Sunday, November 23, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Today I am posting as part of the Around the World Blog Hop. I was 'tagged' by Alison Schwabe. Alison currently lives in Uruguay, but I first met her when she was based in Perth , Western Australia. This is a link back to Alison Schwabe's blog.  When I first saw Alison's work, she was working on a  series called 'Ebb and Flow' which I still love. If you want to see more of Alison's quilts click the link to her blog and choose 'galleries'.

As part of the blog hop we are asked to answer four questions.
1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I am working on a textile piece for a show in the UK.
I belong to a group called 'Though Our Hands' and we are having a group exhibition next year. Here are the details. The Show is to be called "THe Liberated Quilt: New Work From Through Our hands" at Bilston Craft Gallery from 9th of May to 4th of July 2015.

Anyway, as I said, I am working on a piece for this exhibition, here is what I have so far, but I have plans, and it won't look much like this at the end. The final piece will be dyed whilst it is hanging on the wall of the gallery (as long as the gallery can cope with that).
These are actually completely white pieces but they are extremely hard to photograph so I put it on the table so there was some color coming through. I have no idea why it turned out so blue but it gives the idea. here it is, in front of the window so you can see that it is translucent.
You are seeing my neighbor's house and the hills on the other side of the valley.

Today I also dyed 20 metres of fabric for my own use and to sell at a market day coming up. I WILL get around to ironing them before the day of the sale.
How does my work differ?
Hmmm well no-one I know of dyes their work on the wall of the gallery, so thats pretty different!

Here is a before shot of one of my installations in Objectspace, an Auckland Gallery and below is what it looked like after red and yellow dye had run down it for a few days.

My work usually has some kind of theme, in the past I have made quilts about pollution, the weather, climate change and human genetics. I'm not against decorative quilts, I make that kind for the beds in my own house, but the quilts or textiles that I exhibit usually have a message somewhere.

My current series was inspired by a remark that you could predict the next seasons trendy colors by looking at dye pollution in rivers on Google Earth. Then I started thinking about all that dye getting into the food that people eat so the bowls at the bottom have food in them.

3. Why do I create the things I do?
I really like to draw people's attention to issues, and I just happen to do that with fabric and thread. I originally trained as a radiographer and then did a science degree and then did an art course specializing in printmaking. I like to make stuff with my hands and I like to show people new ways of looking at issues.

4. How does my creative process work?
Well I went to art school, and I was trained to write everything down. Every idea, every new recipe, every artist who  might have influenced my ideas. We were trained to constantly ask ourselves why we were doing something. So I have masses of sketch books, full of 'stuff', even after graduating ages ago, I still write stuff down. I do a lot of research, I sketch, I make samples.

Some of my sketchbooks

Inside my current sketchbook
This is just what I am working on currently, if you would like to see some of my older , more traditional quilts please have a look at my website, which I am afraid is very out of date, I'm hoping to have a new website soon .

The next people I have tagged on the blog hop are:
Shirley Goodwin, from Oamaru, New Zealand.
Lisa Call, from Denver, Colorado.
Shirley is a quilter, a dyer extraordinaire and also teaches for the Academy of Quilting.

I met Lisa Call  at least 22 years ago, on Quiltnet, we connected because we both had kids the same age and were struggling to be creative as well as be parents of young children. When she came to New Zealand with her family we met in person. Her style of quilting has evolved hugely in that time, and now instead of being a computer programmer, she is a professional and very successful quilter and quilt teacher. Lisa is coming back to NZ, this time to teach at Fiberarts NZ in Whanganui on April 12-18th 2015.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Travels, Berlin, and hand dyed fabrics.

I'm just procrastinating before dyeing some fabric. It is quite an upheaval to move enough stuff out of the laundry area in order to set up all the dye buckets. Maybe I will work outside today, it is windy but warm here in Wellington, New Zealand.

I'm going to be experimenting with the recipes in this book. The Fabric Dyers Dictionary.
My usual 'go to' dyers book is Color by Accident by Ann Johnston, but today I feel I'd like to try something new.

In the man time here are pictures from our trip to berlin, very little textile work, and mostly fantastic graffiti.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Travels, Art and Textiles : Boston

After San Francisco I headed over to Boston to see another old school friend. I'd seen her several times over the years but I have never visited her at home. I had no idea that her house is on the edge of a State park. She may have told me years ago, but somehow I had never worked out what that meant. Her garden is teaming with birds, squirrels and I even saw chipmunks. I spent quite a long time with the camera zoom lens trying to take pictures of all the birds and animals.

It was in Boston that the trip became more about textiles. We did a day trip to Lowell. I had read about Lowell when I was looking at the history of the cotton industry as part of my research on cotton and its effect on the environment. Lowell was full of cotton mills and employed a lot of young women from very rural areas. The mill owners were keen that the girls were well looked after.  There were boarding houses with strict matrons, evening lectures and a chance to earn money and be educated. they worked hard but it seemed like it was a lot healthier than the English cotton mills.

I loved Lowell and would have liked to have spent longer there. It was Autumn and the trees were starting to change color, and there was so much cotton history to explore.

We went to the American Textile History Museum which had a touring section of the Fiberarts Exhibition on display while we were there.
Gigantic looms which still work

 I love this black and white woven bedspread and wonder how I could translate this into cloth.

We also went to the New England Quilt Museum which I found a little disappointing but I think that is because I am not a traditionalist. It had some nice costumes and some of the fabrics were great. I'm sure if I lived there, I would use the library. They had a sale of second hand books which people have donated to the library. Quilters all have extensive book collections and she they downsize or move on, they or their families donate the books to the Museum . If they already have a copy they will sell the duplicates as a fundraiser. I didn't see anything I needed but it was worth a look. 

On another day trip we went to Newport and I was amazed at the enormous mansions which were only used as 'holiday homes'. The mansions are filled with gold, glitter, statues, marble and other expensive fittings. They were used for about 4-6 weeks a year and crockery, cutlery and table linen were moved back and forth between the owners multiple homes. I realized that the fictional character Cora, from the Downton Abbey TV series was supposed to come from this sort of family.

 On a much more austere note, this is one of the childhood homes of Louisa May Alcott. It was an experiment in community living which her father was involved with, but it failed in about 10 months after the families nearly starved. They had arrived too late in the year to plant crops and the men were away when the crops needed to be harvested.
Pumpkin time in New England.

I really loved the area around Boston and would love to go back and explore for longer next time.
Below are botanical and zoological specimens made from glass. These are part of the collection of Harvard University and are on display there. It is quite hard to believe they are glass, the workmanship is extraordinary.

 Below is part of an exhibition of fibre art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (ICA)

Work by Ernesto Neto

Although I went to the gallery to see the Fibre art show, the exhibit I most enjoyed was called 'The Visitors' by Ragnar kjartansson  It consisted of 9 video screens showing musicians playing a song in different rooms of a large house. They can only hear each other through speakers. They appear to walk from screen to screen and eventually end up all on the same screen walking away downhill still singing.I found it mesmerizing and am still thinking about it today. I do hope that it eventually finds its way to our city gallery.

Travels, Art and Textiles : San Francisco and Boston

After Seattle I flew down to San Francisco to meet my husband who was on his way back to New Zealand from a meeting in Europe. It was the start of my trip and I didn't want to weigh my luggage down too early so I didn't really visit fabric shops and although I tried to visit galleries I found that many were closed , including MOMA, which is closed for construction at the moment.
One really fantastic thing happened in SF, I met a friend who I went to Hospital Hill School with in 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya. Karim and his partner had recently spent some time back in Nairobi and had been back to our old school. It was really great to meet him again.

I did take pictures of carousel horses. I was trying to work out why some of the horses look so scary. The San Francisco carousel horses would give a child nightmares with the whites of their eyes showing and baring their teeth. Even the zebra looks angry.

Scary teeth, looks like it is going to bite.
Eyes with the white showing or eyes with no whites. Just weird!

I also enjoyed trying to show how contented the seals at Fishermans Wharf look. It was quite a nice sunny, warm day.