, Stained Glass…you may well like to see my Instagram

Also on Instagram you can see in London my Mum and I had many a textile treat visiting the iconic Mary Quant exhibition at V&A and the fabulous Zandra Rhodes exhibition at The Fashion and Textile Museum.

We were part of the last small group tour of The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion. before it’s two-year long closure to move to a new location.

The Foundlings Museum, which has the largest collection of everyday textiles surviving from eighteenth century Britain.

Since returning home I have been busy making new work and new plans.


This weekend we head to Collie for the opening of the Collie Art Prize where I am very pleased to be a finalist. 3 March – 15 April 2020.

Also opening soon is the Australia Textile Art Award (ATAA) at The Embroiderers Guild, Victoria 21 March – 5 April 2020. I am delighted to have work selected for this inaugural exhibition.

The Art Quilt Australia 2019 exhibition is now on show at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale, Victoria from 8 February-17 May 2020.


There are a few places in a couple of workshops I am running for WAFTA very soon.

7th March “Where Do I start? Where do I begin?” Concept Development workshop 

29th March – Printmaking Techniques exploration on cloth and paper 

New plans

I am very excited to announce I have been invited to exhibit with fellow artists, Sarah Thornton-Smith, Leanne Bray, Charmaine Ball, William Leggatt, and Marina van Leeuwen at Lost Eden Gallery in Dwellingup in July in an exhibition called Patterning Habit.

 It’s a very busy 6 months!


2018 – Review

It’s that funny time of year between Christmas and the New Year, when I don’t really know what day of the week it is, and after a big year,

Empty gallery after the closing Of Our Time – Ordinary Lives

I feel I have permission to do nothing for a bit. I’m not planning to start any new work until the new year, a sort of self imposed studio ban. I’ve been reading through a stack of textile related books, and had lots of naps – Not dissimilar to my 2017 review. Once again, I’m getting a bit bored and restless. Below are some observations/realisations from 2018.

  1. Depth Year – I have had this concept in my mind all year. Working towards a solo exhibition has meant this body of work became the sole focus. Time to explore, research, go deeper and make. It has been difficult at times to say not now to other projects/exhibitions, however, there’s no compromise to fit in with the work of others, no jury selection. No size restrictions or imposed themes to fit your work into.
  2. Safety and the longevity of your art career. Like any other work, occupational health and safety is paramount. As artists we have no industry standards, we must take responsibility ourselves. This article “My Beautiful Death” along with a point made by CASM Artist in residence Helen Coleman talking about the natural dyes she researched in her exhibition “Remember, although natural, some plants are poisonous. So would you want to wear  fabrics you dyed with poisonous plants next to your body?”  I work inside my home, so don’t dye fabrics and rarely use other things that could be toxic, however I do very repetitive work and need to consider the physical strain and stress on my body. After too many sessions with the physio late this year, I know I need to counterbalance this by more yoga/walking exercise.
  3. Care for the environment in regard to my work has become more of a focus in the past few years. Finding the beauty in recycled materials has had a big impact on my work. The endless options have been removed, the constraints of materials help inspire and challenge new directions. Not until I had almost finished the body of work for Of Our Time – Ordinary Lives did I realise that I had purchased no new materials, only items already in my studio, op shop treasures and fabrics given to me.

    Machine stitch on recycled security envelope

  4. The habit of working gives a quality to my life. The repetitive processes of stitch, etc is meditative and energising. Post exhibition, without a new project, I find way too much time is spent browsing social media, trashy TV and feeling very tired. It sure is time to get back into the studio!

    My studio supervisor is ready!

Some Progress and Many Distractions

The past few weeks have been filled with some lovely studio distractions. A couple of wonderful birthday celebrations, gallery visits and time away at the beach for Easter have all been delightful, but there is the frustration of not enough time in the studio and that time is ticking by, ever closer to the exhibition date.
 The amount of physical time required in the studio at the sewing machine, hand stitching, printing, cutting etc is huge…for all of my artworks. The daily practice of going to the studio and continuing from where I left off, slowly adds up to create my work. It is mostly a calming and meditative part of my day and I really miss it and get frustrated when I “don’t have time” to be in the studio.
 Having said that, I also know that time away (on holiday), visiting galleries, seeing friends, and even the daily drive to take my son to work, all help me process the work, think in a different way, make new connections and what if?…
The progress that was seemingly very slow, has leapt forward thanks to one of those aha moments in the car last week.
 Also in this busy time, the judging day of Wearable Art Mandurah was held, and I am delighted to have Light into the Darkness and the work of two of my [email protected] 2018 participants selected for the showcase June 9 -10. Tickets are selling fast

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography

Photo by; Stephen Heath Photography

I was also very happy to received notification that two of my works have been selected for Petite Miniature Textiles exhibition at Wangaratta Art Gallery, Victoria, opening 2 June!

Lastly, the images below are from the stunning sculptural installations by Zadok Ben-David: Human Nature at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. It finished tomorrow 20 April, well worth a visit if you have some free time tomorrow.

2017 Review

I set a self imposed Studio ban from the week before Christmas until last  week. I prepared for Christmas in one week without too much stress and then planned to relax for the Boxing Day Cricket Test. A day of so in, after much napping, I was bored…so, I’ve read a few books, sewn some clothes and cleaned out lots of cupboards. (The lady at the op shop sighed when I said “I have a car full of donations”… obviously not an original idea at this time of year!)

At the beginning of a new year, like many of us, I ponder what might have been and make big plans and goals for the new year ahead. I’ve followed Alyson Standfield’s Annual Review Process for the past few years as I find it has really helpful prompts to make me consider all aspects of my art practice. This year I decided to follow Austin Kleon’s 100 things that made my year style of listing all the funny, incidental and delightful stuff, the odd discoveries and the simple pleasures we sometimes take for granted and forget. Combining the two reviews I have created a more balanced and joyful look at my year.

Here are a couple of my 100 things from the end of the year:-

Our dog being the most excited member of the family at Christmas

and my Mum’s yummy Christmas pudding.

My studio supervisor was very keen to get started for the year and I have big plans for 2018. So we have started… One working.One napping. A fairly good indication of how the year will pan out.

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 [email protected] 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.

A holiday at the beach…

Buselton 5 A holiday to the beach helps me breathe…just looking at this image I take a deep sigh. Ahhh…Busselton 22We were very lucky to escape the horrid heat of Perth this past week to enjoy lovely weather in beach front Busselton. A breeze that gives you a warm hug, along with the bliss that nothing needs to be done.Busselton 13My ideal relaxing holiday

  • Walks along the beach
  • Swimming if the weather is perfect – which it was
  • Yummy food, lovely wine
  • A good book – Really enjoying The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith
  • Sleeping inBusselton 15

We also enjoyed watching the finals of the Big Bash League

Some seriously fun op shopping (I would make Julie Smith proud) I thought it was an odd question to ask at the Tourist Bureau where the op shops were… only to find they are printed on the maps!Busselton 17

And some hand work cutting away layers ready for the next step in making of a piece for a really short deadlineColour layersGrey layers 1

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.


I’d rather be in the studio

Several years ago WAFTA had a guest speaker talking about her arts practice and at the end of the night she mentioned how she spends 1/3 of her time applying for grants, a 1/3 of her time on art admin and a 1/3 of her time making art. My naive self thought this was ridiculous…why would I want to be doing anything else but making art, in the studio?

I now know to show/exhibit/promote your work does take a good chunk of time. I also now know how enjoyable mostly enjoyable this can be. Finding exhibitions to enter, making artist statements clear enough for the audience to understand the work, helps me to understand the work too. Writing C Vs, bios, applications and such develop a cohesive sense of my practice as a whole. Blogging the processes of making my works helps me see how works have developed from my original idea and all the bumps along the way. Blogging is also a great record for myself of what I have been doing all year and my progress over the years. Days like the Common Threads Judging day are great fun and a great way to meet like minded fellow artists. Being part of a small committee like twentyONE+  is a wonderful learning experience, helps me think beyond my current framework, learn new skills, along with the opportunity to meet and work with great people in the arts field.

Alyson Stanfield’s book I’d rather be in the studio talks about the “business” of having an arts practice. Subscribing to her weekly blog is a constant reminder of what is required. Often in simple doable steps. Her year end review among others, I have found very useful.

So to say I haven’t spent much time “in the studio” of late is correct. A fair bit of socialising, my daughter’s school ball, son’s birthday,  jury and judging days and then away in McLaren Vale SA for Easter.

McLaren Vale 3McLaren Vale 2

McLaren Vale 4Lovely beaches, yummy food, great wines…McLaren Vale 1I try to “do something” always so have been hand stitching small circles over the past week or so and whilst we were away.circlesMy beloved camera has died so this last image is from my iPad, not the best quality…

Yesterday I visited two excellent textile exhibitions.
Improbable Returns at Heathcote Gallery. The work of Elisa Markes-Young (who’s work I have loved for a long time) and her husband photographer Christopher Young. The show closes next weekend 10 April.

over here at Nyisztor Studio until 1st May. The stunning work of five contemporary artists who live and practice in Albany WA. I am looking forward to their artist floor talk on saturday 16th April @ 6pm

It’s back to the studio now as I have a rather interesting and short deadline exhibition I want to enter.

Finishing, then starting again…

Last week I entered 4 works into 3 (2 juried) exhibitions.
There are many many months of work to get to this point, and lots of things somewhat neglected, especially the garden, and yes, the studio…

25 jan 2016 001

I have been planning for some time to rearrange the studio AND have a big clean out. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started, moved some furniture out, added new drawers and storage shelves. I want to have all the tools and supplies at hand, stored in like areas (not in the box they came home from the last workshop in) Seriously cull the amount of stuff I keep, all those techniques I’ve tried and won’t again, all the products bought on a whim at craft fairs and never really used, and the “It might come in handy one day”s.  I am sure some of this stuff just burdens you with guilt that you SHOULD use it rather than WANT to. The big question – Will I really use this? Is this the direction I am going?

The clean out is still a work in progress, due to slotting it in around all the other things going on at the moment, and the ripple on effect of moving things out of the studio means there are piles of stuff sorted, but not re-homed all around the house, and piles of stuff to give away.

Along with better storage, I wanted to make the studio easier to move in. I have a 2m wide display board in the studio that is a fantastic design wall and Josh uses it for the majority of textiles shoots he does. It has prevented the studio door being fully open for the past 18 months! The rearrangement means we can now do photo shoots in the studio AND open the door fully! We have done 5 photo shoots in the studio over the past few weeks and it is starting to work really well.

March 31 2015 004

A very useful design board, however you can’t open the door fully nor see the telly!

Sept 1 007

Photography for the MELD exhibition 2014

I’ve not finished the studio clean out partly because my wonderful husband took me to see Chris Isaak at Leeuwin Estate Winery in Margaret River last weekend. Traveling there and back I stitched, slow stitching over printed text on small pieces of silk organza.March 4 2016 032 These will become my piece for “Brooching the Subject”. Once semi finished I am going to take the plunge and put the whole work in a sun dye jar for a month or so, and hope I can reproduce the result I achieved in the samples earlier this year.