Wednesday, 26 January 2011

sewing and mumbling

sailing on a silken sea
as forms begin to take shape
one huge dress, with space for two bodies

cut from an entire roll of silk
with 'zero waste' principles
stitching with a thread made of 35%cotton 65%silk
loaded into the overlocker
although it could be argued that using 48 metres
of cloth
to make one dress for two performers
is hardly frugal
but then, tis theatre
and the garment will have [i hope]
a long and useful life.
it's one thing practicing frugality at home
there are other parameters at play here
so i use materials that will wear well
be comfortable for the dancers
and are from natural sources
the audience doesn't usually expect
to see people dancing in old newspapers
or random retrievals from the ragbag
[ok. some people do. fine.]

[visit  helen lyôn  to see what she has been doing with a smaller version of such a dress]

the bits above are all that i cut away
two circles and a couple of leaf-shaped morsels
[stamps are there to give an idea of scale]
the only other discards were the shreds from overlocking -
they'll be used for making string

above, the beginnings of an other dress
with coral-like pockets
[for ochre, of course]

while sewing there is of course much thinking time
have been musing over the article written by Germaine Greer 
and sent me by Sophie Munns
i don't always agree with Ms Greer's pronouncements
but this time there's something that resonates

the flooding and the aftermath are awful , there's no arguing with that
while we continue to clear trees and build houses and roads
we can expect more
if the earth is covered with a hard crust there's simply nowhere for the water to go

consider the township of Mount Barker in South Australia
where the population has been expanding by the thousands each year
this year another development of 6000 houses has been allowed
little dogbox houses without rainwater tanks or verandahs
the mean annual rainfall there is 764.3mm [that's about 2 and a half feet]
most of it falls in winter
and swills about the roads already

now, if there were sensible development
communities built around shared gardens
a catchment for run-off
ponds to water the gardens
provision for filtering surplus water
and pumping it into the ground for storage
corridors of forest maintained for wildlife
and for life in the wild

instead we have lots of little dead-end roads
colourbond fences to keep out the neighbours
and lots more lovely run-off into the reservoirs
that supply the good folk of Adelaide
who for some reason don't realise that they're drinking
doggydoos, tyre scrapings, septic overflows and squashed possums
along with the Murray River cocktail that's pumped into those big holding dams each year

good gracious, i've been ranting again.
must be something in the water.


  1. I agree, the same thing is happening around where I live, old houses demolished, every scrap of green bulldozed away, then dozens of tiny badly designed units squeezed in, more paving and more concrete and nowhere for water to go. Why is it so hard to design high density housing sensibly and sustainably?!

  2. Tell me about it. Please India don't drink Mt Barkers water. We live in Nairne and I'd rather dip a cup into a swimming pool there would probably be less chlorine and chemicals.

  3. we're completely independent of the piped supply
    and drink whatever the goddess sends from above
    good stuff

  4. i invision clouds of silk with you and a machine in the midst. the design concept reminds me of dorothy burhnhams "cut my cote", a little book published by the r.o.m. in toronto. ...word-ideenth-

  5. beautifully said India!
    You know ... as I read what you wrote of the expanding Mt Barker scenario it struck me that many/most people choosing those options would actually be quite shocked to watch a doco or powerpoint that gave them a picture of a whole gamut of issues that come with that choice.... a doco that joined the dots... with clarity.
    For many they bust their guts to get housed and sorted into middle australia options... and in the earnest desire to reach for the advertising pics there is so much they never see, never think about... and more to the point... no one's really grabbing their attention to adjust those rose - coloured visions...
    Reportedly some here in Brisbane are shocked to discover they live in a flood zone. Somehow they did not know about such things.
    Those catalogues on buying your dream home in the new suburbs sell not just houses but also dreams where you never have weather, perhaps never need to go outside, nor worry about gardening .... in a way the catalogues seem to be promoting living in a modern stage-setting from which one goes between work and the shops... and the screen!
    After all... shopping is the way of life promoted to the masses. And no-one at the mall is doing eco-sustainablity presentations from what I've noticed.
    There are probably untold numbers of people who've considered environmental factors for the first time since weve had these disastrous floods.
    Personally Id like to think we didn't have to have this level of loss of life and disruption to work out how to live with the land and climate and weather phenomena more astutely.
    Times ripe for a little ranting India!
    ps interesting feedback from different sources on that Bill.

  6. For those of us who can't seem to muster a rant......I am grateful to those that do.......

  7. frugality and sustainability vice versa...Your dress surely will survive a long time, being worshiped with all the awareness that went and goes into it.
    For me this is a variation of sustainability.
    Frugality would be needed in building any infrastructure. We so often mix up cause and effects and mostly working on the effects our "doing" has.

  8. ohhh how great is this. . i read about julian roberts for the first time, a couple of summers ago. . i must find you the link to the masterclass he made on video. . you may have already seen it ? the long red dress on the stage ? amazing technique. . i wish i had a stage to practise it on ! this is going to look absolutely stunning in white. . i am so excited to see it finished. .

  9. Sounds familiar. I quail at the thought of what is in our water.
    On a positive note, I'm intrigued by what you are creating and look forward to seeing the completed garments.

  10. i wholeheartedly concur re dogboxes and lack of shared green... why is it that politicians don't SEE????? grrrrrr

  11. Those dresses look awfully exciting. wow what a project.
    On a completely off track tangent my word verification is "hotion" it just looks like it should be a real word. Any ideas?

  12. The dresses look very beautiful and very interesting. I worry about whats in our water here in UK.I know we are very lucky to have clean tapped water but sometimes l wonder if taking what appears to be "Everything" out of our water, is really that healthy!xxlynda

  13. It is not just in Australia. Here in Florida we have the same epidemic, and the Political powers and Builders are so deep in bed with each other that it will never be straightened out. My family has been here since 1821 and I know my ancestors spend eternity crying.