Wednesday 26 August 2015

the year to come (and where to find me)

I’m sitting at my table here in France writing while at the distant edge of the fields the sun is beginning to think about rising. Outside a lone bird witters away to itself and about twenty big paces away from my window a brook continues its mad rush over the rocks. Today is day four of our class here – past students will know what that means. Time to bring out the chocolate!
It’s a good time of year to be dyeing in Europe. Elderberries and blackberries are ripening in the hedgerows. The first walnuts are almost within reach. The last of the St John’s Wort, that ubiquitous little yellow flower that rewards us so beautifully in the dyepot, lingers along the roadsides. Evenings are long and soft, washed clean by the occasional rainstorm.
The St John’s Wort reminds me that a few places still remain available in the two retreats that will be held in Mansfield, Victoria, Australia this year....both are limited to nine participants and are one-of-a-kind events unlikely to be repeated elsewhere.
November 9-12 'bloomin lovely' making beautifully dyed, hand-sewn bloomers, slips, scanties and undies 
November 14-17 'spring sewing circle', working on your own project with guidance from me (and support from the rest of the sewing circle – always a source of much wisdom, not to mention a good deal of laughter)
You’ll be supplied with delicious lunches, wine, fruit, chocolate and a package of useful treasures to supplement the materials you’ll want to bring. We’ll work in the light-filled garden studio at Crockett Cottage and gather our dye materials from the abundant eucalypts in the district. Poetry and drawing will add further richness to our days. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the odd small book didn’t appear and dive into the dyepot as well!
2016 is shaping to be a very full year for me with two solo exhibitions (USA and UK), a residency at the Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta (South Australia), a tour of New Mexico, workshops in Canada and the USA, a return visit to bonny Scotland AND my mother’s 80th birthday – so these (and the two classes at Beautiful Silks Botanical Studio) will be my last workshops in Victoria for the foreseeable future.
And why did St John’s Wort remind me?
Because most years the Mansfield district has an abundance of it. In Australia it’s a noxious weed and can be gathered with impunity, whereas in Europe it's a wildflower that I gather either with permission on private land OR when it is clear that it is about to be mown from the roadside
Please drop me a line though the contact page here if you think you might like to give yourself the reward of a retreat to Mansfield in November. I think it will be a very fine time indeed.

Sunday 23 August 2015

music to my ears

two trees entwined

moss hat

sweet meadow

one of the 490 varieties of hypericum

beautiful Austria


on the way from Scotland to France i spent almost exactly 90 hours immersed in my first language and emerged somewhat astonished at how very much being surrounded by the sounds of my childhood/adolescence/family life affected me (in a good way).

don't get me wrong. i was born in Australia and love it dearly but when push comes to shove there is no denying that all of my DNA (including the dash of Kazakh that gave me my brown skin) is northern in origin.

so when the steward on the Lufthansa flight to Paris asked me whether i was German or American (darf ich fragen, sind Sie Deutsche oder Amerikanerin) it was with a wee chuckle that i replied "weder, noch" (neither)

i rather like being a citizen of the whirled and being able to meld into various cultures as required (even if only as a walking replica of the local compost heap). whether my rusty French will allow me to do so for the next week or so is a matter for speculation.

guess i'll report in due course.

Friday 7 August 2015


Returning to Newburgh is like coming home

The class might carry the same name

being (t)here

But just as the meadows bloom differently each year
So the class evolves

last year I introduced the "island book", this year I added the "river book"

- two new folded no-stitch books I have been working on in recent years

The riversingers made spectacular work

No mordants. No layers of plastic.
Just the honesty of paper, cloth, leaves, water. 

We spent time by the river and time in it. 

It is a class for dreamers and wanderers

and happily I am able to return on an annual basis