Windswept Landscapes -The Falklands, I

April 7th, 2014

What a visual feast of  landscapes are The Falkland Islands, from where I have just returned to Montevideo after a wonderful week.

Landscapes Falklands

The changeability of the weather¬†during my week¬†there meant there was no going back for another shot when the weather improved,¬†so¬†I¬†have some less than perfect photos, some taken flying through rain, or trying to keep¬†myself and the camera¬†still in the strongly gusting¬†winds.¬† Travel around the islands is by either¬†4WD or the Falkland Island Government Air Services small plane, FIGAS, around the outer island settlements.¬† Service¬†to any place depends on who books to go where on a particular day, but I was told a plane turns up at least every week or so, and in the tourist season probably daily.¬†¬† Mail comes whenever the plane does, just like in our own Australian Outback.¬†¬†There are very few roads¬†out past Stanley¬†so to get somewhere you just set out and go in whatever direction you want¬†- so¬†there are track lines all over the place¬†- upper left photo, and more on tracks¬†in a future post.¬† One of my flights took place on a very calm but overcast morning - the upper right view from my seat at the rear of the 10-seater plane shows a sea smooth as a sheet of glass.¬† Lower left is one of the ‘mountains’ – perhaps 2000′ marked not with¬†snow but lines of light grey stone – they look like rivers, very elegant¬†shapes referred to as ‘stone runs’, and thought to be glacial in origin resulting from millenia of freeze-thaw extremes.¬† There were large zones of these in many places, and they seem to be unique – Charles Darwin remarked on them, apparently; and they’re very difficult to traverse.¬† They thrilled me.¬† And then lower right¬†there is a slice of one of the¬† beaches I explored.

It seems hard to say what the highlights were – but they include the wonderful people, locals, contractors and tourists¬†I met all over; the¬†dramatic landscapes; and the variety of bird life¬†including various¬†penguins of course.¬†¬†Or perhaps it was the 24 hours I spent totally alone at The Rookery, a little 4-bed self-catered¬†accomodation unit/cabin on Saunders Is in the far NW of West Falklands, with only the sounds of the really strong winds and passing birds to enjoy.¬† There was a small hand held 2-way radio (for emergency use only) and an fm radio too,¬†but the British forces station that picked up was total crap¬† -¬†I heard one¬† 5-minute news session slipped in between largely British 60′s and 70′s music, and really, the silence¬†was far more interesting.

A major part of the economy of the country has long been wool production, and though this is being outstripped by the development of major oil field production there, it is understandable that many of the local craft traditions there are based on wool.¬†(Add in embroidery,¬†leather work and wood crafts including wood turning and burning)¬† ¬†Everywhere I went I asked about textile crafts, and met some interesting people associated with spinning¬†and weaving, felting, knitting and crochet.¬†¬†From several people I¬†heard about but was not able to actually connect with an American woman¬†in Stanley¬†who inherited a partly finished quilt from her grandmother’s attic in distant USA,¬† She¬†gathered a few friends to help finish this vintage Bear’s Paw¬†quilt of which I saw a photo.¬† The flow on effect from that project is¬†that some of these people have started to learn about how to make traditional geometric patchwork and other applique blocks.¬† There’s a fabric shop there which I didn’t have the time to visit, but apparently people are able to get suitable materials with which to start, and I predict there will be more done there before too long.¬† Just getting underway is a series of workshops taking place in the outer island settlements as two retired teachers, Myra, a kiwi, and Heather, an Aussie, travel around with the essentials and materials for one-day workshops on about a dozen crafts to teach isolated people their choice of whatever they want to learn from them.¬† Part of the project’s goal is one of mental health -¬†to help¬†mitigate the¬†isolation and give people things to do in the long winter days and evenings ahead.¬† Radio, phone and internet (slow) now cover most of the country, but as we all know, nothing beats personal contact and demonstrations by someone with knowhow.

I had a great week and will write more about it in future posts.¬†For now, it’s time to¬† assemble a web album of photos, the link to which I’ll post when that’s done.

 

 

 

A Journey Through Landscape

March 22nd, 2014

An article has just been published about my work on the Quilt National Artists website here: http://quiltnationalartists.com/journey-landscape-alison-schwabe/.¬† To¬†compose it I looked back through the 4 works I’ve had selected into Quilt National down the years, and while putting them into their context, the title emerged.¬† Each has to do with landscape as the surface on which change is recorded, and marks are left.¬† It took me years to see¬†a link between a landscape and a life.¬† You can read about it and see the pics of the 4 quilts in chronological order down the page,¬†starting with “Ora Banda”, just a little special because it was my first successful entry.

Ora Banda copy blog

“Ora Banda”¬† 1992¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 127cm h x 150cm w

I pieced it before leaving Denver to accompany my husband to South America on a business trip, and did all the hand quilting while in Montevideo and Mendoza, Argentina.   I never look at it without remembering the beautiful plaza in front of our hotel there, and how I sat out in the early autumn sun for a couple of hours every afternoon to quilt during the hours of siesta.  Autumn leaves were falling.  Occasionally people would stop and ask what I was doing and comment Рgoodness knows what they made of whatever I said, as I knew very little Spanish then!

 

Small Landscapes Have Long Been Of Interest

March 14th, 2014

munmalary

Ticket to Munmalary  1997   130 cm x 150cm approx.   (photographed against yellow background)  

The idea behind this quilt is that as you ride along in a car, bus or train,  out of the side of your eye there are moving glimpses of landscape changes as you whizz along.  Topstitching on the strips and landscape segments was machine stitched in gold.

 

Songlines copy web

Songlines   1997,   50cm x 200cm approx.    (not including the dark bit at the left side!) 

The same idea, here, too, incorporating the wandering strips¬† I was using a lot in those years – see the Colour Memory quilt gallery.¬† These little landscape elements were various sizes but all more or less¬† square, and framed in black machine stitchery.¬† I don’t have detail views of these quilts with me here in UY.

 

landscape small snaps

Framing a landscapey element in machine stitch, then, is something I’ve often used before.¬†¬†In this case, small slices of gold lame stitched down with gold, overlaid with sheer nylon organza and¬†then outlined in gold machine stitch.¬† This sample from 2008 shows this has been something I¬†go back to from time to time in presenting¬†such elements.¬†¬†¬†I didn’t have bonding web back then – and perhaps that’s why I didn’t pursue this in a larger piece.

And so we come to a new sample, one of the three pictured part-finished in the previous post.¬† The landscape itself has been bonded onto the black background – then I did a lot of fiddling around with trying hand stitch in various colours, and finally settled on gold machine stitch detail… the fav. standby – and nothing wrong with that!

small landscape fabrications series

Small landscape, 2014, reference previous post. Area of design approx. 10xm square.

 

These little pieces are to be mounted individually on 20cm. sq  canvas artist stretchers Рthe edge finish is still a little uncertain.

Perhaps gold machine stitch, perhaps hand stitch in gold.  While I resolve this, its going to be a wet day tomorrow, and I will do some more.

 

I am currently working on a power point¬†about my work, to use when speaking to an art¬†quilt and fibre group in Perth WA in May – decided to really go into influences and developments in my work -¬†and including lots of samples and¬† relating them to things I did in the past and how they connect with my current work.¬† I remember seeing a presentation, slide lecture¬†c. 1992, by a US artist Patsy Allen, who went through her pre-quilt and quilted works, showing how all the¬† elements in her work demonstrated consistent themes but how the importance and¬† prominence¬†of each in¬†her work varied over time, but they were still there.¬† Although I’d been making at quilts only a few years, with my background of creative embroidery and the fact that I’d always had photography done, I realized my art too already reflected¬†such continuity, and¬†it was eye opening and quite exciting to see that in my work, and of course I’ve both made more and travelled further since.¬† Q – so did I begin to think more about what I was putting into my art, as a result of this lecture, or would I have begun to reflect and consider as I got older, anyway?

In the same vein, in the last week I responded to a call to supply an article with images connected to my having been in Quilt National – which so¬† far I have, 1993, 1995, 2007, 2009.¬† That’s quite a time span, and, reviewed in in context, it was very interesting to see how it fits in the timeline – I called it “A Journey Through Landscape”, its been accepted for publication on the website, and I’ll post the link when it goes live in the next couple of weeks. Perhaps that’s what I should call my powerpoint …

 

Landscapes – Small Scale

March 9th, 2014

landscape thingies black v brown

I’m deciding whether these little textile landscapes will be mounted against black or dark-greyish brown.¬†¬† These little assemblies have dimsions of 5-8cm, ¬†and I envisage added¬†stitching… but they will be nothing like the framed pieces I had here in a gallery one season a few years back -¬†below¬†is one of a group I called ‘Fabriciations’

I¬†blogged about¬†them and¬†other small works here¬†and they all sold well.¬† While these don’t look landscapey really, they definitely grew out of a group of small little landscapes made about¬†12-15 years ago.¬† These were small, colourful patchwork pieced landscapes with borders and feature stitching, all about postcard¬†¬†size.¬† Now¬†I can’t stand the mounts - and last year ripped the remaining pieces offand actually, I don’t particularly care for the textile pieces, themselves, either!¬†¬†I have about¬†8 left¬†deep in a dark cupboard, and only show them here to illustrate that despite changes in my personal taste and so on, there are unifying elements¬†in my vision¬†to which I go back time and again.¬† I’d never show them today, but here’s how they looked displayed about 10¬†years ago in Fremantle:

small improvisations 3

 

It Can Take A While For An Idea …

March 8th, 2014

For some years¬†¬†I’ve had on my pin board¬†a little cutting¬†of a full and detail view of a¬†tapestry weaving by Scottish textile artist Sara Brennan¬†¬† The image was for an ad in a magazine for a solo show at The Scottish Gallery Edinburgh, 2006.

Lines are important to me, as in ‘lines=seams’.¬† The importance of line in¬†Sara Brennan’s¬†landscape inspired work is¬†because of¬†¬†“the meetings (that) occur around a horizon”¬†¬† Who knows why didn’t I research her work when I first found this picture, but I never took the little pic down, because it felt important for me to leave it there.¬†¬† ¬†This morning, while¬†doing something totally different I suddenly realized¬†if I fused some sheer fabric over a seam it could have a slightly similar effect, with a lot of potential – and so I put together this little¬†aide memoire of¬†a sewn seam with sheer overlay,¬†with the snippet from the¬†pin board on the¬†cream part of the photo.¬†¬† How¬†interesting that it has taken me all this time of occasionally glancing¬†at that little pic to finally have a little light bulb¬†switch on!.

Sara Brenna's horizon work blog

I don’t know the name of the piece above, or the one¬†below.¬† When¬†searching around for writing on her work I found very little, really, which is a bit disappointing.¬† But at least you can see¬†more images of this beautiful, evocative work¬†here.¬†¬†¬†

sara brennan weaver - horizons series

Wool tapestry weaving¬†from Sara Brennan.¬†¬†I’m a fan.