In 1961, my Mother-in-Law started her married life 500 km away from her family in a small WA mining town, her home a hessian hut. These humble dwellings honour women like her who have made their own luck in difficult conditions.
The trees inside the dwellings are inspired by Richtfest, an ancient German tradition celebrated when the last timber beam has been placed on top of a new house before the roof is covered. A small birch tree (in this case eucalyptus caesia) is nailed to the beam to appease the tree-dwelling spirits whose habitat has been disturbed in its construction. A toast is made to thank the builders and bring good luck to all that live there.DIMENSIONS: H 19-45cm, W 10-15cm, D 10-13cmMATERIALS: Eucalyptus caesia (Silver Princess), assorted gifted fabrics including mining sample Bags, vintage upholstery, Obi, print mat.Images below – On show at Hanging By A Thread, Holmes a Court Gallery @ no.10 TECHNIQUES: Coiling, hand stitch
Remains of the Day was made for Hanging by A Thread, WAFTA’s Member exhibition held at Holmes a Court Gallery, 10 Douglas Street, West Perth 17 September – 2 October 2020.
We can never truly throw things away. They remain, maybe not in our homes, but somewhere on the earth.
I use recycled and repurposed textiles in the majority of my work, to honour the past work of others, for the narrative of the fabric, and attempting to reduce the environmental impact of my practice. Despite this, I still end up with left-over bits…mostly too small to use.
Whatever I create, creates waste, destined for the bin, to end up in landfill, probably not decomposing for many, many years.
What is left at the end of the day in the studio? This work is made from those scraps of fabric that remain.
Yet I still threw out a handful of dust and scraps…
DIMENSIONS: Total – 105cm high x 151cm wide
Three panels 97.5cm h x 66cm w, 84cm h x 64cm w, 105cm h x 68cm w
MATERIALS: Fabric scraps from previous work in the artist’s studio, polyester thread
I think this is week ten of the new normal for our household. We isolated earlier than most due to concerns for our son who has Down Syndrome. I have not been to the shops at all during this time, and become quite good at online ordering. ???? I rarely leave my house, other than for my morning walk. I spend quite a lot of time at home working in the studio, and that hasn’t changed, however due to the cancellation and doubt in my 2020 exhibition calendar, my enthusiasm took a dive. Like many people, my emotions were all over the place for the first month or so. Gradually we have set new routines in place and weekly events to look forward to. We now have a weekly movie night among other things, and as I write this my son is having a cooking session with his support worker via zoom.
On my Groundhog Day morning walk each day (a walk for the hills and exercise, not the view) I have time to think and I have started to notice the gradual changes over the past few months, the weather (cooler), the smells (more fragrant), the increased number of birds and various plants blooming and then fading. This beautiful Banksia flower slowly blooming got me inspired.As I work in the studio, I’ve been listening to the fabulous The Great Women Artists podcast.I’ve enjoyed reading Threads of Life by Clare Hunter, The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley and most recently The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (if you’re a fan of Blackbooks…)This one below reminds me of the state of my Covid 19 hair 🙂
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.
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.
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.
“How blue is the sky?!” inspired this work. An amazingly bright blue sky highlighted the old “Cafaro’s Store” sign. The sign has been part of the fabric of our local community for probably sixty years. On the side wall of the building, it hints at the humble business long ago. Changed dramatically over the years, it is now a popular small bar.
There was a gorgeous modern mural on the wall, contrasting the old with the new. Sadly, as I worked on this piece the mural was destroyed by graffiti, eventually beyond repair, it was painted black.
The next time I drove past a new artwork was there…and they had painted over the sign. Part of our local history now gone forever.
Made from layers of silk, satin, organza, business ties and sari silks, the work has been machine stitched, cut away in sections and hand stitched with simple embroidery stitches.
I am delighted to have my work A Merry Dance selected for Stitched and Bound 2019, which opens at Zig Zag Gallery, Kalamunda, 11 October and runs to 27 October 2019. The exhibition then tours to Lake Grace Regional Art Space 11 – 24 November 2019.
A Merry Dance is the second in a series on Domestic Maps. The work comprises layers of business shirts, dyed tea towels, woollen blanket, all retired from their original purpose in our household. The layers have been machine stitched together with some areas cut away to reveal the under layers. The work is completed with hand stitched colonial knots.
A Vegetarian, a meat gourmand and one who loves tinned spaghetti, my children all cook, often at the same time. A merry dance around each other as they wear a path from fridge to stove top to sink. I’m very proud they can all cook, but “Oh what a mess!”
Sitting in a small hexagonal space in the Art Gallery of WA, Eveline Kotai asked us to breathe…and to observe. I had the pleasure of spending the next 50 minutes as she spoke, looking at her artwork that encompassed the walls behind her. The more I looked, the more I saw, the more I felt.Eveline’s work has always had the effect on me that people often talk about when first seeing an original Rothko. It gives me a sense of calm, but full of emotion, hard to describe and quite overwhelming.
She started her artist talk by commenting on the quote at the entrance to the exhibition. That we now spend more time reading the didactic than viewing the work, then often after only a few seconds of our attention we move onto the next work.It’s a really hard thing to do, to sit and simply look. So many distractions; the time allocated to the visit, the people you visit with, your initial attraction to the work…
She talked about how you really need to live with artwork to truly appreciate and understand it. I know of all the artwork I have purchased over the years; the initial attraction has grown this way and there is never a buyer regret as you sometimes have with other purchases.
One work that took my attention at Ruth Halbert and Jane Ziemon’s exhibition Fragmented Memories at Spectrum Project Space at the opening on Friday night is Ruth’s piece In Memoriam.Made from a beautiful piece of wool bought in Scotland for her aunt. The gift was too precious, and her aunt never used it. She gave it to Ruth on her Uni graduation, with the addition of moth holes along the folds. Plant dyed and stitched, this work deserves a longer look.Fragmented Memories is on show until 26 September 2019.
I LOVE Mikaela Castledine’s work in Immortal Stories at Linton and Kay Galleries Subiaco. Whimsical and poignant. The works are delightful. Attending the artist talk and discovering the stories behind each of these works only adds to my appreciation. Stories of her own childhood (that many of us will relate to) and precious stories shared by others are now not lost.Artist talks not only give you an insight to the work, but also an insight to the artist, their ways of working and their thoughts and views on how to live a creative life. To me this is gold!
A fun week away with the girls might have you thinking of cocktails by the pool, beauty treatments and a bit of shopping, all on a luxuriously warm tropical island.
Weather more suitable for boots and warm coats was equally delightful for 130+ women at Muresk Agricultural College last week for the 2019 Fibres West retreat. Ten inspiring Australian and International textile tutors, traders selling their wares, students and tutors art bazaar, a massive garage sale, mini artwork gallery (15 x 15cm), exhibitions, tutor talks, an artist in residence, and a chance to catch up with old friends and develop new friendships. This year the theme was Bollywood. Party night saw everyone dressing up and dancing.
I’ve been twice before and loved it, this year I was one of four assistants in a fabulous team working to set up, dismantle and generally helping with the running of the event. There’s a committee that works for 18 months to bring this event together, we simply helped out during the week.
Here’s a few of the highlights. The mega garage sale!A wonderful talk about lace by Valerie Cavill complementing an exquisite display of embroidery from the Embroiderers Guild of WA
Woven Stories Tindale Designs
Silk Kimonos and fabrics by Ruth SilvesterInstallation Artist, Tania Spencer’s “Muresk Mahal”Misty Mornings15 x 15 LaunchThe awesome foursome assistants – Lesley Warren, Annette Hondros, Louise Wells and Susan Sheath.
I often get asked how I come up with the ideas for my work.
For me it’s lots of observation, questions, thinking, connection – often connecting two unrelated ideas…One thing I do know, is that the hours and years of driving my son to school and work, and after school activities was the perfect time to allow my mind to wander and make these weird connections. The twice weekly drive to swimming lessons past a construction site had me thinking about how the Hi Vis clothing worn by the workers was so faded and dirty I failed to see how it was serving its intended safety purpose. I then started to see Hi Vis clothing worn everywhere… “Is Hi Vis the new black”? became the idea for Fire Flies.
That drive time gave me regular daydreaming time, a good 20 minutes or more several times per day. Ideas developed, works became resolved. Something you can’t necessarily do in the studio or at a computer. Now that it’s no longer part of my daily routine, I realise how valuable that time was.I read this quote from author of Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury last week thanks to Austin Kleon, and I think it sums up how we get our own unique ideas/slant for our work (whatever field you work in):
Three things are in your head: First, everything you have experienced from the day of your birth until right now. Every single second, every single hour, every single day. Then, how you reacted to those events in the minute of their happening, whether they were disastrous or joyful. Those are two things you have in your mind to give you material. Then, separate from the living experiences are all the art experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve learned from other writers, artists, poets, film directors, and composers…
I would add here, all the things you have learned from others in any areas, not just art experiences.
He goes on to say…
All these things are very personal… You can’t write for other people. You can’t write for the left or the right, this religion or that religion, or this belief or that belief. You have to write the way you see things.The above images are details of the back and front of my current work in progress.