Posts Tagged ‘passage of time’

Looking Back a Bit …

Monday, 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

Art Quilts Exhibition – Touring Australia

Friday, May 5th, 2017

In 2017 I made the following quilt “Purnululu #7” in a series of works with the same landscape scheme.  While working through it, I blogged and showed more images here and here,












“Purnululu #7” Currently travelling with SAQA exhibition “My Corner Of  The  World”


Australian landscapes such as Purnululu and Uluru, known in the past as the Bungle Bungles and Ayers Rock respectively, are distinctive examples of weathered sandstone landforms or karst topography. To the Australian Aboriginal people these and other similar places have always held strong cultural and spiritual significance.  Today non-Aboriginal Australians and foreign visitors find Purnululu and similar Outback places great destinations for travel and education.

“Purnululu #7” is already quite well travelled in Canada and USA with the juried SAQA art quilt exhibition “My Corner Of The World”.     Made while I’ve been living here in Uruguay, it’s already gone to places I never have visited.  But starting later this month it will travel to places I do know well, appearing with the others in this collection at textile and craft events in these Australian cities on the following dates:

My Corner of the World
Craft & Quilt Fair, Perth, West Australia, Australia • May 24 – 28, 2017
Craft & Quilt Fair, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia • August 10 – 13, 2017
Intocraft Handmade Expo, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia • August 17 – 20, 2017
Craft & Quilt Fair, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia • September 11 – 12, 2017
Intocraft Handmade Expo, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia • November 24 – 26, 2017


What happened Brisbane? Why no Hobart?  Darwin – are you there?

Browsing With Pinterest – Richard McVetis

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

When you find an artist whose work you like in Pinterest, not only can you pin/collect that image, but you can then search online sources for further information in statements, blogs and other writings about that person, exploring their art in some depth as you might if visiting their exhibition in a gallery, or better still talking with them in person.  A few weeks ago, while browsing through someone’s mark making site, my eye was taken by an image of a single one of Richard McVetis textile cubes, 6cm x 6cm x 6cm.

richard mcvetis units of time 3

I don’t  know which little cube is which, but I can tell you that each is identified by the number of hours and minutes it took to make, as in  ’25:17 ‘, which I made up, not having a detailed title+image list to hand.  It’s an interesting way of naming/identifying things, and I wish I’d thought of it. Like all craftsmen, I’m sure Richard has often been confronted by this question from people looking his work (and I don’t think they can help it) They’ll open a conversation with ” So how long did that take to make?”  In my experience, whatever the answer, this is nearly always followed by some version of  “I don’t know where you find the patience….”   signifying some degree of awe from someone who hasn’t the skill (or thinks they haven’t) and can’t imagine planning and completing such a project themselves.

richard mcvetis units of time 1

I found Richard had done a bunch of these, covered with cream wool worked with really fine embroidery in black thread.  Through these cubes, collectively titled Units of Time , he explores the passage of time and works “to visualise and make time (,)sic  a tactile and tangible object.”  

richard mcvetis units of time 2

To get the obvious gee whizz technical details out of the way, Richard’s stitches are so fine that, whatever his age (I’m presuming mid 30’s) surely he must have really good, strong lighting focused onto his work.  I’ll bet he uses an Ott light or chest mounted magnifier, possibly needs reading glasses, and maybe all of the above.  There’s nothing fancy about his stitches – they’re plain and simple; the glorious straight stitch (as I call it) predominating, and together with seed stitch and french knots, these appear to form the bulk of what I have seen in his work.  In this group image, the stitching on the centre cube is breathtakingly fine seed stitches, possibly including a few tiny french knots – and the same texture appears to be here  I adore french knots clustered for texture, but I don’t think I’ll ever again refer to anything of mine as ‘encrusted’ with them.  Spattered, maybe.  

The fine black stitchery on white works like a fine marker pen ‘drawing’ onto paper, imbuing his work with a very graphic quality. Richard expands on the significance of this cream background in an interview published on the blog of London’s Flow Gallery to introduce his recent exhibition there  (09/2016)   As you follow the links to commentary and statements about his work, you begin to understand the importance to Richard of the repetitive process of hand stitching, and the element of slight variation that comes from this process of endlessly repeated routine steps.  As every embroiderer knows, when you put your work down and return to resume stitching later, it takes a little while to get back into the same rhythm you had earlier – and the resulting slight differences may not be apparent until much later.

As I write, Richard is part way through an artist residency in Iceland,  and a few days ago his first journal post from this temporary location included photos and initial observations, and some insight into what he plans there.

Images supplied and reproduced courtesy Richard McVetis.
(“Units of Time”  won a Juror’s Award in the prestigious Craft Forms 2015 International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Crafts,  Wayne Art Center, PA,  01/2016)




Regina Benson and Ray Tomasso at Ice Cube Gallery, Denver 2015

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Early in September, while visiting our daughter in northern Colorado, I enjoyed a gallery hopping day in Denver with friend Regina Benson who herself was exhibiting “Water Marks” at The Ice Cube Gallery.   Sharing the gallery with Regina was Ray Tomasso, whose recent collection of cast archival paper was titled “Memories of An Ancient Sea”. This gallery will be closing next year as the space has become financially unfeasible to the artists who lease it; and so that relationship could be said to be ‘melting’, perhaps. Maybe it was no coincidence that both these fibre artists gave watery titles to their exhibitions connecting water and landscape. 

In her home state Colorado and the other western states, issues of water usage, entitlements, over-usage, conservation of water resources and naturally occurring drought spells mean water is a serious public issue. In this collection of textile installations and paintings, Regina explores environmental, social and historical issues surrounding the abundance and scarcity of water, finding inspiration along coastal shores where she often dives, and inland landscapes that satellite imagery shows to have been shaped and scarred by water that long ago disappeared leaving ‘stark cracked surfaces with darkened paths of long gone water’.regina benson's jelly fish blog_edited-1

Regina’s work is frequently dimensional, and often to the extent that the viewer can physically enter and wander through her created environment – this time a large group of jelly fish hovering near the entrance as if in water that demanded my immersion!  Delicate and floaty, hovering at the end of very fine fishing line, they responded to the slightest air current around them, in a very convincing ‘watery’ way.

regina benson Sea gypsies 2 blog

From a gallery card “She creates an environment for visitors to pass around and between rivers, sea sides, and tide pools; sometimes imagined at a distance, sometimes immersed in depths, and sometimes revealed only in the cracked dry beds of past waterfalls and eddies.”   Other works were less dimensional, and perhaps half were flat against the wall but they were no less watery.

Below is a multi panel one I particularly loved, ‘Baltic Seaside’ for which she does not specify whether the inspiration is from an actual dive visit or something from her childhood revisited.  Here dry grasses in soft sand dunes filter fading daylight as the water views beyond the grass blend into nightfall.regina benson Baltic Seaside 1 blog (1)


Dry river beds in Arizona and northern Mexico are similar to images received by NASA of patterns left on the surface of Mars by long disappeared flowing water on that planet’s surface.  Those reports and Regina’s observations while flying over the drying South West led to a wonderful piece titled “Dry Spell”. Perhaps best of all the pieces in the exhibition, this textile rendering of a worn, dry, rocky surface using dyes, stitch markings and quilting demonstrates Regina’s ability to observe natural phenomena and present their essence in textile and fibre art.regina benson Dry Spell_edited-1 blog


Now to the work of Ray Tomasso, whose recent collection of cast archival paper casts was titled “Memories of An Ancient Sea”.  ‘Cast’ of course implies dimension, and these panels, while flattish, each protrude several inches from the wall plane.

Tomasso South Sea Odessy blog

Ray Tomasso “South Sea Odyssey”  40″ x 58″ x 7″

tomasso Aground On a Shoal blog_edited-1

Ray Tomasso  “Aground On A Shoal”    68″ x 90″ x 6′

I had not previously known of Ray’s work, and found it spoke to me of archeological material, such as unearthed decaying man-made materials on an excavated rubbish dump site, or along edges of dried up lakes or seabeds, such as Lake Baikal.  (as suggested by the exhibition title)  Certainly textural details in places suggest rivets or drill holes, and ragged edges might allude to some violent, catastrophic end event having taken place and been preserved in fine mud.  In total his work has an appealing air of industrial decay, and I loved it.

Explore his website for insights into his process, and the eco-friendly aspects of  his materials.

Photos provided by the artists.

An Update on Motivations

Friday, July 17th, 2015

In the past day or so I followed another quiltmaker’s link to her blog about what she has been making recently – a site I’ve been to a number of times, and left a comment to the effect “I see what you’ve done, but what’s your motivation?”   Her response was that she didn’t think people would want to read about why she uses the materials and subject matter she does.  I really differ, and though I thought  her response a bit vague, with a principal rationale she gave as it being play, I appreciated her answering.  Yes,  I do like to read about what motivates people; after all, we all have different reasons for doing what we do, and, we could use other ways to express ourselves – painting, ceramics, writing a book or making movies, whatever. The artist in each of us is responding to a unique vision of the world around us.  Well that’s my view anyway – and I wrote back to her, in part –

The making, the sewing and assembling, is different for each of us, and leads to distinctive styles – but that is still different from the why behind it.  …. For myself, a lot of my work, including my Ebb & Flow quilts, or the works in my Tracks series (galleries on my website)  expresses what I see as a major theme in the world about me – that everything is in a process of change as long as your time scale is long enough – and that change over time brings people into and takes them out of our lives; change can affect health, wealth, geographical location, and of course we ourselves change through age and may even change emotionally as we move through time.  My vision is explored via abstract arrangements of lines, shapes and textures in fabric and thread; I don’t do anything pictorial/representational. Well my current series is as representational is it might get ….

Then I checked my own blog, and found it is a long time since I wrote about my own motivations!…. and if the above artist or any new reader was checking they might be wondering – so let me say a few words in general about all the textile art I have done –

For more than 30 years my original works have been inspired by landscape structures, processes and resulting patterning of textures.  Since childhood I have been fascinated by natural forces and the roles they play in shaping the landscape.  I studied geography and geomorphology at university. Since marrying a geologist in the late ’60’s, I’ve found myself living in a variety of different landscapes: coastal and Outback Australia, central western USA, littoral and urban Uruguay, all of which have influenced my work.   Regarding Landscape as a metaphor for Life is taking me in new directions.

I am currently exploring a landscape known as The Bungle Bungles or as the Aboriginal people have always called it, Purnululu.  It’s a large, deeply eroded sandstone and karst range in the Kimberley region of NW Australia.  In almost 20 years of Outback living, much of it up north, I still have not yet been there – but it is one of those iconic places Australians want to go, and I hope to one day. Iconic it may be, but it is also mysterious, and I wanted to use it as the subject of an art quilt competition I was entering at the time. I have become further intrigued with it and there are still several more ways I want to explore how I feel about this huge mass of rocks that stand arising out of plains like a group of sentinels.

While reading of the WA Government’s application document for the Bungle Bungles / Purnululu to go on the World Heritage List, I came across this comment by the writers –

“Religious beliefs, places of spiritual significance, stories and paintings
associating ancestral beings with the landscape, kinship connections and language
identification are all essential to the connection between people and place in Purnululu,
providing traditional owners then, as now, with a guide to living and being.”

This rather convoluted long sentence,  and other reading, have really focused my mind on this place, and at the moment I feel it could take me until the end of the year or beyond to exhaust the topic – a bit like a series of paintings on haystacks or waterlily ponds,  I guess.  While racking my brains for a suitable title, as I normally do I compiled a list of words I associate with my subject, and it includes these :-  age-old, timeworn, massif, massive,  keeper, emblematic, timeless, seasonal sculpture, silent, presence, overwhelming, mysterious …   And some titles I considered were/are Dreamtracks, Sentinels,  Ancient Keepers, Guardians.  The entry into the art competition that started all this I called ‘Dreamtracks’, and I may continue naming the series this with the addition of 2,3 etc., but I’m not sure if the one I am working on now will really be suited by this title, or not – I’ll wait and see when the quilting’s done.

BungleBungles 6


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