Archive for the ‘documentation’ Category

Several Pleasant Surprises …

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

I’ve mentioned a couple of times before not being able to fully cross reference images that weren’t listed in my master list ‘catalogue’ – and vice versa. But this has turned out to be a bumper week for surprises.

First, when I emptied out the contents of a decaying plastic bag that had been literally sitting on a shelf undisturbed for years, and which I thought it held just a few offcuts and samples, I pulled out this little quilt I’d totally forgotten I ever made, and which I’d failed to enter on my master list:

Tidelines 13, 2012 80cm square. Whole cloth, stencilled, machine quilted. perhaps I should have ironed or steamed it before photographing, but this is literally how it was when I pulled it off the shelf!

and next I pulled out another two which I really thought were in storage in Australia, and that I don’t remember bringing over here!

Sunburnt Textures 3 1997, 70cmh x 100cmw Freehand cut, machine pieced and quilted in the ditch. Hand stitched.
Forgotten Title” was in a 1994 exhibition in Sydney, Australia. Improvisational patchwork, machine pieced and quilted.

But the biggest surprise of all was when I contacted Dianne Finnegan in Sydney who headed the selectors team for the Colours Of Australia 1994 exhibition, asking if she could tell me what I had called that piece above, and she sent back an image of a quilt I apparently called Bushfire Weather from the catalogue for Art Quilts of Australia 2000 that I really don’t remember making, but it undeniably has my signature all over it :-

“Bushfire Weather” 1999, 100cmh x 120cmw. Improvisational machine piecing, machine quilted with triple needle stitching. (catalogue page by Dianne Finnegan, and I’m still not sure who took the orignal image)

That clears up a bit of the confusion on that master list I referred to at the start of this post as I couldn’t find an image to go with that title – and most of my slides and records of entering shows, catalogues, etc are in my filing cabinet – all safely in storage. Stuff in storage is at times the bane of my existence – a long story I’ll not go into here. But I must have a slide somewhere there because we had to enter juried exhibitions by submitting 35mm slides until about 15 years ago. But for the moment, this will have to do for the record.

And, looking at it, I wonder how on earth I could have forgotten about it, and how I’ve no idea where it is, whether it sold or came back after the exhibibition…. So let me just say I really like this work and am so glad some record of its existence has been restored to me!!

The first paragraph statement is exactly as I would have written it today. The second paragraph is a nice little bio for the time.


Thursday, July 13th, 2023

In 1978, I attended a wonderful 8-day summer school / symposium at a conference centre at Goolwa, South Australia. It was organised by a group of very experimental stitchers within the South Australian Embroiderers’ Guild, who then went on to publish a wonderful book about the ideas and techniques they’d taught us. We were taught by a team of three highly qualified embroiders a couple of whom were academics in tertiary art or textile art schools. That amazing workshop had a huge ongoing impact on my fibreart, and in the next decade I combined paint with stitch, embroidering my impressions of the landscape around me.

A slide from a recent presentation, this symposium was hugely influential on my textile art, though shortly after I made this gold nugget for a Community project quilt in Kalgoorlie Western Australia, we moved to the USA where I learned the basics of traditional American geometric patchwork and quilting, which led me down a completely different path!

“Distant Shores” 1985, ~100cm x 130cm. In reality this was my first art quilt, but as ‘a creative embroiderer’ I termed this a wall hanging, until several years later.

My only traditional quilt, a Flying Geese design, was begun in a symposium workshop with the then doyenne of Flying Geese, and author of a book on the subject, Blanche Young. This is an awful photo!! The question is, why was I in such a hurry that I couldn’t take a decent one? However, the wall quilt’s storage at the moment, so this will have to do.

Flying Geese wall quilt, 36″ x 72″, 1988.

In 1987 I was invited to exhibit my fibreart interpretations of landscape. As I prepared for that exhibition, someone advised me to have everything photographed for my record – which was sound advice, although the choice of photographers for hire in the mining town where we lived at the time was limited – between a wedding/portrait photographer and another whose day job was the official company photographer for the biggest mining company in the region.  It didn’t occur to me to ask Murray to photograph my art against a plain neutral background – and so everything was photographed against a rather nasty bare brick wall… which in my innocence I saw nothing wrong with!  But bless him, Murray’s lighting and focus were excellent, and at least I had a 35mm slide record of my work!  I’ve had a few of those slide images digitised, including this one, cropped to eliminate that brick wall 🙂 

Soon after we arrived to live in Denver CO for a short time, a new neighbour took me along to her local quilt guild which I immediately joined and began learning traditional geometric patchwork and quilting.  I took some construction classes and joined quilting bee for the cultural experience, which turned out to be the hardest group I’ve ever had to leave, anywhere, as the ‘short time’ durned into seven years. I made just one traditional wall quilt, of the flying geese design, and began to design my own non-traditional quilts a year later.

Way back in my early art quilt making days probably 1991 or 1992, I attended a monthly meeting of the Front Range Contemporary Quilters group at Boulder CO. The guest speaker, Patsy Allen of North Carolina, was a well known at quilter in the early 90s, having appeared in some of the earliest Quilt Nationals. Her slide lecture covered her portfolio of work produced over 10-15 years, showing that while her techniques and designs changed over that time, certain recognisable elements were present in every design. It was interesting to see how some elements became more prominent over time, and others became less significant, but their presence gave identifiable continuity through all her work. Like many other prominent art quilt makers, she advised us to always take as good photos of our work as our tech skills or means allow, and recommended occasionally reviewing our art in chronological order, looking for patterns of continuity and thinking about what inspires and influences us.

I recently gave a virtual lecture on the influences in my own works over the decades I’ve been making and exhibiting textile art.  Of course, my techniques, materials and the focus of landscape’s influences have varied over time, but to put the talk together was enlightening. I do occasionally review my art in more-or-less chronological order every few years, and sometimes find an angle I never considered before.  A couple of interesting questions from my audience after the lecture prompted further thought, too.

These days with digital cameras and phones, it’s easy to take progress photos of what we’re doing, though I only publish a few of them in my blog or on my social media sites.  Taking pics of works in process encourages me to regularly review my general artist statement, possibly my bio, and write a brief statement, at least a sentence, about every work as I finish it, while my thinking on it is fresh in my mind. 

My regular readers already know that this blog, the nearest I’ll ever come to an artist’s diary, is one line of documentation about my fibreart. My other documentation is a list of titles, dimensions, year completed, and like any list it’s a fairly dry or sterile document that I an quickly look up if I’m writing or answering a query. I what I call an illustrated catalogue, with an image of the work plus title, year, dimensions and availability or location of each work. I really should expand this to include a statement about it and the major points of it’s history – exhibition, sale etc…. but right now I am working on something that is starting to pull me upstairs to my sewing room, so I’ll deal with that another day.

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