Saturday, January 30, 2010

Should be ...

It's summer and the eucalypts are shedding their bark. A great time to be collecting it for dyeing. I should be ... picking it up.
I should be ... dyeing some fabric.
I should be ... doing lots of things but I am not!

Today I took the dog out for a walk before the day heats up and I saw lots of bark lying around. Didn't pick up any. Gave it some thought but didn't do it. Holidays!
The lemon scented gum next door has lots of bark lying around, that will be accessible till we clean it up, so that can easily be used. At least it is not making the mess that some trees make, leaving their bark hanging down so that fires can run up to the crown of the trees and give them a chance to only burn at the top.

It is nearly a year since the Black Saturday fires and so far the weather hasn't been so horrendously hot and drying up all the undergrowth. Let's hope it stays a mild summer and we get through with minimal fires.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Looking out while sewing

I have just been away to Warburton for a few days. That's where I actually got the sewing machine going and almost finished the cot quilt (previous post). I have a fabulous view out the window. I knew when it got to be close to 4.30pm as the cockies would fly, screeching. They did not come quite close enough for my camera to get a good shot.

But while I was trying to get the cockies, a kookaburra came and sat on a nearby branch. My camera has a digital zoom that seems to come out a bit blurry, but here are the shots anyway.

A lovely room to work in.

Back to basics

Since I've started my Studio Textiles and Design course, I have done very little patchwork and quilting. So I am pleased to say that I have almost finished a cot quilt. The baby was born last August and I started the quilt with months to spare but even that was not enough. Part of the problem was that I decided that I didn't like one of the colours that I had used, so I had to pull
out all those bits and then I lost my impetus. Fortunately, just before Christmas I decided to finish it whether I liked it or not. So I put the new bits on before going away and now have done all but the binding, which I hope to finish tomorrow. Now I can send it off to the relevant baby before she grows too big!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


We found a shell at the beach yesterday and I brought it home because it reminded us of a pitcher. We were wondering if it could have inspired the first person to make that shaped pitcher or if we are inspired by our knowledge of pitchers. Chicken and egg type discussion.

I seem to have posted a bit lately about visits to the beach, what with Sag Bay, Lorne and Green Point. This is all a bit surprising for me as I rarely go to the beach, especially in recent years.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Going to the Beach - again

This morning I went to the beach with my sister and the dog. It was a lot different from my last excursion to a beach.

Today the weather was overcast but warm. In fact, we all had a swim. It is a great beach for dogs, they are allowed on the beach till 10.00am in summer, all the time in other seasons. There were not a lot of people around and most of those had dogs with them, at least at the earlier time. As we got closer to 10.00 there were more people without dogs.

I do not go to bayside beaches in Melbourne very often, so it was a lovely change of pace, as well as a wonderful way to start the day.
We had a good view of the city. What looks like sunrise isn't, unfortunately, it is smog. There was a smog line visible right around the horizon but the view was still very peaceful.

I took some photos of the water, it was quite flat and grey but had lovely tones in it.

There were a few dead jellyfish on the beach and some smaller ones floating around in the water, fortunately not many. I tried to take a photo of one in the water but the camera cannot see into the water as clearly as the human eye (not today anyway). It is just visible, if you look carefully.

If you want to see the dog at the beach, go here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


While we were at the quilt museum, we also saw some American Indian weaving. Once again, we were allowed to take photos. I was most interested in the patterns and colours used.

Going through my photos

I am spending some time going through my photos and trying to decide what I want to do with them. Here are a few from our visit to Lancaster, the area where you can see LOTS of quilts. We started off at the Amish Quilt museum (I'm not sure if that is its actual name but that will do). I was once again surprised that we were allowed to take photos.

There were some beautiful quilts and explanations of how the traditional Amish quilts are made and why they are like they are. Most of the quilts on show had exceptions to the traditional style, I don't think I saw one that was totally in traditional style.

We then walked around and had a look at some of the shops that sell quilts and supplies. It was amazing. I have never seen so many quilts for sale in the one place. It made me realise that I don't actually know where I would go here in Melbourne if I wanted to buy a quilt. All the quilt shops here sell supplies for making your own but you rarely see quilts actually for sale.
I have discussed this with friends both in the USA and here and we have come to the conclusion that it is not as cold in Australia, so we have not had the historic need to have such warm bedding.

However, that does not mean to say that we don't have a history of quilt making. There is a very interesting site that gives quite a good overview of Australian Quilt history. Here is the link to the National Quilt Register. It has some fascinating stories about the women who migrated to Australia and lived in difficult circumstances and still managed to make these amazing quilts. It is an interesting view of Australian history from a very different perspective from the one I was taught at school.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home again

I have arrived home and am desperately trying to stay awake till evening so that I can adjust to the time change as quickly as possible. I have heard a theory that if you actually get out in the daylight you will adjust better. In an attempt to do this, I went for a walk with our dog to Darebin Parklands. I had noticed plenty of pigeons and some sparrows while in New York but not much else in the way of birds. I assume that some would have flown south for the winter and that there are probably not that many species in a big city anyway.
So I was pleased to see the variety of bird species on my walk this afternoon. We were very excited to see a Kingfisher - we don't see them very often.

There were magpies.

Ducks - sadly, the water in this pond has toxic algae and is very green.

There was also a mudlark - in the mud.

We also came across a pigeon of our own.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oops! How could I have forgotten?

While reminiscing, already, about my trip to New York (I fly home later today), I realised that I had seen yet another movie - The Young Victoria. We enjoyed it greatly. We were also amused by the fact that we come from Melbourne, in Victoria, and that one of the oldest suburbs is Coburg - you might have to see the movie to understand this. I can't remember the exact date Victoria became a separate state but, at a guess, I'd say it was in the reign of Queen Victoria, while Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister. (Yes, yes, I should know this.)

But, even more surprisingly, I had forgotten that I had seen the prints of Gabriel Orozco at MoMA! They were amazing, so many variations of the same design, using colour. I didn't spend a great deal of time in the room as I was still trying to keep the Tim Burton stuff in my mind, but it was truly fascinating. A whole room covered by slightly different prints. And I am finding that I do love geometric designs. They were what appealed to me the most with the Kandisnky wordks also, although they were not arranged so mathematically.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More art exhibitions!

After my visit to the MoMA, I headed off to Union Square to meet some friends. I planned to go to the Barnes and Noble bookshop there and browse for a couple of hours till they arrived. However, I realised that I had noticed an interesting sounding exhibition on W17th St and realised that I was quite nearby. So I decided that I couldn't pass up the opportunity and found the address.
It was nothing like I had expected, it was Himalayan art and a special exhibition of ideas about cosmology, Visions of the Cosmos. It was at the Rubin Museum of Art. So I took another hour and a half to look at some of the work there. I took in the exhibition I was most interested in and then worked my way around another floor of the museum but just couldn't look at any more art. I was exhausted, another hard day of being a tourist. I did manage to look through the gift shop though.

I hope I can keep up the interest when I return home and go to exhibitions and showings. There is so much to see in New York, it gets a bit overwhelming at times.

As I walking along to meet my friends I also saw a place called Beads of Paradise and couldn't resist that. But I was too tired to look properly. They had an interesting collection of beads, with quite a strong leaning towards the Indian culture, which I found co-incidental after my visit to the Rubin Museum of Art.
But I am thinking that tomorrow I will try not to go to any art exhibitions and will just browse the bookshops. Hopefully.

Exhibitioned Out!

I had not planned to go to many more exhibitions but I did set of for the Museum of Modern Art today. I wanted to see the Tim Burton exhibition. I got there relatively early and it was already reasonably crowded but I was able to see all the works quite well. There were a couple of school groups, both primary and secondary as well the usual run of tourists and locals. I had thought it was a bit crowded but overheard one guard telling another that it had been a reasonably quiet day! Glad I didn't go on one of the busy days.
The Tim Burton work was great. A lot of it was examples of him playing around with ideas and was not the finished work. It was good to see storyboards for movies, his early work with writing his own picture book, poems, etc.
I had not realised how many films he had worked on - I have seen a few of them but had forgotten that he was so involved with them (I am not much of a movie person).
This exhibition reminded me of the Pixar one I saw a few years ago, I suppose it was the connection with movies, the storyboards and the short videos that you could see.

After I had spend quite a bit of time at the exhibition, I decided to leave and keep to my resolution to only see one lot of work at a time.
I was walking past the Monet Waterlilies room and couldn't just keep going. They were magnificent.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The things you do on holidays

I rarely go to the movies when in Australia but since I have been here in New York for the last 3 weeks I have seen 3 movies.
We have seen It's Complicated, Up in the Air and Avatar. (I think that's all, I am not used to seeing so many movies in a short time - and I have seen two live shows.)
I loved Avatar. The story reminded me of several science fiction stories I have read. Authors who come immediately to mind are Alan Dean Foster and C J Cherryh but I am sure that I have read others who have written books about similar issues. The 3D effects and the settings were amazing. It is a long film but you don't really notice it. I have always loved science fiction books more than movies, so I was a little apprehensive about going to the movie but it was well worth it.

Kandinsky at the Guggenheim

Today I trotted off to another exhibition. I'll be getting exhibitioned out! It was a 35-40 minute walk to the Guggenheim to see the Kandinsky exhibition. It finishes this Wednesday, so I am not sure how long this link will work.
It was very crowded, maybe because it has only two more days after today. He sure was prolific, there were lots of paintings and works on paper. I did not like them all but some were beautiful. I was also impressed by how he could do such straight lines, perfect circles and thin lines using gouache. (I know, I should have been impressed by more than this, but it was truly impressive to see such control.) I rather liked the works on paper, I got to see them after I had seen the paintings and it may have been the different setting, a separate room, not the spiraling gallery, that appealed to me to.
The building is impressive, as I am sure I do not need to tell anyone, and the areas for viewing the larger paintings were huge.
I think I preferred his later work, where he did more abstract works and where he used shapes and lines. His earlier work had very bright colours. We were given a free audio guide but it got to be too long for me, I was getting exhausted by all the information, the large number of pictures and the slow movement, so I turned it off and just enjoyed the works.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Going to the Beach in January

Going to the beach in January is a normal sort of thing in my life. So some friends took us to the beach today. We headed north to a place called Sag Harbour. On the way we had a wonderful chat and didn't notice the miles passing by. What we did notice was the snow beside the road and the very picturesque houses up around that area.
It was a cold day again - about 24 degrees Farenheit, according to the instruments in the car. When we got there it was a little windy but not too bad. I leapt out of the car to take some pictures. Silly me didn't put on my coat but I managed to get some good shots before I got too cold.
The beach had snow on it, a rare sight for us, but it also had frozen water at the edge of the sea. How cold does it have to be to freeze salty water??

We were the only people actually on the beach - the one non-Australian in our group didn't leave the car. However, there were people wandering around the town and visiting the shops. The weather obviously doesn't put a dent in the weekend pleasure.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yet another exhibition

Today my friend and I found our way to the James Cohan Gallery to see the tapestry exhibition. I didn't know what to expect because I had read that it was all work by artists who do not usually work in this medium. Wow, they were fantastic!!!
They were big, amazing art pieces. And I don't know what other mediums the artists usually use but they are good at tapestry. We were allowed to take some pictures too, I was quite surprised by this. I will try to put some up in the coming days, we are determined to work out what the problem is with the computer recongnising the USB. But just follow the link above to see professional pictures of the works.
There was a variety of styles and sizes. Some were huge. They also mostly used wool and silk, and something called artificial silk. I haven't heard of this so will have to look out for it.
As we were near The City Quilter we called in there on our way. There were some interesting fabrics with New York specific patterns that we were taken with. They had packs of fat quarters that we got one of, not sure what we are going to do with them yet but we will think of something.
I used their website when I was planning my visit because it has links to other stores that might be of interest in the vicinity. I also like the store, it has some wonderful books - but I controlled myself and didn't buy any. However, I am planning a few hours in Barnes and Noble in a few days, before I leave New York.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Slash - paper art exhibition

Today I visited the Museum of Arts and Design at Colombus Circle. I went to the exhibition Slash. Paper Under the Knife. There were two floors of works, some installations were made specifically for the site. The works were varied and amazing. This art form takes a lot of precision to execute, some of the work was incredibly intricate. There were all sorts of interpretaions of the themes and the works were arranged into various themes.
I realised that I have visited the website previously, when I was researching paper constructions for my Experimental Textiles course. Who would have imagined that I would be able to visit the actual exhibition? I can't adequately describe the works, they were inspiring. I had hoped to get a catalogue but it was too expensive and, more importantly, too heavy to carry home. I will have to make do with the website, which is quite good. Catalogues never do justice to the works anyway, so I will just have to enjoy having been there and trust my memory.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Metropolitan Museum with a tapestry focus

As the header said, I went to the Met today. It is about a 30-40 minute walk from where I am staying and it was cool again today. By the time I got there I was quite warm though. I really like the fact that they have a well organised system for putting away your coat and other warm clothing.
I went with the tapestries in mind but started off in the Egyptian section and was immediately taken with the tapestry that they have there with the clothing. The work is tiny, very fine threads. It is kept darkish, presumably to preserve the cloth, so was a little difficult to see in detail.
I spent quite a while looking at a number of tapestries and then decided to walk around and see some of the other works. Every time I went to a new place I found more tapestries! So I spent quite a lot of time looking at them, from different time periods.
I also enjoyed the French Art Deco display but then decided that I couldn't look at any more art work, I would be overwhelmed.
I thought I would see if I could find any inspirational books about tapestry in the Met shop. There were a few but they were enormous (and expensive) and there is no way that I would even think about carrying them home on the plane. So I will have to find my resources when I get home. I did find one paperback book about the textiles at the Met - it cost $1. But it will suit my purposes, one of which is to have a souvenir. Yesterday I got a colouring book of tapestries, not very deep but another good souvenir, and easy to transport.
I was glad to have a focus for my visit but I think I need to not worry about the course I am going to do and just enjoy what I can get to see, not focus too closely on possible future study. However, having a focus does give you a direction in such a huge collection and I found it useful.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Cloisters

We went to the Cloisters today. It was a very long bus trip from about 65th street all the way to 190th. But we went through different areas and it is always interesting to see the locals getting on and off the public transport. Some people get on for only one or two stops, which amazes me. Our trip took over an hour to get there and nearly an hour and a half to return but it was worth it, the Cloisters was terrific.
The focus of my visit was to see the tapestries. They were so big and you could get very close to them - in fact I managed to set off the alarm when I gestured to one a bit too closely. Then an alarm went off when I got out my camera to take a photo. I was actually quite surprised that I could use my camera at all but you can, if you do not use the flash. I assume that the security camera person saw me and thought I might be going to use flash but I was a good girl and fiddled with my camera settings. I got some pictures but they were a bit dull, due to the low lighting to keep the tapestries in good shape. I haven't managed to get them onto my friend's computer yet, I may wait until I return to Australia and can play with them on my PhotoShop and perhaps lighten them.
There was other stuff to look at too, of course. There were some amazingly small and intricate carvings, mostly in wood or ivory. There was also a page of tiny manuscript as well as some beautiful illuminated book pages. You can get quite close to most of the things, so it is possible to really examine them to your heart's content. There were some beautiful stained glass windows too, I was especially taken with the deep red colours in them.
On the bus trip back, I was able to pass quite a lot of the time by looking at the fire escapes on the outsides of the buildings and looking at all the different designs they have incorporated into them to pretty them up. It would be interesting to find out if there are any books of photos of the various fire escapes around New York. It reminded me of being in Carlton and looking at all the wrought iron balconies and decorations on the terrace houses.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wandering around in New York

Today we went shopping - not that there is much that I want to buy. But we are supposed to go to the sales after New Year, aren't we? So we headed off to Macey's, did a bit of looking around and had lunch there.
We walked past the Empire State Building but I didn't recognise it from so close up, I couldn't see the tower at the top. That is one of the things about New York, the buildings are so tall and you don't look up all that often. It is cold here too and people tend to be moving fairly quickly, so you have to watch where you are going all the time.
But we did go to a yarn shop nearby. It was an experience for us. We are not used to having to be buzzed into the building for a shop. It is called GottaKnit and they had some gorgeous yarns. I indulged myself a little and bought a few hanks with nothing specific in mind, just couldn't resist them. I am hoping that I might be able to incorporate them into my work when I start my course again in February. The shop space is small but the ambience was very friendly and I felt comfortable there.
We called in to Tiffany's on the way home. What an amazing store - what amazing prices! It was good to visit though and to see some of the beautiful things they have. There was an exhibition on the 5th floor that we went to also. Can't remember the name of the artist - very bad of me, I know. Her work was interesting and you just wanted to touch it, it was so shiny, smooth and had such wonderful, flowing shapes.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I have received some comments that came in as symbols and another that I thought I had accepted to be published but it has disappeared. Apologies to those to whom this has happened.

Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition

My friend took me to the Whitney Museum of Art and we saw an exhibition of Georgia O'Keeffe's work. There was some beautiful work there.
There was some of her early work in charcoal, moving to oil paintings and watercolours. It made us reflect about what it is that someone sees in an artist's work that makes it obvious that the artist is talented and should be encouraged. Perhaps there are many artists out there who just do not receive the boost at quite the right time and whose development is not encouraged as hers was. Or perhaps those with the drive and talent will shine no matter what.
One thing that stood out for me was the series that moved from fairly realistic images to much more abstract ones, of the same subject matter.
It was very crowded! But we were able to move around easily and see the works clearly. I especially liked her work of flowers.
It is interesting to read about her innovation of cropping an image, inspired by photographic work. These days images of this sort are often seen and it is enlightening to see something that was so innovative in its time.
We decided not to look at any of the other exhibitions at the Whitney as we just wanted to contemplate the works of Georgia O'Keeffe, not be distracted by other artists' work.