Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Guava today, gone tomorrow

We spent most of today working outside - something that hasn't happened since last year - and what a treat to be sore and full of aches and pains after a day of hard labour in the garden. Our guava tree arch, about nine years in the making,  has been reduced to a pile of mulch with the chipper. The resident fruit bat has had to find alternate accommodation - and the secret garden is secret no more. We plan to re-install seating and more quiet spaces ...  hard to believe that less than ten years ago, there was nothing planted at all ... then came a man and his dream.

The Newcastle Stitches and Craft Show

I had a great time in Newcastle at the Stitches and Craft Fair - and met more of our SAQA Oceania members. It's always great to be able to catch up when, for most of us, contact is more usually by digital means. Thanks to the Novacastrian Quilters who hung the exhibition - all I had to do was turn up and talk!  As always, it was great to share "This is a Quilt" and SAQA with new people and our long term members. The textile art scene in the Newcastle region is nothing short of vibrant - loved the Creative Embroiderers and Textile Artists who had made a gorgeous textile art rainbow as part of their display.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Floor Talk #3 - Nancy G Cook

Tomorrow I head off to Newcastle (NSW) to see SAQA's travelling trunk show C "This is a Quilt". One of the five quilts I chose as a focus for makers, materials and methods is Nancy G Cook's The Rose has Some Hips. Nancy's botanical work is exquisite. One of the many things that drew me to this piece is Nancy's use of stitch. The use of dense echo stitching around the rose flowers, which themselves are free from quilting, gives a gorgeous sense of movement in and around the flowers - just as in a garden. The quilting of the leaves with the veins sharply defined balances the softness of the inverted  "V" defining the petals. Beautiful texture has been created with hand embroidered centres while the emerging hip provides visual balance against the large flower heads. Another beautiful piece by Nancy G Cook.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Queensland Regional Art Awards - Living Change

The QRAA is an annual visual arts competition and exhibition open to artists in rural and remote  areas of Queensland. This year's QRAA theme is "Living Change" - and viewer's choice voting is currently open. Tim Morrell is this year's curator and selected pieces will form a touring exhibition.  I have a few favourites including Barbara Pierce's "Quarter Acre Block" which still makes me smile. There are some beautiful and also confronting pieces in this year's entries. I'd love to read the artists' statements on some of them! "My Father's Shed" is also included, living change at the core of emptying forty years of my father's presence into skip bins and trailers when my parents moved house in 2012.  To look at this year's entries and cast your vote, head over to QRAA - Living Change.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Mancuso World Quilt and Tribute to Rachel Carson

Tomorrow (15th) will see Mancuso's World Quilt Show - New England open in Manchester, NH with Australia well represented at the premier of the 2013 World Quilt Competition XVII. This is the second year I've entered this competition  - the feedback and experience gained from that first time is hopefully reflected in "Tribute to Rachel Carson". Visiting the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge last year was an amazing and enlightening experience. The beautiful salt marsh country has been preserved since 1966. The centre piece of my entry is a rubbing of the below memorial plaque.

Floor Talks #2 - Margaret Blank

As part of SAQA's travelling trunk show C "This is a Quilt", I chose five quilts as the focus of the floor talk about the exhibition. This piece, Circle Play, is by Margaret Blank of Alberta Canada. There's a lot going on in this piece as Margaret explores what can be done with a circular shape. In terms of construction the quilt  top comprises metallic hole-punched foil (sequin waste), commercial and hand dyed fabric with additional texture achieved through the use of Scribbles 3D paint (more circles on circles). The commercial fabric (bottom row of fabric) is printed with tiny circles within boxes. There is additional textural impact from the Scribble paint circles drawn within sun-dyed resist circles also on fabric cut into circular shapes. The machine quilting in the centre panel is circular. I chose this piece because of the way it embraces SAQA's definition of an art quilt - not the least because of Margaret's exploration of the shape and technique. This piece is assembled and layered, connected through stitch. It is a quilt in every sense of the word.  Here's hoping we can catch up at the Newcastle Stitches and Craft Fair on Saturday 17 August.

Quilting afternoons

For the first time in such a long time I'm spending time at home doing the things that bring me joy - mornings "doing stuff" that needs to be done, and afternoons "sewing stuff". Perhaps another week of this before I resume a normal routine. My current piece is another part of the "My Father's Shed" story - fabrics that were created in or remind me of "My Mother's Garden". All of the fabrics were hand dyed - some by me and a beautiful piece gifted to me from Sue Dennis at one of your "play days" at Tarome. That piece has been printed with trivet shapes (also Sue's) that immediately took me back to Mum's garden spaces - always a pot stand, trivet or trellis with something growing in, on or over it. Another portion was rubbed over old gates that came from my parent's property and now hang off at home. I've taken almost a year to think about how best to quilt it and the answer came, as it often does, in somewhat of a flash. Lines - of longevity, of growth, of constancy. Somehow the interruptions of life needed to be reflected, as did change, diversion, refraction  while retaining her comfortable familiarity and sense of self. Another afternoon might just see it off ...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Floor talks in Newcastle on 17 August

One of my favourite pieces from the "This is a Quilt" Trunk Show C, currently travelling around Australia and New Zealand, is Vivika Hansen DeNegre's piece "Songbird #1 - Robin". Each of her pieces in this series is anchored in a place - with the text/music, flora and fauna all connected to a specific location. The nest has been constructed from a number of special fabrics, including from Vivika's predecessor at Quilting Arts Magazine, Pokey Bolton. There is a collage feel to the background piecing and the calm eye of the robin draws the viewer in for a closer look. While on show at the WA Craft Fair people were overwhelmingly drawn to the bird - patiently watching the egg. Vivika sometimes uses a pebble or similar, also specific to the area from where the quilt has its origins.  Sheet music, musical programs - all part of the songbird. I'll be attending the Stitches and Craft Show in Newcastle (NSW) on Saturday 17 August and giving a floor talk on Trunk Show C at 1.00pm.   I'd love to share this exquisite art quilt exhibition with you.

Monday, 5 August 2013

WA Craft Fair 2013

After three days of talking about SAQA's "This is a Quilt" and answering all manner of questions about processes, techniques and the inspiration behind them it is time to head east. It was fantastic meeting so many people interested in the exhibition and quilts more generally. One man kept coming back and visited the SAQA quilts for a few hours - he was deeply moved by the art. We were positioned adjacent to the Bunbury International Quilt Challenge - wonderful to watch the responses to "both sides of the aisle". Best surprise for me was the arrival of Lois, a fellow 2QAQer on holiday in West Australia, who came and worked on the SAQA demonstration table yesterday - we had such a positive interaction with passers-by.Thank you Lois - what a wonderful surprise!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

SAQA's This is a Quilt on Tour

Day Two of the WA Craft Show today. Trunk Show C is getting lots of traffic - this empirical evidence only based on it taking nearly two hours to eat three crisp breads with avocado for lunch in between talk shows "on demand" and SAQA brochures disappearing into hands belonging to twinkly-eyed future art quilters.  Wonderful to meet so many of our WA SAQA members face-to-face - sharing our love of textiles and art quilts and a surprise visit from another 2QAQ member on holiday from Brisbane.  The demonstration table is fully functional with a lot of interest in talking through some of the techniques used in "This is a Quilt!" and linking that to the artists statements - giving them meaning beyond mere process and making linkages between how a particular technique gives life, movement or meets a particular artistic need of the quilt's creator. It is a wonderful and exciting environment to be in.

The empty paracetamol packet provided interesting texture on a hand dyed and printed  piece of cloth

Books, brochures and everything SAQA at the WA Craft Show

Thursday, 1 August 2013

SAQA Oceania Blog Hop and Oceania My Home

I get to travel a lot, although less often now than in previous years. For a long time I frequented the far north of our State - the Gulf Country, Far North Queensland and the island communities of the Torres Strait. I learned many valuable life lessons about the power of silence, respect through listening and a non-Western literacy derived from sensory experience and observation. I learned about being quiet. Between Mornington Island and the Forsyth Islands lies the Denham Strait (separating Mornington and Denham Islands). I used to watch this narrow body of water of an afternoon, waiting for sunset and longing to cool off in the pristine water.  The idea of becoming dinner for something else in the food chain ensured I never once strolled the water's edge. Ever. Those memories, of brilliant blue water and orange red sunsets set against the swirling, fast running waters of the islands inspired a lino cut that has changed with the ebb and flow of the gulf tides.  I created many prints - on paper, on telephone book pages, on metallic backgrounds, over commercially printed wrapping paper, on tissue, silk and other fabrics.  Encouraged by Ankie King, we made a print of thickened dye onto a silkscreen then proceeded to make a number of breakdown prints. One of those breadown prints became "Oceania - My Home".

Create linocut
The lino cut started as a representation of the swirling waters between Denham island and Mornington Island. the white sand cliffs and water's edge, the myriad of sea life - a place that is ever changing yet timeless.

The original cut morphed - from simple lines and curves to its current and more complex state. I printed on everything I could imagine during the cutting process - tissue paper, silk, commercial wrapping papers. For the purpose of demonstrating the process, I've used a different linocut (below) to show how Gulf Streams, and subsequently Oceania - My Home was created.
Prepare silkscreen (tape then check against size of lino)
The sodium alginate (Manutex) was prepared the night before - instructions come with the product and it needs to thicken for a few hours - the longer the better. I used Procion MX dyes mixed with sufficient Manutex to allow drip free hand painting of the lino cut.
Prepare MX dyes with Manutex

Paint linocut
Think about the empty spaces - when the print is pulled, odd and wonderful things can happen in those so-called "empty" places.
Print to screen, allow to dry
Clean, clear manutex was syringed across the top of the screen print space. I used a ruler (formerly one of those templates where I lost the instructions and inclination) to pull the manutex across the dried print. The wet manutex started the process of the dried print breaking down. After each print I wiped away the manutex and re-syringed fresh for the next print. This was because during the print process, the manutex took up some of the dye colour. I could have left it ...
First print pulling clear manutex over the dried print
Screen after 3 prints completed
There isn't much of the original print left. This was the last print made and (below) the four prints after being left to batch (wrapped in plastic film and left for a few days).
    Four prints, post-batch, rinse and wash
Compared to the direct print for gulf streams  - I found the breakdown process a more interesting outcome - the elements of change and decay better portrayed. After the print had dried, I then overlaid the printed fabric on the linocut and used a gold Shiva stick to pick out highlights or areas that were less distinct. The border of "Oceania - My Home" was made from black cotton fabric, pole wrapped and discharged with bleach - it symbolises a loss - of culture, of song men, of elders ... of many things. The pole wrapping of the fabric is based on the five poles beside the arrivals shed at Mornington Island airfield - one pole for each of the five Mornington Island people who died in a 1999 plane crash near Bentink island.