Road Trips

February 20th, 2018

We’ve done lots of them, at home and abroad, for various reasons including Mike’s work, medical trips from Outback towns to major centres, look-see rubber necking, to visit friends, attend the odd wedding, for tourism and vacations, plus one notable epic trip overland Mt Isa to Kalgoorlie, moving house but unable to fly across because of one offspring being post ear surgery… a fantastic outback journey out through Winton, Longreach, Cunnamulla, Wilcannia, Bourke, Broken Hill, Adelaide and across the Nullabor to Kal.

Ticket to Munmalary  1997,  150cm x 130cm,  (photographed against yellow)

Through road trips  I have seen and experienced a reasonable portion of the world – huge areas of Outback Australia including the wilds of Tasmania our home state, quite a bit of the southern part of South America, large tracts of North America and a little of Europe.  I’ve normally been in the front, either driving or on the passenger side.  Other times I have hurtled through a landscape to somewhere on a bus, with a particular sensation of looking sideways and seeing things slip by, which prompted Ticket to Munmalary, years after our Tent Period.  You can’t get to Mummalary by bus – or back in 1975 couldn’t anyway and I doubt things have changed much.  It’s an isolated cattle station out in the Alligator Rivers area of NT, on a dirt road punctuated by wide buffalo wallows, requiring a 4WD with experienced driver.  My memory of going out there for the first time was a passenger seeing an unfamiliar landscape that sort of flashed by in glimpses, like an old movie.


I don’t have the same sensation sitting in the front of a vehicle and able to see the road ahead.   This different sensation led me to do a series of little roadscapes a few years ago I called Road Trip #1, #2... and so on.  They are about 15cm x 20cm, mounted in some brushed aluminium frames, and I think there are about 20 of them in storage in Australia.  These were fiddly but fun to make, and each was loaded with memories of road trip experiences.


In Need of Money and TLC

February 18th, 2018

“In need of money and TLC” applies to many of Montevideo’s oldest buildings. The oldest part of the city, Cuidad Vieja, contains many of them, though there are some wonderful gems in the older suburbs of the city, too.   In the last twenty years there have been some excellent restorations, and in all the most historical parts of the city original facades and essential features are now protected for preservation by building codes.

At the corner of Sarandi and Bartolome Mitre in the heart of the Ciudad Vieja is this truly beautiful but dilapidated building, vacant and available for rent or sale, just crying out for some TLC and a lot of financial attention.  It’s by no means the most decayed in the old city, but I hadn’t actually stopped and really looked at it before yesterday (I’m not often in the old city) though Mike walks right past it most days and has been mentioning it for a while.  With my back to a wall to ensure my balance, I looked up and marvelled at its potential, wishing I had the money to restore it.

I don’t know anything about it’s history, though I suspect it dates from the early 1930’s given the predominantly art deco styling.  Montevideo has many gorgeous art deco buildings, and some of the best, including this one, are featured in a recently published book of photography by Alvaro Zinno ,“Montevideo, Cuidad de Bellos Edificios”  (Montevideo, City of Beautiful Buildings) a copy of which I had just bought from a nearby bookshop.  Lots of wonderful pics of whole buildings and interesting detail shots are accompanied by text in spanish and english.  One interesting thing I read in this book is that in 1928 the civic fathers enacted building regulations that mandated every room in a residential building must have direct access to fresh air and therefore light, to improve the health of people living in rented accomodation.  Atriums, stairwells, internal courtyards and skylights proliferate from this time, though I suspect there might still be a few unhealthy internal windowless rooms lurking in a few very old buildings which languish, decaying, unused and largely forgotten about by the city’s modern residents.

Looking Back a Bit …

January 22nd, 2018

To rediscover this excellent scan of what is my first intentionally made ‘art quilt’ last week was a thrill (the original is a 2×2 transparency, back in the filing cabinet in Perth – remember those?).  This is ‘Ancient Expressions’, so named because I  thought  that would help it be juried into an exhibition,”Expressions in Quilting”, Barrington IL 1989.  Whether it would have made it without that little push, I don’t know, but it did get in and sold from the exhibition.  If anyone knows who has this quilt I’d love to hear where it is.  I was never informed of the buyer, and didn’t think to press for that detail at the time 🙂

Ancient Expressions I,  1988.      114cm x 102cm

This success really focused me on making my own designs in layered textiles; and further, it led to a series which became the Ancient Expressions series (I- XIV)  Each quilt has an element of landscape in the design, and all celebrate the ancients’ connection with their landscapes, expressed in the patterns they painted or carved on those surfaces. Two or three were OMG flops, but on the whole they are still works I’m proud of.


Detail of the hands – it’s not a grainy photo, I sprayed paint over ironed-on freezer paper cut-outs of my own hand shapes. But the paint seeped under the edges in places, and my initial reaction was that my experiment failed, as I had been going to embroider using the hands and paint as kind of templates (which on reflection would have been boring probably) but when a fellow embroiderer said  ‘You could put it in a quilt …’ I looked with fresh eyes and realised its potential, made the quilt and went on exploring the potential of this theme in the series, some of which are  pictured below:


Left to Right –   #XII                       # I                          #X                        #IX











 Left to Right –    #XII                 #XIV                         #VI                         #II

Ebb & Flow #26

January 10th, 2018

It’s uncharacteristically over the top early for me, but today I finished my donation to the 2018 SAQA Benefit Auction in September – and the call for entries doesn’t even open until February!   I’ll mention it again closer to the time.  This also means that my catalogue of quilts ius up to date.

Ebb & Flow 26    2018,  12″x 12″.  2018 SAQA Benefit Auction

The annual auction of these 12″ squares raises funds to assist in the promotion of quilted textile art known as art quilts.  I’ve been collected but I myself have never collected them, yet I’ve seen some lovely groups of them recently in a couple of homes.  I always make mine with a hanging sleeve attached that can easily be removed if the piece is to be framed or mounted on a canvas covered stretcher frame, as many collectors display them.



Do Art Quilts Belong in Quilt Shows?

January 9th, 2018

People love quilt shows, and flock to them whether in a regional agricultural show or a major city or state gallery.   No matter the source of inspiration or the pattern used, producing any quilt requires a certain amount of creativity and perspiration.  Despite the similarity of tools, many of the processes, and many of the raw materials used to produce all the different kinds of layered textiles, it’s a mistake to assess them as equals in every way.  Carrots and radishes, quilts and art quilts, yes they are alike, but different.

It’s over two decades since quilt show organisers began including art quilt sections in their events.  Years ago when I still belonged to a traditional quilt guild, as a known art quilt maker I felt it was important to participate by entering the guild’s annual show when for the first time it offered an art quilt section in the annual members’ quilt show.  A contemporary quiltmaking subgroup of the guild had formed a couple of years earlier, and there was enthusiastic interest in experimenting with techniques, materials and ideas beyond the range of traditional quiltmaking.  The entry form asked for the inspiration source for the quilt design – so I submitted a photo I’d taken of a ceiling in some caves nearby, and handed over my quilt, La Cueva (spanish for The Cave)  In quilt shows, the quilters expect and usually get some kind of technical comment back from judges, though this is not the case in art quilt exhibitions.  My quilt came back after the exhibition with a judge’s comment along the lines of  –   ‘The wavy lines are most distracting’.

La Cueva (The Cave)   1998         150cm x 130cm

Hmmm … the photo I took of the cave ceiling with roots and stalactites hanging down was the inspiration for the repeat units I combined to make the quilt.  That dismissive comment highlighted to me that the person chosen to judge the art quilts was not seeing these works as ‘originally designed art’ and really did not understand the difference between an art quilt and a functional bed or wall quilt from a traditional design or commercial pattern.

So the answer to my question is, no, I don’t think art quilts have a place in quilt shows.  Many textile artists differ with that view (for valid reasons to do with their own practice and marketing) but eventually it’s a personal choice about where to have your work seen, and sometimes a difficult decision.

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