Reflecting on Art Quilts

Australian Quilts in Public Places (AQIPP) is a juried and judged exhibition run every second year by the Australian Quilters Association.
IMG_7188The theme for 2017 is Reflection, further guidance on the topic was given to entrants . Whether contemplating reflection in still water or reflecting on life, change, environment or the world around us, reflection helps to instil in us a sense of time and place.

The qualifying quilts are currently on display at Artspace at the Box Hill Town Hall, from Tuesday to Friday 10 to 4 and Saturday 12 to 4, until December 21.


The gallery is in a series of rooms to the left of the main hall and display cases line the entry ramp and and foyer.

Only a few quilts used water reflection and most of these were photographic representations or used a photograph as source materials. Sue de Vanny’s was the best of these and was highly commended. It was very difficult to capture the fleeting qualities of reflected images, there were a number of moons and Jacie Malseed found reflections in city buildings.


The abstract work of Anna Brown used a minimal palette and disciplined technique to capture the flickering images, light and shadows that flash her the surface of the water as wind and currents move through the mangroves.

A number of entrants attempted reflections on indigenous culture and the first nations. Greek mythology was represented by Narcissis who loves his own reflection and Perseus using his polished shield to view the reflection of the Gorgon, Medusa. Those that chose to reflect on issues or concepts generally resorted to including text in the work.

Jill Miglietti used rope wrapped in cotton strips collaged onto a round form to represent the simple act of clasping hands. The resulting highly textural piece showed that a simple form can make a powerful statement.

Three layers of voile with raw edge appliqué was all Denise Sargo needed to show the beauty of nature and sky reflected in the lily pond. Her delicate embroidery and beading showed great restraint.

Travel postcards were a popular device. Judy Bell’s quilt reminded me of a school project using the stickers from the American Geographical Society’s Around the World Program booklets published in the late 1950s to early 60s. In case you are not familiar with these I have found a couple of images from auction listings. The ‘Australia’ issue from 1961 seems a little odd.

The Australian Quilters Association Award went to Sandra Champion’s …on Siren Song an interpretation of the audible and visual experience of music performed in Sullivans Cove, Hobart at sunrise and sunset during Dark Mofo in June 2017. I have seen other works by this artist and each one is visually strong from a distance yet invites close inspection.

I nearly missed seeing the winner of the Brother International Award. It was very poorly displayed in a glass case at the top of steep stairs in the foyer. Reflections #2 is by Dianne Firth. It is a long narrow work 42.5cm x 131cm but that is no excuse for hanging it in such an out of the way place. It could not be contemplated even from a short way back because of the danger of falling backwards down the stairs. I was very glad to have spotted it on my way out as it is a sophisticated interpretation of twinkling lights reflected across water at night. Two striped cottons and a solid yellow, machine pieced and quilted.


Hemstitch and other weaving lessons

I have a new rigid heddle weaving book 9781603429726and it details how to calculate yarn required for a project. I tried out the short method using one ball of the fine cotton I bought recently. All went well, I wove the scarf using the same yarn for warp and weft, but I had quite a bit left over on the shuttle at the end.

It was when I measured the finished length, 48″ instead of the planned 55″ that I realised I must have made an error. I went back to my calculations. I had added 12 for the unusable part of the warp instead of 20. Never mind, I am still happy with the delicate scarf.

I really like the hemstitch finish at both ends, also something learned from the new book. My selvages are a bit wobbly in places, cotton doesn’t stretch so it is not as forgiving as wool.


I hope the tonight’s Kris Kringle recipient likes it too.

The weaving sampler is done, but I think the rya knots are too fluffy for it to be a table runner.


I had quite a bit of the blue warp left on the loom once the pattern reverse was complete, so wove as much as I could using the textured blue and cream yarn from the knots. Once the zip is added and some lining fabric it will be a little pouch.




The Geelong Gallery is the Victorian host for the 2017 Archibald Portrait Prize travelling exhibition. It was very busy on the Sunday I visited, after attending the Geelong Quilt Exhibition.

Portraiture is a fairly boring art form as it is about making a recognisable image of someone. It is often a commissioned work, so I assume the subject has to be happy with the work. The challenge for the artist is to make an interesting painting as well, and photorealism misses the point I think. It should  tell the viewer a bit more about the subject than what they look like.

I was really drawn to this strong painting by Andrew Tonneau of the sculptor Ayako Saito. It was painted from life in ten four-hour sittings. The landscape background and pose show the influence of the Italian Renaissance.

Proving that age is no bar to entering the competition, the Boys of Sydney Grammar Edgecliff Preparatory School entered their second version of a farewell gift to their retiring head, Dr John Vallance. It consists of 11,000 little wood blocks, sanded and painted by 301 boys aged five to 12.

The winner is awarded a $100,000 making it a very popular competition. This year Mitch Cairns won with a portrait of his partner, multi-media artist Agatha Gothe-Snape. The influence of Matisse is very strong, I really liked the repeated shapes and dimension given to the flat shapes with careful shading. Her yoga like pose is both contemplative and full of potential energy at the same time.

My favourite work is of 102 year old Eileen Kramer. She is the world’s oldest working dancer/choreographer as well as a poet, artist and costume designer. The painter, Andrew Lloyd Greensmith is a plastic surgeon who has only recently pursued painting seriously. He says of his subject ‘Eileen embodies beauty as that intangible thing which cannot be fixed on the surface nor defeated by the wear and tear of age.’

A parallel exhibition is the Who’s who portrait prize, an annual exhibition of the work of local students that honours Jules Francois Archibald who was born in Geelong, and went on to found the Bulletin Magazine and become a trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW. He left money for the annual portrait prize which bears his name.

The student work lines the corridor and the walls of the pop-up cafe.

At Lara Lake primary they painted one of their classmates.

The exhibitions at the Geelong Gallery continue until 10 December.

Geelong Quilt Exhibition 2017

I love going to quilt shows, and a forecast of thunder storms was not going to put me off. Turns out only a few minutes of blinding rain was encountered on the Geelong Road and I left before the evening deluge.

It was an interesting show, a number of the quilt makers said they made the quilt to have something to do at the various sit and sew groups they attend. It is a bit of a chicken and egg thing I guess.

Here is the quilt mentioned by Vireya – I asked for permission to publish at the desk and it was granted. It is Let’s Colour the Shade by June Stafford.

See it really is made out of shade cloth – the lady viewing it at the same time as me wondered how many needles she went through.

This was another interesting quilt. It is Long Time Gone a Jen Kingwell design made by Judy Bubb. She made it after finishing a Gypsy Wife quilt also by Jen Kingwell and used some of her leftover fabric – each scrappy quilt generates another. It was interesting to see four versions of the Gypsy Wife on display.

I was intrigued by the quilting and had a chat to Judy about it. She has a long arm machine and it was a bit of an experiment. Having so many tiny pieces she decided to quilt through the lot disregarding the blocks. Part way through she was having second thoughts but was not going to do any unpicking.

The gentle waves of quilting really dominate the pieced design. It is hanging flat, the bulges are an illusion. I thought that the similarity of value in the colours used contributed to this looking more like a whole cloth quilt.

SAQA at Stitches and Craft

Saturday was hot and humid, not typical November weather in Melbourne. The Exhibition Building is beautiful but not at all comfortable in the impossible weather. Nevertheless I took a train and two trams to do a two hour stint on the Studio Art Quilt Associates stand. I am not a member but was helping out by monitoring their My Corner of the World exhibition.

This travelling exhibition started in Canada in May 2016 and is currently touring around Australia. Artists were invited to examine a world, real or imagined, that represented what is important in life. The resulting textile pieces are amazingly diverse in concept, technique and design.

The use of colour stood out for me in these three. Sunset over Lake Ontario, the elevated park in the city, succulents in the back yard.

Details from two quilts that showed great restraint in colour and evoked a nurturing softness.

Quilting lines are often critical. The black panel in Afternoon is only attached at the top, adding to the sense of gentle movement of the grasses.

This very balanced quilt uses a host of techniques to explore birdlife.

The Stitches and Craft Show itself had a little bit of a lot.

A creative use of treadle drawers at Hat Creek Quilts of Tasmania. The designer has published a book on wool felt appliqué on pieced blocks. Tempting but I don’t need a new project.

I was fascinated by the work of Effie Dee an artist from Canberra who works with plasticine and petrie dishes among other things. She has a range of clear block stamps that I couldn’t resist.

Also picked up some very fine luminous cotton from Lola Lovegrove, a fairly new yarn supplier based in Ormond. If I am quick this will be woven into something special for a Kris Kringle.

Ringwood North garden

The Open Garden Scheme provided the opportunity to view a garden that I have been curious about for a long time. I knew that a lot of effort had gone into its redevelopment  but as it is at the top of a cutting in the road, it was impossible to see what was happening.

Banool is a 1.6 acre property; a much larger estate was developed over 100 years ago and the current house built in 1936. It has many large trees and the recent landscaping was done under the direction of Paul Bangay, engaged by the current owners after they purchased in 2004.

The driveway curves up hill toward the house, passing beneath a very shady Port Jackson Fig.

The ancient front hedge and tree studded lawns  give way to deep beds closer to the house. These are filled with gorgeous plants including roses, iris, sweet pea, foxgloves and a stunning rhododendron. The form and planting is perfectly in keeping with the era of the stone built house.

The garden structures are mainly new, but the stone pillars are part of the 1930s garden. Beside the old driveway is an old grafted ash and the remains of the Hills Hoist that was the original support.

Round the back is the fruit and vegetable garden and more lawns and trees.

It is pleasantly surprising to find a garden of this type in Ringwood North, usually associated with Australian native gardens and 1980s subdivisions.


One and a half years on

The bathtub garden I created following my bathroom renovations is hard to recognise. Nearly all the succulents have done really well, only the flap-jacks succumbed to snail attack. The white Mesembryanthemum is trailing everywhere with its pretty white flowers popping up between the other plants. Pig face is such an unattractive name, it doesn’t deserve it at all.

I gave the mini fountain a clean out, not too much muck had accumulated in the bottom of the sump and with the sun out it bubbles away beautifully. All this low maintenance bed needed was a top up of soil where it had compacted and a quick wash of the pebbles.

Just as expected, after the drastic lopping of all the trunks of the bay tree in February, it is putting out lots of new growth. I plan to keep it clipped from now on to give the quince tree some room.

Another tree doing exceptionally well this spring is the mulberry. It is Hick’s Fancy and has a bumper crop. I picked 200g yesterday just for starters, so I have been searching for mulberry recipes. I’m also picking lots of parsley, all these flat leaf parsley plants have grown from seed I saved last summer and scattered after ridding the bed of oxalis.