Monthly Archives: October 2013

Maria Hilder

Memories are on the inside 2012

The Blue Dress Series: memories are on the inside 2012

It was that intense shade of sky blue polka dot fabric which first attracted my attention. The triptych of small blue dress sculptures, guarded by the tailor’s dummy in the blue dress, demanded closer inspection.

I was back at the T’Arts Gallery in Gay’s Arcade where embroidery artist Maria Hilder’s work was on display.

Memories are on the Inside 150 x 900 x 900 2012

The Blue Dress Series: memories are on the inside 2012

“Whenever I think back to my childhood, I imagine my mother in that dress. In my memory, she always wears that particular blue polka dot dress.” Maria tells me. “I never consciously thought about it, but when I had to come up with an artwork for a group exhibition called Dress, I suddenly had a light bulb moment – my mother’s blue dress. For me, it has become a symbol of my mother, domesticity, comfort, innocence and home.”

The Dress 180 x 180mm 2012

The Dress: memories

The dress sculptures are constructed of two layers of stitched cloth. The outside depicting her mother’s dress and the inside telling the story of an event which occurred during her childhood on their station in the Flinders ranges.

Maria creates all her work with freehand machine embroidery. She studied textile design and worked as a screen printer. One day she ran out of fabric as a result of an airline strike and started stitching instead.

Always 150 x 150 x 100mm 1997

Always 1997

Most of Maria’s work is based on childhood memories. She showed me a chair that used to belong to her late grandmother. The chair stood in her childhood bedroom, which she shared with her sister. Maria stitched a new cover for the chair depicting the eucalyptus leaves and flowers from her childhood garden.

My grandmother's chair

My grandmother’s chair

Maria explains her process for creating a new work. “The mental process of thinking, planning and growing an idea can take ages. I can ‘work’ on a piece for a long time without ever touching paper or fabric. I then move on to making sketches and drawing a rough outline on a piece of fabric. Once I start stitching, the work grows, changes and generally takes on a life of its own. Because machine stitching is such a labour intensive and time-consuming method, my work tends to be small and limited in scale.”

Detail stitching


Maria works intuitively. She uses her art to process her memories, find humour in otherwise sad events and to bond with people and place.

When not creating fine art, Maria creates highly decorated Irish Dance costumes. She first came to this through her niece who is a dancer but now finds it gives her a connection with her Irish ancestry. “And when I can contribute to making a girl feel pretty and special, it is always rewarding,” Maria adds.

Read more about Maria and her work on her website.


17 October – 1 November 2013

They’ve had me at Textiles and Africa. The first one I come across quite regularly in South Australia but the second one is a rare find.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Melanie Harteveld Becker, the Namibian Cultural Liaison, and curator Victor J Krawczyk. Together they conceptualised the idea of exposing the art community in Adelaide to the world of African art while simultaneously exposing Namibian artists to the wider, international art world. With the help and support of Nexus and the National Arts Council of Namibia, their idea became a reality.

Nexus Namibia Maria Caley silk chiffon

Maria Caley, Ukerete, Silk chiffon dyed with bird plum bark

They brought together an exciting collection of contemporary art and craft, consisting of textiles, baskets, jewellery, linocuts, graphic illustrations, prints and … bottle tops.  Eight different artists and art collectives, represent an ethnic and culturally diverse Namibian society.

Nexus Namibia AttilaGiersch

Attila Giersch, jewellery from Tameka Collection

I spoke to Maria Caley, a textile artist and fashion designer who accompanied the exhibition to Australia. By using plant and earth dyes occurring naturally in Kavango, Northern Namibia, and decorating with traditional Kavango patterns, she uses her textile art to explore her cultural heritage. She believes it is important to document her ethnic inheritance in a contemporary manner and so make it accessible to a future, modern generation.


Maria Caley, Untitled, cotton dyed with red ochre with hand painted patterns and embellished with San people ostrich egg beads

Other textile artists represented are Chakirra Classen who’s experimenting with iron oxide dye on raw silk and cotton, and Filllipus Sheehama who uses recycled bottle tops to create alternative textiles.

Nexus Namibia Chakirra Classen

Chakirra Classen, Untitled, Raw silk dyed with iron oxides

There are few other art forms which capture the unique features of a landscape as successfully as basket weaving. Local plant material dictates the shape, texture and colour of a basket, naturally occurring dyes and the patterns and motives unique to a local ethnic group, all add up to capture the essence of a place in one object.

Nexus Namibia Kavango Basket

Imelda Ngonde, OMBA Collective, Kavango food serving basket

Looking at the baskets in the exhibition, masterfully displayed in a suspended collection, it is obvious that they represent three different Namibian landscapes and ethnic groups (Ovambo, Khwe and Kavango.) The fact that objects so representative of the earth are displayed in a suspended, almost floating way, casting wonderfully moving shadows on the walls, spoke to me about how this exhibition opens up new horizons to the mostly isolated artists of Namibia.

Nexus Namibia baskets

Installation of Ovambo, Khwe and Kavango baskets

This exhibition is a groundbreaking event, paving the way for future collaborations between the artists of Namibia and Australia. I salute Melanie, Victor and Nexus for the important work they do. Namibia is still on until Friday 1 November. Do yourself a favour and don’t miss this. The artworks are on sale and well worth the investment.

Nexus Namibia San Ostrich Shell jewellery

San people jewellery, Hui-a khoe Foundation, ostrich egg shells

Dare to Differ 2013

Dare to Differ 2013: Contemporary Quilts
27 September – 20 October 2013
Gallery M, Marion

The exhibition consists of 41 art quilts by 34 artists mainly from South Australia but also from as far afield as Canberra, Tasmania and Queensland.  Some well-known names like Anne Brown and Brenda Gail Smith share wall space with lesser known and emerging artists, which make this an exciting and important event on the art quilt calendar.

Flora Bush Blooms Anna BrownPartial view of ‘Flora: Bush Blooms’ by Anna Brown

What is an Art Quilt and how does it differ from an ordinary quilt?

According to Suzanne Gummow, internationally renowned art quilter and one of the selectors, an art quilt has to adhere to the following criteria:

  • It should consist of a minimum of two layers of fabric-like material, stitched through all layers
  • It has to be individually designed and stitched by a single artist
  • The workmanship and techniques applied must be of a very high standard
  • The work has to be the result of a development process, described in a well thought-out artist statement
  • The work must have a ‘Wow!” impact
Eucalyptus Melliodora Lucy CarrollPartial view of ‘Eucalyptus Melliodora’ by Lucy Carroll

According to Suzanne, it is uncanny how at every bi-annual exhibition a theme emerges as if it was somehow pre-planned.  This year leaves, plants and foliage are the inspiration for several works, and it is interesting to see how this ‘theme’ was interpreted by different artists. It is obvious that Australians are inspired and moulded by the land as well as by their individual place and relationship to the land.

Three Views Carolyn SullivanPartial view of ‘Three Views’ by Carolyn Sullivan

A few works stood out for me.

The first one is the three-layered installation ‘City Scape’ by Samantha Pope. It consists of three separate sheer quilts depicting different layers of a city. The way it is presented perfectly depicts a city’s depth and diversity.

City Scape Samantha Pope‘City Scape’ by Samantha Pope

Secondly, Cathy Boniciolli’s ‘A Venetian Interface’ demands attention. Not only because it is a double sided quilt but also because of the way the two sides are related to one other. On the one side is a depiction of the beautiful Venetian facades and on the other side a view of a Venetian waterway framed in an arched window. Looking on and looking out. Cathy’s choice of colour captures the mood of the narrow streets and canals perfectly.

Venetian Interface Cathy BoniciolliOne side of ‘A Venetian Interface’ by Cathy Boniciolli

When it comes to workmanship, technique and sheer artistry with needle and thread, I have to mention ‘Eucalyptus Melliodora’ by Lucy Carroll, ‘Three Views’ by Carolyn Sullivan and Wendy Thiel’s ‘I respect: Celebrating 50 Years – The Yirrkala Bark Petitions’

Yirrkala Bark Petitions Wendy ThielePartial view of “I respect: Celebrating 50 Years – The Yirrkala Bark Petitions’ by Wendy Thiele

Dare to Differ is on at Gallery M in Marion until Sunday 20 October 2013.

Umbrella Prints

The thing about being relatively new in town is you hear names and see faces, but as nothing is familiar, you don’t bring the two together. And then one day, all the loose ends come together and you stand face to face with amazing talent.

This is how I discovered Umbrella Prints. I saw the fabric somewhere on a blog and thought “oh, this is cool!” Then I saw the name Umbrella Prints, realised it is a local business and started following their Facebook Page. Even later I attended a networking event where I met two really friendly and talented women who told me about their fabric design business. And lo and behold, there they were! Amy Prior and Carly Schwerdt, the brains and talent behind Umbrella Prints!

UP Carly and AmyCarly and Amy

Amy, an artist and textile designer and Carly, a graphic designer both worked with fabric, designs and printmaking before they joined to launch their first hand-printed organic cotton/hemp fabric line in 2006 and they haven’t looked back since.

Along with considerable experience and skill, it is their love of playing which inspires their designs. They share their working space with children’s art studio Nest Studio (run by Carly), where stories, play and creating are central to the approach. For Amy and Carly, a new design is not just about line, form and colour, it is about the story and the feeling it represents.

Umbrella-Prints-studio-pin-boardWhere the magic happens

In 2008 Umbrella Prints created a product with its own story- Umbrella Prints Trimmings. Trimmings are a packet of fabric off-cuts collected from the making of different Umbrella Print products such as cushions, bags or end of rolls. The little snips of fabrics showcased the duo’s design skills; every inch is beautifully resolved; they also inspire people to think creatively about making good use of the off-cuts that traditionally would have ended up in the bin – to encourage a waste-less mindset.


They sold like crazy and in 2009 Umbrella Prints created the yearly Trimmings Competition -inviting clients to send in photographs of the most creative item/thing they could sew, make, do from one packet of Trimmings. The amazing creations from all over the world can be seen on the Umbrella Prints Pinterest boards. Each year there are two winners, and now there is a team of industry judges, which have recently included Irene Hoofs of design blog fame Bloesem, Jodi Levine from Martha Stewart and environmental creative champion Lianne Rossler.

Cate Oaten-Hepworth winner Umbrella Prints 20132013 winner Cate Oaten-Hepworth’s winning entry

Being environmentally aware is a core value at Umbrella Prinminimisingwaste, using GOTS certified 100% organic base-cloths, printing with water-based inks and using recycled packaging are all a consideration in their approach to design.

Umbrella Prints has recently launched a new range of printed fabrics – Floating World. Six new quilters’ weight 100% Organic Cotton and Five new 100% Organic Hemp/Cotton designs make a small and unique collection inspired by the lightness of being and which are sure to be snapped up by collectors of beautiful fabrics worldwide.

Floating World Stack by Umbrella Prints WRFloating World

See more Umbrella Prints magic here and here.

Have you made anything with Umbrella Prints fabrics? Show and tell, please!

Margaret Marsh


One of my favourite places to pop in when I’m in the city is the T’Arts Collective shop in Gay’s Arcade.  I was lucky earlier this month to meet Margaret Marsh. She was busy rearranging her beautiful bags and accessories in her window display and was happy to tell me more about her work.

Margaret creates individually designed handbags and purses.

Each piece is a work of art. Using different fabrics, embellishments and needlework techniques, she ensures that no two bags are ever the same.



Margaret inherited her love of fabrics from her mother who introduced her to the joy of creating with needle and thread. She studied Fashion Dressmaking and Design and now applies her skill and talent designing these exquisite accessories.

Creating a bag is like doing a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

“A very simple bag has at least ten essential pieces, but some bags require a lot more. Most of these pieces are not outwardly visible on the finished product, but are integral to a bag that works when it is filled with a myriad of items! My textile bags are treated twice with Scotchguard to provide extra protection when used.”

M Marsh - Flirtini Bag - Aug13_3

Her goal is to create items that are functional as well as visually attractive, a bit whimsical and a pleasure to own. Inspiration comes from a lot of different places – embroidery techniques, beads, shapes and colours, even particular periods in history. Margaret uses different fabrics acquired from shops and markets all over the world. She also creates her own from felting, silk paper, mixed media and yarns. As an accomplished embroiderer, she often uses traditional embroidery techniques interpreted in a non-traditional way.

M Marsh - Afro - mixed media - Dec12_1

Margaret’s other passion and fascination are beads.

The myriad colours and shapes inspire her to create pieces of jewellery for different occasions. She loves working with micro-sized beads where it takes hundreds of beads to create an item of only a few centimetres long. These pieces are designed to complement her bags or to be worn as separates.

Margaret can be contacted through the T’Arts shop and website.

Are you a proud owner of one of Margaret’s bags? Show and tell, please!