Tuesday, 13 August 2019

still breathing

I apologise for the decreasing frequency
perhaps that is
increasing infrequency
of postings here.

blogger makes it tricky to interact with the readership, you see.
I can't respond to your questions, the platform simply won't allow it.

but I can still tell a few stories.


it's been an extraordinary year
(they all are, really) with wanderings that have included exhibitions in one of the busiest locations in the UK, as well as one of the more remote (but seemingly with lots of lovely visitors).

a day after 'leafpoems :: treeclooties from here and (t)here' concluded at the Inverewe Gardens in Scotland,   'incomplete journeys' opened at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham ... truly two extremes!

and presently I have work in 'borderline' at Fabrik, in South Australia,
as well as a chapter on my work in a beautiful new book

'True Colors'
Keith Recker

most of next year's workshops are up on my website
and I am very happy to say that the 
School of Nomad Arts
is blooming beautifully.

thanks for hanging in here.
if you have something that needs an answer, drop me a line.
there's a wee icon at the foot of my website
that will let you send me a message.


Tuesday, 5 March 2019


two places have become available in the only fully residential retreat I will be leading this year, in beautiful Bretagne - Brittany, on the shining edge of the shimmering Atlantic Ocean.

this is one of the thin places of the whirled, where it feels as if you could easily step from this one to the next. 

the layers of history are dense and complex :: at our accommodation there is a fig tree with a girth so big it seems as though it could have been planted by a returning crusader

at the foot of the garden there is a path winding down to a burbling stream that wanders through a faerie-tale forest, the kind in which you expect to see unicorns leaping lightly over fallen logs or to find a strand of Melisande's hair

our workshop is called 'longing(be)longing' and will take us deeply into the investigation of the poetics of this place, one that seems to allow us to see further, hear more clearly and feel more deeply.

time slows in this place.

we will be hand stitching and dyeing, making a journal and capturing poetry as it drifts in on the breeze.

all meals are provided by our chef Geraldine (a specialist in mindful eating)

and at night, the Atlantic Ocean will sing you to sleep.

does this sound like something you need?

please contact Claire des Bruyeres to secure your place.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

gardens of the heart and a free class

what a month it's been ... unpacking and documenting the lovingly stitched contributions to Gardens of the Heart, putting the pieces together with the help of lovely volunteers and installing the exhibition at Fabrik Arts + Heritage has taken up much of my time. I'm so grateful to the h.ART group and to the new Director at Fabrik, Melinda Rankin for unstinting and generous support.

here's a wee video to give you more of an idea of how it turned out. If you live in South Australia you have until March 17 to see the show for yourself. I keep expecting Oberon and Titania to step out of the shadows.

I've also made a free class for you at the School of Nomad Arts :: 'laundering leaf prints'.
so many people write to me asking how best to wash their naturally dyed and printed textiles that I thought I'd save myself a bit of email-answering time by offering some instructions.

you'll find a link to it here

Sunday, 27 January 2019

dear blogger, could you please get your act together?

Blogger is being extremely sporadic about letting me comment, even on my own blog.
Commenting on others, forget it.

This evening there was a comment on a post from 2009.

A number of (frustrating) attempts at answering have failed, so here goes.

India we are trying to help save the kelp forests from destructive mechanical harvesting, here in West Cork,Ireland. I am experimenting with bundles of cotton fabric using seaweed for dye patterns, but having trouble getting much to happen. I wonder if silk would be better and seaweed as mordant. This would become banners for a public art project. Maybe I need to add something to the mix to bring out the colours of the plants? I am a novice, have the bundle book, and would appreciate any suggestions you might have. Janice McEwen "

Answer: dyeing cotton is tricky, silk will be more rewarding. And seaweed generally plays more nicely when wrapped around a piece of metal.

Want to learn more useful things about dyeing with plants and wandering the whirled with your eyes open?

'being(t)here', one of the most popular workshops I've offered over the years, is now available online at the School of Nomad Arts. It begins with the new moon in March with offerings every 28 days or so, into December

please click here for more information

Sunday, 23 December 2018

dear Martine

dear Martine

sorry for the slow reply ... I have tried several times to reply to your kind comment on the previous post, and Blogger simply would not publish. My fingers were crossed that it would work today, because it's nice to be able to engage in conversation, I think. But Blogger refused.

What I wanted to say was that I'm glad you're still here, and that I love "bumping into you" in Europe from time to time!

And I'm so grateful for your support of my work :: it must be about ten years that we have had a connection of some kind ?

That's what I have come to realise about my work...Yes, it's about sharing the printing of leaves on to cloth and paper, and writing poetry and listening to the whirled but it's much more than that. It's about creating community.
And what is really going on, when we gather around a cauldron and make bundles, or sit around a big table and stitch; is that we are (like in old times) gathering around a village well.
There is talk, there is caring for each other. It's not just what I teach but what each person shares, too.

Which brings me to my big news.
I have so enjoyed creating classes for my online school that I have decided to create an annual version of one of my favourite workshops, 'being(t)here', that I have taught all around the whirled but which has been a little different in each version, depending on the place and the time of year, and on what I have been thinking about deeply.

The first online edition will run from March to December 2019, with eleven instalments each delivered on a new moon. It's a huge project and I'm slightly terrified and utterly elated at the same time. But that is what makes life exciting and worth living. It's splendid to have things that are really worth getting out of bed for (in addition to my delightful granddaughter and my loyal hound).

On that note, I wish you a lovely and peaceful Christmas (or any other gentle festivity you might indulge in) and Joy and happiness for the New Year.

lots of love


PS if your name isn't Martine and you've read this far I still wish you happiness and health and all good things for the coming year, and thank you for reading my words.

PPS Blogger has now decided it won't publish my comments on other blogs, either. Which is kinda sad, because there are a number that I do read, and it's good to leave a calling card. Guess Blogger has decided to place limits on my screen time. Good thing they aren't hosting my online classes!!!

Friday, 30 November 2018

dear 1393 (the annual report)

the glorious view over the heathlands, from Mount Chudalup
one of the remarkable wildflowers in South West
Western Australia

to the 1393 folks who've stuck by this blog over the years.
a little over ten years, as it happens.

thank you for hanging in there.

this calendar year has been a particularly full one. I've taught five times in Australia, twice in Scotland and Canada,
once in New Zealand and once in France. that's eleven workshops. seven of them were a week (as in 5 days) long, three were three days, one was a mere seven hours and one ran over two weeks.

a string-and-bundle installation
created for the sculpture park
'understory' by the participants of
the retreat to Northcliffe, WA,
in October

I made paper by hand during a brief residency at Richard de Bas papermill in France and spent time in New Orleans, dreaming up new work and collaborating with musician John Fohl.

I built a new website at a new address, and then bought back my old domain name from my former host so as not to lose all the goodwill that it had built up over the past ten years
somewhere in between I took a big swig from a cup of courage and
having previously resisted offers from others (the kind that read "come to our studio across the seas at your own expense, let us film you doing tricks and then we'll give you 5% of the profits") launched the School of Nomad Arts, which is giving me much delight.

I had no idea it would be so satisfying to make wee movies and create online classes.
now I know.

I'm writing this post from the beautiful gardens at Inverewe in Scotland, where I am spending the last week of November, dyeing with windfall leaves, preparing for an exhibition in their Sawyer Gallery (next June) and dreaming up more classes for my school.

unsurprisingly, the mirror tells me I'm looking a tad frayed.

it may be time for a wee rest.
time to go home, cuddle that gorgeous grandbaby and go wandering with my dog.

but it's been a fabulous year.

the week at Northcliffe, during which we spent all day each day outside in sunshine and in rain was absolutely glorious. we made a field trip to Mount Chudalup, and created an installation for 'understory', the local sculpture park. people worked on their laps or on the grass, stitching dyed pieces into a 'wayfarer's comforter', a big soft cloth to keep them safe and warm on their travels.

local colour at Northcliffe

a mere two days at home to repack my bags, and I was off to Scotland to begin a three-and-a-bit-week road-and-ferry trip with  Alison Mountain (half of the team of two that make up Big Cat Textiles) . the plan was that Alison would cook for the first retreat (at Ardtornish Estate, near Lochaline) and I would captain the sailboat, and after that we would co-present a retreat on Orkney...meaning we would take turns at cooking and at telling stories. (we are nothing, if not optimistic)

the lovely people at Ardtornish were so chuffed to have us, that we are already confirmed to return in 2020. the gardens there reminded me so much of my parents' lovely garden at Mount Lofty, before it was blackened by fire. and the house itself reminded me of Arthur's Seat, the towered house just a bit further up the mountain from us...where Nancy Harford taught me how to wash Persian carpets with velvet soap and a garden hose, introduced me to the joys of gin+tonic and told me the secret of everything... "whatever happens dearie, never lose your dignity".  I'll confess I'm not always good at keeping that in mind, but I do try.

after five glorious days expecting at any moment to encounter the Dowager Countess Crawley and her withering words around a corner, we left Ardtornish behind us in the wee hours :: driving northward to catch a ferry to the charmingly named port of St Margaret's Hope, Orkney. it was a magical sail across to this gorgeous archipelago, arriving in time for a brilliant sunset. the next day was taken up with serious (double-trolley) food shopping in preparation for the arrival of our participants.  

the Ring of Brodgar

  and so began a week of 13 hour working days, beginning with the morning porridge prep and concluding after the last dessert plate had been cleared. happily we had a cheerie helper (a rare luxury) who smiled through piles of plates and wrangled the ancient dishwasher into submission. 

thank you, Caroline! 

when she isn't disguising herself as a dishie on a far-flung island, she actually runs a clothing company. (and lest the reader thinks I've begun taking interns in return for dishes, no. I have not. both the shared workshop and the assistance will remain unique events. no applications will be received!!)
if you'd like to know more about the actual class...Jane Wheeler has described it in great detail.

and now I'm in my last week here, boiling up a cauldron at the Inverewe Gardens. I came here with the intent of focussing on the eucalypts, but the story seems to be changing as windfalls drift on to my path, squirrels skip across it and herons soar gracefully overhead.  

next year holds four in-person workshops, three solo exhibitions and a number of research trips planned to add depth to the classes I offer online. thank you for your support, whether you've come to a workshop, joined an online class, bought one of my books or simply taken the trouble to sit down and wade through this blog.

let the season of twinkle-lights begin!!

Friday, 5 October 2018

a collaboration

life seems to be steaming by like Niagara Falls.
blink and another month goes by.

since my last offering here I have become a grandmother.
other grandmothers will be smiling quietly to themselves as I confess that I have totally fallen in love with the tiny buglet.

In between cuddling the wee one (and making silly hats for her) I have made another course for the School of Nomad Arts - this time it's an offering for February. It starts now (four months ahead of time) so that participants can prepare by doing a bit of preservation dyeing.

And then (on my way to Maiwa in Vancouver) I've been in New Orleans for a week or so, working on   a piece of cloth and a short film, to which local guitar legend John Fohl has kindly added a soundtrack.

Wanna see it? click here 

Thursday, 2 August 2018

home for a bit

it's lovely, being home for a bit, curling up with my lovely Kubbi-dog and having some contemplation time.

the School of Nomad Arts is quietly blossoming, I have three solo exhibitions lined up for next year and just four workshops left to teach this year (all of which need serious prep...new class projects, fresh poems to read, materials to source).

Next year's dance card is already full, too.  Plenty of time to sleep in the grave.

If you happen to be in Sydney this month, find my work in 'Local Colour' at the UNSW Galleries in Paddington.

If you are wandering further afield, perhaps to France, you'll find my work in a new iteration of 'Earth Matters' for the Biennale du Textile Contemporain in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

Thursday, 5 July 2018

raiding the ragbag and sorting the stash

It was such a joy sharing with students from all over the planet in my first-ever online class (the Alchemist's Apron)  that I found myself dreaming up another one.

I know so many lovely dyers who simply cannot resist putting another morsel in the dyepot...and then    build up great mountains of delicious samples that rarely, if ever, see the light of day again. Which set me thinking.

It's time, my darlings.

Time to raid the ragbag for beloved discards from which you can harvest, and to sort out your stash and get ready to join pieces together to make fabulous frocks that are unique to YOU.

The class is called Conscious Clothing.  I'm literally dancing with excitement in my armchair about sharing my dressmaking tricks with y'all and I can't wait to see the gorgeous dresses that will be growing in the hands of makers around the whirled.

I've made the list of necessaries (and a wee video about dyeing while wandering) accessible to help you decide whether the class is for you. If you do dive in, the class is yours for life and there's also a Facebook sewing circle as extra support...the lovely thing is that you all bring so many skills to the table, and even though have a few reservations about FB, the fact remains that it is a very accessible means of connecting us all.

and as part of the first lesson, I've included a downloadable PDF of the wee pattern-cutting booklet I published (in a very limited edition of 100) some years ago. It contains the essence of how I make my clothes.

Will I see you there? I hope so.  At very least...do please click on the link above to read about the class. I'd love to know what you think of the idea.