Monday, 29 June 2015


i see to my surprise that this is the one thousandth post. i can't even imagine that many marbles. no wonder i haven't finished writing that novel.

i've been tweaking my website this evening, finally adding the class details for Mansfield in November...undies and bloomers (by demand) in one session, with another devoted to independent work (on the project of your choice) in which i act as consultant, keep a series of dyepots simmering for you and make lunch every day (gluten free vegetarian). there'll be some nice wine, good cheese and yummy chocolate as well.

those of you who have spent time with me before know how i feel about nourishing the inner bear.

Marion of Beautiful Silks has very kindly offered a 10% discount on materials for class participants. we've been good friends for at least a decade and a half now so i'm also very happy to be going back to her lovely Botanical Studio on my way home from Mansfield

i'm also offering a paper dyeing day at Poet's Ode on my return from the USA early in October, before i head up to Wirrealpa to prepare for our wonderful outback retreat there later that month.

maybe i'll see some of you at some of these...

meanwhile, if you are an Australian size 10-12 and interested in acquiring the garment above, do please drop me a line (i love it and would wear it myself but i'm just too sturdily built). it's silk, dyed with eucalyptus

Friday, 26 June 2015


dear friends.
thank you.

 i've just returned from the Observatory
i observed the solstice
by hanging the solace pennants

opening each parcel i travelled around the country and around the whirled
many of you enclosed letters with your work
letters of joy, hope and sometimes sorrow
moving me to tears at times

as i held each piece in my hand i felt the love you had put into it
i learned some new words
(and will need to relearn long-forgotten morse code to decipher one flag)

you sent wishes for peace
blessings for the natural world
prayers and hopes for friends and family in need
and for loved ones you had lost.
you told stories of gathering to share food, talk and stitching
shared memories and stories
shared precious fragments of cloth that held personal significance
i thank you all.

you'll have noticed the indigo dip didn't happen.
the water situation at the Observatory is tenuous
(it all stil needs to be carried in)
and so i had to abandon that idea
which was as well, i think
as they are beautiful exactly as they are


i shall be building a website for the project
carefully typing out your collective poem
and will leave the postbox open
in case there are more to come
in which case i shall add them to the circle
whenever i visit the Observatory

in the meantime, my gratitude goes to

(and in no particular order)
Heidi Monks
Cherilene Chan
Donna Kallner
Frances Westwood
Bodil Møller Larsen
Jo Roszkowski
Denise Fordyce
Isobel McGarry
Cassie Gibson
Mary Heath
K O'Donnell
Joy Hopetoun
Cynara Mori
Jenni Worth
Shari Bubner
Arija Schwerdtfeger
Nicole Howe
Wen Redmond
Amanda Holloway
Gerdi Schumacher
Dorcas Pennyfather
Penny Crompton
Evelyn Parkin
Louise Plint
Therese Swift-Hahn
Mo Crow
Cathy Wycliff
Celeste Hansel
Liz Ackert
Beth Brennan
Cindy Monte
Maya Sara Matthew
Jo Ann McGeever Metzger
Yvonne Habbe
Malin Sjöstrand
Suri Vangolen
Morna Crites-Moore
Janet Tobler
Susi Bancroft
Lajla Nystad
Holly Story
Diane Kingsley
Christi (Possum) Carter
Wendi Trulson
Jenny McHenry
Indra Stephenson
Tracy Duddridge
Eva Rodriguez Riestra
Lotta Helleberg
Emma Riley
Sue Fisken
Jane Flower
Kathy Wonderlin
Tina Meakin
Helen Trejo
Carola Heptinstall
Donella Wilson
Sue Gilbert
Fiona Burchell
Lynn Jones
Ronnie Ayliffe
Kathy Jolman
Jessica Grantley
Eileen Schramm
Nanette Gilbert
Jo Brook
Deb Cocks
Jan Rowan
A Sibson
Robert McCulloch
Mary McCulloch
Lorraine Meeks
Carrie Vartarandi
Emma McWilliam
Pat Morrissey
Margaret McCathie
Diana McPherson
Parvin Morrissey
Kate Bowles
Bridget Ely
Barbi Crisp
Jo Britt
Suzanna Klein
Nancy Thorne
Lindy Frayne
Jyah Gage
Tricia Copeland
New Zealand
the USA


Christi has kindly been gathering some of the backstories here


some screenshots from my batfone below
you can see i have a bit of editing to do
and then
i need to choose an image of the whole circle for the postcard....

there's a bit of blue creeping in, conditions for photography were not ideal and sunshine/wind/shadowdancing were the orders of the day

Sunday, 14 June 2015

sniffing the wind

it's been an interesting month or two. life's bowled me a few wobblies including the unexpected passing of an old friend - i shan't bore you with the rest of them other than to speculate that i suppose it's the whirled's way of keeping us on our toes. in theory i should already be at the Observatory, cataloging the Solace pennants ready for installation but there are just a few more things to sort out here and then we can be off to the North in a couple of days.

in the meantime, for the first time in a very long time, i have actually cooked something from a recipe (as opposed to hurling various ingredients together and hoping they will be friends).

the formula for Lemon Delicious was kindly supplied by Mary after i tasted her fabulous pudding at dinner last week. i will confess to browning the butter in advance (remember I'm half Latvian) and to only having panela in the pantry (the recipe calls for white sugar) which threw the colour of the mix a bit but it tasted a good deal better than it looked. 

i served it with lemon butter, a translucent smear of marmalade (thank you Mary), a sprig of lemon verbena and a dob of sour cream. unfortunately when plating I wobbled with the spoon and covered the whole thing with sauce thus accidentally obscuring the lovely brown crust. it's not quite so light as the original but you know the old line about getting to Carnegie Hall...practice.

this week i also visited Treasure Ships, an enormous exhibition at the AGSA. after my recent foray into curating i was doubly awed by the work that has gone into deciding what should go where. happily for the curators, the makers of the works are long passed and thus unlikely to query the display of their work... some of the exquisite block-printed and mordant-painted cloths are affixed to the walls at well over head height and so cannot be clearly seen at all. 
but that's a small quibble. 

rather than paraphrasing the media release...i'll paste a bit of it in.

" The works reveal how the international trade in spices and other exotic commodities inspired dialogue between Asian and European artists, a centuries old conversation whose heritage is the aesthetic globalism we know today.


The exhibition commences with the small country of Portugal. Located on the periphery of Europe, Portugal re-mapped the West’s view of the world and created a mercantile spice empire stretching halfway around the globe during the fifteenth-sixteenth century. In 1498 Vasco Da Gama’s small fleet became the first European ships to reach India and landed with the famous words, ‘we come in search of Christians and spices’.  Within a decade the Portuguese soldier –aristocrat Francisco de Almeida (1450-1510) had ruthlessly seized control of the Indian Ocean spice trade and established Portugal’s permanent presence in Asia which was to last four hundred years.

Treasure Ships also presents the story of exploration and trade, discovery and shipwrecks, as well as illustrating the astonishing beauty of Chinese porcelain, known as ‘white gold’, and vibrant Indian textiles created for export around the world."

there's a particularly amusing Japanese painting of a group of Portuguese in which each one of the men depicted has the same enormous nose (as my companion pointed out with a small giggle). clearly the artist was fascinated by a prominently protruding Portuguese proboscis and painted it onto each face. practice makes perfect.

the relics above were retrieved from the wreck of the Batavia. the gunpowder canister at the top is made from copper and i can cheerfully envisage bundling cloth and leaves around it. happily it is under glass and therefore safe.

while we're talking of voyaging and wanderment i'm delighted to say the itinerary for the long-dreamed of wandering to New Mexico has been confirmed. i've been corresponding with Arts and Cultural Travel for some time now and it's looking as though some kind of adventure (but not necessarily the same story each time) with them may become an annual event. i certainly hope so.

here's the link to the very first one. (i'm told one eager soul has already signed up so that leaves 11 places)

and finally, for your amusement and because i've been getting the usual seasonal requests for internship (please let me come and stay with you so you can teach me everything you know during my summer break) and last month had rather a lot from students frantically trying to put together a conclusive body of work (i want to print leaves on my final collection, will you tell me how) and a couple along the lines of "i'm starting a fashion business please tell me which fabrics to use and what dyes and mordants you would recommend for them" (no, i'm not joking) i have been having to compose kind-but-firm letters in response.

as some of you know i do respond, albeit briefly, to questions where possible, but sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day. Austin Kleon has gathered an amusing collection of letters composed by famous people facing far greater deluges of correspondence.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

in situ : the penultimate installment

it's taken me a while to sort through the images from in situ
and i'll confess i'm not dancing with happiness about them all
i take comfort that the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery will be commissioning a professional to document the exhibition and so these first offerings will be but a taste

this link will take you to the dedicated exhibition site
clicking here will take you to Mary Heath's kind review