Saturday, October 22, 2016


This year seems to have been  the year of angel encounters. I have been ruminating on my next book Musing in Textile:Italy and one of the images that surfaces on a regular basis, in the Italian encounters I have had is the image of an angel. My friend Ada Melegari also thought I should make a linocut angel image, and the idea has been hopping about in my head since. So I finally set to and made an angel linocut. As usual my first trial print was on newspaper, and then I have printed various ones on fabric. The image measures 22 cm x 15 cm. The orange/turquoise one has been printed on a hand dyed vintage  table napkin .I only have four of these available.

You can purchase the "angel" hand printed fabric from me and I have put a Paypal button for ease of purchase ( at the bottom of my post). I have made them all the same price even though the table napkin is a larger piece of fabric- but then- the first to buy has just a bit of luck. If you don't see a colour just ask me as I will be printing more. The angel has been printed by hand, from a linocut I have carved, on fabric that has been hand dyed.The price for the print and postage is $17AUS

I wanted to share some of the images of angels I have encountered this last year. starting with one from William Kentridge's exhibition in Milano that I was lucky to see.

The next two images are from the museum next to the Duomo in Milan and are stained glass

And some angelic encounters from the Pinacoteca in Siena.

I have also  created a Paypal  button for the Aussie Bush Project on the Aussie Bush Project  page

Below is the button to purchase an Angel panel

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Aussie Bush Project

It is full steam ahead on the Aussie Bush Project which will commence it's exhibition life next year in May 2017. I will post more details about the schedule as soon as I have them to hand. I have finished the last and final linocut to be a part of the project and will be putting the different colours I have on the Aussie Bush Project page later today. I have also created Paypal buttons for each of the lino prints that is available for purchase ( you do need to tell me colour though) to make it easier to purchase and you don't need to go through the process of emailing me.

I have called the last linocut  Blackwoods Dancing with Mountain Ash as earlier this year when I went out for an early morning reconoitre I was enchanted by the swirling twirling blackwoods which seemed to be dancing with the tall and straight mountain ash trees whose foliage was all the way up in the sky- it was such a happy idea that trees should be dancing with each other!

The print measures 22 cm x 45 cm and has been hand printed onto hand dyed fabric.So now to head downstairs and begin printing!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Playing with the Q20 Bernina

My second and last day in Florence I spent visiting the Battista near the Duomo, which has long been closed for restoration. Part of the entry ticket also included entry to the Museo di Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the climb of the  Duomo itself (but given the queues I decided to leave it for another day). The Battista itself was a treat, the inclination to lie on my back and just stare up into the spectacular mosaics was almost overwhelming, and the tiled floor was spectacular.

 Then onto the Museo itself, where to my great delight they had on display the embroideries designed by Antonio del Pollauiono (also hidden from view for awhile). The embroideries were made with a technique no longer used as far as I know- which involved laying gold thread and then stitching through and over with silk thread. The embroideries themselves were executed by various embroiderers it is thought and were once part of vestments.They were difficult to photograph as they were placed in specially lit and mounted glass display cases and unfortunately there was no book. The best I could do was to get a detail shot.

After Florence I went to visit some family friends who live near Desanzano. Our parents were friends and Ada , who is also an artist and I have become friends over the years. It is always a delight spending some time with them and experiencing Italian life, they also  have a small Bed and Breakfast called Il Martino. Ada Melegari has made some beautiful fresco style paintings and we have found we share a love of images with angels. Two of Ada's artworks are below.

Whilst there i was also in pomegranate heaven, as they have a large number of the trees in their garden, and one morning the light was just beautiful so that the  colour of the fruit against the yellowing foliage was stunning.

Whilst  travelling i did do some hand stitching- embroidering a small linocut print of a coffee pot- I am also sharing an image of  the back of this little embroidery as slowly with time the backs of my embroideries seem to be improving. I use very simple stitches.

Then back to Le Triadou where the last remaining grapes after the vendange offer a few sweet mouthfulls on morning walks. It has been incredibly dry in the south of France and then apparently there was a very bad hail storm in August resulting in a much diminished grape harvest.

And then it was onto Toulouse to demonstrate on the Bernina Q20 for Quilts and Patch. I had a lot of fun on the machine and really just went a bit mad with ideas even though I only had variegated thread available to use ( i had forgotten to take some of my own threads). I also got to meet  Alfonsina Uriburu who is very creative with the Bernina Q24 and caught up with my friend Christine Escanes, who trains many of the Bernina dealers in France and elsewhere and who has more technical know how on Bernina machines and feet than anyone I know. If you want to know how to optimise use of your machine she is the person to ask for a workshop!

 Just a little sample of some of the things I stitched up on the Q20;

  I have finally finished the large linocut tree print quilt I started just before I left France in July. I didn't take it back to Oz with me so  I finished it whilst demonstrating in Ste Marie aux Mines. The large tree linocut is available from me( and i will be dyeing up fabric and printing more this week)

 The photo on the right was  on a morning walk near the village of Moux. I was struck by how similar the detail shot of the  quilt and the scene were apart form the smashing blue of the sky in the photo.

I will be creating the Aussie Bush Project page in the next few days- it will tour in 2017 and 2018.If you are interested please contact me.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Phew, Finally a Few Days to Unwind

The last two months seem to have been a whirlwind of  planes, trains and busses , quilt  and craft events in between ,and dyeing and printing and making new linocuts and actually making two quilts whilst demoing for Bernina France at the Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork at Ste Marie aux Mines,that I felt exhausted. Finally I have a few days to unwind because, I  have not had a day off since the beginning of August. And then because I found an exceptionally good deal for accommodation in Florence I find myself back here. I had intended to do things cultural yesterday after a visit to the Fabriano shop, but instead found myself engaged with the more prosaic side of the city - food and wine! But nothing is as it seems in this city.

I was out and about relatively early yesterday, but as the weather is stunning- bright and sunny it is not great for photographing. Walked past the Basilica di San Lorenzo

 I am always bemused by people around the facsimile statue of David outside the Palazzo Vecchio- most people simply ignore it- everyone is in such a rush to get to the queues for the Uffizi or to crush amongst the crowd on the Ponte Vecchio that but few stop to admire this most highly revered of human forms by Michelangelo- even the facsimile is pretty impressive!

But all good cultural intentions aside I decided to just walk around and enjoy the sunshine, and a coffee and a lovely lunch at a favourite restaurant.And then do some more walking.

There is relatively little graffiti in Florence- I guess it gets cleaned off, but one thing that does appear is a kind of graffiti poster on some of the utility doors/hatches. These seem to change over time with the ones this year being different to the ones from last year.

The posters appear in different colours and in different spots around the city. I am not sure what the significance is of the snorkeling mask?

Then onto a favourite restaurant  Toscanella Osteria on the left side of the Arno ( depending on which direction you are coming from) I found this little restaurant last year when I spent a month in Florence. It's day menu is exceptional value, always freshly cooked and changing every day and the ordinary menu also has many enticing dishes. I loved it for it's ambience and the friendliness of the wait staff and as I returned there several times. I got talking to the owner Fabrizio Gori- who it turned out, is one of Florence's living artists.He has been involved in many projects over the years ( but like many of Florence's living artists there is little internet presence of their work ) and now he has returned to the profession of his parents. The  restaurant is housed in the building that was the birthplace of Bruneleschi, and the decor  pays homage to this as well as  showcasing many of  Fabrizio's paintings and a delightful array of lamps. The wait staff are the same as they were last year, always a good sign, and I simply enjoy going there because largely the locals eat out at this restaurant. Fabrizio collaborated with several other  Florentine artists to recreate the book about Pinochio- all hand printed and bound into a book the shape of the nose of the famous puppet and in the collection of MOMA. There is even a library of artist's books along one wall of the restaurant.

At the suggestion of Fabrizio I went to see the Incredible Florence multimedia presentation at the deconsecrated church Santo Stefano al Ponte. I wasn't sure what to expect as I find multimedia presentations can be a bit over rated ( apart from William Kentridge of course) but found this one fascinating, as in 45 minutes it traced the history of this fascinating city. One thing that kind of  stood out for me was, though the Medici were tough and despotic, they viewed art and culture as being an important part of their rule to enrich the city as well as their rule- so they gathered around them some of the greatest artists in the western canon of art- something that might be pointed out to more mediocre embodiments of power of the present day- for their foresight still provides enlightenment to students of art of the present and indeed income for the city which they were so instrumental in shaping. A 500 year legacy is not bad!

And last but not least- a coffee shop- yes I know bars and coffee are the heart and soul of the Italian morning ( and cornetto's con crema), but this coffee shop is a little different. I have found myself staying in a part of Florence, that isn't touristy though not that far from the pedestrian precinct of the old city.  The shop looked enticing and upon discussion with the barista it turns out that his passion for coffee is quite different to most  Italian coffee places- his is a passion for blends and new blends and sourcing the finest coffee beans and selling his own blends and roasting.It turns out that he learnt some of this passion in Melbourne- he says it opened his eyes to what coffee could be and so he has brought it back to Florence and has established Caffetteria Piansa. I did try the coffee of course- and the filtered coffee was delicious ( what not the espresso???, but he assured me this his filtered coffee was the best way to experience the subtleties of flavour). However it was also evening, and I had done a lot of walking so i also decided an apero was in order- which comes  accompanied by a selection of savouries at little extra cost!

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Aussie Bush Project Happening!

I am at the Craft and Quilt Fair in Hamilton New Zealand at the moment- where once again the Medieval project is being much admired. It is always such a rich display and viewers are amazed at the variety and creativity of the participants.

This will be a quick blog post as I have to head off to mind the exhibition. I then set it up again at Porirua(Wellington) New Zeland next week and then hop on a plane back to Australia swap suitcases and then fly to France on the same night so that I can demonstrate for Bernina France at Ste Marie aux Mines ( Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork). It's been a hectic six weeks or so.

I have stitched my first Aussie Bush piece and I think there will be a few more to come- in fact I can see a bush blanket in my minds eye. I used flannel as wadding as I wanted it to stay reasonable soft and drapey so I was happy that the stitches still created texture.

I have been developing designs for the Aussie Bush project and can confirm that exhibition life for the project will start next year in May 2017 at Brisbane and it will tour around Australia. I will also be searching for a European venue when I am over this time. I will be setting a page up on my blog with details and information but so far the rules will be similar to the other projects- you can do  anything you like to the printed pieces ( but nothing fragile as they travel in a suitcase) and no side larger than 70 cm- but apart form that you can let your creativity be as wild and bushy as you like.  You can add other fabrics- you can collage elements- it's up to you.There will be a fee payable to join the project of $20 but this to defray the cost of signage/packaging ,pins, admin, and return postage to you.I am also thinking about that  you sign/or initial the front of your piece in the bottom right corner- some thoughts on this would be appreciated.

The three designs thus far are gumnuts, banksia and  unfurling fern frond. Each is 30 cm square and hand printed on hand dyed fabric. The blocks of nine  are each individual panel which I have collaged  and these are the colours I have available at present. Each square cost $20 plus postage( they can be sent as a letter- so this is not very expensive). Just email me if you are interested in joining.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Aussie Bush Project

I have been working on magazine articles these last weeks but have also been thinking about what new project I would embark on when the Medieval Project finishes its travels later this year. There is no doubt the format offers room for lots of creativity- I make the prints and then people embroider/embellish/bead/ do all sorts of stuff to improve my prints. It's been a pleasure to see what people have come up with, and the Medieval project and the Sentinelle Project before it attracted lots of attention and positive comment, and I am amazed at how varied the exhibition looks even though the same prints have been used.The medieval project will be shown at Canberra next week and Newcastle  the following week and then in Hamilton and Wellington in New Zealand in September. The events are organised by Expertise Events and there is further information on their website- just follow the link.

So earlier this year I was playing around and making Babbling Banksia quilts and prints and also did quite a lot of reading of French Botanical books as some of the first images of Australian flora appear in in the book of a French botanist. It made me wonder about  what they thought of the Australian bush with plants so strange and so different to what they would have encountered in Europe, and then I wondered how do Australians themselves view the Aussie bush? What is the first thing that springs to mind when you mention the words The Aussie Bush and how do they envision those things?

So I decided that my next project would be The Aussie Bush. In my minds eye I can see a wall of wonderful stitched panels depicting the Aussie Bush. So I started creating prints with the Aussie Bush in mind. The first two  prints are 30 cm x 30 cm and have been inspired by gumnuts and banksias. I can see lots of opportunity for embellishment of these panels. Panels are for sale for $20 each plus postage- and I have dyed a load of Aussie bush colours ( and some others as well) .I am also making enquiries if there is any interest in exhibiting the Aussie Bush Project - if I can get people to join into the project. Email me if you are interested, and I would love some feedback  on what you think about the project!

I usually do my first trial print on newspaper- not sure how that habit started, probably because I used newspapers as printing mats.I think I will be making these trial prints into some kind of hand made book. These two prints are  hot off the press ( well in my wishing world there might one day be a proper press !) and I will be working on another one over the next few days. As you can see from the last photo I am using an empty wine bottle to roll the backs of the lino when printing as I left my barens that I normally use in France and haven't had a chance to get to a shop to buy some new ones . I love those Japanese bamboo covered barens.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I wanted to share this image of angels  from the Pincoteca in Siena by Sano di Pietro from the Cinqua Cento- I have it as a screen saver and every morning when I open my laptop I take a moment to reflect on its serenity, its beauty and sweetness. And when I look through my recent photos whilst I was in Italy I notice that I am much taken by angels- I seem to have noticed them everywhere I went.

I came across a recent post by Sharon Boggon ( whose inspirational stitching blog I followed for many years) about a new project she is setting up about contemporary Journaling, which I shall be following with interest. And so it has lead to some of my own ruminations about journalling.

I have kept a journal in one way or another since I was about 15 and was a writer on scraps of paper before that. My children grew up journalling, whether it was words or drawing - it didn't matter. I have kept up the habit- not always consistently, sometimes I might go a week without journalling, and then I will get back to it. I even went a few years without journalling at all- mainly whilst I was at university.

And then, just before I left France, I lost my Rhodia Folder journal. I think I left it behind in the church where I was exhibiting at Forca Fil in Mane- if anyone found it I would love it back. I had started this journal  in February after buying the Rhodia folder. I love Rhodia paper- it's so beautiful and smooth to write on with a fountain pen- you barely need apply any pressure. The only paper that offers a challenge is Fabriano- and I love the ivory colour of their paper. The folder is a new product from Rhodia and it has plastic pocket inserts which were so handy for collecting all sorts of bits and bobs, and to boot I lost my new purple Lamy fountain pen. Lamy bring out a new colour every year and this years colour is purple- it's my one extravagance apart from buying lovely journals. But losing that journal has been a bit of a pain- there were so many thoughts, ruminations, ideas and lists, and reflections and descriptions in that journal, I feel as if I have lost 5 months of myself, yet I have a lot of work I made in that time which proves otherwise.

What do I love about journalling?

Well for a start a journal is shaped like a book- I love books- I like the shape of books, I like the paper in books, I like the words , the images,the smell.

I love fountain pens- indeed I particularly love Lamy fountain pens, once in my solicitor days I managed to convert a large part of the office I worked in to use Lamy fountain pens-  they are smooth to write with and draw with. But to draw I use black ink so that does necessitate another Lamy pen. I like the weight of them in my hand.

I love blank pages or dot grid pages or little squares ( which remind me of learning to write as a child)- I don't actually like lined pages at all. I like to be able to go  all over the page without being contained by lines.

I use my journal for all sorts of things- I do record my feelings sometimes, but mostly I record encounters with ideas  and places and food and museums/galleries. I use my journal to research, though if I really want to research something more intensively I will start a separate journal for that. Right now I want to research things about Italy- things I encountered, but I forgot to bring my Fabriano notebook with me - so it's had to go on the back burner for the time being because Italy needs to be explored in a Fabriano journal- nothing else will do.

I do draw in my journal- usually mono-colour and in black  if I can- again if I want to explore something in colour I tend to do that in a separate journal, but my journal also contains a lot of writing- sometimes quotes, ideas. Actually my journals contain a lot of ideas about things I am interested in.

I write recipes into my journals- and then I forget which journal I wrote them in . And I keep all sorts of bits of paper of interest in my journal- cards, tickets- but I don't paste them in- they are usually loose stuck between the pages.

I am often surprised how I will return to subject matter over a period of time- years even and when I look at my thoughts then and now- how things have changed and evolved. Sometimes you refind things that were forgotten with the passing of time, other times it's like meeting an old friend- as if there has been no intervening years.

Sometimes I write stories or beginnings of stories.

I write about books I have read.
I bought a book whilst I was at le Triadou- well actually I bought two books. Letters to a Young Poet  by Rainer Maria Rilke... I wish I could write such letters and how times have changed that we don't write such letters. They are a exploration of his own work , his ruminations on his subject matter, even though he is addressing a young poet. And then such delight to walk the path he walked in Duino several months later.

The other book I bought was Six Drawing Lessons by William Kentridge. I have  been admiring Kentridge's work from afar and bought the book for greater insight ( more of his books will find my shelf no doubt)  as I liked how his ideas worked and the thoughts he put into his work- it's a long and erudite tale. I like how he draws on philosophy, on ideas of others and I even encountered Rilke in the pages of his six lectures on Drawing for Harvard University. Then imagine my unutterable delight to be able to experience some of his work in Milan- I only found there was an exhibition of his work whilst checking a website for things to do in Milan). I wrote about all these things in my lost Rhodia journal. But what surprises me even more, that ,walking the Rilke path in Duino and visiting Kentridge's work in Milan were both unplanned things- things that I only found out about  the minute they were upon me- and I wrote about how strange and serendipitous the universe can be, how these encounters turn up in my life without expecting them to and yet they somehow connect  what I am thinking and trying to understand.

 And so  whilst trying out my new Fude pen which arrived on the same day as the William Kentridge book- the two things are combined somehow, and I am trying to get to the centre of  banksias

And there you have it Rilke and Kentridge on the same page!

And then recent ruminations on Aussie bush-I am trying to feel it not only see it- I want to understand its myths, the people who have written about it. I want to create the  Aussie bush in all its weirdness and wonder- there is no other wilderness like it in the world.

So this ramble is a little of how my journals actually are- a place to explore, discover, test, think, create ideas- and the slowness of the actual writing or drawing creates somehow greater reflection, and your brain has time to evolve  the ideas, because the slowness of your hand dictates the exploration - much like stitching really.