An image a day challenge created by @seam_collective to share a love of textiles on the Instagram platform. Each day in September has a prompt to interpret as you wish. Here is my full month long challenge.
Day 1: About/Introduction
I am an artist based in Perth Western Australia. I’ve had a love of textiles right from when my left handed Nanna tried to teach me to crochet right handed. I my 20s I designed and screen printed clothing in an old cool drink factory. Many years later, I now work in a lovely light filled room in my house. I’m surrounded by the many distractions working from home brings, and also the opportunity to work “in the gaps” and in my PJs.
Day 2: Discipline/Craft
One discipline I have is to get in the studio every day, and to just start from where I left off the day before. Soon, I’m in the flow and wondering where the time has gone. I’m energised!
Another is my use of recycled materials. Starting about 8 years ago I made a piece called Honouring Good Men, using recycled business ties. Not only beautiful fabrics; as I worked, I thought about the stories behind these ties, who wore it, on what occasion, some imagined, some I knew. It was the beginning of my love of recycled textiles and the stories they hold. As I became more aware of the damage to the environment from textile manufacture and discarded clothing, I have tried to reduce my impact from the studio. I now predominantly use recycled materials and do minimal dying and printing.
Therefore my Craft: I print – a little bit, stitch – a lot (colonial knots are my favourite), dye – for some backgrounds, fold, pleat, roll, machine stitch, cut back layers, leave raw edges…
Image – Honouring Good Men
Day 3: Current Project
On the studio table right now is a lot of plastic-coated wire and buttons. I’m preparing for an Artist in Residence at Midland Junction Arts Centre in October with fellow artist friends Anne Williams and Julie Devereux. Among other things at the residency, I will be making 100s & 100s of wire flowers for Sculptures on the Scarp at Darlington Arts Festival in November.
Day 4: Play
What if I try this to see if that idea in my head actually works…and then, what comes from that, a new idea…the material shows me how it wants to respond, rather than through my force of hand. Many ideas fail at this first step; new ways of making emerge.
On my daily walk I watch as a banksia flower slowly blooms and wonder how I can represent that. For days, weeks, I think about it.
I have been rolling fabric strips in previous works. I play with these strips in my hands…I fold, concertina fold, strips of old worn-out shirts, combining colours, then roll these folds. This is play. “Marking Time Series 1” is the result.
Day 5: Pattern
My work is full of small elements, with slight variation, repeated, over and over.
I’m constantly attracted to patterns on my daily walk… the perfection and imperfection in nature and the built world. You can see this obsession in my IG posts.
Image I’ve Got Nothing to Wear (detail) made from the artist’s discarded clothing
Day 6: Loop
This work maps the twice a day, five days a week, “loop” of the school run. Three children and for over 20 years, 7 schools.
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.
The Road Often Travelled is part of the Domestic Maps Series.
Day 7: Colour
Working with recycled fabrics means I often have a limited choice of colour and quantity for a particular work. This pushes me to explore and consider new combinations.
Image – Work in progress using upholstery samples
Day 8: Inspiration/Influence
Here’s a small stack of my inspiration and influence.
It’s also found on a walk, visiting exhibitions, museums, holidays, seeing something new for the first time, seeing the same ordinary thing over and over, podcasts, conversations, reading, exhibition themes, materials…
The work comes from that thought in my head that persists…sometimes for a couple of years.
Image – Some of my favourite books. If you were a child in 1970s Australia you may recognise the one on the bottom.
Day 9: Thread
Tiny fabric scraps from previous artworks held together with thread.
Detail – Through All Our Senses.
Day 10: Drawing
I rarely draw, occasionally a really rough sketch for an idea. The Official Graffiti Series show my stitched interpretations of marks on the pavement in my neighbourhood. This one a child’s chalk drawing during Covid lockdown.
Day 11: Reverse
The reverse of my work, STOP. These squiggly threads show the path travelled as I stitch 100s of Colonial Knots across the work. I use old woollen blankets as a backing, this one I slept under as a child.
Day 12: Sloppy Craft
Sloppy Craft according to @seam_collective is the idea of deciding to let go a little (or a lot), deciding not to strive for perfect mastery of technique or finishing, which can be a large part of craft and textiles.
I’ve never considered myself to be a quilter, nor an embroiderer as I break too many rules. I don’t bind my wall works in the traditions of quilting; I use blanket stitch. I leave raw, cut, fraying edges. My hand stitching is to create colour, pattern, and texture.
So maybe I’m considered sloppy, not finishing to the expected standard, of these guilds and associations. Though is it Sloppy Craft or Contemporary textiles?
Day 13: Stitch
Colonial Knots detail. Official Graffiti Series
Day 14: Surface
I love working with multiple layers of fabric, stitching them together and then cutting away sections to reveal what is happening beneath the surface. There are always surprises when small areas are isolated and revealed.
Day 15: Connect
Stitches connect stories, connect people. I love when the stories of my work resonate with people. Remington Keys in part explores the Marriage Bar, a law in Australia until 1965 that required women, like my Mother, working in the Public Service to resign when they got married… She was 19 years old. Conversations about this work included shock and amazement by many and acknowledgment of the fact for those who lived through this time.
Image Remington Keys (D)
Day 16: Alternatives
I know this challenge is supposed to be one image per day…
Here’s a small selection of my collection of recycled blankets, silk scraps and ties, so many alternatives and choices!
Day 17: Damage
The prompt is damage, but this is really a story of love. When the little lad was 6 years old, we went to Disneyland, we saw The Muppet Show and then his older brother bought a Beaker, which was quickly relinquished to the little lad. He loved Beaker so much, this constant companion soon needed repair. Dear friends purchased another one for us on their trip to Disney, we thought as a replacement, but no, of course he wanted to keep both. Our searches for lost Beakers around the house doubled. Much loved (and damaged) the Beakers have been repaired numerous times. New coats, new arms, new legs (I notice one is on backwards), new pants, restuffed, eyes painted, at one stage they had knitted jumpers in football colours…I see also one has a much longer torso now. The current hole is from the lad’s thumb, how he holds him to make him dance. I’m on strict instructions not to fix him at the moment.
So, some damage is caused by use and love. Favourite clothes, favourite toys.
Google “Beaker Muppets” if you want to see what he looks like with the original lab coat, tie and full head of orange hair.
Day 18: Circular
I have a container on my desk for all the tiny pieces of leftover fabric and threads too small to use in any other way. Rather than throwing them in the bin, these pieces become new artworks. My collection of these scraps forms a timeline of my art making. Scraps here includes yarn ends from a community yarn bombing project, tie fabric from my blanket book, scraps from a kantha jacket and three of my husband’s shirts, which I have been remaking into summer tops for myself.
The circular loop my art practice. I use mostly recycled fabrics.
Day 19: Tools
Tools and Studio Essentials – I can’t live without – a good daylight lamp; squizzors – they have a really sharp point, and the squeeze action makes them less fatiguing on my hands when I cut out all those tiny circles; The Jolly Juki sewing machine and previously, Benny Bernina…both workhorses, never complaining; good quality hand stitching needles.
Day 20: Visible/invisible
This image shows the many layers of fabric, hidden in my work. Small areas cut away show a glimpse of the otherwise invisible.
Day 21: Structure & Day 22: Stories
These small structures, “The Australian Dream” brings together two stories, one told by family, the other from a dear friend.
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.
Made from calico mining sample bags,
Day 23: Newfound skill/technique
This is my first attempt at knitting socks. My lovely friend and expert knitter @annewilliams taught a class over several sessions in August. I had always wanted to learn as my Nanna used to knit socks to send to the soldiers in the WW1.
They are a bit baggy, but will be wonderful and warm for @fibreswest next winter.
Day 24: Thinking through making
In 2012 I took on the challenge of a daily colour project.
I explored a different colour each month starting with White throughout January. The challenge was to do something related to that colour everyday. To read, write, discover and explore lots of textile ideas.
At the end of 2012, I had 5 A3 files full of samples.
Some of them are great, others so so. I tried almost every technique I could think of, experimented with the art supplies I had purchased and never used, followed instructions in books I had never opened. I worked out what materials and techniques I love to use and also what I will never use again. Looking back, I can see the true value of this project. Thinking through making, helped me improve my skill set and refine my art practice.
You can see the project on my blog
Day 25: Textile indulgence
To part quote Virginia Woolf “…a room of one’s own…”
It’s a luxury and a privilege, not afforded to everyone, to have a studio, a space where they can work. It is not essential; many creative people make amazing work in difficult circumstances. It sure helps though…to be able to leave your work out, ready start next time.
Day 26: Research
A long term resident in my suburb, I am fascinated by the changes that have occurred in the use of the buildings along our main street. Many of the shops are approaching their 90th or 100th birthdays and have housed butchers, grocers, bootmakers, mixed business, drapers, hairdressers, pizza bars, delis, and most recently cafes, gyms and gift shops.
In my research (Library and museum collections, Post Office Directories, Landgate map viewer, telephone directories, oral histories, old photographs) I looked for the history of the use of shops and buildings along this street between the Inglewood Hotel and the Civic Hotel.
The resulting work, Pub to Pub – A Street Scape, visually portrayed in long strips, one rectangle each represents a year that a building has been on that particular block. I have used recycled and vintage fabrics to show the types of buildings, along with coloured stitched stripes as a key to the types of businesses occupying those spaces and changes over the past 100 years. The work was installed in the original front entrance to the Civic Theatre, a well know landmark of the area.
Day 27: Holes
This new work in progress will eventually be full of holes. Each bubble wrap print dot will be machine stitched around and then I will cut away the organza top layer of dots to reveal the fabrics beneath. Many of them are scraps of beautiful, recycled kimonos. I will continue working on this 5 – 15 October @midlandjunctionartscentre as part of an Artist in Residence program with fellow artists @annewilliams and @juliedtextiles Supported by @stitchedandboundwaqa
Day 28: Gather
It is a joy to walk the morning after a storm. Rain and wind gather and rearranges nature.
Day 29: What Next?
That question when you have just finished a large project. You’ve put all your energy into this work. The exhibition is not even quite over and someone askes “What’s next?”
Sometimes when you have an exhibition, the work is finished so far ahead that you are already well into another project. Often what I am working on gives me ideas and I can’t wait to start the next piece. Other times I need a change of pace, clean up the studio, rest, read, walk. In a few days I’ll be back in the studio eager to start the next thing.
Day 30: Favourite post from another participant
This image a day challenge has been a joy to take part in. Many of the prompts have made me really think about how they relate to my art practice, and it has been a lovely opportunity to show previous work. I have enjoyed the introduction to the work of many other textile artists. Follow #settextilelove to see all the other participants