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.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It's been a while folks

From March to about one week ago I've been heads down and bum up on University studies, which has left me desperate for creative time. Infuriating, frustrating and downright depressing,

Not much happenin'.


Then I got a commission to make a guest wedding book through Discover Me, Emporium of Gorgeousness, which gave me the perfect excuse to down the study and make a book. A real book with actual paper and everything. Both exciting and ironic.  I say that because my study has all been on line, not a scrap of paper to be seen, just webpages, wiki's and blogs.

And paper feels sooooo good.

Really sexy.

So here's the book for Claire, and her man.

Handmade Indian paper cover, 40 leaf blank pages. Coptic bound. Claire, hope you enjoy, and here's to your happy and long marriage.

And here's to school holidays where I can have time to make more stuff.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sigh no more

This post is dedicated to the memory of Carol.

And while you read it and look perhaps you might like to tune into this gorgeous song Sigh No More with the beautiful lyrics by Shakespeare. I can't get it out of my brain at the moment, it appears to me in dreams and in every waking moment ever since I heard it on Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. 

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, everyone does it in their own fashion. For me, I like to pour it into an artwork. I find the process of making something truly therapeutic, it gives me time to reflect and something to give away at the end. A kind of symbolic letting go.

This is a fabric book I made for Carol's partner to use as he wishes, and in some small way, help him process his grief. It's a bit girly, well, VERY girly. But hey ho, so was Carol, so let's acknowledge that beautiful feminine person with something equally feminine.

Recuerdos - mixed media, vintage fabrics, eco dyed mull, found objects.

The brown fabric is mull, eco dyed with NZ harakeke seed pods. Embellishments are vintage beads, buttons and lace. The pages have been left plain, ready to fill up with memories, photos and stories. Binding is simple long stitch.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


One thing I've learned from assemblage artists is that you can pretty much use anything to build your assemblage on.

Take Ron Pippin for example, an artist of genius proportions. He created an entire work built on a Kayak And here's one from Michael Demeng from, well you can see what he uses. Seems like you are limited only by your imagination.

So here I took an idea from a Michael Demeng workshop entitled Good Brushes Gone Bad and created 2 small assemblage pieces from used-up house paint brushes, you know the ones where the bristles are so stuck together that painting is impossible anymore. Anyone with the right sense of mind would chuck them in the bin. OK, so anyone in their right sense of mind wouldnt' chop the faces off baby dolls either! The old layers of paint create a natural start to the assemblage and I retained some of this in the work. 

Bad-Ass Baby

A Brush with Bling

Both pieces are up for exhibition this weekend in the Martakana Art Show, another fundraiser for Warkworth Wellsford Hospice at Matakana primary from Friday  24th to Monday 27th January. Come along if you are local.