Strictly Quilts

Wangaratta is known for its Stitched Up Textile Festival held every two years. The quilters in the Rural City of Wangaratta are so prolific that they can’t wait that long between shows and have held their Strictly Quilts Exhibition every year since 2007.

A friend and I caught the very early V Line train to see this year’s quilts and also Petite at the Wangaratta Art Gallery. We were both very impressed with the wide range of quilts on display, the amazing productivity of the various groups that jointly display. There is an obvious passion for quilting in the district.

Here are just a few of the quilts.

Margie Likes the Purple by Tania Mills of Dorcas Quilters. It is the most recent of her organic quilts made using techniques learned in a block of the month workshop held by her group.

French Chic by Helen Ellis of The Saturday Quilters. It was made for a black and white and another colour challenge. A simple quilt using some very cute fabric.

Gunitjmara is a whole cloth quilt based on the Gunditjmara possum skin rug on display at the Melbourne Museum. Made by Donna Hughes also from the Saturday Quilters.

I do like quilts based on grids and both of these are just my style. Kathy Bickerdike from Women in Stitches made her Japanese Inspired at a hand piecing workshop with Hiroe Mogi held at the local quilt shop. Boxes and Crosses is a Bemma Jean Jansen pattern made by Kerrith Bell of the Centre Quilters.

A framed needlework piece looked like an array of franking stamps. It is each of the Cottage Garden Threads in used in a design that includes the thread number. Stitched beautifully by Jean McDonald of Women in Stitches.

Suzanne Reid is the featured textile artist this year. Her work reflects her love of the mathematical. It was a very sunny day and light coming in above some of the works distorted the colour in the photos.

Its Only Mathematics. 

Two versions of a design based on an enlarged thumb print. both whole cloth quilts painted and free motion quilted. The first colour way is inspired by Hundertwasser and the second, with also includes machine embroidery, by Klimt.

 Tree of Life with leaves made using a deconstructed wall hanging purchased in India.

Strictly Quilts is always in the July school holidays and well worth visiting.


Warranwood General Store

In 1946 the tiny community of  located on the borders of the Shire of Lillydale, Doncaster Templestowe, Croydon and Ringwood gained a General Store. It had everything except the post which still came up from South Warrandyte. The place didn’t even have a name, that came in 1948 as a mashup of Warrandyte and Ringwood.

In early 1982 the store burned down. The site became a garden supplies and eventually a bland two shop development went up on the next door block. One was a general store, but it was not the same and struggled through a number of owners.  With the latest change of hands, the ubiquitous yellow notices went up, but I didn’t stop to see what planning permission was being sought.

So it was a lovely surprise to see this.

Inside is busy with locals finally enjoying a bit of cafe culture just a stroll from home.

Of course smashed avocado is on the menu.

A lifetime’s work

The current exhibition at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild in North Carlton is work by Lithuanian born Ale Liubinas. She came with her family to Australia in 1949 from a displaced persons camp in Germany. The case her father had made from pine trees on the farm in Lithuania, and used by the family for their few possessions when they fled in 1944, is in the collection at the Melbourne Museum.

After marriage and children she went to night school at Phillip Institute to study dress design and handloom weaving and design. She graduated in Fine Arts with a ceramics major.

This very talented lady worked in all these media for the rest of her life. Ale was active in textile groups in her local community. In 1990, after Lithuania gained independence, she returned to search for her lost childhood and wrote three books about her experiences following her retirement.

Ale passed away earlier this year and her sons asked the guild to assist in selling some of her work to raise funds for the creative art group at Arcadia Aged Care Facility in Essendon North.

From all the red stickers I saw, everything is sold however the exhibition is on at 655 Nicholson St. Carlton North until  July 15.

A secret garden

A quick ferry ride to Milsons Point and a stroll along the broad walk to Lavender Bay brings you to Wendy’s Secret Garden. The story behind this public but community maintained garden can be read here. It was created by Wendy Whiteley in reaction to Brett Whiteley’s sudden death.

The walk goes round Luna Park and is also the site of Comic Walk, lots of little sculptures of popular fictional characters. Of course May Gibbs Banksia Man was among a variety of banksia plants.

The first thing you see when your climb the stairs up to the garden is a huge Morton Bay Fig.

The whole site is threaded with narrow paths and steep stairways.

Hidden statuary and found objects.

Very welcoming but also very personal. The cupid fountain is from Margaret Olley’s garden.

Thatching of the arbour is the living bamboo.

I was surprised to see so many Angel Trumpet trees in a public space. So beautiful, but highly poisonous.

The garden stretches below the Whiteley house in what was infill land created when the railway was built. Now there are moves to create the Sydney Harbour Highline along this little used line.

After a lovely time exploring this garden I climbed up to Blues Point Road and then down to McMahons Point for the ferry back to Circular Quay. From this side you can see where the garden lies, right in the middle.

Then off on another ferry to Manly for the afternoon and back after sunset to see Vivid from the water. If you are going to be in Sydney, then a day on the harbour is a must.

Up and down in Surry Hills

On a before breakfast walk in and around the environs of my hotel and sticking mainly to lanes and alleyways, I looked up and I looked down and saw lots of interesting things.

A sign writing taking advantage of the clear sky. A paw paw tree bearing fruit.

Builders hard at work gutting and rebuilding the insides of lots of the tiny houses and industrial sites. This pocket handkerchief size lot used to be a mechanic’s shop. It will have four, 2 million plus apartments. I was told the paperwork just to get to this stage was horrendous and the builder doubts the developer will make much in the end.

Given half a chance I think trees and other vegetation will take over. Every small crack supports a lush plant or two and lots of pots decorate building fronts. I really liked the wall art at the end of this lane and the way it exploits both the window pillars and the real vegetation.

If you drive an Alpha, a lock up garage must be really important, even if it takes an umpteen point turn to get it out each morning.

The owner/owners here are not afraid of colour. These are typical houses, although there are also a lot with the overhanging balconies I associate with the older parts of Sydney.

There is quite a lot of infill building, particularly in the more industrial area. I stumbled upon the former Reader’s Digest building, which is really intriguing because it is so different from office towers of the period. Designed by John James and opened in 1967 it will probably become the focus of my next Art Quilters piece which has the theme ‘Architecture’.

Then back the the deco Paramount Studios building for a delicious breakfast at the Paramount Coffee Project.

Not the Sydney Quilt Show

I now have a Gold Opal which means I can use public transport all day with a maximum charge of $2.50. A pretty good deal. I made the most of it today by getting my head around the bus network and going to Drummoyne. Not known as a tourist destination it is the place to go if you won’t be in town for the Quilt Show next week.

Easy for quilters to guess where I went. Material Obsession is a mecca for fabric lovers.

The corridors and many walls are hung with the latest quilts. Room after room is stocked from floor to ceiling with the most amazing fabrics, patterns and equipment.

This is just one of them.

Despite being flat out preparing for next week Helena and Kathy were most attentive and gave me lots of information and ideas.

So who needs to go to a Quilt Show?

A quick look

The Archibald paintings are also at the Art Gallery of NSW at the moment and seeing them was a possibility this morning. I spent so long with the tapestries I changed plans. But the Young Archies were fantastic.

Daniel Brough age 7 My Dad when he was 17 years old. You can almost hear the dad telling the story of the huge fish he had caught.

Esther Kim age 8 My little sister Rachel She loved how her young sister looked in her red hood last winter.

Maya Butler de Castro age 8 Self-portrait with animals She thinks animals and the environment is very important and she likes watching magpies visiting her garden and splashing in the birdbath.

During a quick survey of the Australian art collection I saw this work Waratah 1887 by French artist Lucien Henry who was in Australia from 1879 to 1891.

I loved the detailed islamic-style background and the colour contrasts.