Posts Tagged ‘passage of time’

Tracks And Marks

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018



Almost no one currently alive will ever find themselves in a landscape of any kind where they could be 100% sure no human has ever been, although on a deserted beach or a windswept landscape stretching into the distance, if you ignore the sometimes subtle tracks ahead, squint your eyes and forget your recent flight, bus, train hike, bike or boat trip that got you there, it may just be possible to imagine you are the first human to ever set foot on that landscape …

Though it took me years to actually name a group of works ‘Tracks’, I know that landscape shapes, colours and textures are all track marks left by Mother Nature on those surfaces.  Modern Man, too, has left many complicated marks – fences, pipelines, railways, roads, power lines, canals, airports and ports, marshalling yards, to say nothing of small towns and vast cities with horizontal mazes of streets, bridges and roads, and multilevel vertical mazes of human habitation –  really, the tracks of human activity are everywhere.  Though I have focused more on the patterning on artifacts and drawn images on rocks, cliffs, cave walls and open plains, the ‘tracks’ made by Man on landscapes are not limited to the ancient ones that I’ve always found so awe inspiring, intriguing as those are.

In the design of my quilt, New Directions, 2000, the multitude of lines from every direction represent the paths and tracks of human migration onto our continent in the last 60,000 years.  I have just read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu  which details the agricultural practices of Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people.  Until now, having grown up in Tasmania, and lived overseas for many years, I’d never heard of extensive fish traps on the great inland river systems, and the extensive areas planted with grains on the open plains, many of which were seen by the colonists but dismissed by settlers and farmers with European farming practice backgrounds.  Ignorant of the sustainable land management practices the indigenous people had practised for thousands of years, they dismissively assumed they were not civilised enough to have devised such systems.  This fascinating book has me thinking more about tracks and pathways.

My Three ‘First’ Quilts

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

I am not going to go into the complicated detail of this claim though – it’s long and complicated; I just want to post the link to this post on FB, which for some reason tonight doesn’t seem to want to allow me to post all three to illustrate the point I’m making in an exchange there 🙂

Distant Shores 1987

First Day on The Slopes  1988



Ancient Expressions 1  1988




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:

L – R    #XII                       # I                          #X                        #IX

 L – R     #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)




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