Tuesday, 5 December 2017

wayfaring in the outlands

regular readers will already be aware that I adore Scotland, so it won't come as a surprise if you can hear me dancing around my studio from a distance

because today I can finally share two classes that have been some months in the planning.

from the river to the sea(loch) :: finding your wild heart on the western edge
November 10 - 14, 2018


wayfinding between time in the outlands…
November 17 - 21, 2018

getting to each one involves a bit of an adventure and a ferry ride, but that is half the fun.

you'll find the link to the contact details here (please scroll to the bottom of the page)

Sunday, 12 November 2017



Lately there has been another tsunami of posts on the interpixies by various people operating in the creative arts whirled, complaining about copyists.

The funny thing is that many of them derive a living from having either copied someone else's work from a book, poached a successful business model (in one case, together with the email list!) from an associate or are directly teaching exactly what they have learned in a class.

I stopped giving printed handouts in the year 2000, when someone at the textile forum who had not actually been in my class, helped themselves to a copy and then advertised and presented the class (verbatim) a few months later.

Sometimes people still ask for them...and I can't help but raise an eyebrow when they add "because I've been asked to teach the class to   my quilt group/local school/in a workshop   next whenever.

I have been teaching creative classes of one sort or another since 1986 and have participated in many (over thirty) classes as a student, most recently one with the lovely Lorna Crane. Next year I'll be back at Shakerag...as a student. Will I be sharing directly what I have learned? No.

I choose to attend classes that will add to my practice, in a kind of personalised ongoing post-graduate professional development program. Sometimes I learn more about the practice of teaching than about a specific technique. Either way, the experience is invaluable and improves the way I present classes, but indirectly so.

That's because the experience is filtered through my life, not simply reproduced.


So when people ask me outright to explain exactly how I make my personal work (which is what happened at the opening of my current exhibition 'refuge') I politely decline. There's enough information freely available about 'ecoprinting' online and I don't care if you are "just a painter and unlikely to use it" because I'm sorry but my bullshit detector redlined when I saw your partner's ears pricked and alert. I wouldn't have explained it anyway. To say that it's a contact print is enough.

Also, I am now wise to the practice of inviting people to lunch to talk about the possibility of working with their firm...and then having your brains thoroughly picked. Lunch is not a sufficient payment for my time (and airfares). I prefer my own cooking most times anyway. In future, persons wanting to "consult" will need to substantiate that interest with appropriate reimbursement for my time and travel. Your lawyer isn't going to drop in for lunch to tell you exactly how to manage a situation either. The other thing I will not allow is prospective hosts to "sit in on a class" to see how it will "fit with their program".  I'm not so much green as I'm cabbage-looking.

On the sunny side, I do love teaching, and that is why sharing the class 'being (t)here' makes me so happy. It changes with each location, and grows as I dream up new techniques and practices to add. Each one is different from the next. The poetry writing, though it fills some with trepidation, has become a rich and fulfilling part of the event. Participants still learn how to print on cloth and paper, but also develop more confidence in drawing and writing. Many tell me that they come away from our time together with a deeper knowledge of themselves and with a clearer vision of where they want to take their own work.

Things like that fill me with a deep satisfaction, gratitude and the feeling that my time on this wondrous planet is not being entirely wasted.

Next year will take me to France, Canada, New Zealand, and Scotland

(look for an announcement soon about

"wayfinding between time in the outlands…" in Orkney)
 as well as (a little closer to home) Queensland and Western Australia.

Maybe I'll see you somewhere out there?

'Albertine' doing her thing

Saturday, 16 September 2017

a catalogue for disquiet

I've made a catalogue for 'disquiet'
you'll find a preview here

so grateful to the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery
for allowing me the space and time
to create a story of sorts through my work.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

where did the day the week the year my life go?

the title of this post is running like an earworm in my head.

since we last met
I have been in the west of Scotland
and also in the west of Australia

both beautiful.

I took a few days on my own after teaching at Newburgh (the two reddish pix are details of 'shibusa felt', followed by printed paper and then some stitched and dyed organic eri+cotton cloth (acquired from Maiwa)

we had students from all over the whirled...both coasts of the USA, as well as the south-west, Australia, New Zealand , the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as lovely locals.
all gathered together in happy community around a dye cauldron
(and the delight, for me, of bilingual teaching...good practice!)

then I sailed for Harris
where I exhumed last year's bundle
and made a small film
and thought about music

it was hard to tear myself away
but journeying through the Wester Ross brought other delights
notably the extraordinary Inverewe garden, just north of Gairloch
where I spent a happy morning dodging midges

before driving onward for a glorious studio visit
exploring common ground with my friend Kerstin Gren

home again
I was called west, to the Dryandra Woodland
where we had to step carefully, with tiny orchids underfoot
and were required to apply for a permit to gather windfalls
(which, technically, all leaf printers in Australia gathering anywhere that is NOT private property, are legally required to do)

and where we found the perfect pot, with only one small leak that was successfully plugged with clay, scraped from the edge of a nearby dam

now I'm home again, briefly
and thinking about next year.

because I can no longer teach in the USA
(the current regime is not keen for wandering dye-stained gypsies)

those who wish to spend time with me
may like to hop the pond to Scotland (November next year) where
plans are afoot for some new explorations (details to follow)
or Norway (September)
when I shall be adventuring with Arts and Cultural Travel

Monday, 24 July 2017


my exhibition 'disquiet' :: observations on a changing landscape

formally opened at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery yesterday, July 23 and runs to August 26

Fulvia Mantelli, Associate Curator, Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia kindly did the honours... and has agreed I may publish her speech in the catalog that I'm putting together (which may not necessarily be available before the exhibition closes - good things take time)

meanwhile here are a few images 

'counting the days'

'drawing the line' detail

'riverbed' detail


'waterhole' detail

Monday, 17 July 2017

feeding the indigo vat

when Ma left us to go on her next big adventure, among the stuff she left behind was a modest esky (across the ditch you'd know that as a chilly bin, across the puddle it might be a cooler, and I've never encountered one in Old Blighty so I've no idea what you might call it there)

it's a well-insulated device made of plastic. Ma used hers for fish bait, possibly also for gin.

the extendable handle is a bit rusty (and cannot be removed for restoration by boiling in a eucalyptus bath) but inside it was squeaky clean. as I pondered it, I had an idea.


it's very cold here in winter. we don't get snow very often but it's pretty nippy. I decided to liberate the esky and give it new life as an indigo vat. the insulation helps keep the temperature up and it's quite easy to rewarm it when it does cool down (three days of neglect and it's down to lukewarm) by standing one or two old wines bottle full of hot water in it. (hot stones are good, too, but more difficult to handle.)

and while my favourite indigo vat is made with bananas, they're rather pricey right now (usually cheaper in school holidays, as less lunches are being packed!) and so I am nourishing the vat with other substances. I'm a bear who likes to make the most of local resources, so (thanks to a conversation I had with Charlotte Kwon a few months ago, when she said the vat would probably be just as happy eating compost) I've been experimenting by boiling up the vegetable trimmings and feeding the liquor to the vat.

the chickens are delighted because they're getting cooked scraps :: much easier to eat!

celery and sweet potato

beetroot and pineapple peels

pouring in the brew (better to hold it closer to the surface and thus introduce less air, but trickier to photograph if you happen to be doing it all yourself)

the main thing is to keep it warm, check the pH and, as Michel Garcia so charmingly says, remember to feed the donkey before you put it to bed.

what are you feeding yours? I'd be interested to know.