Greetings from Perth Western Australia, where I am, with occasional sorties, for the next few weeks. Coming back to a place is always interesting, you notice all at once the sum total of change that has taken place in small daily increments since the last visit. This is certainly how I feel – the skyline of Perth is cluttered with many cranes and half done buildings – of course the recently subsided mining-based economic boom generated a lot of this activity, but I understand most is still going on to completion. A year ago here everyone was talking about the boom boom boom – waving aside any words of caution that every boom is followed by a bust. Then the great financial crisis set in late last year and now many are really feeling the effects – same as everywhere, but not so mortgage driven as in the USA however. DH and I in our married life ( 40 yrs and counting) have been through several mining-generated booms and busts here, and know that even when things are really grim eventually things do stabilise and cautious growth/recovery begins. They say people in Aus have begun saving again – about bloody time – nationally people were spending more than they earned for some time. On average of course – there’s always cautious people like me around who watch every penny…
And, too, I notice some of my friends and neighbours look older – so I guess I do too, appearing suddenly among them. The young teenage daughters of one of our neighbours have both visibly blossomed suddenly … there’s talk of learning to drive… good grief ! when they first came to live in this area they were mere toddlers, and one still carting around a blankie. One day driving through the city I noticed a good looking oldish guy riding a push bike, with a eucalyptus leaf-stuffed basket on the front, and on top of that sat/clung a large yellow crested white cockatoo, totally at ease with the traffic all round them. He’s probably a well known local character but of course I hadn’t seen him before. Another who is probably well known, possibly for different reasons since he seemed a little bewildered – an oldish guy, tramping through a city arcade rugged up in warm clothes topped by a this-colour-purple polar fleece woodsmans style hat, you know, with fold down flaps over the ears – those were up. No self respecting woodsman wold be seen dead in such a colour, of course. The cap was festooned with glittery silver bits – in the quiltmaking world ’embellishments’ – which relates this post to my textile oriented blog. I wished I had just been walking along with my camera up to my face and managed to capture him in pixels.
I went to an exhibition of the work by WA fibre artist Nalda Searles over at the John Curtin Gallery, stunning to see a collection of her work including some from the 80’s and 90’s together with recent work. A great catalogue too, and this show will tour Aus nationally over the next couple of years. Well worth however far you have to go to see it. I periodially have ‘discussions’ with friends, Wendy in particular, over the matter of artist statements, claiming as I often do that the best statement of all and in many cases perfectly adequate, is a seriously well chosen title. I tend to agree with Wendy though, that in the case of Nalda’s work it might not be as fully, deeply understood at first glance by a viewer who knows little of her vision and ethos. You could read ‘ fascinating, beautiful, possibly short-lived works comprised of collected fibres and natural objects, collected stones shells and other objects, incorporating what are often gifted or inherited pieces of textile…’ but that’s only the thin outer skin of the collection. Soft sculptures of dried grass fibre or hay is vulnerable over time, but that risk/eventuality is not a negative in her work – the processes of decay and change are part of Nalda’s multifaceted and deeply developed vision. I was very impressed.
Another exhibition I popped into the other day was of etchings by Jorg Schmeisser with shibori textiles by Keiko Amenomori-Schmeisser at Gallery East in N Fremantle. I am sure people far more ‘qualified’ than I have commented on the superb prints of complex dream like and memory based inspiration and in incredible fine detail, and the beautiful textiles of beguilingly simple appearance, the Japanese aesthetic. They enhance each other’s work – no real surprise there. A friend was telling me how she listened agog as someone (I have no doubt this ignoramus must have been a quiltmaker) commented on the shibori textile works, saying she didn’t think they were that wonderful, nothing much really in them…. clearly had absolutely no idea of the shibori processes and the applied gold paint to those parts where the resulting texture from the shibori process was thrown into sumptuous golden metallic fields of dune-like texture – uncluttered by shifts in colour or the presence of stitch – just texture. I thought it was wonderful.
While staying down in Busselton for a few days with my friend Kitty, we visited our dear friend, ceramic artist Helen Foster, at Margaret River. We did the trips down memory lane of course, as you do, but equally and maybe more important to me, was to spend time with and see the work of an artist whom I greatly admire. Some of her latest work is exploring texture of natural objects and landscape, exciting to see. She is represented in key galleries in the area (Jah Roc and others) and at times other places around the state including up in the Goldfields, so keep an eye out for her work if you are travelling in WA.
In addition to having my entry for the upcoming Ozquilt exhibition photographed, I had this utilitarian quilt photgraphed for the record. I pieced it about 3 years back, the light fabric being cream rather than ecru. When it was assembled, however, I felt the overall effect was rather bright and wanted to tone it down a bit – so, great idea, tone it down in a bucket of tea – that’s worked before, wonderfully. I dunked the top in, moved it about every now and then and a few hours later took it out. What I didn’t realise was some of the fabric was a different brand/composition? and grabbed the tea dye more strongly (look down at the LL area) So, totally annoyed I put it away, at the back of a cupboard for a while and forgot about it. A year ago I was taking another quilt top to a long arm quilter in the US (generous king size, too big for these aging shoulders to wrestle with) I was teaching an experimental creative quilting w/s while there, and thought I’d take the troublesome quilt along to use as an aid to class discussion on choosing quilting design as part of the overall work. The whole aim of the class was to enlarge options beyond doing quilting just in the ditch or echo quilting, or mindless machine stippling and meandering everywhere – I wondered what would they suggest for this one? I don’t recall the discussion details now, but after that class I took it to the longarm quilter ( Jan and Steve at Johnstown CO, http://www.quiltedexpressions.com ) and together we worked out the ginko leaf in a variegated thread would be the go. DH sat in on the process of deciding on thread and pattern for each quilt, and found that most interesting. I added the red print binding. I love it now, and am going to keep it for use in our own home. It fits within the Ebb&Flow series of work, but I am not giving it a number since I am keeping it, will probably never seriously exhibit it, so it’s “Ebb & Flow, Scrap” for ID purposes in my photo files. I’m teaching over at Esperance the end of August, at Patching By The Port and will take it, and a number of others over for that. Looking forward to seeing you soon, Esperance!