October 2012

October 31, 2012

There is an amazing experience to be had at the Queensland Art Gallery where an extensive exhibition is on: Portrait of Spain, Masterpieces from the Prado.  This exhibition is coming only to Brisbane and has over 100 works. Seven themed rooms have been set up.  I have been told that this is the biggest exhibition coming from the Prado. To augment the Prado experience, there is La Sala Del Prado, “ a large scale lounge area complementing the exhibition, which includes an integrated café, fun multimedia activities, drawing activities, daily live Spanish guitar playing and talks on Spanish themes” and of course the exhibition shop.

What makes this exhibition exciting from a textile point of view are the textiles that can be found in the paintings. The one that stands out is The infant Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz by Alonso Sanchez Coello and workshop c 1585-88. In the catalogue, the motif is described as embroidered though I heard there is some discussion by textile experts and historians whether the motif could also be woven brocade. Of great interest is also the line at the bottom of the dress which is where the hoop of the farthingale sits. Apparently because the line is so clearly defined, not too many petticoats were being worn underneath the dress. What did take my eye was the velvet on the wall behind her. In discussion with Dr Michael Marendy, (Textile Conservator and Senior Curator, Cultures and Histories Program, Queensland Museum), I found out that the experts suggest that both the dress and velvet originate from Italy, probably from the Florence area.

Also on in Brisbane’s arts precinct is a wonderful textile experience to be had at The Queensland Museum. Dressed by the Best: Fashion, Glamour and Gwen Gilan. Gwen Gilan was the leading dress designer in Brisbane during 1950’s and 60’s. The garments are from the Museum’s archives as well as those on loan from family, friends and clients. Due to popular demand, the exhibition has been extended into next year. Some garments are to be exchanged with new exhibits. Dr Michael Marendy has been the driving force in putting together this comprehensive exhibit.

In June, just before I left for the States and UK, I received a copy of a new book: Shibori Recreated, edited by Leah Rauch with book concept and creation byKaren Davis and Pepa Martin. ISBN 987-0-646-57675-6. The book takes the format of interviews with 19 artists from around the world. I am honoured that I am one of them.

I have recently driven past an icon of Australian folklore. The Black Stump is often used to identify the start of “the Outback”. The tradition started in the 1830’s when land beyond this locality was refered to as being “beyond the Black Stump”.

September 2012

October 1, 2012

The major highlight of this month was Complex Weavers Seminars in Washington DC. www.complex-weavers.org  It was the final destination of this trip and what an event it was! These seminars happen every 2 years and as usual this one lived up to everyone’s expectations. A very diverse range of topics were on offer in combination with optional study group meetings, the opening of the touring exhibition Glamour, Glitter, Glitz in DC, an informal fashion parade, and exhibition and much more. Prior to the seminars, a tour to Winterthur was organised where we had the opportunity to see textiles in the museum and as an extra highlight some of the historic textiles by Marguerite Porter Davidson. www.winterthur.org. After the seminars some stayed on for a museum crawl (All those wonderful Smithsonian Museums in DC and we could take our pick of what we wished to see!), followed by a curator’s talk in the Textile Museum of their current exhibition with the focus on dragons: Dragons, Nagas, and Creatures of the Deep. www.textilemuseum.org  In spite of the very full program, there was still the opportunity to have quiet moments networking with like minded weavers, in depth discussions with people of similar interests and catching up with friends.

At the last CW seminars Judith Krone and I completed a challenge which we presented in the informal fashion parade (Mid August 2010 blog). Following on the success of our initial challenge, we decided to work on another challenge for these seminars. This challenge involved winding a warp to standard specifications, tying for ikat and dying it blue. Then we swapped the warps to weave. We could do whatever we wanted to with these warps. I found the problem of there being so many options but eventually settled on re-tying and dyeing in a darker blue and weaving using a “linked arms” motif (a motif I have used recently and used to represent friendship and which I thought was totally appropriate). Judith meanwhile wove hers and then screen printed birds on top. I was familiar with these birds as she had worked with these images when we attended Montreal for the jacquard weaving course last year. Again we had fun: we couldn’t wait for the big swap. It was exciting to see what each had done.  Is there another challenged planned for the next seminars in 2014? Yes, but what it is will remain secret till then. Needless to say we are excited by its potential.

I have arrived back home after a much extended trip. The problem with such adventures is that it is very hard to come back to earth. In an effort to get my feet back on the ground I have been busy doing a Spring Clean in the studio…. once in a while it is a very good idea to do some loom maintenance and major overhaul. The studio is now ready.

I thought I’d also share this treasure. My daughter visited Turkey and acquired this slit tapestry runner for me. She knew to ask some essential questions. This woollen kilm came from a carpet co-op where the men dye and the women weave. Natural dyes have been used: dried dandelions for yellow, dried rosehips for green, pomegranate for brown, madder for red, indigo for blue and walnut shell for the darker brown.