Tag Archives: Fabric

Telling Stories

The St Peter’s Cathedral, a magnificent building standing watch over Adelaide’s CBD, is home to many a treasure. Its grand interior with stained-glass windows, carved woodwork, mosaic floors, and historical banners is the perfect backdrop for the Telling Stories Exhibition.

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Julie Haddrick at St Peter’s Cathedral

This is a three-artist exhibition showcasing paintings by Maz Gill-Harper from Tasmania, clay sculptures by Mark Pearce from South Australia, and textile artwork by Adelaide based quilt artist extraordinaire, Julie Haddrick.

 

The theme Telling Stories encompasses the work of these three artists perfectly.

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Maz Gill-Harper’s paintings depicting the parables as they appear in the gospels are visual representations of the stories told by Jesus to his followers. It contains texts, images and symbols, turning each artwork into a spiritual journey rather than just a painting.

Telling stories as teaching.

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Mark Pearce’s sculptures depicting the apostles, grab the viewer’s heart and attention drawing you into the emotional life of each man. They radiate the spiritual path and soulful journey of each of these biblical characters.

Telling stories as a spiritual journey.

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But it is Julie Haddrick’s work which shouts with joy. Her vast wall-hangings are filled with colour and life. Using hand-dyed, painted, printed and stencilled fabric, she creates visual feasts depicting God’s creation in all its glory. From the vast work encompassing all of the creation right down to detailed images of treasured feathers.

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Julie uses symbols and metaphors to tell her stories. Her work is filled with detail – some of them meticulously sketched with layered fabric like the wedge-tail eagle, others only suggested in the quilted lines on the backgrounds and in the borders.

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Julie’s work is influenced by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi which embraces transience, imperfection and the impermanent. She subscribes to the sentiment of ageing gracefully and appreciating beauty in decline. Her treasures include feathers, shells and broken shards of china.

Telling stories as worship.

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This exhibition forms part of The Adelaide Fringe and will be on display until March 5, 2017. The cathedral is open every day, with artist talks daily at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.

*All images were taken at St Peter’s Cathedral and depicts small details from Julie Haddrick’s work. Published with the artist’s permission.

 

 

Kaffe Fassett – no doubt about colour

When in doubt add twenty more colours.

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Kaffe Fassett fabric used in one of his quilt designs

I heard this quote from Kaffe Fassett many years ago, long before I really knew who he was or how extraordinarily creative he is. I was a young Afrikaans girl in suburban Pretoria, South Africa. All I knew was that he’s a man from ‘overseas’ who knitted multi-coloured garments. There were so many things about him which were completely foreign to me.

Firstly, I didn’t know men can knit. Secondly, I didn’t know that knitting was considered art and that one can make a living from it. I also didn’t know it was ‘allowed’ to mix all these colours together. I came from a time and place where blue and green didn’t go together, beige was always a safe option, and only moms and grannies knitted.

I had no idea that many years later I would live ‘overseas’, have a career which revolves around creative needlework, and actually have the opportunity to meet the man himself.

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Filled with energy and enthusiasm during his talk

Kaffe Fassett and his business partner Brandon Marbly visited Australia earlier this year, doing a series of talks and workshops around the country. I had the opportunity to meet him in Adelaide on the last weekend of a hectic almost two month tour.

What struck me most about him was not his amazing talent or sense of colour, although that is something to behold. It’s his amazing energy. Kaffe is in his early 80’s yet talk, move and act like someone at least 20 years younger. He is bursting with enthusiasm about his work, about colour, about meeting other creatives, and about teaching.

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When in doubt add twenty more colours

He is extremely prolific, turning out designs for fabric ranges, quilts, as well as knitting patterns and books at a pace which makes me tired just thinking about it. As someone who takes time to process information and contemplates ideas before putting it into action (read: procrastinate), I am in awe of this skill!

In his talk he tells about his travels to different parts of the world. Australia, South East Asia, Africa and India, features alongside South America and Europe. He finds inspiration in everything from street markets to faded wall paint. But it is not just the far away and exotic which speaks to him – he finds as much inspiration from his neighbour’s garden as from a faraway location. As long as there is colour, Kaffe can turn it into something extraordinary.

Kaffe designs knitwear for Rowan, fabric for Westminster Fibres, and needlepoint tapestries for Ehrman. He also publishes an array of books on quilting, knitting and colour inspiration. I found his autobiography Dreaming in Colour, especially interesting and inspiring.

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Image from Kaffe’s slide show

One of the questions put to him during his talk was how he gets time for everything. For Kaffe the answer is simple: No television, no mobile phone and no computer. Brandon, who is his business manager, handles all those things, freeing up Kaffe’s time and mind to create. He loves listening to music while he designs and to BBC Radio 4 while he stitches.

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Brandon working on a design wall

During the workshop Kaffe and Brandon shared another secret: Work with music. Choose something with a beat and turn it up loud. Move to the rhythm! Kaffe believes in doing first and editing later. When designing a new quilt, he works on a flannel covered design wall where he can put up all his fabric pieces, adding as many colours and patterns as he wants. Then he stands back and edit by removing and rearranging. His mantra is – Don’t be afraid. Add more colour and pattern.

Listening to Kaffe and watching him work and talk about colour is extremely inspirational. He oozes energy and enthusiasm for life. Beige does not feature anywhere in his work or life, blue and green can go together, and with many other colours too.

I now realize that that quote I heard so many years ago does not just apply to needlework. It applies to life.

Have you attended any of his workshops or made any of his designs? Please share!

Wanderings with Fibre Art Network

WANDERING – To move about without a definite destination or purpose. To go by an indirect route or at no set pace.Amble. Meander.

Wandering also sounds just like Wondering, which according to the dictionary, means fascinated, curious and enthusiastic.

FAN Wanderings Chris Beardsley Fleurieu Meander

Fleurieu Meander – Chris Beardsley

And that is a perfect description of the art and artists represented here – 55 works by 35 members of FAN (Fibre Artist Network).

Although ‘fibre art’ are often perceived as a very narrow niche, with many limitations, the array of work produced by fibre artists are limited only by their imagination. With techniques ranging from hand and machine embroidery, felting, lace, and quilting,  to printing, stamping, dyeing, painting, and beads, as well as knitting and crochet, mixed media, feathers, and basketry, a common theme can be interpreted in countless ways.

In this case the limitations was the theme ‘wanderings’, the size of the artwork (max 24ʺ or 61cm wide) and a time frame of around 18 months in which to plan, design and produce the work.

FAN Wanderings Alvena Hall Arboreus in Brachina

Arboreus in Brachina – Alvena Hall

Bev Bills (OAM), RSASA director and founding member of FAN, opened the exhibition with a short glimpse into the history books. The initiative came from Alvena Hall, who invited a group of fellow fibre artists to an informal meeting back in June 1994. The aim was to meet informally, without agenda, to promote local and interstate fibre art. FAN was born at that meeting and grew from strength to strength, with many significant South Australian textile personalities as past and present members.

Meetings were held at different venues and supported by galleries, guilds, and academic institutions. FAN meetings are currently held four times a year in February, May, August and November at Marden Senior College, under leadership of Suzanne Gummow.

FAN Wanderings Margaret Carberry Citrus Vessel

Citrus Vessel – Margaret Carberry

In the current exhibition, as the theme and the background suggest – the work on display covers a very wide spectrum of techniques and materials, and even include a few three dimensional works. Wendy Redden’s WAVES and Margaret Carberry’s CITRUS VESSEL stood out for me.

FAN Wanderings Madelaine Hedges Op Shop Mandala

Op Shop Mandala – Madelaine Hedges

A few of the works are by current Marden College textile students and I was excited by their eagerness for experimenting and playing with materials and techniques. Their wanderings are fresh and full of enthusiasm. I particularly liked the techniques used by Tanya Davies in WILD WEEDS: DANDELION and Chris Beardsley’s use of natural dyes in FLEURIEU MEANDER.

FAN Wanderings Wendy Redden Waves

Waves – Wendy Redden

Then there are the works by established artists like Madelaide Hedges, Alvena Hall, Joy Harvey and Cathy Boniciolli among others, which delights with their years of experience combined with their confidence in exploring new unknown territory.

But I guess that is what wanderings is all about – to be sure footed even when the destination is unknown.

Wanderings is on at Gallery M in Marion until 6 March 2016.
To learn more about FAN contact Suzanne Gummow.

 

Deborah McKellar Talking Textiles in Singapore

The taxi dropped me off on a busy intersection in down town Singapore. The narrow side walk, stacked with car and motorcycle tyres, fronted a row of workshops where men huddled over dismantled wheels and greasy axles. My inquiries about the textile studio indicated on the map was answered with blank stares. Just when I thought I had the wrong address I found the narrow staircase tugged in between the tyre shops, with a sign saying Talking Textiles: 4th floor.

Talking Textiles Stairway to heavenWinding my way up the steep stairs, I’m encouraged by phrases painted onto the steps saying things like ‘Stairway to Heaven’; ‘Art lovers, design enthusiasts and shopaholics – Welcome’. As I was about to run out of breath near the top, this one, ‘Feeling unfit? Join the Pilates class.’

Once I reached the top landing a wooden door opened up into a light filled, airy studio where I’m welcomed by designer and artist, Deborah McKellar, and her assistant Adeline. With a refreshing cup of green tea in hand, Deborah leads me on a guided tour of the open plan studio, office and retail area. The glass wall making up one side of the space opens up onto a wide roof terrace where a cat lounge lazily on the sofa overlooking the Singapore cityscape. The vantage point and the view is a far cry from the tyre shops below.

Talking Textiles displayDeborah, born and raised in South Africa, completed a BA in fine arts at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore, followed by a Master of design, majoring in Textiles, at the College of Fine arts at the UNSW in Sydney. She now divides her time between her textile design studio, lecturing in Fashion Textiles at her Alma mater, and practising her fine art.

Her workspace is full. Rolls of textiles, huge colourful canvasses, and piles of hand printed cushions overwhelm the senses and create a feast for the eyes. Yet, the huge printing table, the neat desk and the well organised supply shelves, creates a sense of order and calmness. This combination of overwhelming creativity and calm order, I soon realize, is what makes Deborah a successful artist and business woman.

Talking Textiles scissorsHer work is distinctly Singaporean. Deborah’s habit of photographing typical Asian architecture, the tropical landscape, and other local design features, forms the basis of her work. She uses these images to create various screen prints which are then used in different combinations and colours to create cushion covers, tea towels and other décor items, marketed under the trade name Talking Textiles. Her series Raffles, inspired by the architecture and features of the famous Singaporean hotel, can be viewed, and bought at her retail space in the hotel.

Talking textiles screen printing

photo courtesy of Talking Textiles

The huge canvases covering the studio walls, are layered with screen printed images and textile strips, overlaid with freehand machine embroidery, creating works of fine art. “My first solo exhibition was back in 2012 and I aim to do one solo exhibition every year,” Deborah explains. “I enjoy the freedom of making fine art, but it does take many hours to create a big enough body of work for an exhibition.”

As if a busy textile design business, her role as part-time lecturer at LASALLE-SIA, and a successful fine arts career is not enough, Deborah believes in giving back and paying forward. The Talking Textiles studio takes on apprentices and students, to teach, coach and prepare for careers in the textile art world.

Talking Textiles Deborah McKellarBefore I left the studio, I asked if I could take a few photos. While I busied myself trying to capture the riotous colour and rich textures of the textiles, Deborah rummaged through a stack of tea towels to find one of each design, so I could pick one as a gift. I asked if I could photograph her in front of one of her canvases to which she readily agreed. As she took up position in front of the canvas, she took the clip which held her hair up in a bun out to let it fall over her shoulders. In one quick movement Deborah changed from a designer-business woman into an artist, and the switch between calm order and overwhelming creativity which I noticed on my arrival happened right before my eyes.

As I exited the narrow staircase back onto the busy side walk filled with tyres and noise, all I could see was rich colour, tropical designs, and the distinctive Singaporean style. The narrow staircase did in fact lead to heaven. Textile heaven, that is.

SALA – Class Act Collective

Class Act Collective Serendipity 6August is SALA (South Australian Living Artists) month in Adelaide. I started on a high by visiting SERENDIPITY, the Class Act Collective exhibition at Stump Hill Gallery this past Sunday.

Class Act Collective is a group of thirteen textile artists based here in Adelaide. The group evolved after they all finished their Textile Art studies at Marden College. Together they explore the artistic possibilities of fibre, textiles and stitching.

Class Act Collective Serendipity 8

 

 

Natural dyes – the theme for this exhibition – is by definition unpredictable, exciting and surprising, hence the name of the show, Serendipity – A happy accident of fibre, dyes and stitch.

Stump Hill Gallery is the perfect venue for this exhibition. Surrounded by vineyards and open countryside, with a warm, natural and airy interior, it enhanced the natural theme of the art work and validated the earthy hues of the fabrics and fibres.

Class Act Collective Serendipity 1I love that the description of each art work explains the process the artist used to obtain the final result. The finished artwork is just a small part of the whole process and much of that is lost if you only see the end product. By explaining how cloth was boiled in onion skins, wrapped around trees and left exposed to the elements for days, tied around rusted iron objects, and dyed with eucalyptus leaves, it adds that extra dimension to the work.

Class Act Collective Serendipity 4But the work is so much more than dyed fabric. The composition of the final work, the story it tells and the technically superb stitching, elevates each and every item from craft to fine art.

Each of the thirteen artists brings their own voice and unique talent to the exhibition. Wearable art, vessels and wall art. It all adds dimension and personality to the exhibition.

Class Act Collective Serendipity 2Serendipity is on until 31 August at Stump Hill Gallery in McLaren Vale. It will be worth your while to visit. All items are on sale (except the two that I already bought…)

Fabric of Life – and love

004 When I walked into Mary Jose’s shop in Melbourne Street for the first time, I thought – so this is what heaven must look like. Fabrics and textiles from all over the world were hanging on the walls, draped over tables, and tucked into shelves. The colour was glorious, but the smell was even better. I reminded myself of what I always tell my children before we go into a shop: ‘This is a hands-behind-your-back-shop. Don’t touch.’ But alas – I couldn’t help myself – I had to touch everything. I stroked the suzani’s, I hugged the kanthas, I caressed the Indian embroideries. I loved Mary’s shop and couldn’t wait to meet her.

Since then I learned that Mary is not just a Fair Trade textile dealer, but also one of the leading textile conservationists in the country, with an impressive list of conservation projects from across the world to her name.

Mary Jose conservation projectAs an Art History student in Canberra, Mary soon realized textiles were her first love, so after graduating, she moved to the UK where she studied at the Textile Conservation Centre, then housed at the Hampton Court Palace. She spent several years at the Textile Conservation Studio where she also worked on the Hampton Court Tapestries. After returning to Adelaide she joined ArtLab Australia, working on conservation projects for different Australian and international museums and galleries. For the past five years Mary has been an independent conservation consultant with clients across the globe. (The conservation of the banners in the St Peter’s cathedral is one of her ongoing projects.)

Mary Jose textile collectionIt was a textile tour to China in 1990 that sparked Mary’s interest in ethnic embroideries and textiles, and paved the way for her business venture as a textile trader. She travels regularly to India and other Asian countries where she meets the artisans. Mary is a strong believer in ethical trading and she buys all her textiles from the original artists in their traditional environment, thereby ensuring authenticity and quality. By following Fair Trade principals she also ensures that her business supports community development, self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Mary has recently moved her shop online and her conservation studio to her home in North Adelaide. On the day I visited she was working on a vintage scarf which needed to be cleaned and mounted for a private client; a military jacket dating from World War I which needed some restoration, for a private collector; and a raised embroidery piece which needed professional cleaning, also for a private collector.

Mary Jose book collectionThe walls in her studio are lined with shelves – some filled with her glorious textile collection, some filled with her vast collection of textile and art books, and some filled with her growing range of handmade cards.

These cards are part of a new initiative she recently launched. Beautifully embroidered or printed textiles, designed and handmade by individual artists, are framed with cardstock and made into greeting cards. But it is more than a card; it is an artwork all in itself. Mary stocks several ranges from India and a vibrant range from Malawi. Every card she sells help support an artist and his/her family in an ethical and sustainable fashion.

Mary Jose handmade cardsMary’s house-studio-shop is indeed a little piece of heaven. Not just because of the sight and smell of glorious fabrics, but because of her love and devotion to the origin of these textiles – the history of the old textiles which she respectfully helps preserve, and the future of the ethnic textile traditions which she so lovingly supports. Her love for textiles reaches into the hearts of all she works with – artists, collectors and customers. Mary’s life is not a hands-behind-your-back life. It is a hug, embrace and touch life.

Visit Fabric of Life’s website here

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, realized 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 it’s 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.

Umbrella Prints Trimmings comp 2013

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 Prints, where minimizing waste, 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 world-wide.

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!