Tag Archives: India Flint

Shibusa: India Flint at the Onkaparinga Woollen Mills, Lobethal

India Flint is exhibiting at the historic Onkaparinga Woollen Mill in Lobethal (for those of you far away, this is a small town in the hills outside Adelaide).  A dear friend and I made a date and went to see the exhibit last weekend and there is one weekend to go!  21 January-12 February, Building 20, 11.30-4.00 pm on weekends only.  Check details here.  Yes, friends, this exhibit (part of it, at least) has been on show in Texas, and now–we have it to see and admire right here (I know, lots of you are not here)!

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‘Shibusa’ is a Japanese concept which is described in the exhibition documents as ‘a way of being that contrasts elegance with imperfection, spontaneity with restraint’.  Clearly an extremely good fit with India’s way of working and aesthetic.  ‘The seven elements of shibusa are simplicity, implicity, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness, and imperfection’.  Here, shibusa becomes an organising principle that brings together natural fibres, the imperfections of clothing that has been well-loved and well-worn, plant dyes and an immense imagination and a huge body of technique and skill.

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There is a very striking piece that felt as though it was greeting us or calling to us on our way into the space.  It draws on Latvian clothing traditions and includes embroidered Latvian text.  It drew our attention immediately.  India Flint has written about this piece herself in a rather wonderful way right here on her blog.  She has many more images of this work in her post, and explains its autobiographical references.  Despite its obviously tactile, material, concrete form, this aproned figure bearing words of such significance that they have been stitched into her surface nevertheless conveys an impression of ghostliness, one that it seems was intended by the artist herself.

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Like all of the works in the exhibition, the details are wonderful: dense stitching, reconstructed garments pieced together in ingenious ways, resist marks as well as leafy details.  And always the generous number of pockets that a wanderer–by choice or without alternatives–might need, no matter the occasion.  Hidden pockets, tiny pockets, pockets that contrast, former cuffs and sleeves transmogrified into pockets, front, back and side pockets.  Pockets full of bones.

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Garments dominate the space, a quiet but rather elegant crowd.  It is only in getting close to them that themes emerge.  Some of these dresses are rich in strips: torn pieces of silk; plackets that have become separated from their original garments and restitched, ribbons, shreds of lace.  Some have pockets in even greater abundance than others.  Some are gathered and pleated and feature gathers and pleats that might once have formed the front of a short or the feature on a jacket.  Some bear text: they are signed, or stitched with song lyrics.  It is only when you get close to them that you form the sense that their elegance has been formed from elements that are rescued, sometimes threadbare, newly transformed into new shapes, for the new purposes of new wearers.

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The ingenuity with which India reshapes garments never ceases to fascinate me.  You could say that transforming old garments and other textiles is something that also consumes my sewing life.  But the ways in which India undertakes this kind of shape-changing is utterly different, full of whimsy and genius. And always, full of leaves.

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We studied the garments in some detail, and I struggled to capture what it is I find interesting and lovely about them in images.  But I was rather riveted by two other parts of the exhibition.  One, a wall of trouser legs, separated from their previous partners.

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Needless to say, they were also dyed in rather spectacular fashion.

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Then, there was the wall of sleeves, severed from their former bodies and transformed by eucalypts and perhaps a few other plants.

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The shapes and colours and details are just so wonderful.

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We stepped out into the afternoon and went on to visit the India Flint made- and/or dyed-clothing and cushions available at Poet’s Ode in Hahndorf in what I understand are the last week or two the shop will be open.  And to talk up our plans for dyeing and stitching, inspired and delighted.  I hope some of you can also visit while the opportunity is still available!

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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Dyes of Antiquity: Coral lichen and Sticta Colensi

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Quite some time ago, I became the beneficiary of natural dyes that had been abandoned at, or gifted to, my Guild.  Among them were some very old looking bags of dried lichen.  I was appalled by this discovery, to be honest.  Lichens are slow growing, increasingly threatened, complex organisms.  I hear they are plentiful in some parts of the world but I am not living in one of those parts. People far more articulate and knowledgeable than I am on this subject, such as India Flint, have explained why harvesting these plants for dye is not a good idea.   However, clearly there was a point in the past when these lichens were harvested and it is too late to make that unhappen.  So I have done some research into the lichens that have labels on them.  Some of them are so old they have imperial labels on them rather than metric labels.  Wikipedia says Australia began metrication of weights and measures in 1971.  So you know what I’m saying.

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I decided to start with some of the lichens whose labels suggested they should be treated using the boiling water method.  The simplest, and the one achievable in winter. First, a soak in rain water.  Coral lichen above and Sticta Colensi below. I gave them a 24 hour soak in rain water, and then started the heating.  Then there was straining out.  Then a contest between dye baths on the go.  In the end I decided that since Karen Casselman’s book on lichen dyes pretty clearly recommends long processing, perhaps this was a dye that could spend some time wrapped in a blanket to stay warm between heatings.

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The whole time I was working on these two dyes I was thinking about why anyone would harvest lichens to get the colours suggested on the labels which say things like ‘boiling gives gold’ and ‘boiling gives pale olive green’ or even ‘boiling gives warm beige’. And the outcome: Sticta Colensi is the yellow on the left.  Coral lichen pale brown on the right.  So now we know. Leave them where you find them, my friends. There are faster growing ways of achieving these colours.

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#MenditMay: Loving up a lining

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My generous friend India Flint gave me this coat. I would never have chosen it for myself, and if I had been the one to find it second hand, I would have been too scared to throw it in a dye pot.  India suffers from no such shyness (and there are good reasons for her confidence, of course!)  I love it.  It is a gorgeous fabric with wool content but cashmere too, and the edges have been picked out in a fine, shiny thread, by hand.

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I think India sewed a new button on, or moved the old one.  The thread looks like it met Eucalyptus at some stage, and is in two subtly different colours.  The coat is lined with silk.  It is like wearing a big snuggly hug.  I find I take it out when the day holds particular challenges, even on days when it might not be cold enough to wear it, because it has comfort factor. I took it on a very challenging hospital visit last year even though I never put it on!  I patted it on the long trip out and home again.

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The back has a wonderful set of resist marks from a nice rich dye pot.  In short, this coat is a treasure.  A treasure with  a history in which it has been loved and worn by other people, found by India in a suitably romantic location in the US, dyed and then gifted on to me!  And now, it needs a little love from me.

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The lining is coming away below the neck line.  Those two peaks are an interesting detail at the inside centre back.

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Clearly the armscyes were the most vulnerable place in the lining.  They  have been restitched by hand, in several different threads.

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This one has a thicker thread and a different, bolder stitching strategy.

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And, there is a label explaining that the garment has been made under fair labor standards.  I wondered whether this was a reference to union labor, or something else.  It took a little google-fu but in the end it turned out that this is a union label from the National Recovery Board for Coats and Suits, used 1938 to 1964.  This coat was made before I was born! According to my online source, ‘The National Labor Relations Act encouraged growth in stateside unions to create more jobs during the economic crisis of the ’30s. The Coat & Suit Industry union was born out of FDR’s New Deal Coalition.’ This label was used by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and there is a wonderful online history which details some of their labels as well as so much more.

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And so, to mending it back into good shape so that it can go on keeping me warm and being its lovely, touchable and glorious self.

 

 

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More summer preserving

The harvest is continuing round our place.  One friend dropped a bag of figs and grapes on the front doorstep.  I took a bag of plums over to hers on a run!

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Then I went to visit another friend who is house-bound after surgery, taking a care pack of salads and mains.  She asked me to deal with her nectarine tree.  It was so heavily laden!  I collected a huge bucket of fallen spoiled fruit (things such as this are known at our house as ‘chicken happiness’).  Then I picked fruit for my friend and another visitor, and then two more buckets.  Then I cleared fruit out of her neighbour’s gutter!  The tree was still covered in unripe fruit.

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I shared nectarines with two other households and then put our share in jars, since we have a young nectarine tree which is bearing enough to keep us in fresh fruit.  Oh, and there were more plums. Just one jar this time.

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There was also a handover of a HUGE bag of frozen hibiscus flowers from a dedicated friend, bless her heart!  They had to wait a couple of days, and then I decided it was time to use the only dependable looking big jar I had for them.  I wasn’t sure they would all fit, but in the end, with defrosting and squeezing … they did.

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In went fermented citrus peel water and aluminium foil water (thank you to India Flint for yet another ingenious use of kitchen discards that are neither worm happiness nor chicken happiness)… fabric, threads, and so on… (last week’s batch are here for size comparison).

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I filled another, smaller jar with kino from an E Sideroxylon I had been saving, and another (slightly less) large jar, albeit with a rusty lid which might not seal, with my mother’s dried coreopsis flowers. That was all the dye pot would take for processing.

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Three more for the pantry shelf.  It is so interesting to see such a deep green already developing in the hibiscus flower jar…

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

Spring Sewing Circle 3

This time: garment construction.  It was a  sewing circle, after all!

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To begin, for those who haven’t worked this out for themselves, let it be understood that I am a pretty plain sewer.  I like sewing, I have some skills, I’ve been doing it a long time. But, I tend to use patterns, amend patterns created by others,  make changes driven by sheer lack of cloth or my own mistakes, or construct a pattern from an existing garment.  I don’t just look at a piece of fabric, form a concept and apply scissors.  India Flint does, and she has written a new little book about the underpinning concepts which I hope will be available to others at some stage… I’ve been kindly gifted a stapled copy. Some of her approaches to creating new garments from old (‘refashioning’ to some) are also set out beautifully in Second Skin.

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But the thing is, having the concepts doesn’t get me from here to there.  Practice would be needed, of course!  But confidence, too–and these two things have a relationship to one another.  I know when I went to the first workshop I did with India I listened and watched and was inspired as she demonstrated and explained.  I remember wondering why I hadn’t organised my life so I could do exactly this every day. And then I had my own expanse of cloth and my own scissors and my heart sank just about immediately.

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It’s a statement of the extremely obvious that India has spent a lifetime thinking about art and garment construction and honing her skills at all related things, and I have not. This knowledge and experience cannot be transferred from one mind to another like a thumb drive plugged into a hard drive. For one thing, it would be more like the hard drive being plugged into the thumb drive!  But more than this, I experience doubt that my mental architecture could ever equip me to do this kind of design work.  Which is fine.  The rich diversity of human minds and creativity is part of what makes life wondrous.

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I noticed all manner of things.  I have a few good ideas and only so much time, so while I get stuck on some things, I have more ideas than I can carry out already.  India had so many ideas about what I could do with the few things I had with me, that my mind boggled.  I couldn’t come close to carrying them all out.  But when it came to deciding which ones to act on, I found myself up against all kinds of things, from sheer inability to believe that I could carry that idea out, confidence that I would not wear the resulting garment, and sheer inability to conjure up what that would look like or how it could be done, in my own mind.

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I have the concept that many of the sewing ‘rules’ I have been taught are the kind that a more skilled person can adjust, skirt around or safely ignore because they know the exceptions and have superior skills. But I can feel myself clinging to them like some kind of misplaced sense of a lifebuoy. It’s only fabric, after all!

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Well. The thing is, a learning experience is about expanding your mind. Even if you can feel the strain!  So here I am modelling a linen shirt from the op shop, in the process of becoming–an apron?  A frock? I thought apron, but by the time it came home, my beloved felt that it was, essentially, a frock.  I can’t say she’s a real expert in frocks, but she has an opinion.  I am continually being struck by my own inflexibility about what I’ll wear.  I have courageous moments of branching out, but I am just nailed on to some core concepts.  For one thing, when India thinks of an apron, she thinks this (you’ll have to scroll down, but Sweetpea’s blog is a special place, so don’t hurry over it).  When I think of an apron I think of a rectangle of black cotton with two tape ties.  I have two, and have had them since I was making my living cooking, long ago!

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Anyway, back to the main story.  This strategy for shape shifting (shirt to apron) is set out in Second Skin, and I’ve read it a few times without feeling any inclination to try it out.  But here it is!  It ended up with some recycled raw silk sewn on so it became longer and more flowing.  More and more frock-like, one could say.  I finished sewing it in Mansfield and it has been sitting quietly at home waiting for the transformation of the dye pot.  I am still trying to figure out whether there is any chance of my wearing a shirt-apron-frock.  But you never know!  And if I can’t, well, I am sure someone else will.

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This process really made me think that when I run my fingers through the choices at a garage sale or op shop, I see something that could be taken apart ready to begin again.  Where I see a shaped garment that could become flat pieces and then from flat pieces be converted into something else, India seems to me, to see one three dimensional thing that could become other three dimensional things.  While we were working in Crockett Cottage, she was taking two pairs of men’s trousers and turning them into one long, glorious skirt of many pockets.  It was a thing of wonder to behold this process, let alone the insertion of a silk lining.  There is a sample of the finished glory here. Below, a garment made from hemp and cotton knit and the sleeves from the linen short that became a frock, with  sheoak leaf prints.

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On my way home I had enough time in Melbourne betwixt the bus from Mansfield to the Melbourne central railway station and the Airport shuttle to nip out and see some of Blue at the National Gallery of Victoria.  Let it be said that this adventure involved taking my public transport courage in both hands: two trams each way and half an hour at the Gallery.  It was so worth it!  I could not take pictures.  But see images here and here and here. There were fragments of Egyptian garments from many, many hundreds of years ago.  Examples of indigo work from a wide variety of weaving and embroidery traditions from China, Japan, Indonesia, India and Europe.  At one point I was surprised to find myself answering another wanderer who was asking out loud whether something was woven or embroidered.  Clearly I have acquired some knowledge about weaving from hanging about with weavers!  Garments ranged from elaborate finery to those constructed entirely from rags in the boro style, and a rather extraordinary rain- and wind-protective cape made of two layers of cotton or hemp, with a layer of waxed paper sewn between them.  They were constructed from cotton, linen, hemp, silk, elm fibre.  If you have the chance, I recommend this exhibition highly.  It can’t help but inspire and amaze to see such evidence of the skill and ingenuity and sheer hard work of peoples from past and (in some cases) continuing traditions and to learn a little about the significance of indigo and the creation of cloth and clothing to them.

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Spring Sewing Circle 2

This time, a little more about dyes and dyeing at the Spring Sewing Circle.  In the main street of Mansfield, there was a great two colour display of pansies.  I am not sure what the passersby made of me deadheading the purple pansies… I suspect no one noticed from their car. I took them along to the day’s sewing circle with me after they had spent a night in the freezer and this produced an impromptu class in dye chemistry from India.

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Once a selection from the three kinds of water available had been made, I tucked the remainder of the blooms into some raw silk (the pocket bag from an op shop suit).

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Into a clean yoghurt tub they went with some silk thread.

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The colour got bluer…

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Overnight it became turquoise.

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It came home in my bags, and surprise!  The water at home really does have the capacity to create greens.   My last experience of this was not an accident or a one off. Thread that had been quite blue and fabric that had been purple and blue went green immediately on rinsing.  I’m not complaining–these are great colours!

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There were many incidental marvellings at the beauty of plants and fabrics…

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I had a lesson in mordants I hadn’t used before, and some help with my issues with milk.  Very exciting.  Sure to lead to all manner of future experiments.

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I had an unexpected visit to a laundrette (laundromat?) on the day I left home, and found one just doors from a rather good op shop that benefits Medecins Sans Frontieres.  I spent the time my quilt was washing there and scored a long sleeved t shirt, which was the subject of these experiments.  Greens… oranges… iron…

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Using this technique for all-over colour and pattern is something I notice others doing to great effect but often don’t attempt.  I’ve realised that when buying fabric I tend to plain colours or picture prints, and evidently I have carried this over into my own dyeing. Workshops are for learning so I tried stepping away from my habits a bit.  It’s interesting to observe how entrenched some of my habits are.

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The back of the t shirt.  These last two photos show the garment laundered and dry.

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For those who can’t resist the idea of pictures of food… picture this as afternoon tea!  Extraordinary.  India turns out to have the kind of fine cooking skills capable of making everything delectable.  She also has the capacity to turn a few ingredients that might be mere sustenance in other hands (I am not knocking sustenance) into something irresistibly delicious.  Macaroni and cheese much better than a restaurant meal.  Just saying.  We have an onion, garlic and dairy free household and India was kind enough to load me up with garlic and butter and other fabulous things we can’t share at home for the duration.  Such happy pleasures for me and such generosity and skill from her.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Spring Sewing Circle 1

Ah, Mansfield.  I was privileged to go to India Flint’s Spring Sewing Circle in this lovely Victorian town not so long ago.  I have been itching to write about it–but overcome by my day job.  Mansfield was full of fabulous plants for dyeing, including eucalypts that are hard to find in my dry, hot hometown. This is a stunning E Crenulata that was just hanging over the caravan park fence.

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There were catalpas and prunus trees that were so full of little plums that possums were harvesting all night, leaving leaves all over the ground for the enterprising dyer.  There were cotinus trees, and berberis plants, maples and E Polyanthemos… and there was St John’s Wort in quantity, which India harvested to share with us.

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I loved wandering the streets with enough time to admire the trees and expect to be able to use these leaves if I collected a few. I even found this one sunning itself at the edge of someone’s front fence!

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With all this bounty, people’s bundles were packed full of amazing windfalls and all kinds of leafy wonder.  I had come with some serviceable garment plans: I brought along a singlet with all its main seams machine stitched and hemmed it by hand, finishing all the edges.  It used up all my scraps of silky merino.  Then I made another one completely by hand.  I really didn’t think I could be converted to making garments by hand, but India has turned me round.  I still love my machine–but this is another pleasure altogether.  One of them got wrapped around a piece of copper and given a long, mild cook.

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Out came greens and purples and pinks and a little apricot.  The St John’s wort was a spectacular dye plant I have never had a chance to try before.  This dyeing process taught me that I’ve been reading and not understanding.  More experiments will surely follow as I try to consolidate all I learned from this bundle.

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I loved that St John’s wort!  If weeding has to be done, this is a rather glorious outcome.  Others had made wonderful silk bloomers and nighties that also got the St John’s wort treatment.

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The catalpa greens and maple leaves were fun too… and prunus leaf pink and purple… well, so much bounty.

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The other singlet had a hotter time in a dye bath that had already seen a lot of iron- and eucalypt-rich bundles, the things of which lovely string resist marks are made. I always love watching other people bundle up and unbundle.  This is a deceptively simple process that different people use to achieve gloriously different effects.  Finally I had E Polyanthemos I could be confident in, and E Crenulata, and so much more!

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Here’s the E Crenulata on the back, with some string marks on show and fresh from the dye pot.

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And here is the front, with those wonderful almost-round E Polyanthemos leaves. I am looking forward to wearing these come winter!

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Eucalyptus magic.  Sensational!  I see over on India’s blog that she is advertising a new Australian class for 2016 and some tips for the new leaf printer.  There is so much to learn from someone whose dye knowledge, love of plants and capacity for design are so extensive.  And so much pleasure in learning from someone so generous, creative and imaginative.  Do not get me started on the food…  I may have started out with plain and serviceable garments, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be stopping there, and… I was right.  More instalments to come as time allows, my friends!

 

 

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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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In Situ Update

For those who wanted more when they read my recent post about going to In Situ at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, more is now available no matter where in the world you may be.

In Situ now has its own online repository here.  There are wonderful images of the works as well as artists’ statements, courtesy of India Flint.  Enjoy!

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In Situ: Murray Bridge Regional Gallery

Last week a carload of us made our way to Murray Bridge to see the opening of in situ and Ngarrindjeri Expressions at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, where both exhibitions will be open from May 22 to July 19 2015.

The night’s events began with a series of dances and songs by Uncle Major Sumner and some young Ngarrindjeri dancers.  It was a great opening for two exhibitions so powerfully about land and place.  Ngarrindjeri Expressions brings together works by Damien Shen and portraits by local Ngarrindjeri people who came to community workshops to learn Damien’s drawing process.  The exhibition also includes lithographs and photographs by Damien Shen and a video of Damien drawing his uncle (in both the literal and Indigenous sense) Major Sumner–25 hours of drawing condensed into 15 minutes of video, which had many people transfixed.  I didn’t have permission to photograph Ngarrindjeri Expressions–but I was kindly granted permission to photograph in situ.

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Behind the dancers and speakers hung two large works that drew my eye more and more as the night wore on. This is Looking Up/Looking Down by Dorothy Caldwell (Hastings, Canada).  It brought to mind a landscape seen from above, in which massive features of the landscape below appear as much smaller shapes and patches of colour.

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Indoor lighting doesn’t suit my skills or camera–so these pictures do not do justice to the colours of the originals.  But the smaller details in this work in contrasting colours have been stitched in ways that reminded some of us of rain and others of the stalks/trunks of plants in the wind.

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This patch had me in mind of a dam receding in the face of drought. You can see more of Dorothy’s work and read about her approach at her web site here.

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The Story Blanket by Imbi Davidson (North East Coast, New South Wales) is indeed based on a blanket which has been embellished, patched and augmented over time.  The eco-prints of leaves on the left and right panels managed to evoke footprints travelling through sand for me, despite clearly being leaf prints.  The central panel had been stitched with concentric semi circles that are not obvious in this photo–these and the panels of buttons on the mid and lower right side brought to mind some of the familiar images of some styles of Indigenous art, without appropriating them.  I loved the contrasts and the sense of this piece building up layer by layer, as stories often do. There is more of Imbi’s work and process at her www site here.

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Roz Hawker (Bunya, Queensland) contributed Holding Close.  You can follow the link to much better images and her own account of these works.

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This wonderfully embellished, subtly dyed dress is an ode, or perhaps a love letter, to her grandmothers.  I loved the whimsical plants sending tendrils up from the cuffs, blooming upward from the hem…

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and even subtly travelling up the back of the dress.  The dress hung beside a collection of smaller works in silver and silk… a little gathering of treasures which reminded me of nothing so much as the small collection of found objects (mostly from nature) that a child–or a grownup in my case–might bring home from a holiday in a special place.  Conjuring points for memory and wonder.

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India Flint (Mount Pleasant, South Australia) contributed sheep fold: a semicircle of bundles which look like stones… or like bundles tied around rocks: in either case, the mystery of what is inside is maintained by the outside of the stone/bundle.

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These bundles are full of all the wonderful diversity that rocks have–folds, crinkles, smoothnesses, varied and sometimes mottled colours.  But they did smell rather more wonderful than your average stone.

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On the wall, inside what I pictured as the wall of the sheep fold, hung an empty wire box, its base pointing out toward the room.  As a receptacle for feed might, perhaps.

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Collecting Cards is also by Dorothy Caldwell.  This really is a group of cards with images of textiles and stitching on them, for the most part.

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I loved looking at these and wondering over their arrangement and their subtle colours and textures.

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This exquisite, heavily stitched work is Ten Thousand Leaves, by Isobel McGarry (Adelaide, South Australia).

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Leaves have been eco-printed onto the silk as well as appliqued onto it. Isobel was kind enough to answer a lot of questions about this piece–since she was there for the opening.

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The back of the work was rather plainer–eco-printed silk edged with words in English and (I am guessing) Japanese.

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This work is a meditation on peace, with the stitched crosses symbolising those who have died in war.

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The imagery of mending is available here, but the overall effect of this stitching is quite different–or perhaps an homage to the beauty as well as the necessity of mending, its capacity to build up a whole composed of so many tiny actions and scraps and make it gloriously whole without hiding the need for repair or the fact of many pieces having been brought together to create a new, entire fabric.

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365 days at Tickleberry Flats (Desiree Fitzgibbon, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania) held a year in a specific place in 356 small vessels, each with red lines traced around it.  Intriguing and beautiful.

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John Parkes’ Sampler (Dead Two Years Now) remembers his father in a moving sampler constructed from two of his father’s shirts.

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Raw edges called to mind for me the raw emotions grief can provoke as well as the fragility of memories referenced in the stitched words themselves.

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Sandra Brownlee (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) contributed Untitled artist book, a work that made me long to pick up and touch.  The stitched binding exposed at the base of the book is intricate and rather wonderful.  Sandra’s workshops on tactile notebooks, clearly based in her own practice, are famous–two accounts with images here and here.

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Judy Keylock (Lud Valley, New Zealand) contributed a work of layers and shadows, which was all the more lovely for the way it floated gently in the small movements of air as people passed by or looked at it.

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Although this work is called ‘Dirt’, I found it rather ethereal. (I had to laugh when I found exactly this word in Judy’s artist’s statement).

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Subtle colours and subtle shadows flow through it.

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And perhaps there is a message here about the wonders of dirt, which is, after all, not only the place we might all eventually go–but also the place from which everything emerges.  You can see more of Judy’s work (in this case, with schoolchildren) here.

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At first sighting, Sandra Brownlee’s Nighdress with text seemed austere.  It appears handwoven and plain.

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But on closer examination, proves to be a canvas for words which can only just be made out on closer inspection, winding their way across the interior surface and any body that we might imagine wearing it.

Of course… there was so much more!  I know that many readers will not be able to get to Murray bridge, but India Flint has created an online exhibition of these pieces.  How glorious to have the work of artists from such far-flung places brought together locally… and to have the chance to be there and celebrate its opening!  We were the last to leave, and wandered out into the night for some of us to tell stories and others to snooze as we headed back to Adelaide…

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing