Saturday, December 8, 2012

Merry Yuletide and New Year Cheer

A Christmas ball - constructed of reclaimed
needlework pinned precariously to tulle on an
embroidery hoop, for this year's Christmas Card design

The little yellow and black owl hiding within
the foliage was re-discovered by me recently.
I embroidered him (very crudely) on an apron when
I was in Grade 4 or 5 - so that's 45 years ago! 
It was a welcome surprise to find that my fascination
with birds and embroidery goes back to my own hand
in childhood, not just inspired by my mother and Nana.

I photographed the needlework on the hoop,
cut it out and lay it on a vintage cross-stitched
hand-towel, along with words extracted from
the local paper, which were scanned and then printed
to create this year's card - Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos

"de Noche de Muertos " (Night of the Dead) 2012

I had a lot of fun a few weeks ago, taking time out
from my painstakingly slow studio work, to make
a few pieces for the latest show at
Gleaner's Inc, 2 Ballarat St, Brunswick.
Another wonderful opportunity to play...
given to us by the lovely and generous Liz Jones

 "Dia de los Meurtos" (Day of the Dead) 2012

Both pieces are constructed from discarded
needlework, pinned to canvas, backed with foam core.
This is a new way of working with the needlework for me,
as I normally pin to tulle.  I like the idea of the handwork of
others, probably all of them now deceased, being used
in a celebration which is designed to remember the dead.
The skulls were 'discovered' within an antique ribbon-lace
bedspread, kindly given me by a visitor to my show
Sanctuary, at Heide Museum of Modern Art. 

The black and red embroidery and lace
work well with the Mexican theme and
I chose to place a bird at the centre
of one eye (just for fun) 

A delicately embroidered Peacock's head
made in India (I hope not by a child) from
the finest of brass threads, with beaded eye,
sits in the centre of this skulls eye.


This is Liz's poster for the show, which opens next
Friday night - at 5.30pm (not am), which she's
cleverly created from her wonderful collection -
she's a very dedicated gleaner!

And here are my skulls, beautifully arranged among
other wonderful object 'des artes

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Last Gasp of winter...

This work is now named "Last Gasp - after Maria Sibylla Merian"
and in these last days of Spring, which feel like winter,
here is Day 10. Petal five has been pinned
the tail of a dragonfly appears in the left hand cnr,
but this is for a separate work

 up close and personal with the vital parts


Friday, September 28, 2012

Today's inspiration...

 I've been visiting my Mother who has been very ill in
hospital in regional Victoria and have returned home
needing something to lift my spirits and so, have turned
to things that inspire me, including (above) recent cuttings
on my studio table, along with a new acquisition, Maria
Sibylla Merian's "New Book of Flowers" first published in
1680 and reprinted as this tiny book in 2003,
Prestel Verlag, Munich, Berlin, London, NY, 

A detail of my son Rory's Year 11 drawing (I think it's a self-portrait
but he may not agree). Yet to be inked in and watercoloured...

Colin's last job in the city before his contract ended -
he project managed this 'tower' called Zen, just
near the Victoria Market in Thierry Street 

Nautalis Shells - Glass art designed by 4-5 year old children
under the guidance of Suzana Zaper, at the University of Melbourne's
Early Learning Centre(ELC) where I work,
and made by Philip Stokes,a wonderful and very generous
 glass artist/ownerof Philip Stokes Studio Glass in Richmond

A beautiful collage, ("A Bird fixing it's Feathers")
 by a student from Templestowe Primary School,
made during "The Sanctuary Project",
co-ordinated by Christine Healey,
Education Programs at
Heide Museum of Modern Art

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tulip mania

 Three days of pinning and 'Tulip mania' begins to take shape
on my studio wall.  On the table lie the fragments of pink and orange
discarded textiles, which make up my pallette

I'm pinning one petal at a time, rather than (as previously)
working over the whole image simultaneously.
I'm enjoying watching the image emerge from nothingness...

 This is the detail of Maria Sibylla Merian's 'Flowers in a Chinese Vase' c.1670 
that I am reinterpreting in other people's discarded needlework. 
Before she devoted her life's work to observing and painting the metamorphosis of the insect,
Maria Merian painted flowers - many of them for embroidery patterns.  
I've chosen to interpret only the tulip at the top of the bouquet, which Maria has depicted fully open,
as if taking its last breath of life.  As winter leaves and Spring enters it feels appropriate
to be embarking on a new body of work which reflects on historical flora painting.
There will be an insect accompanying this work, but not a butterfly....

 And here I am with the work in the studio September 2012
Only two petals undertaken thus far...
(photos of me and my tulip by Gavin Hansford)
Day 6 progress on 3rd petal

Day 7 progress on 4th petal

Days 8-9 progress continues - slowly!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Laugh out Loud

 The eye of the beholder ...

I've been working on this little beauty
(a commission for a valued friend) 
for some months now, on and off
- it's a partial reinterpretation of a 1890's
painting of a Laughing Kookaburra by Queensland
artist and taxidermist, Anthony Alder

Sometimes re-making a partial image is
much harder than re-making the whole...

He's an odd little creature, my 'portrait',
but I like the way the abstracted wing,
has a relationship to the shape of the beak...

I hope he makes a worthy homage to
Anthony Alder's wonderful painting (below)
which lives in the National Library of Australia

Friday, August 24, 2012

Post Sanctuary photos

In conversation with Jason Smith, Director & CEO,
Heide Museum of Modern Art about Sarah Stone's 1790
King Parrot which inspired Queen Billie 2010 (pictured)

 Installing Queen Billie 2010, in the Project Gallery
Ellis' Paradise and Flaming Flamingo in the background

 Discussing the historical context of the work,
Flaming Flamingo 2011 after John James Audubon in the background

Lyrebird Inspirations

National Library of Australia photo of "The Display"
- gotta love that lyrebird

A lyrebird collage made by a young girl in my 'Sunday Arts'
Workshop at Heide MoMA, in response to Sanctuary -
truly inspiring to me

I named 'Madeira's Lyre 2010' after John William Lewin c1815
(National Library of Australia), for the exquisite Madeira Applique
fern motifs which makes up the Lyre in the tail feathers

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Sanctuary" - installation shots in the Andrew Myer & Kerry Gardner Project Gallery at Heide March - July 2012

 Installation shots from Heide MoMA have arrived, this is
the cabinet of curiosities filled with needlework and natural history treasures,
including my precious 1937 edition of Audubon's "Birds of America".
Above the cabinet are "Elvis" 2011 - after Sir Hans Sloane's 1750's Rhino hornbill skull;
"Carolina on my mind" 2011 - after John James Audubon 1825 and "Queen Billie #2" 2010

Left to right - "Lucy's Kite" 2011 after JJ Audubon 1829; 3 works as above;
"Black Prince" 2011 - after Louisa Anne Meredith c1850; "Maria's Saturn" - after
Maria Sibylla Merian c1700 and "Halcyone & Ceyx" 2010 - after Lilian Medland c1930

(Left to right) "Queen Billie" 2010 - after Sarah Stone 1790;
"Madiera's Lyre" 2010 - after J W Lewin 1815;
 "Major Tom" 2010 - after J & E Gould c1848 and "Lucy's Kite" 1829

 At the opening with my babies "Ellis' Paradise" 2011 - after Ellis Rowan 1917
and "Flaming Flamingo" 2011 - after JJ Audubon 1838

"Ellis' Paradise" 2011; "Flaming Flamingo" 2011 and "Queen Billie" 2010

(left to right) "Black Prince" 2011; "Maria's Saturn"; "Halcyone & Ceyx" 2010
and "Right Place, Wrong Time" 2011 - after Maria Sibylla Merian c1700

Friday, July 27, 2012

Playing with the left overs...

 After two and half years of working with the minutai of
domestic needlework, pinning fragment after fragment
to create a large image, it's fun to work with quick 'sketches'
in flora motifs
 I'm also having fun working with what's left over... the linen
remnants left behind after the needlework has been 'mined'...
and now those negative spaces are being in-filled with the
unfinished business of others - needlework projects which
have been left unfinished or never started
nothing beats the stitch-by-stitch meditative process
of working on an old Singer c.1954 - passed down to me
from my husband's family - it once belonged to my dear
mother-in-law Sally Alexander, who was a doctor and
unfortunately not much of a seamstress, but used it mostly
for mending.  No-one else in her family wanted it, but I treasure her
and am now embarking on my second large installation with this
old but very reliable and very simple machine. The story goes
that it cost my father-in-law, George a week's salary!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Collage Critters at Heide

Revealing the source - vintage tea cloth, hand-embroidered with sweet peas

 I ran my fourth and final children's print and collage workshop yesterday,
 at Heide Museum of Modern Art

with the help of Dom, Judy and Christine and
16 wonderful children aged between 5 and 10 years

Revealing another inspirational piece -
antique hand-made lace handkerchief from Paris

Children never cease to amaze when they are given the freedom to create...

A collaged butterfly by one of the girls

 A collaged King parrot by one of the boys

A collaged Lyrebird by one of the girls 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Crazy Kooka Days

 A jolly fellow emerges
(detail of a Laughing Kookaburra
 after Anthony Alder c1890)
 Studio joy after many weeks away
A huge day's work