Blankets Re-imagined

My dear friends were the ones paying close enough attention to realise that the launch of Blankets Re-Imagined was imminent. They also were the ones with the genius and generosity to organise a wonderful supper that must have made us the envy of most of the people who were there!  So last Friday on a chilly night after a long working week we ventured out into the hills to Lobethal. The exhibition (of over 40 artists and more than 100 works) was held in the shell of the once great Onkaparinga Woollen Mills, still a very impressive building.

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This is, indeed, a building in which many blankets were made and of course, there were many blankets on display.

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Some were being worn.  Others adorned walls and had been turned into all manner of art works, ranging from political commentary through multiple forms and techniques and into sheer whimsy. It was night, and indoors.  I can’t say the lighting was ideal for photography, even though I now have more understanding of white balance, due to another friend’s kindness and expertise.  So please bear with me on colour variations…

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India Flint’s work is substantial in every way: created from segments of eco dyed blanket and nailed to a massive piece of kauri with nails that would make my father proud.  (He is the kind of man who would never use one nail if four nails could do the job.)  The colours and leafy shapes are glorious, and the trails of eucalyptus dyed stitching form an understated uniting tracery that seems to me to be a signature of India’s.

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The variety of colour and leaf form was just lovely.

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There were a whole series of blankets from this mill in awesomely seventies oranges (lime greens and purples too).  I believe we have one in our very own home.  I love the way this section references that orange but does something that is absolutely not tartanesque with it.

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Here I am blending in to the artwork perfectly well in an India Flint original!  This effect gave rise to numerous comments from passersby as well as friends, and there were a few strangers who needed to feel my sleeve.  I completely understand the urge!

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It was a delight to see Isobel McGarry and admire her contribution even though I failed completely to capture its colours.  Her work, ‘Oppenheimer’s Suns’ carries her trademark close stitching and conveys her grieving for all war has cost humanity and the environment. The launch happened close to Hiroshima Day and Nagasaki Day–and therefore spoke to things that had been on my mind a good deal.

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But as always her work also conveys her longing for peace and healing…

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This wonderful work by Sandy Elverd was on display…   she has long used blanketing as a medium to fabulous effect.

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Indigo Eli contributed a piece commenting on the Australian government’s recent Border Protection Act and its silencing of criticism of the treatment of asylum seekers.

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There was plenty of whimsy… these by Victoria Pitcher.

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This echidna by Lindi Harris and Lisa Friebe.

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Then there was the blanket cubby.

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Unfortunately I did not record the name of the artist.

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There were also reminders of the machinery on which so much wool was processed into fabric.

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And there was the building itself to admire.

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Adorned for the event rather wonderfully.

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Such a wonderful evening. So much to think about and wonder over, admire and revel in. And such glorious company to do it in.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

15 responses to “Blankets Re-imagined

  1. Susan

    What a feast for eyes……I ‘swooned’ at the green one…………then there was the orange one 🙂 Thank you for this.


  2. Keryn

    Be still my beating heart!!!! I can’t wait to see it. Stunning. I could read your posts for hours. Totally inspiring. You have also inspired me to keep an eye out for sock knitting workshops. I want to learn and perhaps one day even master this most difficult of art. Thank you for all your wonderful passion.


    • So glad you can get there, Keryn! Thanks so much for your very flattering comments… You can certainly learn sock knitting. I am not some special sock genius, I have just practised a lot! In the past, small children knit socks… and I am sure you have already become adept at far more complicated skills.


  3. purplejulian

    wonderful to be shown something I have no chance of seeing, and many inspiring pieces to think about there. very envious of your beautiful shirt/jacket, I would be feeling the sleeve too!


  4. Thanks for a great tour of this magnificent blanket exhibition. I have an old one that I used for my two children. I’d better go home and see if I still have it! I wished I could visit this exhibition! Great tour, thanks again – xx


  5. I love wool blankets ….and have a stash of op shop finds, one of the first ones I used was a Warrnambool Blanket and part of it became a journal cover.


  6. Mary, you lucky gal – such a treat to see all the beauties in person, wonderful post!
    And I can definitely understand how folks were needing to pet your arm ;>))


  7. Isobel mcgarry

    Mary … As always .. A pleasure to have been in your company xx Isobel


  8. Great to see people are still enjoying the wool blankets from the past! Nothing better than an Australian Wool Blanket. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Love to stay up to date with what you are doing with your old Onkaparinga Australian Wool Blankets!


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