Monday, 5 October 2015

100% Boosted and Australian culture

Apart from long family visits, illness and administrative work, it seems like a long time since I have had a chance to make work or to be in a creative environment.
Not that I haven’t been doing immensely satisfying and engrossing other things, I spent much of July preparing for a family visitation from the States and from the UK as well as the continuing organisation required to get the exhibition I am coordinating of Contemporary New Zealand Textile artists to be shown at the Knitting and Stitching Show (UK) in October and November. (See previous post: New Zealand Arts
I had a great time with my whole family, being a tourist at home allowed me to travel and see places that I haven’t got around to yet, including gold mines, active volcanoes, mountains and cafes by the score. 

Smaug visitsWellington airport
Real fire and brimstone on White Island

The far north of the North island remains an unexplored area however as my Mum took ill and we were unable to travel further so will save that pleasure for whoever visits next. The NZ health system took great care of her and nearly 3 weeks after her expected return to the UK, she was able to fly. 
In the meantime the crowd funding campaign through ‘Boosted’ was run and we were overjoyed to find that enough friends, family and random donors felt strongly enough to help to fund the enormous expense of shipping the textiles to the UK. 103% funding was the final result. Fantastic and very much appreciated by the 15 artists whose work is now waiting for me to set it up.
I have dipped into digital, online publishing for the first time, creating a catalogue to accompany the exhibition. And on Tuesday (by the grace of some well-intentioned spirits) I will be at Alexandra Palace along with the work and the catalogues, ready to set up! I only hope that the rsi I gave myself has relieved by then – this typing is still slow and difficult in comparison to normal.

September has been a lovely month for spending time with enthusiastic, creative people.
At the beginning of the month the Kowhai Creative Group asked me to show them some techniques with waxed papers and gilding. Mum was just well enough to accompany me,  and we all made lots of hot wax smells, fabulous surfaces and began to stitch into them. I hope to see all of you again in the New Year.

Smiles all around after a day using wax, paper and gilding

In the middle of the month I travelled to the Bay of Plenty region retreat at Tui Ridge near to Rotorua. Here we were using metal shim, metal cloth, reclaimed metals and Angelina fibre, a great combination, you should try for yourselves. Lots of experiments, lots of learning, lots of fun both in class and during the evening entertainments! (They know what I am talking about – what happens in Tui Ridge stays in Tui Ridge)

Tui Ridge

Stitching over metal shim and metal cloth

Lots of samples being combined to create a lively panel

I love that the metals and Angelina fibre go so well together

A few of the faces from the retreat during the show and tell from all of the classes on the final afternoon

Finally this week has been an intensive 5 day forum organised by TAFTA at Geelong Grammar School.
I hope that the young people who attend the school appreciate what a privileged place they have as an educational and living space! 
Geelong Grammar School

A short stroll to Corio Bay from our dorms.

My cousin lives within driving distance of Geelong, so I was able to spend an evening and an afternoon with her and her family after many years of virtual communication only. But what a difference that makes, when we can be in regular communication with friends and family all over the world, it really didn’t feel that we had been apart. Wonderful! Of course in person is always best, but fabulous to be able to feel connected when real lives make real time contact difficult.

Back to TAFTA. The course was called Deconstruct:Reconstruct. Perhaps a little unspecific? We only just had enough people booked to run the course, but ahead it went. And it turned out when chatting to participants on other courses that there was a perception that we were working in sheet metals and would need welding equipment etc. I will take this on board and be more obvious and explanatory in the future! 

Some of my technique samples

A few development ideas

Regardless of that, the brave souls who chose to work with me all get stuck in and we drew, marked papers, designed, played and tested all sort of metal and cloth techniques with the aim of working towards a structural/3D or 2D relief artwork underway at the end of the course. 

We loved the delicacy of these and the intrigue of their long gone contents
Quick sketching

Careful observation, weaving and a developing piece.

Practicing stitching into metal

Lutradur and metal cloth, alcohol inks on metal

A completed first structure.

Young Brittany worked hard examining this bean like pod

We sketched in words

We sketched without looking

Here is the lovely girl with her completed piece

Brittany's sculpture

Carolyn devoted herself to the Banksia pods, which are fascinating I agree. Her piece became a jewellery piece for an arm.

Carolyn's selection of samples and drawings

Beginning to develop a sketch into a piece

Stitching onto paper sketches

There is always great pleasure to be had in meeting other creative tutors. At Geelong this year were the following, and the images are of their student's creations:  


Ruth Hadlow - Ideas Development Masterclass

Hilary Peterson - Dye Print Stitch

Liz Powell  -Containing Materials, Methods and Meaning


 Julie Ryder - Colour and Print

Yvonne Twining - Lastless Shoes

Pam de Groot - Form and Space: The expanding dimension of felt expression


We had chance to learn more about the work and working practice of the other tutors during the short lectures which we all gave in the afternoons and the exhibition of work which was put on display. These were all inspiring, insightful and sometimes funny.

I learnt some key facts about Australian culture this week:
1. What a Doona is.
2. The story of the Bansksia men and the Gum Nut Babies.
3. All Australian. women are loopy! (Possibly even more so than the Bay of Plenty ladies). I won’t say more, but if you go to the forum facebook page I expect you will see what I mean.

It was a tired and energised me who left the school on Saturday morning on a hot sunny day, had my relaxing afternoon being shown around Melbourne and I am now in the UK, packed ready for the K&S Show, ready to catch up with buddies, win a game of squash against Kevin at Art Van Go, meet new enthusiastic textile freaks everywhere from London to Inverness over the next 2 months.


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