Monday, October 12, 2015

Before I Die I want to........

I have been inspired by artist Candy Chang to recreate a Before I Die Wall in my town.

Candy made her first wall after the death of a close friend. She chose an abandoned building, painted it up and left chalk. She wanted to encourage sharing in a public space, provoke civic engagement and emotional introspection. Overnight her wall was transformed with the wishes and dreams of passers by. Since then 'Before I Die' has taken off globally, given people a chance to think about death, but also an opportunity to celebrate living and gratitude for what we do have.

Listen to her inspiring TED talk here. 

This installation is a work in progress, evolving as people write what they want on, under, above and between the lines. Sentences are rubbed out to make way for others. Each day I visit the wall to photograph the new additions. They make me smile & laugh out loud. More importantly, reading the personal aspirations of my community give me hope.

Candy's participatory public art project Before I Die has been created in over 1,000 cities and over 70 countries, including Iraq, China, Haiti, Brazil, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and South Africa. As far as I'm aware this is the second wall in Aotearoa.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Et Voila! Lobster shorts finished

Wow! Don't think I've ever done a sewing project with so much attention to detail. I really wanted these not to look amateurish. They do however look original, which kinda points to them being a home project.  Who else has a pair like this?

When Luke wears them, people look, but they don't seem to comment. Why is that?
 I'm not sure my home town is ready for this much exuberance......... they can be a conservative bunch here in Warkworth. Well too bad, cos the Lobsters have come to town.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Major fail on the to-do list...

I started the year by making a list of all the projects I needed to finish. There were 10 things on that list, quite a few, so I did a deal with myself to get them completed before I started on new projects.  A few weeks later I'd whittled it down to 7 and I felt pretty pleased with my progress.

Then those godamn shiny monkeys came along. Have you met shiny monkeys? Those lovely little ideas that twinkle inside the brain, attractive and tempting. Too many shiny monkeys to resist. 

I started a new project.

I made a pair of shorts with a yoga band, cutting the pattern myself and using vintage fabrics from an old table cloth, cushion covers and a piece I found in a scrap bin. A prototype of more to come.

Briefly I thought about going back to that list of uncompleted things but those shiny monkeys got in the way again once a package arrived in the mail. Gorgeous lobster cotton slub, all the way from Maine from Brickhouse Fabrics. I'd promised my husband a new pair of Lobster shorts (his idea) and it was a 3 day weekend, with weather not good enough for going to the beach.  How could I resist?

I just adore this fabric.

After searching for Men's shorts pattern, and finding them frustratingly spartan, I eventually lucked in on an online pattern site Thread Theory with the most grooviest pattern downloadable as PDF. The site also provides step by step sew-along tutorials. Good. Because this is an ambitious tailored project for me including flat fell seams.

This is the first time I have used a PDF pattern, and found it surprisingly easy to layout before cutting. The best thing about this was not having to wait for it to arrive in the mail meaning I could get started immediately.

This is the finished pattern layout before cutting. 

I'm making these slowly, step by pedantic step, in my attempt at perfection. My anal retentiveness means it will take me a while, but with a newly organised purpose sewing room (lucky me) I have the space to return to work at any time.  Of course my other projects have been put aside once again.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Quilt Restoration Project - Part I

Back in the late 1970s my Nana Lil came over from London to stay with us for a while. While she lived with us, she and my mum made a quilt for me. Neither of them, as far as I know, had made a quilt before although they were both experienced with sewing. But it was fairly adventurous to make one with a hexagon pattern. I remember helping out by embroidering some of the patches. I think I was about 11 or 12 at the time, and I had free range of what to embroider. So there is Holly Hobby, Ernie and Bert other such 70s things. What I love most about this quilt is that they used fabric from other sewing projects, way back when we used to make our own clothes. So I could look at the fabrics and think "that's Mum blouse" or "my sister's dress", or "Nana's top".  Fabrics which are now vintage and reflective of that era. Now I can't quite remember specifics, just general memories of those old clothes.  I also love that this is a 3 generations project of women in our family and I can remember sitting together stitching madly in our lounge in front of the telly.

We had a few laugh over that quilt, the hexagons developed some strange dimensions as the quilt grew and there are some very strange shapes, with uneven sides. I guess those uneven hexagons make up the narrative of that quilt, and have become endearing and lovable qualities.

Us three, and my grandad Fred. Circa 1967 before Quilt!
That quilt has not survived the years well. The stitches have held but the fabric has perished over time, fraying and splitting. The edges have lost their squareness, and the colours are faded.  I pulled it out of the cupboard the other week, and looked at those sad frayed patches. It smelt all musty and felt damp. I decided it is time to give this quilt a new life and am beginning to restore it. This is going to be the start of a big project, it could take me years! I have a kind offer of help from the owner of the Pukeko Patch quilting shop in Warkworth, who will help me edge and back it when I finally get all the damaged fabrics replaced.

My first job is to remove the damaged hexagons (or hexa-gones) and find enough vintage fabric to replace new patches. And convince my daughter to help a bit, so it becomes a four generational quilt. I'll be posting reports from time to time as things progress - assuming things do progress!

Failing that, it makes a great cat tent. 

Che Guevarra, the world's most helpful cat.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Virtual exhibition

I was fortunate to be an exhibitor in this year's Auckland Festival of Photography, in a signature show called Matakana Images at RD6 in Matakana.

I exhibited a set of contrived and deadpan images, with the intention that the viewer would make up their own narrative. Here are my four images.

Girl in Repose

Before Crosses

Woman with Agapanthus

A Huia Stream


Thanks to my family, and my friend Laurel who do things out of the ordinary for me (like sit half naked in a river bed, or submerge themselves in a bath of milk). Exhibitions are great things for making you get some work done, and pushing the boundaries. Looking forward to the next one.