Friday, April 28, 2017

Bayeux and So Much More

I have been trying to blog more, but it has been a bit difficult this last month as I have been teaching and demonstrating  or driving to get to one place or another, and then staying in  places that have not always had the best wifi access.

First of all I am teaching  in Chartres in  the studio of Cardamome Gallery on 2 and 3 May. The first day I am teachign Tranfer Printing and stitching ( working with Lutradur) and the second day creating your own linocut, printing and stitching. The french descriptions of the workshops are on Smaranda Bourgery's blog. There is still time to join. Both these workshops are great for expanding creative ideas and mastering some simple but enjoyable techniques.

I have spent the last two days in Bayeux which was on the road to Caen where I am teaching tomorrow and Saturday. I wanted to see the Bayeux tapestry again- that marvellous 11th century embroidery  detailing the Norman conquest of Britain. Just wish I could have taken photos but also understand why I could not- and then there is the tour groups... sigh....I  was there at 9.00 am and they were already queueing. I have seen the tapestry several times and this time I was a bit struck by the bloodiness of it all and by the  really rather fine detail of the horses throughout the tapestry- the horses are quite  quite wonderful which makes me wonder about who designed the tapestry- the detail of the horses seems much finer than all the other details, and they are proportionately well executed. Below is an image which was from a  poster for the museum.

I have been staying in a monastery whilst in Bayeux. I had intended to camp,but they were forecasting rain so I though a room might be a better option.Staying in  monasteries is cheaper than staying in hotels and then there is the ambience of the experience. The monastery I am staying in is Benedictine and the sisters who deal with the public have been most helpful. The only down side is no wifi- but then again the walls are so thick that this creates a problem. It's been very peaceful and just the kind of break I needed after a rather frenetic couple of weeks which included demonstrating at Nantes for Bernina at Pour l'Amour du Fil. Everything is within walking distance which is an added bonus.

Whilst demoing for Bernina I worked a little on my  pomegranate linocut print quilt with Wonderfil wool threads. I love how these threads almost look like hand embroidery

The one thing about staying in a room  rather than camping is that you have to eat out for your meals  unless you picnic in your room. The other night when walking back from a pizza restaurant the light was just magical. I don't  usually doctor my photos at all apart from cropping, so was especially pleased with the way the colours turned out in this photo- it was almost dark but not quite, and the Cathedral is lit.


And I had not intended to go to the British cemetery in Bayeux- but in the end, in light of some of the current madnesses decided that I would, if only to pay quiet respect. I was overwhelmed- the ages of those young men, the number of those young men, the people they left behind, those that survived with all sorts of wounds- it was almost unbearable to feel the weight of what they sacrificed. I was visiting at the same time as a group of  english school boys- one lad seemed as overwhelmed as I was - I watched him- he looked at each grave attentively read each  young mans name- his head was bent in attention to what he was reading , he was reluctant to leave when the teachers called for him to join the group to leave. I don't know what his thoughts were- but I felt as if  all the cares of the world were on his very young shoulders. We must do better than resist. We must stop this bloody madness- nobody has the right to sacrifice the life of another.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Coburg and then Nantes

It has been a hectic few weeks with a quick trip ( well actually it was slow- like an eleven hour drive , more with stops) to Coburg and the studio of Regina Klaus where she has several longarms for people to work with. Linzi Upton had been there the previous two days ( and i am sorry to have missed her classes ). Always lovely to get together with other teachers- and we had lots of commonalities including fountain pens, paper and typewriters! I arrived a day early as Regina had offered to show us around Coburg, a delightful small city  about a two and a half hour drive from Frankfurt. We visited the Schloss Veste Coburg, with wonderful views over the city and with some wonderful smaller treasures. The collection of Lucas Cranach the elders paintings simply gorgeous!





Unfortunately I had left my good camera at the house, but there was one room, the hunting room where the wood panelling was simply  divine- hard to believe it was all inlaid wood. All were hunting scenes.

I am looking forward to going back and remembering the good camera so I can take some good photos! And we will be. If you follow the link for Regina's website there is a report of what we did and what is to come in the future!. I am only sorry I did not get a good photo of Linzi's wonderful fish drawing/extrapolation- but there is one on her blog ( just follow the link on her name and you can also see what Linzi taught whilst we were there)

 We coined a new phrase longarm drawing and we put the machines through their paces using 30 weight thread. I like to see the line and 30 weight thread does that and really gives great texture as well as colour ( thankfully Aurfil makes this thread and I love their colours!)
.Some of the work done:



And then it was straight back to Le Triadou as I have a mountain of work to do and  there is a lot more to do still! Today I am packing today  to drive to Nantes to demonstrate for Bernina France at Pour l'Amour du Fil. Another long drive, but then I will be up there for close on two weeks  teaching mostly.

Then I intend to go to Italy and camp and do a stage at Opificio della Rosa for 2.5 days on shadow theatre- thinking of exploring Colombina from the Commedia dell'Arte- just wish I had brought the Colombina I made with me. Anyone want to come?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

New prints

I have been stitching samples for my classes in Germany next Monday and Tuesday at Bernina Longarm DE owned by Regina Klaus. It will be a long drive but fortunately I have a friend with whom I can stop for a night on the way to Doerfles-Esbach. The week after it is to Nantes for Pour l'Amour du Fil and demonstrating for Bernina and then after that workshops in Caen.

Extra Workshops
I will also be doing workshops  in a gallery just outside Chartres on 2- 3 May 2017  at the studio of Cardamome Gallery. On the 2nd of May 2017 we will be doing transfer printing ( and working with lutradur ) and stitching and on the 3rd of May 2017 we will be making a linocut for printing on paper and fabric and doing some embellishing with stitch of the linocut. If you are interested in joining please email me

When I was up north  recently I picked up a bag of my things that I had stored in the garage of a friend. I had forgotten about half of the things that were in there, but was pleasantly surprised to find a large linocut of a boabab tree which I made quite some time ago and which I had put aside because I thought it needed more work. So I finally got around to doing the little extra work and printed off some panels this morning. I can't wait to stitch some of these up!  They measure 34 cm x 49 cm and have been hand printed on hand dyed fabric. They are for sale for $25 AUS plus $3 postage. At present I only have these colours available as I have to dye more fabric which is on the to do list for when I return. I have created a Paypal button for your convenience- just tell me which colour you would like.




I also printed up some of the Travellers' Blanket linocut which are also for sale. This print measures 34 cm x 39 cm and is also priced at $25 Plus $3 postage.


Monday, April 03, 2017

Felled by a Cold and Travellers Blanket On-line Class

The week has flown and I have been sick most of it. I was teaching free motion  quilting and applique to beginner groups in Toulouse and I lost my voice- trying to speak in french with no voice proved quite challenging but we got through.

Back in Le Triadou now before heading off to Germany on Wednesday to teach some workshops to much more advanced free motion quilters and am still finishing the samples.

I did finish the linocut I started last week and have printed off trial prints, but as my preferred printing pad these days is newspaper ( about 6-8 sheets) I am holding off printing more until tomorrow when I can get a newspaper.

The linocut took quite some carving as it measures about  30 cm x 45 cm. it was inspired  by my Travellers' Blanket with Circles which will be coming out as a book in August or September in French
.
 Once I print fabric I will then embroider it- I think I will try with machine stitching first seeing I have the Bernina here for the time being. The print below is on transparent paper- just to see how the print works.




And then I printed on fabric. I think it has lots of possibilities- now to just find the time!

There is still time to join the Travellers' Blanket on-line class.  Lessons are delivered as pdf files that you can print and include dyeing instructions and story ideas and stitching ideas with closeup photos of the  traveller's Blankets in Blue and the one with circles. I also set up a private Facebook group  for discussion and I keep this open for some time after the workshop as I realise hand stitching is a long process. I view the travellers' blankets a way of telling stories without words- so your stitching becomes your way of telling the story. The cost of the class is $60AUS

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Moments of Quiet

The exhibition at Chartres finished last Sunday and I headed off to my cousin who lives in a rural France in the Indres region on the way to Chateauroux. Her brother, also my cousin, whom I had never met before and another cousin from their fathers side of the family were also visiting for a few days. It's uncanny meeting family you have never met  through circumstance and because your parents immigrated to the other side of the world, and to find you have so many commonalities and that my brother even looks a little like him. It was pleasant spending a few days getting to know them in front of the fire, as the weather was not very co-operative.It is lovely to enjoy the peace and quiet of the rural area where my cousin lives- so different to being in a city!


I have also stitched quite a lot on my pomegranate piece since I last posted- I think the black stitching is finished- just as well as I have 40 cm of black thread left! As I said this piece is a Travellers Blanket of sorts and a very personal journey but its morphing and changing as I stitch simply because so much of family is in this piece, and just the last few days spending time with cousins has added an extra dimension for me, and it has acquired even more meaning, and one that I did not think it would- but I know whenever I pick up this piece part of the memory will be of this week. Now I need to get onto embroidering the lighter indigo areas.


The travellers blanket book is being translated at the moment so there has been a few back and forths with the translators about certain words or ways of expressing which is very interesting in its own way. When I wrote it, I did think about how it might be translated into french ( even though my french is not good)  but there are ways of saying things in english that are difficult to translate into french. I completed the drawings for the book before I went to Chartres but as I did the drawings, a few ideas did pop into my head and it's been lovely having quiet time, so to speak, to explore those ideas a little.


I was a little intrigued as to how much like maps my drawings of the embroideries looked, and I guess when you think about  embroidery patterns they are a map really. But it did make a little buzz sort of go off inside my head, about lets put that into the thinking tank. I made about 64 of these little drawings so there was a bit of thinking to do lol! But then I played around with them this morning because I actually am thinking about the next blanket as well - the one after the pomegranate one- and well this is what I came up with.


And then my brain jumped to linocut linocut- because I was doing some looking around on the internet to share for the linocutting group I am teaching- so tomorrows job is a lot of  carving! It's quite big and a few changes will happen because of the way the tools work.


So there is still time to sign up to the Travellers' Blanket on-class which starts on April 3 - which is the only one I will be teaching this year-it's an online class to hopefully inspire you to explore your own stories in hand stitch. there is  more information on my previous last two posts with a Paypal button also.

And lastly but not least , and how did I not know this??? There is a Rilke connection to Chartres. He wrote a poem about the Meridian angel on the outside of the Cathedral ( he actually wrote six poems about Chartres but until I get home I will not be able to find out exactly  what those were)


round the strong cathedral 
like a denier thinking through and through,
your tender smile suddenly engages
our hearts and lifts them up to you.

O smiling angel, sympathetic stone,
your mouth distilled from a hundred mouths:
do you not mark how from your always-full
sundial our hours slide off one by one –

that so impartial sundial, upon which
the day’s whole sum is balanced equally
as though all our hours were rich and ripe?

What do you know, stone-born, of our plight?
And does your face become more blissful still
as you hold the sundial out into the night?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, tr, J. B. Leishman
  (slightly modified by Oriana)

Dans la trombe assaillant la forte cathédrale
Comme un dénégateur qui pense et qui repense,
On se sent tout à coup plus tendrement guidé,
Du fait de ton sourire, en ta direction :
Toi l’ange qui souris, figure qui ressent,
Et dont la bouche unique est faite de cent bouches :
Ne remarques-tu point comment pour toi nos heures
Vont glissant tout le long du plein cadran solaire,
Où le nombre du jour se tient, entier, ensemble,
Pareillement réel, en profond équilibre,
Toute heure étant tenue, croit-on, pour mûre et riche ?
Que sais-tu, toi qui es de pierre, de notre être ?
Ton visage est peut-être encor plus radieux,
Quand entrant dans la nuit, tu montres le cadran.

Im Sturm, der um die starke Kathedrale
wie ein Verneiner stürzt der denkt und denkt,
fühlt man sich zärtlicher mit einem Male
von deinem Lächeln zu dir hingelenkt:
lächelnder Engel, fühlende Figur,
mit einem Mund, gemacht aus hundert Munden:
gewahrst du gar nicht, wie dir unsre Stunden
abgleiten von der vollen Sonnenuhr,
auf der des Tages ganze Zahl zugleich,
gleich wirklich, steht in tiefem Gleichgewichte,
als wären alle Stunden reif und reich.
Was weißt du, Steinerner, von unserm Sein?
und hältst du mit noch seligerm Gesichte
vielleicht die Tafel in die Nacht hinein?
(in Neue Gedichte, 1907)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Aussie Bush project

The Aussie Bush Project will commence life at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair at the end of June in 2017- so there is still time to  finish or make your pieces! ( I have brought printed fabrics with me so I can send them from ChARTres) I have photographed the colours I have with me. If you would like to purchase a panel please go to the Aussie Bush Page and use the paypal button for each of the designs- please also let me know which colour you would like- which you can do when paying by leaving a comment. so below are the colurs I have available.




The bush project will travel to Sydney, Melbourne, Hamilton ( New Zealand) , Wellington ( New Zealand), Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and in 2018 to Quilt en Beaujolais in France and Berry,NSW in August 2018 where it will finish touring and all pieces will be returned to their makers. So there is still time- I will need finished pieces by mid June.

Travellers' Blanket On-line Class will begin on 3 April 2017- it will be the only time I run this course  for 2017 ,as the second half of the year gets very busy and then I am doing a residency in Timor Leste from mid October to Mid December and I may not have regular internet access. I am currently working on a blanket which is quite different to the ones I have previously worked on, because it is a story of an inner journey rather than one of encounters. But the blankets are a wonderful means of stitching  stories and creating tactile memories. There is a richness that seems to build of its own accord and all of the finished blankets I have seen over the years of teaching this course have been very beautiful each different and marvellous. If you would like to join I have an information sheet. I have added a Paypal button for ease of payment





I am working on indigo dyed khadi cloth and hand printed pomegranates- it is taking a lot of stitching, and I have been working on it whilst being at the ChARTres exhibition- so many people just want to run their hand over the stitching. The exhibition is being held at the Collegiale Saint Andre which is a wonderful  twelfth century stone building ( renovated)- however it is quite cold and I have a little heater to help combat the cold. I am staying at the higher end of Chartres so have to walk down a lot of steps to get to the Collegiale. One of the things I walk past are these formal gardens in the shape of a labyrinth.


  A struggling dandelion- it always amazes me how strong plants are- there can't be much soil there to nourish this dandelion, but it looks healthy and strong!

And the next  photo is one of the Queens of Chartres alongside her original inspiration.

And lastly- you cannot do things in France without thinking about food of some sort. I have to say the yoghurts in France taste so much better than those in Australia ( and fortunately they are not so obsessed with low fat yoghurt- I mean how do they make yoghurt in Australia if they are not using proper milk???? the mind boggles and I am sure they are full of sugar or something else that is bad) Anyway I love the la Fermiere yogurt- not only does it taste very good but it comes in the most lovely terracotta jars which will be going home with me-- I have seen the jars used in  restaurants around the place as well. 

Saturday, March 04, 2017

ChARTres

I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this event again this year. Chartres is such a lovely place to visit and it has also inspired some of my work, so it's really wonderful to be able to exhibit some of my work here. This years theme is a quote from Simone Weil from her book The Need for Roots ( L'enracinement), so I will put the text here ( we had to write and explanantion of our interpretation of the quote). it explains why I have been working with angels. The work itself is called Tweets from Heaven- and those of you who follow world news may may realise what this is a reference too- it's time for humanity to count!

"En chemin, l'empreinte de l'autre...". 

This quote proved to be a little enigmatic for me as I read the English version of Simone Weil's book L'Enracinement ( the Need For Roots in English) and I was unable to contextualise it within the translation. However as I read the book (and reread it) I found myself nodding and sometimes aghast at the unfolding of events in the present day bearing such similarity to that of which Simone Weil wrote in her last days in 1943. However I do not intend to delve into a political treatise. The quote seems to me to be more personally directed- the way forward, and if I am to be active in the way forward it requires me to examine my conscience and ultimately my beliefs, it is also in the end slightly optimistic.

I believe that for us to find solutions requires the input of all humanity, not just disparate tribes of humans- we are all human, our DNA attests to this, and as such we need to keep in mind at all times other humans, living wherever they do and believing whatever they believe. In writing of the needs of France to rediscover itself in the darkest hours of World War II, Simone Weil saw as indispensable the need for “a passionate interest in human beings, whoever they may be, and in their minds and souls: the ability to place oneself in their position and to recognize by signs thoughts which go unexpressed: a certain intuitive sense of history in process of being enacted; and the faculty of expressing in writing delicate shades of meaning and complex relationships” ( p197 The Need for Roots)

This belief of Weil's came out of her belief in God- and this God ,though essentially Christian was not of any particular nuance,rather a belief in one God- one who was ultimately the barometer of our obligations to our fellow human beings. Because without such belief ( and she did not really differentiate between religions as such ) there was a failure of ethics and morality. In this regard she expounded obligations that she felt were above this world and therefore in the sphere of godliness or eternity. She also felt that obligations were binding on humans individually and not to collectivities, such as countries, tribes etc, though there was a role for such collectivities. She saw these obligations existing towards every human being by the fact that they were a human being. She saw the obligation as eternal ( and therefore wound into her belief in God) and unconditional. She found evidence for it everywhere. She saw the eternal obligation towards the human being to not let him suffer from hunger when one has the chance to come to that human being's assistance- she identified these as vital needs which could be physical and moral which in turn raised issues of respect in collectivities.

But how to encapsulate this in an art work? There is no doubt that Simone Weil appreciated that art had the ability to “move” She said :“ The contemplation of veritable works of art, and much more still that of the beauty of the world, and again much more that of the unrealized good to which we aspire, can sustain us in our efforts to think continually about the human order which should be the subject uppermost in our minds.”( p11)

Last year I visited Padua and encountered the idea of an army of angels- there was a whole room in the Museo Civico di Padova devoted to angels and armies of angels. That thought intrigued me. Angels are the messengers in many different religions/cultures from the eternal or God, the idea that an army of angels might be sent had many implications for me. If angels are the emissaries from the eternal or God ,who from time to time to bring revelations or admonitions, then to send and army must be serious indeed. And so the angel image kept on reappearing as I read Simone Weil who in a sense was a kind of angel as well with her insight and belief in human good.


I also like to print and the mechanism of print making can leave a shadow , particularly when printing on fabric- a shadow of another print- or the “other” and therefore all the human beings to whom I am connected . My obligations to my fellow human beings is to ensure that they do not starve ,as too many do, and that they have a place in which not to starve, unbound by arbitrary borders. In contemplating the current state of the world- , it's inconsistencies and its failings, which is derived from human action and greed rather than an attention to the eternal, I feel there is a need at present for an army of angels to remind us of our obligations to each and every other human being. And so I have created this installation of angels, because our obligation is to our fellow human beings, not to nations and artificial boundaries or political motives, but to ensuring that every child woman and man does not starve- that is our eternal obligation and the angels are here to remind us of this and to remind me of what my obligations are.


I had hoped to make 100 stitched angels- thereby indelibly imprinting my hands and head with my obligation, but I ran out of time ( too many things happening and not enough time) so I reached the number 70 and in the end it was just as well I did not make 100 because only 70 would fit exactly on the backboard to which I stuck them- I had envisaged them hanging free- but did not like how they looked. So here they are Tweets from Heaven an army of angels!


And some of my other work- the two new Medieval Tree pieces and various other pieces from last year and  the years before.







And last but not least- had to include a Babbling Banksia- for they for me are also a symbol of all the human beings in the world- a little bit of Australia in ChArtres. There is information  on the event - just click  here.


There is still time to enroll for the Travellers' Blanket online class which starts on April 3- there is information on my previous blog post and also a Paypal button ( which has now been fixed)