Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Traveller's Blanket/Plaid Nomad

Have been stitching steadily most days on this traveller's blanket  entitled "walk in the Shadow of Pic St Loup". It measures 57 cm x 85 cm and is very densely stitched. I  realised when I was about three quarters of the way through attaching the vignettes that I had not made a print of Nesta the dog. She was such an integral part of those morning walks, I could not possibly leave her out. Her exhubarence was part of the joy of those morning walks, I guess that is why it came out so bright.





On the image of the whole piece you will see that one oval has been placed horizontally, so that I could make sure to include Nesta's tail which was always up and wagging.

I have a lot of work to do before I leave for Europe on 6 March ( and I am housesitting  the Gembrook menagerie this week; dogs, cats, chooks, birds, ducks and sheep). Once I arrive I am once again exhibiting at ChARTres, so I am trying to make as much new work as possible. The website now lists all the events that are part of this  event. I love being a part of this event and it is so much more than an exhibition. It includes lectures and music and of course art as well as small essays  from each of the artists addressing the quote "la Sagesse..un chemin vers le bonheur".

I have had quite a number of requests asking if I am teaching my on-line linocutting class again, so I have decided to run it again. I take you through many steps and exercises to hone your linocutting skills as well as your design skills for making linocuts. I also take you through the printing process of printing on fabric and how to get really good prints on fabric- it involves a bottle of wine! The cost of the class is $75AUS and is delivered with PDF files and I set up a private Facebook group for discussion and sharing and questions. I love lino-cutting and have been itching to make some new ones- especially after watching the women at Boneca de Atauro have such fun with the designs and resulting prints.  It is such a fabulous way to make distinctive fabric that is a good ground for embroidery or can be worked into larger pieces and machine stitched, and I will be adding a new lesson on how to stitch and work with your resulting prints. of course linocuts can also be used to print on paper and is great for making your own cards and other paper arts.If you are interested please email me and I shall send you an information sheet. Class will start on 1 March 2018







I will also be teaching in West Flanders in De Panne/Adinkerke, Belgium, right near the french border on 26 , 27 , 28 March 2018. I will be teaching the Traveller's Blanket  for 2 days ( which is all hand work) and machine/tifaifai applique for one day. There are still some places left so if you are interested in joining us please email me.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In the Shadow of Pic St Loup Traveller's Blanket

I have been house sitting in outer Melbourne and whilst doing that I thought I would try and get as much stitching done as possible. So I have started doing a new Traveller's  Blanket with the working title In the Shadow of Pic St Loup. As well as having  an exhibition of my Traveller's Blankets at the Sydney Quilt and Craft Fair in June this year I am also part of the group Crossing Oceans so some of my traveller's blankets will be doing double duty- I simply don't have the time to make extra as in march I depart for Europe to exhibit at ChARTtres from 10 -25 March. I am really excited about exhibiting there again as I love Chartres the small city, and I love participating in this event.

So I printed up some fabrics with grape vines and and french roadside weeds. I wanted to capture the feeling of those morning walks with Nesta the dog amongst the rows of vines and the fascinating  weeds. I thought this would be a really greenish piece but it seems not- it has lots of colour in it- and when I think about it- as I walked each day i noticed the tiny changes of colour. i did the same walk every morning, so I really noticed the changes in the vines , in the weeds and the colours.



The bunch of grapes is actually a woodcut I had made in India. The other print is a linocut I made when I was housesitting in Le Triadou.

During the week I taught at open Drawer in Camberwell, and was really chuffed to receive Deirdre Hassed's beautiful book Illuminating Wisdom from Dierdre herself. Deirdre is a calligraphy artist and she has illuminated many quotes that she and her husband have sourced and provided commentaries on. I am sure it is a book I will be dipping into many times! The back of the urchin quilt seemed to really complement the cover of the book.


I have brought all my quilts with me because of the fire risk at Gellibrand. I realised that I  had never shared a photo of the finished quilt I made for the Through Our Hands exhibition at Festival of Quilts. I am still nto sure what to call it but it contains many techniques I have used  over the eyars. There is both machine and hand stitching.



This quilt is for sale for $1,000AUS and measures 130 cm x  100cm. if you are interested please email me.
If anyone in the Netherlands or Belgium is interested in my teaching a workshop  early April please let me know, as I will be teaching a workshop at Amstelveen

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Urchin Traveller's Blanket


This Urchin Traveller's Blanket has been inspired by early morning walks on the beach at Atauro Island, it was the only time of day you could walk because it was very hot the whole time I was there. Each morning I would hope to find an urchin- I just love the shapes and patterning. There is a zillion colonial knots  as the piece measures 60cm x 85 cm .I wasn't looking to make them anatomically correct- just the feeling that they inspired. The background stitching is done with a feather stitch in a very thin silk thread as I did not want the stitching to overwhelm the urchins.. When you hold this piece in your hands it feels amazing and matched my delight and amazement of encountering the urchins on the beach.

There is still time to join the online  Traveller's Blanket class which starts on 21 January. I will be  joining actively into the stitching this time as I have many traveller's blankets to make this year for an exhibition at the end of June.  The class fee is $75AUS and will encourage you to tell your own story using simple shapes and simple embroidery stitches. Email me if you are interested in joining and  I will send an information sheet.

The photo below is of the back of the  TB. I am  really quite chuffed with the back- it has a very different feel to the front , and I like the way things have become a bit more abstracted. The last two photos are closeup so you can perhaps see the texture of this piece.




 Now onto the french roadside weeds and grapevines travellers blanket. Have to print some fabric first and then  more stitching!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Travellers Blanket On-Line Class

Happy New Year to all my followers, friends and family! I hope it is creative and fun. Last year was very very busy for me and culminated in  a two month residency at Atauro Island which was an unforgettable experience which stole my heart.





 The coming year is going to be almost as busy, but I will actually be in Australia quite a lot more. I hope to be able to build an ablutions shed at some stage this year money and time permitting, as I will have to get a workman to help me do that- having no tools or building skills. I think I have worked out what to do about the skylights in my shed which make it incredibly hot in summer- too hot to work.

But meanwhile I have decided to rewrite some of my Travellers' Blanket on-line class, as my stitching has progressed since I first wrote it and ideas have progressed as well. I will be offering this class starting 21 January and it goes for 4 lessons delivered fortnightly as a pdf file. The cost of the class is $75AUS.I set up a private Facebook group to share information and images and I keep the group opne for quite some time as stitching a blanket takes quite some time The idea of the travellers blankets grew from the notion that if you travelled in times past and you wanted to make a memory cloth to record what you had seen you would snaffle fragments of fabric to  detail your journey. The idea has grown and the blanket I am working on at present is of sea urchins. Urchins studded the beach on my dawn walks on Atauro island and I love their shape and patterning- so in a sense it is a reminder of those walks and the feeling  that watching the sun rise evoked. In a sense anything can be made into a travellers blanket.It is a visual form of story telling which dictates its own pace and reflections. I call them blankets because someone referred to one of my quilt art pieces as a blanket- so that was grist to the stone! Email me if you are interested in joining the class and I will send you further details , how to pay and a materials list.

The images are of work/travellers blankets I worked on in 2017.

  The blanket above was exploring embroidery to encapsulate the idea of communities, in particular indigenous communities  which are whole systems of information.


  The blue travellers blanket is quite large and is a journey through  the years of printing and linocutting I have been doing since I began with textiles as my full time work.

The piece below is inspired by the urchins encountered on morning walks on Atauro island. There is a lot of colonial knots on this piece!


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Finale: Boneca de Atauro Exhibition

 I apologise for not posting more during my residency at Boneca de Atauro. I did so want to share the experience. But technology defeated my intent and in a way that was not surprising. Yes I could post from my phone- mainly on facebook- but the connection was 2G and so I could not get the hotspot connection to work with my laptop, as Windows 10 decided to update whilst I was fiddling around so that was the end of any meaningful connection with the internet. I am afraid I cannot type anything of any length on my telephone no matter how much I try. I still actually like to write down thoughts by hand before typing them onto my laptop. I find the act of writing by hand helps me to think.



Anyway the  internet connection whilst a bit frustrating is hardly surprising given that Atauro island is really quite isolated. It lies 25 km off the coast of Dili and on the dragon Boat ( fast boat) it takes an hour, on the ferry it takes about 3 hours. In Portugese times it was used as a prison and during the Indonesian invasion it was used as a prison for the families of the Resistance fighters on the mainland thereby more than tripling the population of the island and causing great hardship for the existing inhabitants and the imprisoned ( this was because of its isolation and also lack of resources to  support so many people).

Life is very simple on Atauro Island. There is a weekly market at Beloi, there are shops, more like kiosks, and no supermarket. A lot of fish and chicken is eaten, vegetables, including potato are those grown on the island ( and are very good ) and rice. There are few cars because there are not many roads, most transport it by tuk tuk or on foot.The electricity is powered by a generator which operates from 6pm to 6 am, so there are very few fridges, washing machines, though I did notice quite a few tv's.


Maturina Ajuoro showing where to stitch on the linocuts to one of the Boneca ladies.

 The island has no rivers so water is from springs and is used carefully because there is not a lot of it. For example showers were with a bucket and scoop and with cold water, although given the heat that was very refreshing . I remember bathing like this in childhood and I still do it down at my shed. So the Australian habit of showering so long that you almost wash down the drain hole is cleverly averted. Cooking at Manukoko-Rek restaurant was done on a woodfire- and a number of times I saw impatient western tourists complain about how long it took for their food to arrive. Well the pasta is made completely by hand with a hand cranked pasta machine and then it is all cooked on a woodfire- it is a truly hand made pasta experience like an Italian mamma from the early part of the 20th century would have done- and it tastes as good! ( and the signage everywhere including the blurb in Lonely Planet says to preorder- but yep tourists are always in such a hurry that they often don't take in that detail or read anything properly)

The temperature ,the entire time I was there, was around 30 degrees Celsius day and night , and sheets were useful for wiping away perspiration , but way too hot to sleep under. When it rained it pelted down like an avalanche. The first day or so I was there  I wondered at the very deep drains that ran alongside the road, when the rain came I understood why.

So this makes, what the women at Boneca de Atauro do all the more amazing. They do have a generator but that is only run sometimes, because the Diesel comes form the mainland , and it is not exactly easy to bring over. There is no petrol station on Atauro Island. All their work is done on treadle machines which they maintain themselves and repair themselves. The materials they use are also not easy to obtain though we are going to look into what can be done about that. It seems to me if the Bali Batik patchwork fabric comes from Bali ( or probably Surabaya) there must be avenue to explore getting better fabric.

Eva proud of her stitching she did on a commission of Mount Fuji for a Japanese customer.
Stitching on a linocut printed fabric with hoop and bare needle- it takes great precision and  your fingers are always in the danger zone!

The people themselves are quiet people. They attend mass on Sundays, and I could hear it every morning because the church has a loudspeaker. I also attended on occasion. The thought that crossed my mind was, that surely there are not many priests in the world who would experience such beautiful singing every morning in such a simple church. The people love to sing and do so beautifully, and timorese music definitely has its own flavour and  spark, even the national anthem is quite lovely.

The Vila Mau-Meta end of the island is Catholic and at Beloi it is protestant dating from some  seventeenth century missionaries who settled  there . And herein lies another one of my pet hates about tourists. The people are conservative and ask that tourists respect this so whilst it is ok to wear a bikini on the beach ( where there is great snorkeling) they ask that you not walk around the market or town in your bikini or skimpy tops and shorts. And that is exactly what some tourist do- total disregard of local habits and customs and then wonder when the local people don't want much to do with them.

So during my residency we worked hard creating a new product, making linocuts, learning printing. The residency is all about passing skills to the women at Boneca. They do not have the opportunity to learn these things on Atauro Island or indeed Dili ( which is still recovering from the damage of Colonialism, the second world war when it was invaded by the Japanese and the  Indonesian invasion until recently), and so they are like sponges to learn new things. I worked with 3-4 women who will then pass on what they learnt to the other women. But because i was there every day working with the women ( 6 days a week) people inevitably came to see what we were doing and  because they also stitched the linocuts the interaction was far greater because they were keen to learn how to get best results for this. The women work on Singer treadles machines with embroidery hoops and bare needles- this takes some skill- I know because I tried it and it was not easy!

Jacinta de Costa printing a piece of cloth with the linocuts that she and Virginia Saldahna made during my residency. We are using a wine bottle filled with water to create the pressure- This works really well.




 We also ended up working with Rapan Hirik which is a fibre woven on the island made from the rapan hirik palm and which sews remarkably well. I had hoped to stitch a travellers blanket at night but the reality was that it was too hot to do anything meaningful at night except read or write. The drape of any additional cloth on your body was just too much.

The end result of the residency was to be an Exhibition at the Boneca shop in Dili to celebrate the 10 years that the co-operative has existed ( with no NGO funding and very little other funding so it is actually sustaining itself and the work of 60 women) In the last year or so they have received some funding from MDF  which is a Market Development Fund  funded by the Australian Government and is very much about market development and learning those skills. The other exciting thing is that the ladies from Boneca de Atauro will be coming to the Australian Quilt Convention in April 2019.

So the photos I am sharing are of  some of the work they created for their 10 year exhibition. The applique on rapan hirik is new work for  the ladies as is the linocut printing and stitching. It was lovely to display it in  a gallery like space next to the Boneca shop in Dili and were were chuffed that a third of the pieces were sold on the Opening day of the exhibition. The work they created  included some of their earlier style of work as well as work that developed during my residency- we wanted to show the variety of 10 years of work! If you are interested in the Boneca de Atauro story please read some of their history on the Boneca de Atauro website- it is a wonderful story of love and commitment and of women doing what they can and creating something super special . I am extremely grateful to Ester Piera Zuercher- Camponovo and David Palazon for thinking of the residency idea and of course to all the Boneca women for the wonderful experience- one that will continue into the future.I loved working with women who were so keen to learn, their willingness to step outside their comfort zone, to my students who brought gifts of baskets and mangoes and pineapples and their smiles and laughter and songs.And thank you Virginia Soares the president of the co-operative for your help , and your willingness to learn and your dedication together with Maturin Araujo to the women at Boneca!

 The Boneca de Atauro shop in Dili in Pateo Square- we are all set for the exhibition Opening!

The long spindly tree is the Atauro Island kapok tree which is used in making the Boneca dolls. The positive has been put onto the rapan hirik and the negative has been appliqued. likewise with the rapan hirik leaves.



And of course I have a wish- that involves older Bernina Sewing machines. As I said the women do have a generator so they can power some machines sometimes. I am looking for anyone , in Australia , who is willing to gift  their older mechanical Bernina machine with a darning foot- I ask for Bernina  machines because I know what workhorses the older machines are and are also easier to maintain ( there is no dealership in Timor closest is the east coast of Australia). I have already been offered one machine by Doreen Dyer in Darwin ( thank you Doreen )- I would love to get a few more and then find a way of getting them to Atauro island. I know two or three young women who will be singing songs on  those machines.

Dawn was the only time cool enough to go for a walk !

And last but not least I wrote an article about Boneca de Atauro for Handeye Magazine which was published for their last edition for 2017 . It took quite some doing getting the images and writing to them due to the internet difficulties- but it did eventually get there and how lovely to be in their  magazine just prior to Christmas!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Week 4 and 5 at Boneca de Atauro

 I started making walks at dawn, as I was finding the rest of the day too hot to walk around much, and I really enjoyed the walks. There is so much to discover on the shoreline including incredible amounts of  plastic bottles and dead shoes, especially flip flops. There is no rubbish collection on the island so the rubbish has to go somewhere. Also unless the water is filtered it is probably best not to drink it. I loved finding all the shells or bits of shell and urchins who hang around in colonies with starfish. I often see fishermen head out to sea at dawn to catch fish for their meal during the day, and everything is so peaceful and calm.








I had to look twice when I found this on the beach close to the urchin colony- it looked like a mask of sorts until I realised what it was- part of the rubbish that collects on the shoreline.

We have been working hard at making linocuts and new glasses cases and ipad bags printed with the linocuts. We have also been doing a bit of hand stitching. I have tried to encourage my students to be inspired by what is around them and also how they see the world around them. The first image is of a little hand stitched piece by Jacinta from a linocut she made. These little pieces will form part of our exhibition at the Boneca de Atauro shop in Dili on 15 December.

The two images below are of the work the ladies do every day- as you can see everything is very heavily free motion stitched in hoops and on treadles. Each design is hand drawn onto the fabric before being stitched by one of the ladies.



I had to return to Dili to pick up my emergency passport which was issued as a result of losing my passport wallet on the day I arrived. Things went a bit downhill from there. It turned out that the immigration authority were not able to give me a visa to be able to stay until 18 December because there had been a change in immigration law. In fact I had to leave East Timor by 11 November so that I would not be an illegal visitor. I was insured, by my insurance did not cover my return to East Timor to finish the project- it was an insurance that I transacted when I purchased my original ticket as I thought it would be easier to do it all in one transaction ( I don't normally do this) so the insurance was contracted before  reading the policy. I did skim through the policy to ensure repatriation was covered if needed and what losses were covered ( during the cooling off period)but did not see the bit that the only way resumption of journey would be paid for was if the interruption had been caused by medical reasons- sigh....So I will never use that insurance again! I am still waiting to hear whether they will meet the rest of the claim even though I was advised by telephone that my change of booking would be covered.

The long and the short of it is some generous people have enabled me to raise the money for a return airfare and also insurance so that I can return to Boneca de Atauro next  Tuesday ( I leave Monday and the flights do not connect unless I pay an exorbitant ticket fee). I am extremely grateful that people have helped. This week was spent getting a new passport and because I was born outside Australia and despite having the relevant documentation of citizenship it is always a sit and wait until it is issued thing. So I did not  dare to book a ticket until I was holding the new passport in my hand.

 I am so looking forward to going back and finishing what we started! We will have to work doubly hard to get everything ready for our exhibition. The trip back to Australia has enable me to pick up one or two supplies which I think will be useful for the women.There is of course no  haberdashery store  on Atauro island, there is one in Dili but some of the things which I think would be extremely useful have never been heard of- so the only way is to show what I mean! I will write more about the remarkable co-operative at the end of my residency. Meanwhile here is a link to their new catalogue which tells some of the story and also showcases the products they make.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Week3

I can scarcely believe it is the start of the third week here at Boneca de Atauro. I have needed time to adjust to the heat- I think all the travel from the last three months and wintry conditions haven't helped  to deal with the heat and find the right level of hydration. On the other hand life does move a little more slowly here, thought the ladies on the treadles at Boneca are amazing and the food at Manu Koko-Rek has equally been amazing. Life is very simple here whilst there is water, it is not in great supply- so showers are had, with bucket and soap ( my training in my shed has stood me in good stead), likewise being frugal with water usage overall. The internet has it's problems and there is no power during the day ( so no aircon or fans during the day and no aircon in any case- the only one I have seen is at the hospital)- the generator runs at night and last week they forgot to bring the diesel from Dilli so there were also  3-4 nights without power. So come on Tesla or any other solar supplier willing to donate- solar would be a gift from heaven here! Clothes are hand washed and appliances don't really exist much except for tv's and mobile phones. I also managed to get an infection in my big toe- I sually don't get infections much but this escalated quite quickly and still hasn't entirely calmed down. There is a hospital on the island which is manned by Cuban doctors who visited the Boneca last friday and who I seem to run into every time I go for a walk. The best time for a walk is around dawn before the sun heats up too much or dusk.

I have tried to learn how to use the treadle machine to free motion  quilt/stitch, just to see what is possible. It's been a learning curve that is for sure. On my machine I just push a button and my machine goes at the speed I need with the correct tension. On the treadle on the other hand I have to match the movement of my feet with my hands whilst tensioning in a hoop and tensioning extra to make sure there are no skipped stitches, which means having fingers in quite close proximity to the unprotected needle- and then your feet slow down to avert the danger when in fact you should keep them going at a steady pace. I am slowly getting there!

The Boneca dolls  have been made here since 2007. Visitors to the  island  usually make it to Boneca de Atauro as it is one of the  craft attractions of the island, plus it employs local women as a co-operative, so sustains families as well.People are poor here but are resistant to development (a casino has been mooted)- they are proud of their island and themselves and want to keep their cultural identity intact though of course need to earn money to survive.

 The hand woven fibre below is made form palm  and the finished piece is called Hrapinhirik. I love it and it sews surprisingly well and they make tote bags with it at Boneca. It is made by women up in the mountains of the island so a very local product. This is a very small island measuring 19 km x 8 km, but is the home to about 10,000 people.