Art classes, Artists, contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, mending, repair, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

Advance exhibition notice. Save the date!

Hello there.

I want to tell you about my upcoming solo exhibition Stories we tell ourselves. With the crazy-busy lives we all lead these days I thought I’d give you time to schedule it into your diaries if you can.

This body of work examines the relationship between worn and discarded cloth, their poignant associations with memory, and the narratives they generate. Each piece represents a unique story, imperfectly remembered, translated into ‘pictures’ of moments in time, and readings of relationships.

Here are the details:

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And here are a few images of work in progress. I hope they pique your curiosity!

I’ll be running a couple of textile art making workshops during the exhibition too. I’ll post more details closer to the opening (August 31).

Warm wishes,

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Residencies, Studio practice, upcycling, workshops

The Coal Loader: industrial artist studio residency 2018

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This week I begin a ten month artist residency at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability at Balls Head, Waverton in Sydney. A beautiful industrial site overlooking Sydney Harbour and situated next to HMAS Waterhen, it’s a tranquil, lush and inspiring place to work and explore.

If I don’t get too distracted by the views.

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I’m looking forward to exploring the industrial remnants and history of this unique site that serves as a much-loved community resource, in what has to be one of the most incredible locations for an artist-in-residence studio. The industrial features are everywhere – even the studio floor.

I’ll be working with old, used fabrics and other materials, reflecting on the influences of the site’s industrial and commercial history, its surviving architectural elements, and the juxtaposition with its current use.

There will be a public program including a monthly open studio and several workshops throughout the year, so the public can pop in for a chat and see what I’m working on, or learn some new skills if so inclined.

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Here’s a link you might be interested in with some details of the site. In a future blog I’ll add another link to the public programs page when the workshops and open studios have been finalised.

So drop around and say hi, and check out the community vegetable gardens, beautiful harbour views, great cafe (opposite the studio) and the chicken coop.

And don’t forget all that rust, those evocative tunnels, and that crumbly wharf – all begging to be photographed and explored.

 

 

 

North Sydney Council are gratefully acknowledged for the provision of the Coal Loader Artist Studio.

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Artists, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Fragments and Patches

I want to share with you visual art and textile lovers a couple of intriguing articles I’ve come across of late.

The first is a piece in issue number 77 of Selvedge magazine, Keeping Body and Soul Together. If you don’t have access to a print copy you can see an abbreviated version of the article here, under the title Going Going Ge Ba. With the most beautiful photography by Mark Eden Schooley, the article by quilt expert Dr Sue Marks outlines the old Chinese practice of making ‘Ge Ba’, a type of textile collage. With up to 15 fabric layers held together with rice glue, the resulting pieces (roughly 40 x 60 cm) were pretty tough, and were cut up to sole shoes!

All kinds of fabrics scraps were used to make Ge Ba, anything worn out or no longer of use, old embroideries and even propaganda cloth. Perhaps they can be seen as a Chinese version of Japanese boro.

I think you’ll see why I love them. The compositions are striking textural abstracts, in much the same vein as boro.

Ge Ba collage

Image: Selvedge blog, Going Going Ge Ba, 27 September 2017

The other article I wanted to mention is also a Selvedge one. Painting with Wool, on their blog of September 27, features American textile artist Channing Hansen‘s organic knitted works. This guy is wild! His complicated compositions are made of various natural fibres he dyes himself, patch-knitted in rambling formations. His work process must be so frenzied!

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Image: Marc Selwyn Fine Art

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Image: Selvedge blog, Knitting DNA, 16 June 2017

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Image: Selvedge blog, Painting with Wool, 27 September 2017

Feeling inspired? Pretty amazing work, don’t you think?

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Experiments, Paper, repair, Studio practice, Textiles

Studio work: chaos, conflict, and the path to resolution

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I’ve been spending time in the studio working on some paper pieces – with cloth and text   too, of course – reflecting on chaos, conflict and resolution.

It seems to be part of an evolving theme I’m exploring about my dad. Always having thought of him as a fairly difficult man, with moments of intense love and attachment, I have for many years thought about examining his relationship with his family and his love of the Papua New Guinean people – his comrades during World War II.

Dad trained members of PNG police force during the war, and recorded, in Pidgin English, testimonies of the native people affected by Japanese war crimes after its end. You’ll see some of his handwritten and typed records in these photos.

Rather than embarking on a comprehensive analysis of his life, I’m finding myself drawn to examining bits, vignettes if you like, that catch in my memory. And the more I do this the more I see parallels with contemporary life, and sometimes specifically with my own.

In the contemporary world Japan is a major trading partner and friend of Australia; a remarkable contrast between Dad’s memories and mine. I love the Japanese, their culture, art practices and traditions. And the contrasts between the WWII era and now are both strikingly different and proof of the possibilities of reconciliation.

Having dug up some lovely vellum I bought in New York twenty years ago (in my painting days – and I’d always thought it too beautiful to use), I’m combining it with a variety of rice papers and vintage threads.

A selection of stitches that have their own particular meanings in this context: a ‘mattress’ surgical stitch, running/sashiko, and the stitch method used to repair Japanese sake bags (I don’t know if it has a name, but please let me know if you do) are really important to the work.

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Vintage Japanese rice paper from notebooks and ledgers.

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Burnt Arches paper, surgical stitching in vintage linen thread, handwritten text.

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Placement of layers of hand dyed muslin, like bandages, over the work, ready for stitching.

An attempt at mending.

I’m hoping to get at least one piece completed this week, so will show you the results in due course…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Art classes, Paper, Photographs, Textiles, Uncategorized, workshops

Stitching Memories workshops: the debrief

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Two full classes and a hugely enthusiastic tribe. What more can you ask for?

Running the Stitching Memories workshops at Lane Cove Library was delightful. Its always an amazing thing to see what people do with their work: all have different approaches based on a photograph of their own selection from the Library’s historical image collection.

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I showed how to transfer a design (or text) onto a photograph, and various ways to stitch, showing my own examples and those of other artists, always encouraging participants to be free, non-judgmental and experimental.

Some people chose images reminding them of their families or homes, others chose randomly, while others decided on imagery completely unfamiliar to them.

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All the examples here are works-in-progress. A two and a half hour session really just provides an introduction to the possibilities.

Sometimes just a touch of stitching here and there is enough to make a quirky statement. The addition of text can change the entire reading of an image, and over-the-top stitchery is certainly not out of place in this workshop!

And did I mention the camaraderie involved in these sessions?

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I have one more session in this series coming up at Gallery Lane Cove on Saturday March 11, with a slightly different focus. The Stitching Your Memories workshop is free, and will be running in conjunction with the exhibition Translating Displacement, which shares stories of former refugees, asylum seekers, citizens and non-citizens whose families fled war and violence to settle in Australia. If you’d like to book please phone 61 2 9428 4898 or email info@gallerylanecove.com.au.

We’d love to see you there.

 

 

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Art classes

Stitching Memories workshops in February

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Please join me for one of the free Stitching Memories workshops being offered by Lane Cove Library in February. Develop new art making skills while we explore memory and image making using a selection of historical photographs from the Library’s collection. Using text, hand stitching and cloth we’ll create new images from old, superimposing our contemporary lives onto photographic images of place and time from another era.

There are a few spots left so reserve your place by phoning 61 2 9911 3634. The details are:

Saturday 11 & 18 February

1:00pm – 3:30pm

at Lane Cove Library,

Library Walk, Longueville Rd, Lane Cove, Sydney.

I hope you can come and enjoy a fun afternoon with us while sharing your own ideas and skills. You’ll be in good company!

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Japan, Residencies, workshops

Investigating pigment, process and imperfection: authentic Japanese textile methods (part 2)

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The finished mokume piece drying in the sun.

Mokume. A Japanese term for a woodgrain effect that is insanely time consuming but so beautiful on completion that it sucks you in to do it again (and again).

My residency at Japanese Textile Workshops in May opened my eyes to a few things. First – the homework (to be done before arrival in Japan). Using a lovely lightweight crinkled linen the chosen design had to be marked out on the cloth with a special marker pen (that doesn’t affect the indigo). A brief Mokume prep rundown:

1. Draw lines across the cloth 2 cm apart, and design lines over that.

2. Use a double-threaded running stitch along the drawn lines with long ‘skip’ threads over the design shapes. BIG knots at each selvedge to prevent the threads pulling out.

3. Stitch three lines of running stitch between the 2 cm lines (yes, 5 mm apart). Varying the stitch length and distance between the rows will give a more natural woodgrain appearance.

4. Lose count of the hours (weeks) you’ve spent stitching. Be amazed at the mesmerising effect of the repetition.

5. Fold up neatly, put in suitcase with all the other projects and fly to Japan (if that’s where you’re going to finish the project of course).

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Mokume stitched close up

6. Arrive in Japan (see above). Carefully pull the threads down one side of the cloth as tightly as you can. You’ll find you get some intriguing sculptural forms appearing.

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7. Soak the entire thing in water (it must be thoroughly wet) and squeeze out the excess. Now pull those threads even more to make them as tight as possible. Tie tight, big knots with several threads together to form a tight, fairly rigid form. Cut off excess threads (they’ll just get tangled otherwise).

8. Dip in the indigo bath. I did ten dips, oxidising between each. Unfortunately my gloves leaked on this occasion but I did manage to get it off my rings without much trouble. It was a different story for my hands and nails though….

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Mokume finished

Linen takes up the indigo beautifully. A close-up of the finished goods – and the intricate woodgrain pattern. A very inky piece with lovely bleeds.

 

 

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body

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I’d also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Copyright Agency Creative Individuals Career Fund for this project

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