Categories
Uncategorized

Goodbye Archie

While I have been thinking about posting some new work, I want this first post back to pay tribute to the most wonderful singer/songwriter, Archie Roach*

His powerful songs were written from his heart, about his experiences of being a member of the Stolen Generation, living on the streets, finding his family and his soul mate Ruby Hunter. His words bridged the gap between Indigenous and white worlds, helping people like me to understand the impacts of institutional and societal racism.

I went to a concert last year, and was moved by his generosity, humility and storytelling, as well as his wonderful songs. I thank him for those songs that have been a part of my life for so long.

I recommend you read this obituary.

Or listen to Archie’s conversation with Sarah Kanowski

However, if you only have time to do one thing, please listen to his song “Took the children away”.

You can feel the heartbreak in his voice, being taken from his parents at a young age. He was one of the Stolen Generation, a disgusting government policy where Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families. This extract from Common Ground explains it more:

Under this policy, the forcible removal of First Nations children was made legal. Assimilation was based on a belief of white superiority and black inferiority, and presumed that “full-blood” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would naturally die out. It proposed that children with Aboriginal and white parentage, who were termed “half-caste” (now considered an extremely derogatory term), should be assimilated into white society. It was believed these children would be more easily assimilated due to their lighter skin.

Children were separated from their families and forced to adopt a white culture. They were forbidden to speak their traditional languages or refer to themselves by the names that they were given by their parents. Most children were placed in institutions where neglect and abuse was common. Some children were adopted by white families throughout the country, and many of these children were used for domestic work.

News of his death came at the same time as the Garma Festival in the Northern Territory, where our new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, announced a referendum to decide for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. It flows from the beautiful Uluru Statement from the Heart, and goes some way towards acknowledging the racism on which Australia was built.

*The Indigenous tradition is to not use the image, voice and name of a person who has died. However his family has given permission for his name, image and voice to be used, so that his legacy can continue to inspire.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
My art work

Sewing #3

I wasn’t able to sew every day this week, but I have made good progress.

I am working on the left bank of the river. I could have just continued on with the running stitches, French knots and layering organza used on the other side. However, the piece needed more drama, and some contrast would help.

So I tore some shapes from the street directory, not any of the suburbs next to the Maribyrnong River, just a random page. Then I over laid the organza shapes.

That started me thinking more about the concept of the piece. I want to encourage thinking about what was here before urbanisation. Huge swaths of western Victoria was covered with grasslands and the Maribyrnong River cut through this on the eastern edge. Obviously the vegetation was also riverine, with large trees along the bank, usually river red gums.

Then came intensive urban development along areas of the river. Not all….there are large areas of parklands and sports fields and Brimbank Park further upstream from me….but not enough of wha must have been a glorious, productive place for the Wurundjeri people. Another area stopped from development is the land on which the Ordinance Factory was built in WW2. Now the developers are eying off that area.

Meanwhile, back at the embroidery. Instead of the organic lines of the right bank the left needed the straight lines of urbanisation, like streets rather than paths.

However, the thread I chose was too light and you couldn’t really see it. The yesterday I had a good session, sewing with a darker thread, which worked better.

I am careful when I sew through the thin paper of the street directory. It is so different to sewing the thick paper I used on the previous piece. Pushing the needle through that was so difficult!

This week I will add more decoration, and I think it still needs more drama. It’s nice to be back into the rhythm of regular practice, especially with the cold weather we have been having lately. Perfect for indoor activity.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
My art work

Sewing #2

I had hoped to start this post with a photo of Kate from Tall Tales from Chiconia, Chippy at Life by a Compass not a Clock and me. Kate is down in Melbourne and we were to have a catch up brunch. Unfortunately the Fella was not feeling very well this morning and I had to cancel. Such a shame, but he has to take priority. (I hope Kate hasn’t been too cold. She has come down from tropical Queensland to a prolonged blast of icy air straight from the Antarctic!)

I have been sewing each day, except for Friday, when time got away from me. This post is to help me stay accountable to myself.

Sue left a comment last week asking for some more detail about the materials I am using. The base is white linen. It is actually an old tea towel from a pile given to me by a friend. The weave is rather open, but it works well.

I cut the organic green shapes from scraps of organza. In my bag making days, quite a few years ago, I was given a bag of off-cuts from a contact who made wedding dresses. I love the way the opaque nature of the material. I can add stitching underneath and it layers creates interesting effects. Scroll down to see what I am thinking of using on the other side of the river.

As for the stitching…..The banks of the river are whipped stem stitch. You can see that for the other areas I have used running stitch, French knots and seed stitch.

So to the days. (Remember, there is no obligation to leave a comment!)

And this side may be finished

And today I set up the other side of the bank, using the organza and the surprise element of torn pages from the street directory. Before I explain I will do some sewing to see if it will work.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work

Sewing #1

Not a very imaginative title, not one that will make the algorithms sit up and take notice, but the best I can do at the moment.

It is #1 because I hope it to be the first of a weekly series documenting my work.

My intention is to spend time each day on my latest project. To hold me accountable I am going to document my daily progress. I was going to post every day, but realised how tedious that would be for me and for you.

So I am photographing each day, and on Sundays I will post the progress from the previous week.

I love your comments, but please, don’t feel obligated to comment on these posts. I am happy to show you what I am up to, but it is also to keep myself accountable to myself.

Now, to set the scene…..I have begun a new work that is based on the Maribyrnong River, which flows close to me. Melbourne’s main river is the Yarra; the Maribyrnong is rather a forgotten one but equally interesting and diverse. I will tell you about it some time soon.

You can see the flow of the river in this work. However, the green along the banks is my creative licence, as much of the area is built up now. I am hoping the layers of stitching show that layering of time.

Now, the eagle eyed among you will have realised that this is not a full week’s work. Yes, I fell at the first fence. I have spent the last couple of days over at my Mum’s while my brother takes some time for himself. I sewed one day, but forgot to photograph it. After I hit publish on this post, I will add some more stitches to it.


Last post I mentioned recycling my x-rays. The Elsternwick Library has a great e-waste recycling station, that took the x-rays. It is not far from Mum’s, so I had a tiny adventure to Elsternwick ~ a visit to the Library, a delicious coffee and picked up some yummy quiches for lunch.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
How does my garden grow?

Decluttering leads to ‘How does my garden grow?’

I have mentioned that I am using Mary Margaret’s idea of decluttering. Her brilliant idea is to pull a playing card out of the patch and that’s the number of things to remove/sort out over the week. My first 3 cards were two jacks and a queen ~ 100 things decluttered.

Then last week I pulled out a 6. It coincided with a visit to a new clinic for a mammogram. (Bear with me here, I can make the connection!) The clinic asked if I had my previous mammogram for comparison purposes. I dug them out and found out I had collected them for many years. They needed to go. So there were my 6 things….more than 6, but let’s not quibble.

The next step was to find somewhere to recycle the x-rays. Interestingly I found a library that has an e-waste collection system, including x-rays and it is on the way to my Mum’s, I am going to drop them off next week. Out of the house, and recycled. Yes!!

I continued my problem solving by using the paper sleeves of the xrays as weed suppression in the garden.

You know that weeds are a constant problem of mine and I have some, like sour sobs, that are impossible to get rid of. My gardener Linda suggested that I layer cardboard and newspapers over the weeds…and the sleeves from the x-rays!

This week I pulled out 7 out of the pack of cards, and wanted to get rid of more paperwork. Seven files of papers. I am reluctant to put vaguely sensitive papers in the recycling. My brain went zing and decided to recycle them in the garden too. More layers of mulch.

Then a final layer of mulch. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo below, I didn’t buy enough. Back to the garden shop.

Now I can easily get to the compost bins, rather than battle my way through the weeds. So the bin is up and running. Double win.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

It is pleasing to be able to say that I am happy with the garden at the moment. I haven’t said that for quite a while. And the difference? My gardener Linda.

She has come once a month since the beginning of the year. Each visit she mows and edges the nature strip. This used to be the Fella’s job, but over the last few years he has lost the energy to do it, and we were relying on the goodness of neighbours and friends.

And the growth of the grass over Summer was rampant. Not just in my patch, but all along the street. You could practically see it growing before your eyes. Without Linda I think it would have joined us in the house!

Then she attacked the weeds. I have moaned to you on many occasions about how prolific they are. No sooner would I clear out one patch than another would burst forth. Of course they will come back, but I know they will be dealt with. It is very comforting to be able to ignore; or to be able to use a pocket of time ~ 10 minutes is enough ~ to pull out some when they are small.

Previously I had never been satisfied with my plantings under the rose bush, now I think that has changed. It was the first area Linda cleared for me, when it was the right time to plant.

Hard to tell what is growing there ~ and they have really taken off after this photo ~ but there are statice, geraniums, cat mints, sage, salvias, as well as the iris and various bulbs I planted ages ago. Since this photo the cornflower seeds have sprouted, as have silver beet seeds.

Linda fought her way, decimating the weeds, to the compost bins. I am now using them again, which pleases me. Not only are they more accessible, but I also have more time to look after them. Hopefully they won’t become the slimy mess again.

Some times, in past posts about my garden you may have seen a bath lurking under the maple. we took it out of the bathroom many years ago. Occasionally the Fella would ask what I was going to do with it. In the early days I would answer that I wanted to make it into a pond. That was too complicated! So then I would answer hmmmm, not sure.

The brainwave came a couple of weeks ago….make it into a veggie patch. So Linda helped me move it, put it up on some bricks and pavers, and told me how to set up the soil.

So, here it is, yet to be filled with the soil, but sitting gloriously in the part of the garden that gets the most sun. It was also another weedy area, so I am pleased to be making it more productive too. (You can see more of the recent growth in the newly planted garden bed. And yes, that is a self-seeded tomato.)

The other benefit is the area where the bath was. Hellebores grow well there, so I will plant more. As you can tell from the photo other things grow very well there too! Once I would have turned away from it, but now I know that I have time and help to deal with it. It’s good feeling.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

Categories
Odds and Ends

A couple of odds and ends to get me back into the swing of blogging again

It seems to have been a while since I have blogged regularly…and I have missed it. So I am trying to get back into the routine.

Last thing I wrote about was my ‘quilt’. I finished it and was happy with the result.

One of the things that really pleased me was learning how to work my way through the problems that arose. Instead of pushing through I let the solution come when t was ready. Allied to that was enjoying the process without wondering/worrying about what the product was going to be. This blog post will tell you more about my thinking in creating this work.

As it turned out, it was destined to be a wall hanging, quilt-type thing. I even added little triangles to fit a rod for hanging. I didn’t add any wadding, which I thought would make it too thick. I like the thin softness.

Over the last month I have been working on another piece, which is much more complex in stitching as well as the concept behind it. I am going to write about it in my newsletter, which I hope to send in the next few days. If you are interested in finding out more about this work, you can sign up here. In the meantime, a hint at what it looks like……


As well as getting back to a blogging routine, I am trying to clear out those pockets of mess. You know, the things that lurk in cupboards, lie on shelves, hide on bookcases, that stuff that has overstayed its welcome.

So now is the time to make a start. And I have found a great motivating method, thanks to Mary Margaret, who blogs at the Professional Domestic. This is how she describes her method

A deck of playing cards is 52 cards but with the jokers the deck totals 54. Each week I will draw a card from the deck and whatever the value of the card is, that will be the amount of stuff I get rid of for the week. Cards 2 through 10 will be face value but Jacks are 25, Queens are 50, Kings are 75 and Aces are 100. The Jokers? Well they are 500!

I love this idea, and have already drawn a queen and a jack. Fortunately I have enough piles of paper to help me me meet the target of 75 things! As Mary Margaret says, the things don’t need to be physical items, but can be photos on the phone or emails that have built up ~ anything that creates clutter and makes us feel slightly overwhelmed when we think about it.

So thanks Mary Margaret ~ and I am impressed by how disciplined you are being!


And my last odd (or is it an end?) is a shout out for another blogger. Many of us are familiar with The Snail of Happiness, and familiar with her dedication to sustainability. If you don’t know her, have a wander though her blog The Snail of Happiness, full of growing things, mending things and making things.

The reason I mention her now is that she has just opened her shop!! 🥳🎊🎉 She is selling mending supplies and pre-loved craft materials, tools and equipment, as well running courses on making and mending in the Have-a-bashery.

It is in Lampeter, 10 College Street,Wales. Unfortunately not just down the street from me, and quite possibly not from you either. I don’t know if she is doing mail orders, but I am sure if you contact her you will be able to work something out.

And to give you an idea of what is in the shop, have a look at her Facebook page

It’s a fantastic idea and I wish her all the best.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Categories
Uncategorized

Calling all my quilting friends!

My lacy work is evolving in to a small quilt thing…..and I need some advice from all you clever and beautiful quilters (and other non-quilters too, of course).

This is where I am

I have sewn the vertical seams, and will sew the horizontal today. From there on I am unsure. I know I don’t want it to be too bulky nor have a visible binding. I also have to think about hanging it some how.

I have this material for the backing. It is quite soft and light.

So…

Should I use some batting between the layers? I have this that could work.

How would you recommend I attach the layers? Is it as simple as making like a pillow case/cushion cover and turning it inside out?

Do you think it needs binding/edging?

How do I go about quilting the layers? I am happy to handstitch and was thinking about carefully working my way along the seams.

And lastly (unless there are questions I haven’t even thought about!) how do I attach a hanging device, pockets etc? I want that to be as unobtrusive as possible too.

Thank you thank you thank you for any advice you can give me. 😘

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work Texture

On the other side of the hedge

The world is in a difficult place at the moment. The people of Ukraine are at the forefront of our minds. In Australia many are suffering devastating losses due of the recent floods. The pandemic still rampages about. Behind all our anxiety is climate change.

I wonder about sitting sewing, about writing about my art work. Is there something more profound I should be doing?

Charlotte Wood’s words in “The luminous solution” came at the right time.

To create is to defy emptiness. It is generous, it affirms. To make is to add to the world, not subtract from it. It enlarges, not diminishes.

So, here I am.

Last time I mentioned my work I was still deep in the masterclass with Donna Watson. This last month or so has been a great time of exploration for me. I thank Donna for helping me understand that the deeper you go into your self the more reflective your art is. While the outer world has been shit, my inner world is bright and shiny!

And I am definitely on the other side of the hedge.

I have been exploring lace work. My house, like many others in inner Melbourne, has cast iron lacework on the verandah. It has become a little bit of an obsession, my own “wormhole of fascination” to quote Woods again.

I have been playing with ideas, which started with paper and paint. Doing these collages made me realise that I have trouble with backgrounds, an area that I now know has always been weak for me. Textile works seemed to be a way to dodge the issue, not to solve the problem!

This was the first. Two similar ones followed.

The motif in the middle is an element on my lacework. I cut it out from paper, painted it and sewed (laced) it down.

After more pondering I realised that rather than being three separate art works, there was really one, some sort of quilt. (I know there are some of you now thinking “I knew Anne would come to quilting”! Yes Kate, I’m looking at you!)

More pondering and playing to work out what the other panels would be like.

I crocheted for a few hours until my fingers and brain finally worked together to get a shape that I liked. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work with the other bits. I tried odds and ends of lace, different materials and embroidery.

Then, as I was looking for ribbon to tie up the lace bundles, I found twine that florists use to tie up bouquets. I could tear it and twist it and it would hold its form. Perfect! What I was trying to do was make seed heads of the parsley that grows abundantly in the garden. To me these seed heads are also lacy, and bring the garden element into the work.

There’s a little more embroidery to do on this, but it fits with one of the other block like this.

I am hoping that the finished work will look something like this….only less rumpled and more precise!

One of the things I have loved about this is letting the work take its own time. Rather than rushing through, moving quickly to the next thing that catches my attention, I am allowing each element to evolve.

I am gradually accepting that making art is not about sales and exhibitions, although both are wonderful. It is about the process, not the product. It’s about finding the right way to express my ideas, which means refining those ideas. To think deeply and precisely, rather than being slapdash.

Danny Gregory speaks about how art is seen as a commodity in our society, to be bought and sold. We can be made to feel that our work only has validity through outside measures ~ sales, reviews, opinions etc. As though that’s what makes it a legitimate endeavour. But he goes on to say

Making art is mainly about the making. It’s a process, a game, a state of being. Society may insist on evaluating only the result.

But that’s not your problem.

And that’s what I am learning.

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

My street

I was going to write about the garden. However, last night I researched people who had lived in my street. I was intrigued by some of the stories, and I thought you might be too.

This interest has come about from my home being, in an artistic sense, my place. I know some of its history, but wanted to find out more about the people who lived here. I didn’t find any thing about them, but I have a better sense of the unofficial history of the street.

I used the excellent resource Trove, a site with indexed, digitalised, Australian newspapers, maps, images etc. It is indeed a treasure trove!

I typed my street name and suburb into the search engine. The search was not precise, as it included mentions of the suburb and often the abbreviation st, so I had to winnow out the relevant articles.

Articles were from the first half of the twentieth century, and as was the way, usually included a house number with the street name. Now I have a list of at least a quarter of the occupants who lived the street from 1913 to 1968. Some of the information came from death notices and obituaries (“A quiet gloom was cast over Ascot Vale Parish when it became known that Thomas Loughnan….”), one from a notice of a 50th wedding anniversary.

Others came from citizenship notifications, which showed how migrants moved into the suburb in the 1960’s. My next-door-neighbours were there.

I picked out these stories for you. Some of them were rather gruesome, but I suppose that is the way with newspaper articles ~ the more sensational the better.

  • 1917: Mrs Norrish won 7th prize in the Sisters of Mercy raffle. No mention of what the prize was, but you do wonder.
  • 1918: WG Werry was noted for his results in a hen competition
  • 1918: Miss Emmins ran a first aid class as she was a bandaging instructor.
  • 1922 William Morley was fined 5/- for smoking in a non-smoking train compartment, costs were 7/6. That seemed rather out of whack.
  • 1915: John McIver, a fireman, presumably on the trains, had his foot cut off by a train in a workplace accident. Imagine the ongoing trauma this would have caused.
  • There is no date for this one, but it must be early. “‘Joy rider’ jolted from jinker”. James Dillon, who lived elsewhere, stole a pony and jinker from the Ascot Vale Hotel. He drove it in circles in my street until the wheel hit a curb and he was jolted out.
  • And on horses….in 1934 one crashed into a tree, completely wrecking the cart. The horse bolted through several streets “with the shattered shafts trailing on the ground”. The horse was found a mile away, uninjured, grazing in a paddock.
  • 1967 Mrs V. Obese (how real is that name?!) was mentioned in a women’s magazine for her great tip on how to dry a tea cosy. You drape the damp cosy over the warm teapot and it dries in shape.
  • 1951 Patrick Heard, who lived in my street was admitted to hospital with shot-gun pellets in his left leg.

My favourite concerned Charles Allsop, who lived in my street. It was a story that went over a few articles. Allsop, a bookmaker, sued a farmer in Thorpedale for damages to his reputation. The farmer believed Allsop had short-changed him over a bet he, and called him “a robber, a thief and a welsher” at a few race meetings. The defence argued that as Allsop had been a drinking partner of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious criminal, and had been disbarred, he had no reputation to loose! Unfortunately that argument didn’t fly, as Allsop was awarded 80 pounds compensation.

I wonder what noteworthy events are happening in our street now. What will someone find in another 50 years? With the demise of suburban newspapers, probably not the same wonderful tit bits.


Of course, all of this happened on land on which First Nations People had lived for many thousands of years. I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.