Exploring shadows and selfies……

Recently I was creatively ‘confronted’  by a word challenge that was part of a textile art group that I belong to.  The word was ‘selfie’, and the idea was to create an image about that particular word.  I wasn’t excited by the prospect and struggled to visualise  how I might creatively represent the ‘selfie’ in  a meaningful way for me. However although I struggled with the concept of  a ‘selfie’, shadows intrigue me…….shadows have intrigued me since my early twenties when I took a photo of a dandelion against the concrete pavement – not particularly exciting except that there were three shadows to the one dandelion.  It made me think about what shadows might suggest, i.e., shadows give information while leaving room for imagination….for example, I love this image that my kids took of me creating a shell/sand sculpture.  I cannot see the kids in the photo but I can see their shadow which informs me that they are working together to take the photo, they are talking and perhaps giggling because they know I don’t like having my photo taken…..they think I don’t know what they are up to!

So, one day as I was out walking and pondering how to tackle the word ” selfie’, the sun was casting my shadow and I began taking photos, I also began to consider how the concept of the ‘self’ could be represented through the ‘shadow’.

Shadows have been around since the beginning of time, and have many historical and cultural meanings, for example; death, hope, soul, evil….even Peter Pan who lost his shadow……As an Art Therapist I am very familiar with the term ‘shadow’ as representing the aspects of the self that we keep hidden, or don’t wish to reveal, or don’t wish to acknowledge.

However earlier this year I was reading a book by Thomas Moore(an ex priest and a psychotherapist), and came across this sentence which spoke wonderfully to me in relation to my interest in shadows; “We have a shadow self, not dark in the sense of evil or dangerous, but the shadow that follows us wherever we go, a companion figure that inspires, warns, and guides.” Such a positive view of the ‘shadow’ self.

Putting those words together with a shadow photo that compositionally worked I decided to create a ‘selfie shadow’ in textiles, with Thomas Moore’s words stitched around the image…..I love the image as it also speaks to me of choices, directions and roads less travelled….

What do ‘shadows’ or ‘selfies’ mean for you?

On Holidays, and Travelling Art Quilts…..

Much has happened since I last wrote my last blog; my art quilt “An Ode to OZ Flora” was accepted as a finalist for the Australasian Quilt Convention challenge – “Made in Australia Flora and Fauna (see my blog from 11th Feb 2017 to read about the story behind the art quilt) and will become a travelling art quilt. We have also had a much anticipated(especially the children!) holiday to Australia.

The Australasian Quilting Convention premiered in Melbourne from the 20-23 April 2017 but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to the exhibition. However I am hoping that at some stage I will get to see the Challenge exhibition in NZ; apparently it will travel to various venues across Australia and NZ and also includes a trip to Mexico at the beginning of next year.   If you haven’t clicked on to the AQC website and had a look at the 30 successful art quilt entries, they are worth checking out….and enjoy the variety of theme interpretation by the Textile Artists and Art Quilters . The theme could be interpreted using flora or fauna or  include both.  If you do check out the art quilts let me know what you think.

Much of our holiday was spent catching up with friends and family, however I did manage to find time to photograph inspiration for my solo exhibition in September this year.  I have been working towards this exhibition, titled “Natures Exuberance” but it  was a bonus to get a little inspiration injection to keep the creative juices going….

So the holidays are over and it is time to get back to work.  This term promises to be busy with continuing to work towards group exhibitions and my solo exhibition, teaching workshops, and generally getting down to business….

In my next blog I might share some of the inspiration collected from my holiday but I will finish off this blog with some glorious sunrise and sunset images that we enjoyed on our holiday….just to keep the holiday feeling going a bit longer…..














‘Orange’, the Aotearoa Quilters colour challenge…..

Orange is the colour  for the 2017 Aotearoa Quilters colour challenge…..their colour choice is indeed a challenge for me because in the past it is not a colour that I have found easy to work with.  We all have our own colour pallette that we feel comfortable working with – I am naturally drawn to blues, greens, pinks and purples.   However because I like a challenge I find myself actually looking forward to creating an image and using orange as the predominant colour.

Although I am not automatically drawn to the colour orange and have to consciously make a decision to use it, at times I have recognised that my work needs a little orange to make the other colours sing.  As a young textile artist fresh from Art School I was given some very simple but effective advise about how to make colours sing – the current terminology is about making an image ‘pop’.  These are the colours opposite each other on the colour wheel – a little orange will make blue sing, the difficulty can be in knowing how much of the complementary colour to use.

Colours evoke different emotions for each of us and I have always felt orange to be a frivolous colour with not much depth.  As I am reflecting on my past difficulty with using orange I wonder if it was influenced by the gaudy use of it in the 70’s?!  Here is a quote from ColourMatters (www,colourmatters.com) on the colour orange : “is vibrant, its hot, healthy,fruity and engaging – but it can be abrasive and crass.  Its a polarising colour – people either love it or detest it.”

However in the last few years I have been looking more closely at the subtleties of orange and find I am enjoying the range; from terracottas, to persimmon, to pumpkin, to mango, to salmon and melon.  Today I went through some of my photographs and am pleasantly surprised at the amount of images that have the colour orange in them…..!! Obviously I am not able to include them all – I have transferred 104 photos from my camera alone today!  I am wondering how I will chose what subject matter for the challenge……

Natures exuberance…..natures inspiration.

Later this year I am heading back to Timeless Textiles, Newcastle, to again stage a solo exhibition which I have titled “Natures Exuberance”.  I have been blessed with  moving into a home last year that has an amazing garden and I have enjoyed watching and photographing as the seasons unfold. Over what seems like months I have watched these lilies grow and yesterday they began to open.

Their colour is exquisite and they epitomise exuberance and luxuriance to me.


There are a few meanings of the word ‘exuberance’ that appeal to me and because it is my exhibition and I can choose to suit – here are a few:

“the quality of growing profusely; luxuriance”(I love that word also!)

“effusively and almost uninhibitedly enthusiastic, lavishly abundant”

“abounding in vitality, extremely joyful and vigorous”

I also checked out the meaning of “luxuriance” :

“Luxuriant growth or productiveness; rich abundance; lushness”

“Abundantly and often extravagantly rich and varied”.

Definitely they are effusively and almost uninhibitedly enthusiastic!

While writing this I am reminded of a thread painting I did many years ago and while the thread painting has sold I still have the original cartoon painting.  Meanwhile these stunning pink lily flowers are food for my creative soul and I know the possibilities are germinating as I write!


Lavender, bumble bees, kitten alert and thread painting…….

lavender-bumble-beeHow do lavender, bumble bees, kittens and thread paintings all come together in a blog?! I love seeing the humble bumble bee enjoying the flowers in my garden – I’m very happy to share…..Having such beautiful lavender in the garden inspired me to create a small thread painting today of lavender.

We have recently adopted a little kitten from the SPCA and she is adorable.  She is good company but today she was very curious  and attracted to the needle going up and down on my sewing machine.  I was a little concerned that she would get her nose or paw sewn to the thread painting!! img_20161212_132302 However I did manage to get some work done without an added paw or nose.img_20161212_131834


The Four Seasons process…..


This isimg_0266-450-x-600 the photograph that inspired the original ‘Autumn Leaves’ and consequently the ‘All Four Seasons’ series, it was taken at the Melbourne Garden Show(thanks Sandy!) in 2012.  What I try to capture in my photographs is the ‘moment in time’ that my attention is caught by what I ‘see’. My artwork then becomes an opportunity to give voice to what I have been inspired by; in this case to portray the leaves and branches through line, shape, and colour. Beginning with a drawing I try to recapture the essence of what inspired me, simplifying as I draw, creating possibilities, stylising before settling on a design and then adding colour.





Creating a thread painting of the drawing adds another dimension, a tactile layer that also allows for another level of intuitive expression.


However in creating this series and exploring the seasons and their colours I have come to realise that there are many colours that could represent each season; we all have our own interpretations and personal connections to both the seasons and their colours.  Therefor the colours used to represent the seasons in this series are the ones that I have connected with at this point in time.


I loved seeing them completed, and on view in my hall.  After spending so much time on creating artworks it feels important – if possible- to spend a little time with them, however they have now been posted.  Bon vogage and enjoy your new home!


Spring Bursts….so much inspiration…

The ‘Winter Blues’ thread painting featured in my last post and spring was peeking and pushing through, about to burst with glorius and riotous colour. I think I have taken enough photos in this lifetime to last me several lifetimes of creative work! Time to get off the internet and begin creating…..
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My 12″ x 12″ answer to the ‘Yellow’ challenge….

My first answer to the yellow challenge was inspired by this absolutely stunning yellowing tree. 20160611_104911 (450 x 600) Yellow is not a colour I chose to use as the dominant colour, it can be overwhelming if surrounded by too much of it.  However I was surprised at how much yellow I had in my stash of threads!!IMG_20160812_150801 (600 x 450)





I began to start with experimenting and playing with options – free machine quilting the leaves and hand colouring before adding free machined embroidery. I have been playing with adding more 3D to my creative work and so I machine embroidered the leaves onto yellow fabric and cutting out the embroidered leaf shape.

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I wanted to be a bit more playful with the leaf shape and so instead of staying with the more realistic shading in the quilt leaf I created a line design within and hand coloured, before adding the cut out embroidered leaf shapes to the hand coloured image.  The image reminds me of the fallen and scattered leaves on the pavement.IMG_20160817_105629 (599 x 600)At the same time I wanted to push another design that I had been playing with, it wasn’t quite the yellow that was required for the challenge but I took the idea and re-created it with three autumn leaves.  After quilting I hand coloured the background and am happy with the result.quilted leaf (527 x 600)three leaves (571 x 600)

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Friday afternoon thoughts on inspiration…..

IMG_20160812_114409 (600 x 450)This is my next ambitious project, a sizeable art quilt combining all techniques that have been part of my repertoire for the past 3-4 years : raw edge applique, hand colouring/painting, and thread painting.  It was partly inspired by Michele Hill’s book “More William Morris Applique” and while it is very different to Michele Hill’s creative work in her book, the creating of beauty for the home with resonated for me. “Morris believed that beautiful surroundings in the home promoted creativity and happiness.” (Pg 5)

IMG_2269 (600 x 568)I have always been drawn to the ideas of the Arts and Craft movement; “with its emphasis on craftsmanship, quality materials and designs drawn from nature” (Charlotte Kelly, Living in the Arts & Crafts Style) to Art Nouveau; “a style of decorative art, architecture and design…characterized by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms” (Google) and Art Deco;  the “distinguishing features of the style are simple, clean shapes, often with a streamlined look; ornament that is geometric or stylised from representational forms…” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).  The resonating theme for me with all of these movements are designs based on nature, stylised, and flowing or linear in character.

I also enjoy reading Historical fiction and am intrigued by the idea that British nobility would have many wall hangings – mostly embroidered – not only Changing Seasonsto add beauty but also warmth and often privacy.  These could be packed up easily(perhaps!) and moved to the next location, creating another space of beauty, warmth and privacy.  I have a fantasy that the textile arts were given great pride of place in the home, not only for their beauty, and practical application but because they also told a story of the makers.
Sometimes the rooms of the Arts and Crafts movement that I see in books, while they are beautiful, can feel a little over the top decorative and I was intrigued to read in Michele Hill’s book that “Morris preferred to whitewash the walls…and draped walls with carpets or tapestries…”(Pg 11)

The colour ‘yellow’….

Looking for inspiration for the Aotearoa Quilters 12 x 12″ Yellow challenge….thought I’d share a few of the ‘yellows’ I have photographed over the past weeks…Isn’t the little figurine in a yellow petal dress delightful – she belonged to my grandmother and I inherited her, she reminds me of my childhood -of the books I read of princesses….I wonder if I can incorporate her into an art work!!

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20160611_104911 (450 x 600)Yellow is a difficult colour to use as the predominate colour.  Joen Wolfrom, in her book on Adventures in Design, describes yellow as the most difficult colour for the eye to absorb. (Interestingly she also says people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms.)  However I am working on a couple of 12 x 12″ pieces, I absolutely love the image of the mass of yellowing leaves, and this is a little experiment inspired by that photo.IMG_20160802_204337 (450 x 600)