Visual literacy…….

IMG_0206Many years ago, while studying Art at University, I found a book called “Seeing”,by Gordon Andrews  and what he wrote resonated with my own way of observing the world around me. He wrote:

“To have the ability to see freely what surrounds us is a rare gift.

……We filter out an enormous segment of the visible world because either we consider it to be valueless information or believe it has no relevance to our current concerns…..In this way we become blind to the ‘ordinary’.

Visual literacy is uncommon in the sophisticated, technological Western world where the dollar sign is seen as of greater importance than a raindrop or a leaf in the forest. If people could be helped to see and understand the meanings of colour, form and structure as well as growth, flowering and decay perhaps we, the most intelligently capable creatures on this planet, could live in greater harmony.

If only we will open our eyes to experience a new dimension the song of seeing is ours to enjoy.”

Some 20+ years later this still makes sense to me and underpins my creative philosophy.  For example, to photograph an ordinary leaf and translate what20160702_084604

I ‘see’Autumn Leaves – what speaks to me at that moment about the shape, the colour, the pattern or the texture. Tomorrow I might see something very different and wish to explore another aspect of that leaf.  The bottom line is opening my eyes to enjoy what is around me.

Shades of orange……

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Imagine my delight in discovering toadstools or ‘funghi’ (as my son likes to correct me, having been on a funghi field trip recently!), we looked high and low for the fairies but alas …. no fairies!  However the colours were stunning, the largest was the size of a small dinner plate, and we all took turns at photographing them. It was the beginning of an orange/yellow afternoon because several hours later I caught the sunset…..dramatic clouds highlighted by the setting sun framed by winter trees.

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When I arrived home (my new home!) this beautiful orange hibiscus was in bloom…..20160623_170813 (450 x 600)

Studio set up is underway……..

Last week we finally moved into our new home and after days of unpacking boxes I am enjoying my new studio.  Studio set up is by no means finished – it is in progress, but certainly workable. However…. in the middle of unpacking boxes I finished sewing on the label for “dancing Kangaroo Paws” so it could begin it’s journey to the States.  Bon voyage… is posted and I wish I could journey with it!20160622_115651 (600 x 450)

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New toy……

Well its taking a lot longer to find a suitable house than we were expecting and even though my darling hubbie had exhorted me to learn patience, I decided to go looking at new sewing machines……and have come home with a gorgeous new Bernina.  The clincher for me was that it has a hand control as well as a foot control and because of having to change tack in work practices due to RSI in my feet in the last few years it was an easy choice.

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Here you can see me playing with one of my favourite shapes – the kangaroo paw.  Actually I’m playing with it because I am almost ready to stitch around the raw edge appliqued kangaroo paws on the current quilt. Progress is slow but steady in between house hunting and family! I am 2/3 of the way through hand painting the colour fast medium around the border and then its the finishing touches around the kangaroo paw shapes.

New horizons….

Well here I am…beginning an adventure in another country. An exhausting time of settling kids into schools and thinking through ways of feeding my creativity with very little of my studio at hand.

What I decided, after falling apart one particularly difficult day, was that I need to set myself a creative goal so that I don’t feel as though I have given up too much of myself in the process of moving countries. After falling apart I went for a long walk out along a particularly beautiful Boardwalk that meanders around the shores of the inner harbour estuary. Of course out came the camera and I decided I needed to document something each day that inspired me, something that got the creative juices going… imageThis seems an appropriate image to start with – new horizons! This is a tree trunk that my siblings and I played on more years than I care to think about ago. It is still there, it sits on the inner Tauranga harbour  beach where my grandparents used to have a beach Bach (as they are called here). I have many memories of family holidays here. It is a connection to my past, my roots. In the background is the landmark Mount Maunganui, a welcome to the harbour for ships and visitors.

New Shores….and new adventures

Life throws some curves sometimes and 2016 has begun with one of those curves.  We have made a decision to move to my hometown in NZ – Tauranga, in the sunny Bay of Plenty.  My husband needed a change from teaching and so we are headed for a change….I’m looking forward to exploring what NZ has to offer with regards to the textile arts.  Here’s an image of a sculpture in a very creative place called Te Puna Quarry, an old quarry that has had a make over. In the background is Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcano and a landmark in the area.


One of my favourite creative places is called the Cargo Shed, an art market on the waterfront in downtown Tauranga, and although I have posted this image before it shows a little of the local creative textile work.20151018_085413_renamed_25753

It will be interesting to see what creative journey’s I make in the next few months as we settle in. I have completed the quilting on the latest kangaroo paw quilt so that I can hand colour it while I wait for my sewing machines to arrive!

Community bird decorating workshops…at Timeless Textiles

On Wednesday’s Timeless Textiles, Newcastle, is holding community workshops in making and decorating birds.  The ambitious project is to create 1000 birds to hang in the pine trees outside the gallery on International Women’s Day 2016, where they will be for sale to raise money for charities that support women.  This year for IWD many women decorated 2000 pieces of fabric and these pieces of fabric are being used to create the birds.

So, on both Wednesdays of the school holidays my daughter, Jasmine, and I have attended the community workshops.  It has been a delightful experience for both of us, Jasmine loves birds and I knew she would enjoy decorating them.  As much as I have enjoyed decorating the birds and doing something creative together.  The workshops have a lovely community feel, with lots of chatting and sharing of materials, and so many interesting birds being created!20150708_122039 (600 x 450) 20150708_122016 (600 x 450)

The Wool Challenge at Tocal

Yesterday we drove up through a misty and cold morning to the Tocal Homestead, a historic farm homestead in the Hunter Valley.  It was quite beautiful with a heavy dew and sunlight glistening on the dew, creating masses of small sparkling diamonds on the grass or shrubs. The sun was shining and the sky was a gorgeous blue.  The reason for our adventure was the “Wool Challenge” undertaken by the Newcastle Spinners and Weavers group, they were out to gain an international world record.  had  The challenge was: the shortest time to shear a sheep, spin the wool and knit up a jumper.  The sheep was shorn in the old fashioned way with hand shears – a fascinating experience for our kids! The jumper pattern was the same for every group that participated, the same number of stitches, the same length, the same style.  They had to beat the world champions from last year – the Dutch, I believe. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay for the approx 5 and half hours that they needed to beat but when we left they were still concentrating hard and working swiftly!20150607_091219 (600 x 450)20150607_091156 (600 x 450)


Living Colour Textiles at Gosford Regional Gallery

Last weekend – ok I’m late – but it has been en eventful week with the East Coast Low wrecking havoc in my region and down the Central Coast as well.  Back to last weekend! We went down to Gosford Regional Gallery for the opening of the ‘Living Colour Textiles’ travelling exhibition.  The exhibition is displayed well in the gallery with windows looking out onto the garden(also relating well to the theme!) and looks great.

Although I saw the exhibition for the first time last year at a quilting event it was quite different to see it displayed in a gallery, it gives a certain gravitas I think.

Brenda Gael Smith, the Curator, guided us around the exhibition sharing pertinent points about each artwork and how she chose and put together the exhibition – not an easy task choosing 32 images from 177 entries.  However she has curated the exhibition well, choosing a variety of subjects/themes and a variety of mediums, and it works as a living colour in itself; a rainbow!

Afternoon tea was delightful and colourful! These gorgeous little jellies were hand made by Brenda and I enjoyed them. Don’t they look just so tempting!

20150418_144645 (816 x 612)If you haven’t been to see the Living Colour Textiles travelling exhibition – drop in to the Gosford Regional Gallery and enjoy.  There will be floor talks by Brenda Gael Smith, on the 2nd and 16th of May, at 2pm – well worth listening to.  Or if you are unable  to visit the gallery go to


Trees & Rocks continued….

Following on from last weeks post I decided to ‘push’ the original drawing in another direction.  The original drawing focussed on shape and colour, this time I wanted to add more pattern to the design. These two images show the process of drawing and colouring the ‘cartoon’.  I have begun to stitch this image up as a thread painting so it will be interesting to see how different it is to the original image and the art quilt.  Creating a thread painting is a slow building up of the image with individual stitches and colours – many hours of work –  I have completed the stitching on the rocks and used approximately 10 thread colours in the process.FullSizeRender (11) IMG_0883