Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to you all.  It has been a lovely day here in Melbourne, overcast and a comfortable temperature.
We took the dog for a walk this morning, her first swim in the local creek since her operation in September!

It was very quiet down at the park although we did meet a few others taking their dogs out before the big day of visiting.  It is one of the few times Penny has been off-lead since September also.  The park has a good off-lead area that was freshly mown - easy to be sure that there were no snakes around, we hoped.

Couldn't resist taking a picture of all the different greens.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O'Shannesy Aqueduct Trail

I have been at Warburton for the last couple of days - no need to worry about the fire danger at present.  It rained most of the time we were there.  We went up Mt Donna Buang to a spring water spot to fill up a container and it was 7 degrees and the clouds were coming in.  We were starting to get worried about snow - apparently it did snow on Mt Buller.  Not the sort of weather you are expecting a few days before Christmas.  It was warmer at the base of the mountain, 15 degrees.  Still not what you expect in early summer.  I loved it, I am NOT a fan of hot weather.
We saw a couple of lyre birds on the way down the mountain - very exciting.

Today we managed to get out for a walk.  We went along part of the O'Shannesy Aqueduct Trail.  We started at Millgrove and walked for an hour or so.  It was our dog's first time at Warburton since her cruciate ligament operation, so we were very excited to be there. This walk is a fabulous one - lots of magnificent scenery, a flat walk that is well maintained and plenty of birds to see.

I took a lot of photos to show my en plein air tapestry friends that it might be a good place to work.  There are wonderful panoramas, the forest surrounding the walk is wonderful. I found that I wanted to take photos all the time (I did take 60!) but everything is so big that it is hard to get it into the shot or to show the relative size.  So now I have quite a lot of photos that do not do the place justice.

Finally, a person to show some proportion of the size of the plants.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sort of finished my en plein air piece

As the header says, my en plein air piece is sort of finished.  I have hitched off and sewn down the ends.  But it is 1cm wider in the middle than the two ends, so I am going to have to think about how to make it more regular.  I had thought I might have been able to avoid the problem if I had used less wool on the single warp wraps but Cresside says I probably should just have done it more tightly.  There are a lot of colour changes in that part of the weaving also, which will have contributed to the bulge.
11cm x 12 (13) cm

Whatever the reason it happened, I now have to try to make it more rectangular.  I might try the steam blocking that we learnt earlier in the year or I might just try to wiggle it in when I put a backing on.  Not to worry, it is my first attempt and I learn from my mistakes - I hope.  I could always try mounting it behind a window mount and hide the edges.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cutting Off the Community Tapestry

The community tapestry, woven for the Dorothy Impey Aged Care Home, was officially cut off the loom today.
There was quite a crowd there, to witness the event.

Susie, Fi and Julie.

It was a sad and happy occasion.  There was sadness because of all the work that has gone into it, the feeling of community, the wonderful learning that was possible, and the ending of a long endeavour.
It was also sad as tapestry weaving is being phased out of the new textile course and it doesn't look like that similar community tapestries will be woven at RMIT in the near future.

However, it was also an exciting day, to see the culmination of all the planning and weaving.  Heather Gray, the CEO of the Dorothy Impey Aged Care Home, was very emotional.  She spoke of the memories that had been shared by the older people who had had some input with the designers of the four tapestries, of the connections between the current home and the local community and the historical connections, and of the immense value of the tapestries to the community at the home.
Heather Gray

 She mentioned one person who had arrived on the ship depicted in one of the tapestries. The site has been a migrant hostel, a munitions factory during World War 2 and a textile school.
Glennis with her design, the one with the ship that brought one of the aged persons to Australia.

It was also exciting to see the first two weavings revealed.  They had been rolled down and have not been visible for several months now.
The first two woven.

The work was beautiful.  It was interesting to see it as a floppy fabric rather than a stiff one, on the loom.  I am always surprised by the difference once it is off the loom.

Heather and Julie cutting off two of the works.

Susie and Cresside cutting off at the bottom of the top two pieces.

Susie and Joy cutting off the first two works, representing the textile school and the current aged care facility.

Congratulations to Julie Paul, Glennis Leary and Fi Brown, who designed the suite.  Extra congratulations to Julie Paul who managed the schedule of who would be there and when.  Susie Carstairs provided a lot of technical assistance with both the weaving and the loom.  Congratulations to Cresside Collette also, for her overseeing of the work.

From my own perspective, it was an invaluable experience to work on it, even though I only worked a small amount.  We had the chance to experience techniques and solve problems that we would not come across in our own, smaller, pieces.  It was also good to be able to work under instruction and not have to worry about the design or mixing the colours.  We just had to do as we were told and when we struck problems there was someone there immediately to solve them. It was also a good chance to meet other weavers in a very concentrated but relaxing experience.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paper marbling in Turkey

While in Turkey, three of us attended a workshop on marbling on paper.  The teacher was Ayla Makas - she gave us her web address but I have been unable to access it since returning.  I kept getting a malware warning.  So now I have found a site about her but it has been translated and some of the wording is a bit strange.
However, we had a wonderful hour with her - despite being soaked to the skin (literally) by the torrential rain we encountered on the way.
Ayla demonstrated and then we had a turn each.

I haven't tried any since returning, it is one of those (thousands!) of things I am going to do in the summer holidays.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Black Swan

I went to a book signing today.  It was for the children's picture book, The Black Swan by Celia Bridle. It was not only for Celia but she is the person I know, so it was for her book that I attended.

Actually, this reminds me of a talk we had at an art studio - the owner said that your first show will be attended by your family and friends, your second by family and friends and some friends of theirs and eventually your family and friends will be outnumbered by 'the public'.  I suppose even this event was a bit like that.

There were 6 authors, some of whom were actually the illustrators as well, most unusual. They were Shaun Tan, Mark Wilson, Krista Bell, Celia Bridle, Kerryn Pascoe and Marisa Alo.
We were treated to readings by Celia and Kerryn, drawing demonstrations by Shaun and Mark as well as discussions of the writing and publishing process.

It was quite inspiring, even for me who has no ambitions to be a writer.  One of the most inspiring things I heard was from Shaun Tan who has a book of some of his work over the past 12 years (The Bird King and other sketches), mostly pictures that he has not had published but that have been the inspiration for ideas - some of it, he says, is not really publishable, except in this form, as a collection of inspirations and doodlings.  I'm not saying it quite like he did but I found it encouraging, that he talked about work that he has done but has not been satisfied with but that still has been useful in his creative process.

A few of the author-illustrators said that their ideas come from their drawings - Shaun said that his often come from drawing landscapes.

He also said that he doesn't like working on white paper, he sometimes finds it daunting. So he uses coloured paper, partly because he sees art as depicting light and so he likes to start with a background onto which he can put light.

I will try - again - to work in a journal or artist's notebook/sketchbook (I am erratically working in my Artist's Notebook - I go to the site occasionally and see what others are doing).  I have not been a drawer in the past but keep hearing that it is essential - and I do enjoy it when I actually get out and try.

Each book was a picture story book and each was very different from the others.  They were pitched at different age groups and had different messages within them.  The styles of drawing were very different and evoked different responses from me. Congratulations to all the authors.

The book signing was at Ward Sagar, an educational bookshop in Eltham.  It was like a blast from the past, all the children's books I used to use in my teaching as well as the teachers' books and resources.  I couldn't resist looking at some of the thematic ideas and remembering some of the fun things we used to do.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Doldrums

I think I have end-of-year-itis.  I used to feel this way when the teaching year ended just before Christmas.  I thought it was because of the short time between finishing off the teaching year (and all the work that entails) and Christmas (and all the work that entails) but now I realise that it is also the ending of having a regular, scheduled timetable.  I am finding it really hard to get going.

I did do a little bit of my en plein air tapestry last week and had hoped to do more this week but have done very little. Thank goodness Cresside has asked us to show her the finished piece next week - I have a deadline to work to.
The needles are there to help me correct the bulging.
They also show the relative size of the work - small.

I still have a bit to do and the pictures I took do not match my recollection all that closely.  I also have two pictures, taken on the two days and they are not very similar.  I think I must have had my camera on different settings.  They are not much help with the colours.  Not that it is a big issue,  I only have so many greens in my collection of wools and am having trouble getting the differentiation I want without going too dark.

The weather is not helping!  Warm and humid nights, warm and humid days.  We are not used to the humidity here in Melbourne.  The garden is amazing - the rains and warm weather have caused GROWTH.  I spent a couple of hours weeding today and barely made a dent in the garden.

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Step Further

 A friend and I visited the art quilt exhibition, One Step Further, put on by Victorian Quilters Inc.  It is an exhibition at Box Hill Art Space, at the Town Hall.  There was a range of techniques used.  They were of various sizes also.
There were some that we had to look at closely to see how they qualified as quilts but we agreed that they were technically three layers sewn together - we think that is the definition of a quilt.  Some did not have any batting, so they were fine and airy.  Others were more traditional in their composition but they did not necessarily use traditional techniques of have a traditional look.  They were all very interesting and we enjoyed ourselves greatly. The show is on till December 22nd.

Said Hanrahan

Can't help thinking of the poem from our school days when I think about the weather we have had and are having. So appropriate, especially at this time of year and in terms of recent years.
I mentioned it to someone recently and it appears that the younger generations don't know about it, what a shame.  All those poems and stories from our childhood not taught anymore.

Warringal Park in the 2009

Darebin Parklands 2009

Darebin Creek
Darebin Creek 

 I used to walk regularly down at Darebin Parklands with our dog.  Since she has had cruciate ligament surgery, we have been down there less often.  But it has changed to a green park lately.  Amazing difference.

Monday, November 29, 2010

En Plein Air tapestry weaving

As an enjoyable way to finish off our year of tapestry study, we have just spent a weekend at Mansfield, learning how to do en plein air tapestry weaving.  We had good intentions of working away all weekend but took a while to get going, due to being in holiday mode. We eventually got to work and warped up at the Crockett Cottage Studio.

Cresside Collette was leading our group and showed us how to warp up using a stretcher frame or something similar.  It had to be small enough to hold on our laps as we were going to be sitting outdoors.

I know we are all grateful for the rain but did it have to rain all afternoon?  We ended up going to the one of our classmate's house and using the spectacular views from her balcony and lounge to work.

In some ways this was great - we could be dry, have comfortable seats and be near the kettle. Thanks very much to Sally for this hospitality!

As you may have noticed, the King Parrots were not at all put off by the people around.  In fact, one of our group included them in her work.

It was strange to only use the bobbin for beating down and doing the weaving with short pieces of yarn and our fingers.

It did not rain Sunday afternoon but we returned to the same place to continue our weaving.  Of course, the light was different but we managed to make do.  Due to the recent rains, there were a lot of shades of green to work on.  Tonal value became more important than trying to accurately portray the exact shades - not that we had brought enough yarn to even attempt this.  One of the differences with en plein air work, you can't plan too much in advance and have to be flexible.
One of the hazards of en plein air work.
Due to our slow start on Saturday and the earlyish finish - due to the changing light, being indoors and sitting in this unaccustomed position - we did not finish our work.  We are hoping that we have taken good enough photos to complete the work in the next few weeks.

It was an interesting experience, trying to weave what you are looking at and having to cope with changing lighting, not being able to plan your colours in advance, having to adjust the image as you go and trying to balance it all on your lap. We had a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend.  Thanks to Cresside and Sally for their contributions.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

RMIT Fashion and Textiles Graduate Exhibition

After much hard work, the students had their industry exhibition last week. (I have been slow posting about it as I left my camera in a friend's car and did not get the photos loaded till tonight.)
 The work was fabulous, so many beautiful designs and ideas for their use.  So many techniques.  It was inspiring (or is that intimidating for those of us yet to graduate?) to see the standard of work and the effort the students had put in.

The venue (Moonee Valley Race Club) was good, good lighting, plenty of space to move around and see the displays and a good stage for the speakers.  It was also close to the campus and had good parking - always one of my major considerations.

Congratulations to all the award winners as well.
Sorry about the photo, I had to take it through a glass screen.

It was good to have the opportunity to see the Fashion and Footwear students' work also.  (Link to gallery of work.) We do not always get to see their work, even though they are on the same campus.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FUSE: RMIT Textile and Design Development 2010 Graduate Exhibition

This exhibition, held at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick, shows work done by the graduates of the Textiles and Design course.  It is a select entry exhibition and some students elected to put their work on show here, rather than the more industry-based show at Moonee Valley. Some very busy students had work at both shows! There was a great range of works and techniques once again.
Experimental Textile, mostly crocheted.
The venue was great,with the hanging of the work showing it off to advantage. Lovely space.

Tapestry weaving

Once again, the students have worked hard to produce some amazing art. Congratulations to all the graduating students. Congratulations, too, to all the teachers who have helped the students develop their skills and find their specific directions.  It was noted in several of the speeches that the students have individual styles which have been nurtured, and subtly directed, by the staff.

Tapestry weaving with perspex 

The opening night was very busy with lots of excited graduates and their families present, having a wonderful time.
I have only posted a few pictures of the work, there was so much more to see.  The exhibition is open till Decemeber 18th, Wednesday to Saturday, 11am - 5pm and Sunday 1pm - 5pm.