Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Art Quilting In Uruguay

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

I’ll be speaking on this topic a couple of times over the next few weeks – in Colorado on monday 21st August, at the monthly meeting of the Front Range Contemporary Quilters, (a fabulous group I belonged to when we lived in CO) and to the delegates at the Ozquilt Conference dinner in Launceston Tasmania, on saturday September 9th.

I will be showing and commenting on work of talented Uruguayan mixed media textile artists such as Lilian Madfes who unfortunately does not have her own website.  However you can start here and search for other references to her online.   From an exhibition of Lilian’s work in 2011, this piece, about 75cm sq, really fits within the definition of an ‘art quilt’ – at least two layers of fabric or something that serves as a fabric, held together by stitching or something that functions as stitch.  Not here, but in the US, I have seen layers of fabric held together with stapling and even pinned with dresssmaking pins; in each case very pertinent to the theme of the work of art in which they were used.


Making Dots – Samples

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

During the last 2 years some of my works have had the added surface design element of painted dots. These were applied by hand, using a cut-off paintbrush, but it could easily have been a cut off green twig as used by various peoples who use dots as a signature element of their painted designs, including Aboriginal Australians.  However applied, no one has a lock hold on the use of dots, so I don’t feel there is a problem with my using them in this way around my own original design shapes.

Last time I was in the USA I was thrilled to find some plastic bottles with applicator tops that I really thought would revolutionise, ie streamline, my application of dots of paint on the designs in which I wanted to use them, and happily paid a few dollars for a set of 6.  As always when trying something new or different, I did a sample.  In the next photo, paint and cut-off brush are placed near the applicators containing thick and thin versions of gold paint, and the sample piece on which I used both paints.  The result on the 6″ square of black featuring pieced-in colours, and easily show that  (1) either I need a lot more practice using the applicator bottles, both thick and thin paints, or (2) I need to go back to using the sawn-off brush to apply paint such dots in future 🙂

In the past couple of weeks I have viewed s0me videos, with the following take-away points that I totally agree with.  To develop one’s vocabulary of textile art techniques, a would-be artist needs to focus on experimenting to discover possible variations, no matter how limited the range of  techniques or stitches that person knows.  Making samples to ‘see what happens’ is vitally important – this is one of my soapbox topics! 

The key person in is Sue Stone, who studied with the legendary Constance Howard for several years, and that influence shows.  I feel it myself, as I count myself fortunate to have been in a 4-day workshop taught by this now deceased, legendary, British embroiderer, in the Outback Australian mining town of Mout Isa, where I lived at the time.  It was either 1979 or 1978, a long time ago.  How we came to get her to stop over for a few days on her round-Australia teaching tour, owes a lot to Ailsa Bray, the intrepid secretary of the local embroiderers’ group in that town at the time.  Having snagged the booking, Ailsa asked the tour organisers “When the flight arrives, how will we know which passenger she is?”  The answer, delivered with a slight chuckle was “She’ll be the only passenger with green hair.”…and so it proved to be!  Amazing for the times; but once we had been in her presence a few hours, we all forgot about the colour of her hair and found ourselves totally focused on all that his amazing woman could teach us.  Her influence stays with me still, absolutely.

Mexican Craftsmanship On Show

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Here in Montevideo one of my favourite museums is the Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indigena,  or Museum of Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Art.     

It’s on Calle 25 Mayo in the Cuidad Vieja.  The permanent exhibitions are always fascinating and I always learn something new.  Definitely a must-visit if you’re coming here to Montevideo.

They also have exciting temporary/visiting exhibitions, and on at the moment until 4/4, with the possibility of extension – is a visiting exhibition of superb Mexican artisanship,  Grandes Maestros del Art Populare Mexicano,  which I enjoyed last week.  Just as in other parts of the world, hand crafted art is constantly under threat of extinction from mass produced stuff, and people are becoming less aware of the importance of traditional crafts. This project and touring exhibition is designed to help promote and preserve the traditions in danger of being lost to younger generations.

I have travelled a little in northern and central Mexico, and have a sister who for nearly 40 years has lived in the extreme south of New Mexico US.   That location has allowed a great deal of travel  across the border down the years, and given her opportunity she has never resisted to collect a large quantity of very fine examples of Mexican folk art.  Mexican ceramics, textiles, wordwork,  cut and textured tin, glassware and clothing are in use in and and decorate her genuine traditional adobe mud brick home in the Rio Grande Valley.  She would love this collection, and many of the pieces in this fantastic exhibition are of crafts and art that I  have met before.   But others were new to me – like this incredible candle wax sculptured altar

Mexican art 6 blog

approx 1m w x  90cm h which was displayed in a rather cold air-conditioned room for  obvious reasons!  (It was a pretty hot early march day)


Mexican art 1 blog

Mexican art 2 blog

This 2.5m x 2m hand embroidered cloth could be used on bed, wall or table.  I have a couple of huipils in this technique, plus some small mats and a table runner.


On one wall was hanging a group of different weavings, all in lovely colours and very skillful .  I show the edging of this shawl or scarf  for its featured fringing and feathers – quite beautiful.

Mexican art 3 blog


Embossed and cut metal sheeting is used a lot  for frames  and light fittings, and this one around a mirror is superb:

Mexican art 4 blog


From Oaxaca comes  wonderful hand painted wooden items particularly animals birds insect and fish, of which these are the largest examples I’ve seen.  We have some nice pieces at home in Australia, too, but they are much smaller.  The spotted cat-like creature, jaguar perhaps, is about 80cm long x 35cm high.

Mexican art 5 blog



The beautiful ceramic candelabra itself is perhaps 60cm tall and the candles add another 20cm approx.  Talk about intricate, delicate and downright fragile – heavens’ knows what the bill for packing and transporting this stuff was!!

Mexican art 7  blog


And, finally, some Day of The Dead ceramic figurines at a funeral …

Mexican art 8  blog


Apart from my delight at seeing this beautifully hand crafted art work and so much of it – 600 pieces – the wonderful thing about the exhibition is that it is here in Montevideo.  If you’re coming soon, or live here, take an hour or  two to enjoy it:


The Sketchbook Page Today…

Saturday, February 21st, 2015



sketchbook today feb 22 blog_edited-1

With arrows, stars, words and comments, this is a typical sketchbook page.  They’re always in pencil, but I re-did this one for you in pen to get a clearer scan.  I understand my own handwriting and abbreviations in this aide memoire,  and even if it doesn’t mean much to you I’m happy to share these marks as part of my process.  You’re welcome to anything else you glean of the ideas they encapsulate 🙂  There is much reference to several previous works or things I’ve been working with in sample form.

I regret that my hand writing has deteriorated, partly age-related 🙂  but even more a sign of the times.   It is the nearest I ever come to journal keeping, but of course it is definitely not that.  I really don’t know how the beautiful artist journal keepers keep it up  🙂  This morning I was casually googling around holes, sheers, grids and marks, when a couple of ideas struck.  Not wanting to lose a second, and with the sketchbook upstairs as usual, I took a sheet of waste paper from the printer and jotted them down.  I’m a diagram person, and when epiphany strikes like that a simple diagram+words, stars and arrows captures it. One just might solve a nagging problem to do with using sheers that has long bothered me, and I must let Rosemary Claus-Gray know ….




Second Thoughts

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Sunburnt Textures Embr copy 2

“Sunburnt Textures” is a title piece from my first solo exhibition 1987, shortly after which my textile art came under the influence of quilt making.   The design area is about 30cm x 45cm, of paint+stitch+found objects on white canvas, mounted on a stretcher bar.

In march this year I worked on a power point presentation about my textile art to use at two guest speaking events in Australia in May.  I found myself carefully considering this and other older works with fresh eyes after many years. The very old slide was a bit cleaned up around the irregular edges with PS to use as a background to the title “A Journey Through Landscape”

Also at that time I submitted an entry proposal for the  “Golden Textures” exhibition 2015, and included this sketch below.  The entry was accepted.  I planned to carry it out in gold stitchery on a darkish fabric, approx 1.3mh x 1mw, and brave or mad I knew it would take a long time.

Sunburnt Textures sketch quilt blog copy

Also in late April, I submitted entries for the Australia Wide 4 Exhibition opening Adelaide October this year – and this is a detail of one of the two I had chosen:

Sunburnt Textures 3 detail copy

At 40cm square, and clearly on the same theme,  it became a sort of test piece for the Golden Textures entry. (this detail is about  10cm sq).   I’ve always loved hand stitch but the trees in this one are free machine embroidery. Well, the gold thread worked OK as you can see, but for a 1.3m x 1m piece it would take me many months of stitching as the metallic thread fairly quickly shredded, meaning needles had to be changed often.  I realized that on  that larger scale with the time I had available, it was not going to be possible, and so I changed my Golden Textures proposal, so that now, over 3/4 finished it is black stitch on a background of a less intense ochre-red/brown silk which glows beautifully….sometimes second thoughts are better.





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