Sunburnt Country

The virtual Studio Art Quilt Associates’ annual conference opened on April 15th and continues until 25th April. Over 400 attendees are enjoying informal meet ups on the conference platform, organised zoom discussions, studio tours, lectures and several kinds of slideshows. Approx. 4000 SAQA members around the world are organised into geographic regions, and although I am geographically located in the Latin America and Caribbean region, I’ve also chosen to list Oceania as my second region. The region covers members in New Zealand, Australia, PNG and the island nations, though we don’t currently have any members out in the middle of the Pacific. This conference’s theme is Oceania so presenters for the most part are Aussies or Kiwis. Two virtual exhibitions were organised to coincide with it, and slideshows of them are part of the program. I have Dreamlines in “Oceania: Impressions From Around the World”, for which you only had to submit images, and there was no date limitation – I have posted this quilt before

Dreamlines 3 2015 70cm x 40cm

The other exhibition I’m part of is themed “Distance and Diversity”, and is available virtually only through the conference app, but will open in real time in New Zealand next month (gallery information at the end of this post). I don’t normally make works for themed shows, with my interest in little landscapes, I was able to produce a work to the design requirements – 60cm x 40cm landscape orientation. It was shown one evening accompanied with lovely regional music – some didgeridoo segments were interspersed with sounds of nature, birdsong and so on – perfect. The quilts themselves are a fine and varied collection I’m proud to be part of. From when the SAQA conference organisers approached the regional group to put it on, we only had 8 months to form the committee, write the prospectus and entry form, arrange jurors. collect the selected quilts and prepare the catalogue for printing. As a volunteer member of the organising committee, I felt honour bound to submit an entry, and at such times the stirring words of Dorothea MacKellar’s poem My Country always spring to mind.

Sunburnt Country 2021 60cm x 40cm Distance & Diversity Exhibition

My statement about this work reads: “Australian born in 1885, Dorothea Mackellar wrote her iconic poem My Country in 1904 while her family was living in England.  A highly emotive expression of homesickness for her country, it includes terms such as ‘sunburnt country’, ‘wide brown land’, ’sweeping plains’ and ‘far horizons’, some of which are standard descriptive adjectives for Australia today. Inextricably entwined with the harsh landscapes on the antipodean continent that produced it, Australian Aboriginal civilisation suffered greatly as English colonists arrived and spread out across the land.  Those English influences have in turn been diluted by more recent waves of change brought by immigration from many parts of the world, resulting in the culturally diverse country we are today.  My miniature landscapes attempt to express in fabric the vast open distances, varied colours and textures of landscape that make up our huge island continent.”

My regular readers know little landscapes are a thing of mine. I blogged several times about the making of this piece, so if you’d like to learn more about my process, follow these links:, and

Sunburnt Country, detail. Fused landscape segments onto black background, sprayed sky and hand drawn iconic Australian images. hand quilted.

The images, artist statements and jurors’ comments are now in the hands of a printer, and a catalogue will be available by the time Distance and Diversity opens in real time on May 14 – 16, 2021: The Great New Zealand Quilt Show, Rotorua, New Zealand. Other New Zealand dates and venues are July 5 – 25, 2021: Estuary Arts Gallery, Orewa, New Zealand and November 1 – December 2, 2021: Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand. It will travel to Australia in 2022, though the event at which it is scheduled to open may yet be cancelled – this wretched pandemic is a nightmare for event organisers – so I’ll give more information closer to that time.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

All images and text are © Alison Schwabe
Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without written consent.

Translate »