Sheep, Wool etc

The 140th Australian Sheep and Wool show is a really big event for Bendigo. The carparks were almost full and people were still queueing to get in when I arrived early on Saturday afternoon.IMG_6005

Exhibitor numbers were up, apparently things have been good down on the farm. There was a big focus on technology and careers with an emphasis on the younger generations both in primary production and textiles and food.

Beanies and coffee were essential, it was lovely and sunny but also quite cold.IMG_6013

Pavilions were full of all sorts of uses of wool; finished garments, threads and fibres and repurposed creations. Sackville and Lane, formerly of Wangaratta had cute tea cosies to knit. The soft wool garments by Jemima of Tumat are bush dyed in a process she has developed over the past ten years.

Claudine McPherson, originally from Canada is an avid collector of wool blankets and the sheets that are often found in the same cupboard.  She had seen nothing like them until she moved to Australia. Using the name Robeology, she transforms them into very, very warm dressing gowns. I was surprised that she had not heard of the Wagga, so gave her a very brief introduction to this very utilitarian bedding.

But my favourite display was that of all the Ashford spinning wheels and looms. They are beautifully made from New Zealand Silver Beech and just want to be touched.

Outside, the skies remained clear and the sheep were being shorn, judged, mustered and drafted. I found out that sheep will run better in a curved race, and that now there are electronic ear tags, automatic drafting gates are selling like hot cakes. A lot of cooking was going on too, and not only of lamb.

I got the impression the judge was looking at a lot of Sunday roasts. The one second from the left was the best ewe in this class. The sheep with the strange fleece is a self shearing variety, the wool just falls off. The proud breeder said – within the sheep’s hearing – that this is a great advantage as the Ultra White breed is for meat.

Right round the back of the grounds the Bendigo Steam and Oil Engine Preservation Group had their engines fired up. Even some cattle breeds were on display as farming sheep does not preclude running cattle as well. These two Hereford’s were very happy just chewing their cud. I was very distracted watching the Australian Yard Dog Championships in the late afternoon sun and only just had enough time to view the Woolcraft section.

This is spread over a number of small sheds and is full of all sorts of wool enthusiasts. The competition work is beautifully displayed.

Lots of specialist suppliers had everything for dying, spinning, felting, knitting, garment making and every other textile art. I resisted them all as I had to dash back to pick up my purchase made earlier in the day.

Something I had been contemplating for quite a while. It is an Ashford SampleIt Rigid Heddle loom and floor stand. You may think I have been very quick to have it warped and a first piece well under way. After all I did learn to weave on a four shaft loom when I was at school. But no. I bought one of the display looms, already varnished and threaded up. So I will be remembering how to take off a piece before I do any setting up.

Abstract composition

The July task for Waverley Art Quilters was to create an abstract composition. A number of approaches were suggested, so I took bits out of each one.

One suggestion was to look at a work by an abstract painter and focus on one part of that work. Another was to take an image, divide it into nine and using one part simplify the shapes. Changing colour combinations was a further suggestion.

I reviewed photos taken at recent exhibitions and settled on one of a painting by John Olsen. The photo I used was of a detail of this work, showing wattles and birds.

olsen2My second stimulus was photos I had taken recently of my Cootamundra in bloom. It wasn’t just the bright yellow blossoms but also the loud buzzing of all the bees that attracted my attention at the time.

I reduced the  image of the tree to black and white with high contrast and focussed on the rectangle at the lower left.cootamundra2 I then went back to the original photo, enlarged it and traced out just the yellow elements.

I also made simple sketches of the bees and also the stem and leaf outlines that reminded me of the humming. My final colour scheme was the yellow fused onto a dark grey. I drew the bees with fabrico pen and then stitched a wandering yellow line on and off the raw edges, redrew the bees with black thread and quilted the humming lines.

 

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Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ bought last Saturday are now in full bloom. Many of them have two trumpets on one stem, hence the name. The only lemon produced by my little tree is ready to harvest.

The Acacia baileyana or Cootamundra wattle on the driveway is putting on a fine show. This species flowers far too early for Wattle Day on September 1, and it does naturalise too easily but I still really like it.

To market to market

An overnight low of -2 Celsius with frost was followed by a glorious sunny day. Perfect for a visit to the monthly Warrandyte Market. This has to be the prettiest and most dog friendly market around. It used to be a community market but I noticed it is now a commercial operation. This didn’t seem to change anything.

The good weather brought out lots of browsers and the hot food sellers were doing a roaring trade. There is a good mix of produce, craft, food and plants.

Vegan Row was very busy but the biggest queue was for Turkish Gozleme. The trees behind look a little hazy, that is because the Scouts in the carnivore area had a good fire going.

The pansies are in pots cut from redgum. Not sure how long they would last. The donut van was a bit quiet. The most popular food among the kids was a fried spiral potato on a stick.

This very cute sock monkey caught my eye, I was told it was vintage, made in the 60s!

A potato farmer from Gembrook had nothing good to say about the industry. Supermarkets have reduced the maximum potato size from 450g to 400g, making a good portion of his crop unsellable. He has downsized his farm and grows only for market selling which is enough to keeps him busy enough to stay out of the house.

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My haul. A pot of  Narcissus “Tete a Tete” full of buds ready to burst open. I will keep them in the pot while they flower, then plant out next year. A rhododendron which I will keep in a pot as the one I have already is doing well like that. And a clutch of kipfler potatoes complete with Gembrook dirt.

New garden trend

I am sure this is going to take off all over the place. My garden is displaying this latest look in landscaping. A blanketing of oxalis!

A mystery: During summer a number of holes were dug in the garden overnight. I filled them in, but they were redug in the same places, usually near plant roots. The neighbours got a new dog and the mystery digging stopped.

But now the mystery animal is back. Each hole is the same shape, long and narrow. The one in the main picture is about 6 cm deep. Not at all like digging done by cats, dogs and no droppings in sight so I don’t think it would be a rabbit. I really hope rats are not habitual diggers. Would much rather it was an echidna or a bandicoot. Short of installing  very expensive infrared monitoring cameras I have no idea how to identify what is doing the digging.

The good news is that the animal only digs in open ground, so most of the garden is safe as it is covered in oxalis.

Winter sewing

The challenge for the Waverley Patchworkers Quilt In tomorrow is a 12″ block with the theme Winter. As it rarely snows here I tried to think of another way of showing cold overcast days. I found a cute print with people all rugged up on my last visit to Morris and Sons and so combined it with some greys. Once I decided on a unit, the elements were stitched together randomly. Then it was a real challenge placing them in the 9 patch array. And what was I thinking, all those partial seams!

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Other quilting projects have been put on hold because I have caught a Mystery Sampler Stitch Along bug. I saw the pattern being worked at Carrum Downs in March and bought threads to use at the Knox Art Show. The pattern by Linen and Threads is released on the first of the month and I am just starting the April band. I’m working in one strand over one thread of 28 count linen because that suited the width of linen I could find. The Cottage Garden threads are hand dyed lengths so placing the variegations has been lots of fun, although it entails quite a bit of unpicking as I figure out each new pattern.

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The only machine work finished this season so far is a Gift Quilt I started ages ago from a pre-cut design by Krista from Waverley Patchworkers. It is now basted and ready to quilt.

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TarraWarra

The TarraWarra Museum of Art is just outside of Healesville. The setting on a rise in a valley studded with vineyards is stunning and there is always something of interest to see. The current exhibitions are Discovering Dobell and Dobell’s Circle, they run until August 13.

 

The sky was overcast and I had feared there may be thick fog at Yarra Glen as there often is in winter. As I drove through Yering and crested a hill, all was clear and a beautiful mist rose up against the distant ranges. The weather was mild with just a slight breeze sending the leaves fluttering down in the avenue that leads to the gallery entry.

 

I went with quilters from the Waverley Patchworkers Art Quilters group which added to the experience. It is always interesting to listen to other viewers reactions and put your own into words.

All I really knew about William Dobell was that he was a portraitist and there was a big controversy over his 1943 Archibald Prize win with his portrait of Joshua Smith. The image was said to be a caricature by two other entrants and therefore ineligible. The matter went to court and although Dobell’s painting remained the winner, the bitterness caused by the dispute remained. Dobell withdrew for a long time and turned then to landscapes.

The exhibition does include many of the well known portraits, but it was the and documents from his archive that revealed much more about his work. Dobell was a consummate draftsman, and each work developed through many drawings and painted sketches. His focus was not on the famous, but on the ordinary – this also set him apart from conventional views on portraiture. His early work in London during the 1930s depression focusses on the drabness and poverty he saw.

In 1949 and again in 1950 Dobell went to New Guinea as part of his recovery. There observed the human form in a new way. A group of young men thatching a roof reminded him of the figures on the Elgin Marbles from the top of the Parthenon.

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The Thatchers early version

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The Thatchers 1953

I thought this final version places the young men in a space between heaven and earth. With the roof poles appearing as rays of light beaming down from on high. It reminded me a little of William Blake’s work.

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His album in 1960 contains many line drawings of the human form, by this time he was interested in Modern Art and the works of Henry Moore.

The second exhibition, Dobell’s Circle includes works by many of the Sydney artists of the 1940’s. It reminded me a little too much of the pictures in my High School art books. For some reason I find it hard to really like this period of Australian art, or maybe it is just my cultural prejudice against that city.

I have been to a number of exhibitions over the last few months, and really should do a couple of posts about them too.