Category Archives: Gallery visits


Only four and a half hours drive from my side of Melbourne, the Horsham Regional Art Gallery proved worth the visit. It is located in what I assume is the older section of the Town Hall that has had a squiggle added to the top.

The exhibition I travelled to see last Tuesday consisted of woven works from the Ararat Regional Art Gallery Collection. This gallery decided in the 1970s to collect textile and fibre art and now has the premier collection of such works in Victoria if not Australia.

Works shown in  Enmeshed ranged from the boldly experimental craft revival of the ’70s to recent work in all manner of fibres.

A few of my favourites.

Sara Lindsay, originally from England, is a founding weaver of the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Her tapestry is tightly woven using commercially manufactured gingham cloth.

Elizabeth Djutarra from North East Arnhem land uses traditional weaving techniques in constructing a very large floor mat from dyed and natural pandanus fibre.

Olga de Amaral’s Shield in Three Colours is a monumental piece that hangs from the ceiling and pools on the floor. The woven wool strips are themselves woven and interlaced with he bound rope that directs the eye down and up.

Transparent weaving was used by Mary Beeston, the designer, and Larry Beeston, the weaver. Two pieces are hung almost together and the light from the rear reveals the view outside the kitchen window. The fine linen ground is woven on a four shaft loom with the pattern in a heavier yarn woven at the same time. This piece is worked sideways. A class in this technique was run at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Summer School this year and I hope it is repeated.

One of four square tapestries in Marcel Marois’ piece  concerning environmental elements that can be both nurturing and destructive. This work Blue represents the air.

Roma Centre was an abstract painter who bought a treadle loom and taught herself to weave in order to take a teaching job. This work is made from a number of panels stitched together and close examination reveals that it is not traditional tapestry but created on a shaft loom with woven textural patterns as well as the tapestry style colour shapes.




Today was the day I got to see another Bonnie Hunter 2018 mystery quilt. I have been following Vireya’s progress from late November, and now it is very close to being finished. Just the binding to stitch down. The quilting is beautiful, I love the added texture it gives to the blue setting triangles.

It is a properly scrappy version of the quilt and it was fun to compare it with my smaller version which has far fewer fabrics.

My other homework was to view the Helen Maudsley Our Knowing and Not Knowing exhibition at NGV Australia; she is the first artist Waverley Art Quilters are looking at this year. The only thing I know about her  is that she is that the titles of her paintings are very long. She is a modernist artist who does not fit neatly into any category. The curator had displayed these recent works in a gallery papered entirely with a blowup of one of her paintings. This I found rather distracting.

In the next gallery is Louise Paramor’s Palace of the Republic. This consists of  paper sculptures and plastic assemblages. The honeycomb paper sculptures in the first part of this exhibition were commissioned by the NGV and use a technique she developed through trial and error during a residency in Berlin in 1999.

The works are grand in size, either standing or hanging. Moving around the shapes created interesting views and relationships between the individual pieces.

Light and shadow gave the solid colour of the paper a beautiful richness.

And everyone entering the space while I was there gasped, and then started talking nostalgically about tissue paper lanterns and balls that opened up magically from flat.

I also wanted to see Del Kathryn Barton The Highway is Disco which is also on Level 3 at Federation Square. IMG_7650I was just beginning to view the seventy-five montages -inside another land in which women’s bodies are both human and plant, when the fire alarm sounded.

It was not a drill, the fire brigade arrived and everyone had to evacuate. IMG_7652

I must get back before 12 March to see the rest.

Costume and character

The Bendigo Art Gallery has built a reputation for staging wonderful textile exhibitions. The Costume Designer: Edith Head and Hollywood is on until 21 January. I visited on a very hot day, but this was not too bad as both the train and gallery are air-conditioned.

After arriving in the late morning I first had an early lunch in a little hole in the wall Japanese restaurant I discovered opposite the Law Courts. Oishii on Wheels is a new business run by a Bendigo locals, she is a Japanese cook and he passionate about food. The Chicken Katsu Curry was delicious.

My ticket to the Bendigo Gallery was a timed entry, so I had just enough time for a quick visit to the Post Office Gallery, the current exhibition is about postcards and other tourist ephemera. The original elaborate counter now supports display cases in the back room. The volunteer on duty kindly showed me a copy of a photograph from 1898 showing it as it was originally.

I think I have already mentioned it was a very hot day, but Bendigo streets have big wide verandahs and lots of shady trees. This old sign indicates that the Births and Deaths Registrar is in the Passage.


There is a lot to see at the Edith Head exhibition. My favourite section was the everyday wear, mainly suits. These had to look ordinary, but at the same time have some movie glamour.

The garments showed clever tailoring and amazing attention to detail. It was interesting to see clothing made in various colours, but to be used in black and white film. This is the reason Edith wore distinctive blue lensed glasses, so she could easily see how colour would translate onto film.

Edith usually dressed Veronica Lake in monochrome as it helped give this very short actress height. Her role is that of a smart, feisty night-club singer, who sparkles even when she is kidnapped and figuring out how to talk Alan Ladd out of his traitorous betrayal of his country.

The sweetest costume is this one made for  six year old Shirley Temple’s fantasy dream scene in Little Miss Marker, 1934.

Many of the costumes are for films set in historical eras. Much research went into the appropriate dress and also the circumstance of the character. The plain wool dress is a compromise between what would be worn by an indentured servant in the west, and what could be worn by a star of Loretta Young’s popularity.

Along with the costumes are a number of short films explaining the designing process. And there is one with Edith Head at home, with her sewing machine collection.


In the general collection of the gallery is this oil painting The Bridesmaid, Amalie Coquhon 1942, an Australian artist. Always nice to see a sewing machine in use.

The other painting I photographed some time ago, it is in the National Gallery of Victoria. La Couturière, the dressmaker is by Spanish artist Oscar Dominguez . He was a surrealist artist working in Paris and much influenced by Pablo Picasso during WWII. I believe he better captures the physical energy required to create beautiful textiles, just as I was impressed with the skills of the seamstresses who brought Edith Head’s designs to life.

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.


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.

The train to Ballarat

The Victorian Government generously gives two rail passes a year to Seniors Card holders. I have been very remiss in taking up this benefit until today when I journeyed to Ballarat to visit the Ballaarat Quilters Exhibition which I will cover in another post. Readers with a keen eye will have noticed the variation in spelling. It goes back to a change in local government structures in 1994 when the spelling was changed, dropping the double ‘a’ to signify a new council.

Enough of history. I arrived in Ballarat at mid-morning and headed off to Alfred Deakin Square behind the Ballarat Art Gallery where MexVic was holding a Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration.

It was crazily delightful and a wonderful way to remember the dead. Fortunately there were enough informative signs to explain the event. Mexican people believe that a person is only truly dead once he or she is forgotten by their loved ones and Dia de Muertos celebrations are a way of keeping the memory and therefore the spirit of the person alive.

Ofrendas are set up in houses and public spaces dedicated to deceased loved ones, and objects are placed on them which were associated with the dead person. The scent of the flowers and incense is intended to guide the spirit of the dead person back to visit their loved ones. This beautiful ofreada was built by Ballarat’s Hispanic community and is dedicated tot he victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico.

The Alfrombrista tapestry was made by Mexican artist Alejandro with a lot of help from celebration participants. It took a long time to fill in with coloured mulch and sands so I had to come back later in the day to see how it had progressed.

The Pan de Puerto is delicious, it is flavoured with orange to give it a strong aroma and bring the dead to the altar.

The day was very much for children, with special dances, crafting activities and of course piñata, which had them diving for sweets when it finally broke.

I discovered a tiny project/gallery space off the square, the current exhibition is Skipticism.

Beautiful Machines were some of the 322 photographs of sewing machines found at landfill sights and outside Skip in Cast was a skip bin cast embedded with found objects.

Before heading up the hill to the quilts I saw a bit of central Ballarat, with the Eureka flag flying of course. And visited the farmers market in Bridge Mall where there were some tempting plants, but not for a train traveller.

I also saw some beautifully bound journals which I thought would interest my friend Jenni.

I have to say the VLine train trip was most pleasant, and I will be sure to use my remaining voucher this year. When I finally got back to Southern Cross Station in the early evening it was full of interesting characters. The slightly tipsy ones dressed in black and white, many sans shoes, were on their way home from the races. I assume those dressed as fantasy characters had been to the Anime Festival at Jeff’s Shed. There was a most charming Kiki complete with a broomstick and cat Jiji peeping out of her bag on my platform as I waited for my Metro train.




Quilting lines

When I arrived at the NGV on Thursday it was overcast and a bit drizzly. For a short amount of time, just as I was leaving the Dior exhibition, the sun came out…


making a grid of quilting lines on Federation the floor painting by Taiwanese artist Michael Lin. The painting incorporates designs from an 1800s coverlet recently on display as part of the Making of the Australian Quilt exhibition.


I wonder if gallery visitors were aware they were walking over a giant patchwork.