Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

IMG_5915

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.

IMG_5917

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.

IMG_5920

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.

Dobell2

The Thatchers early version

Dobell3

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.

Dobell1

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.

Neereman farm

On Sunday I intended to go to a heritage event at Anderson’s Mill in Smeaton, on the way dropping in at Castlemaine and Maldon. But I didn’t get there.

The first part of the day went to plan with a last visit to Threadbear in Castlemaine and some time at the Maldon Cemetery. It is not far from here to Neereman and the farm on the Loddon River established in the 1860s by my great great great grandparents. It was easy to find as I had been there as a child when my mother was first researching her family history. I have some small black and white photos from that time and wanted to replace them with colour images. So this was to be a quick call to see if I could do that some time in the future.

When I got to the farm I was made to feel most welcome. Albums of photos and documents came out, including the family tree book my mother had written listing the descendants of settlers who had a farm on the other side of the river. Their son had married a daughter from this farm.

So an hour or two passed very pleasantly with Steven and Margie. The farm has been in his family from the early 1920’s and so he knew all about the alterations and when they happened and Margie had also been gathering information on the early history of the property.

Most of the original outbuilding still stand built mainly from local sandstone, although the cheese room has now collapsed due to white ants working there way through the supporting timbers. The house is brick and was originally three rooms, the rear one the dirt floored kitchen. This is as it was in about 1920 and so how it was in my family’s time.

Ely Farm

In the 1940s a whole new section was built parallel to the original so the external doors now open to a passage. The roof pitch was lowered and the attic window is now in the bathroom at the rear. A new wide window replaced the bar door at the front and a return verandah was added to update the whole look of the building. Steve has done a great job inside, restoring timber ceilings, refurbishing the original doors and taking away some earlier ‘improvements’. He obviously loves the old place.

Thanks to a successful court case at the time, a goldmine on the land had to pay substantial annual compensation to my ancestor so there were funds to establish extensive gardens and orchards. Apparently the gardens drew visitors from as far as Bendigo. An ancient olive tree is still productive, the Bunya Pine fruited this year and the Norfolk Pine is enormous. The farm was also famous for its cheese and being on a Cobb and Co route it was a staging post, also the Neereman Post Office, the Exploration Reef Hotel and depot for paying rates and voting at council elections.

Even better, Steve’s family also bought what was May Farm in Baringhup West so I got to see and copy a 1920s photo of that farm too. I think this building dates from 1878 as a tender was called for such a construction on the farm in that year. The roof is looking quite new in the photo and I hope that there were verandahs all around that were just awaiting replacement.

The Loddon River between the two farms is still a place of beauty. The magnificent River Red Gums in the picnic area near the ford would have been witness to many social occasions in the past.

Autumn Gardening

The big achievement of the last month is cleaning out all the gutters. Quite a big task as leaves blow on to the roof all the time and in summer the tiny gum nuts rain down from the lemon scented gum. Usually I just make sure the house roof is clear as any blockage will cause a back flow of rain into the ceiling. Curse those concealed gutters!

This time it was impossible to ignore the great accumulation of mulch on the carport roof. IMG_5650

It took two afternoons of going up and down the ladder and scooping out handfuls of leaves and humus before the job was done. Both gutters were clear and a quick hosing flushed out any leaves in the pipe going to the tank.IMG_5652

The end result got the tick of approval from the gutter inspector. Although she thought the lights could do with a bit of a clean too.

A bonus tree for the garden, I think it might be a jacaranda as the one nearby had a few seed pods a year ago.IMG_5715

Recent finishes

Seeing another quilter at work on some familiar piecing I was prompted to finish an appliqué cushion cover started at the 2016 AQC. We had, as it turned out, done the same Make and Take workshop run by Frangipani Fabrics. I stopped at the paper piecing stage in April last year, but thanks to Kathy’s reminder, it is now finished. The background was inspired by my recent trip to Cairn Curran in Central Victoria. The blue wrens were flitting in and out of the dry grasses and thistles, moving far to fast to photograph.

IMG_5607

Shibori

This is a technique I have wanted to try for a long time and had the opportunity to do so on 1 April. Leanne O’Sullivan of Kimono House conducted the workshop for Waverley Patchworkers, read about the day here. It is a resist technique that involves a lot of preparation of the fabric before it enters the indigo dye bath.

IMG_5574    IMG_5610

nui shibori – stitch resist on silk

IMG_5611

 

itajime shibori – folding and clamping

 

 

 

kamo sage – a friction knot and mountain pass pleating

img_5615.jpg

Birthday treats

I was delighted then a bit concerned when I useuser-birthday-5656109189693440.4-hpd a popular search engine on my birthday and noticed an interesting doodle.
It was specially for me! So my date of birth is not a big secret after all. Check it out on your big day.

A little while after the exact date the occasion was celebrated with a delicious sushi train dinner at Sakura Kaiten Sushi in Little Collins Street. Then off to see The Book of Mormon at the Princess Theatre. This treat was courtesy of my son, and it was for his sister’s birthday too which was earlier in the year.

Lots of short back ‘n sides haircuts along with white shirts and black pants were in the crowd. After much discussion we decided the two sitting in front of us were fans in costume, the hipster beard was the giveaway along with the cocktails at interval.IMG_5568

Waiting for curtain up on a fantastic show that lived up to all the hype. The only negative was the laughter was so long and the singing so loud at times it was hard to catch the clever lyrics.