A Journey through Landscape

March 19th, 2021

I will present a Lightning Talk entitled “A Journey through Landscape” at the (virtual) SAQA annual conference in April 15-25th. Lightning Talks are pre-recorded presentations of 20 slides delivered at the rate of 1 slide / 20 seconds. The experienced people at SAQA say that at normal speaking speeds, a maximum of 50 words will fit in the time for each slide, and I’ve got my comments down to an average of 40. As the saying goes, a picture can say 1000 words, so to cut down on the verbal noise, I’ve placed the title, year and dimensions on every slide, and limited any really necessary technical information to 2-5 words, as I believe people appreciate a few seconds of silence in which to study an image.

Detail, “Sunburnt Textures” 1987
“Sunburnt Textures” 1987

I’ve enjoyed the process of composing slides showing the connection between some of the landscapes I’ve lived and travelled in to some of my best works. I gave an early version of this talk in Australia several years ago, but of course, speaking in-person with 50+ slides, I could comment in more detail, ad lib in places and answer a few questions at the end. So in some ways this compilation has been harder, especially as many of my own photos from earlier periods of my life are still buried in storage. However, close friends Wendy Lugg, Dennis Gee and sister Rosemary McBain have supplied me with suitable images to use instead.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought disturbing images to us all – of the virus itself, masks, fields of fresh graves, stacked coffins, isolated grieving people, and more. Dramatic changes in Man’s social landscape have engraved our lives with new patterns of behaviour and experience. The image of a whole field of freshly dug graves in hastily cleared forest land demanded that I use fabric and stitch in a new work I called Pandemic Pattern. It was selected for Quilt National 21 and became the first of a new series of that name. I recently finished #4, and am sample making for #5.

“Pandemic Pattern” 2020, detail ~10cm x 8cm

Quilting Of PP4 Completed

March 9th, 2021

This morning I finished quilting around the 300+ little circles on this largish quilt. Phew.

Much to my delight, the process of layering (polyester batting) and quilting around each leather circle has produced pleasingly dimensional circles – much more interesting than the flat effect of the applique – which I liked well enough, but even so this is heaps better!

So far, this lengthy project has allowed me to listen to audio recordings of Jane Austen’s novels Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park; Relentless by Mark Greaney; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; and the first few chapters of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – which I read maybe 60 years ago. So heavily laced with sentimental goodness is it that it’s a wonder that one of the sisters isn’t named Pollyanna. Interesting. It’s the first in a collection of classics from audible.com – 10 Masterpieces You Have To Read Before You Die, part I (I also downloaded part II) Some Dickens will be next, and Jane A will appear again, and though I never tire of her writing, having so recently listened to all her major works I might skip those and go to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and Marcus Aurelius, none of whom I’ve read. Part II has authors I’ve never heard of. All that should see me through to the other side of this other large untitled large work I put aside while I went ahead with PP4:

Untitled – gold sheer hand appliqued onto black. The patterning for that large black area needs final decision making, soon!

Pandemic Pattern #4

March 3rd, 2021

At last, 300+ little leather circles have been hand stitched into place using the wonderful neon threads I have such a stock of. The leather’s mostly red but there are scattered small amounts of magenta and orange. The stitching is mostly neon green but in places I’ve brought in a little red, orange, yellow and pink. In this pic you can see that for all the thread showing on the front, there’s a lot more on the back:

Left: hand appliqued leather circles on the front. Right: the reverse side

I’m now hand quilting, and as it’s a while since I did any quilting by hand, it took me a while yesterday to get my hand in again, so to speak, but by by dinner time yesterday I’d done about 10%.

Out on the shaded patio, the light’s inadequate for the black on black hand quilting I’m doing, so I’ve retreated up to my sewing room again with the table reading lamp focused on where I’m working. I’m listening to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and then Persuasion to go now in my rather lengthy but wonderful recorded book, so will soon need to order another …

Pandemic Pattern #4

March 3rd, 2021

At last 300+ little leather circles have been appliqued in place using the wonderful neon threads I have such a stock of. Pictured are parts of the back and the front, showing the mostly red but a few scattered magenta and orange leather. The thread is mostly green but I also used small scattered amounts of red, orange and pink and yellow. The reverse side shows that for all the thread showing on the front, there’s much more behind the scenes.

Left: hand appliqued leather circles on the front. Right: the reverse side

I’m now hand quilting, and as it’s a while since I did any quilting by hand, it took me a while yesterday to get my hand in again, so to speak, but by by dinner time yesterday I’d done about 10%.

Out on the shaded patio, the light’s inadequate for the black on black hand quilting I’m doing, so I’ve retreated up to my sewing room again with the table reading lamp focused on where I’m working. I’m listening to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and then Persuasion to go now in my rather lengthy but wonderful recorded book, so will soon need to order another …

Stitching En Plein Air

February 12th, 2021

Most days it’s really pleasant to be out stitching on our beautiful patio (Mike’s the one with green fingers) but today it’s raining, as it has done fairly regularly this summer.

Shining brightly are the cones of neon thread I’m using.

Some members of the animal world use bright colouring to signal danger to wood-be predators, a biological feature called aposetism. With this in mind, I’m using bright colours as a kind of warning about the dangerous virus that has enveloped our world in the past year. I’m continuing the Pandemic Pattern series with #4, below, for which I have a specific title in mind, but with many hours of working time still ahead, I have time for something even better to come to mind as I stitch on. I’m well supplied with audiobooks through my kindle and sometimes listen to music.

Red leather circles+stitch in neon colours represent the highly dangererous coronavirus virions we can’t see all around us.

Shining brightly on the table are the cones of neon thread I’m hand stitching with. These are topstitching weight, synthetic (nylon or polyester) and too strong for me to break by hand. I hand cut mostly red leather circles which are mostly appliqued in green, but occasional colour changes in leather and thread represent the variants popping up almost weekly around the world.

When I’d covered perhaps 1/4 of the background, it became obvious I’d need more neon green or the piece would have to be far smaller. I went to the internet and found some cones pictured of similar sounding thread in neon green, neon yellow and orange/red. On the order form I checked one of each colour, and then thinking how fast I was ploughing through the green, added an extra of that just to be sure I had enough. When the package arrived a few weeks later, I was a bit surprised to find each cone carried not 300m but 1500m! 6000m or 6km of neon topstitching thread will last me quite a while!

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