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contemporary embroidery

SAL ~ The forest regenerates #2

Many apologies for this late Stitch-A-Long post…I think I must have inadvertently deleted Avis’s reminder email…..which also had the current links to others who are joining in. So, I will link back to my SAL post from last time. Your other option is to go to Avis’ post. As well as getting an up-to-date list, you can look at the lovely highlands landscape she is sewing. Do go and see what delightful personal stitching the other group members are doing.

And more apologies…there is not really a lot of progress in my work. The weather here has been very humid, which doesn’t make for easy sewing. And life has been busy.

And I was a bit stuck with how to deal with the bottom of the work, which meant I wasn’t sure how far down to take the couching, and what shape to make it. More of that in a moment.

Last time…

Contemporary embroidery

This time….

Contemporary embroidery

I think I know how I am going to deal with the bottom of the work. I knew this texture couldn’t continue to the bottom. Firstly because I want to create some idea of trees in a forest, and secondly because the work needed variety of stitch and colour.

I played around with some thoughts in my sketchbook, and will do an approximation of this idea. Tree trunks, probably in white/cream against a mottled darkish background to simulate undergrowth. It will trail off to the bottom right to provide another diagonal. Well, that’s the idea! I haven’t investigated the thread stash to see what I have that will work. Maybe next time…..

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Apologies again for not having the list of other members to link to. Again, here’s Avis’ blog.

Anne Lawson Art

How to get better

The last seven months have been tricky for my partner, Terry. He has had multiple medical issues, and has been checked out from top to toe; literally ~ head, ribs, heart, guts, toe. He has had operations, scans, x-rays, iron infusions, injections, blood tests and heart monitors. He has seen specialists galore, a number of podiatrists and physiotherapists, nurses of course, and his wonderful GP.

I must tell you that we have an amazing medical system here in Victoria. I recognise that it has many problems and is stretched to its limits. Also I live in inner Melbourne, close to the action, not an outer suburb or regional area where services would be so much harder to access. For us, those services have been amazing. Not just the acute, hospital care, but also the follow up at the Outpatients appointments, the wound care clinic, the falls and balance clinic, as well as linking him to a dietician, a podiatrist, a physio, occupational therapists and other government services. And it has all been free. (Friends in the US may want to close their ears at this point!) As Terry is on the Aged Pension he has been able to access all these services, including over a fortnight in hospital. Only now does he pay a small amount for ongoing podiatry etc.

The good news is that we are getting to the maintenance end of all these medical issues, the time when the different specialists say “I want to see you in two months/six months/one year”. Oh news to my ears!

And each of them has listed more or less the same things to do over that time, to make sure Terry is recovering well. They are such simple, obvious actions, and work for building bones, improving vascular systems and blood flow, keeping upright, indeed, probably most things.

So here is my list of 7 actions, from the professionals who know about these things, to get better and stay well:

  1. Keep taking prescribed medication
  2. Eat well, as unprocessed as possible; include protein and dairy
  3. Exercise ~ within your limits but anything you do is better than passive sitting. There are the added benefits of building bones, improving balance and helping blood flow carry oxygen all the way from brains to toes.
  4. Sleep well
  5. Reduce stress
  6. Stop smoking “Do you smoke?” is one of the first questions asked. Fortunately Terry was able to answer “Not for a long time”, but some of his issues began when he was a smoker.
  7. Enjoy life

So, my focus is Terry, and making him as ‘right as ninepence’, with these simple things as my guidelines.

(I realise that again we are in a very fortunate position. We have access to good quality food, and can afford it. We don’t have added stresses that come from jobs, or job insecurity, tight financial situations, homelessness, family tensions, trauma or the myriad other things that will create stress. We know that there is a correlation between poor health outcomes and lower socio-economic lives. It is astounding that we, as a society, are unable to do these things which would enable people live healthier lives.)

Contemporary embroidery

SAL ~ The Forest Regenerates #1

This SAL post is a couple of days late. Time seemed to slip away from me. This stitch-a-long is hosted by Avis, and should have been up on Sunday. At least now you will be able to check out everyone else’s posts (check the list at the end of this) and see wonderful stitching from around the world.

I have been working on free-form stitching of late. I enjoyed couching the threads on the last works, and have been carried away with couching on this current one. It is based on my love of trees. Many of you will know of my love of trees ~ not only individual trees but also the shapes and rhythms of them as a canopy. (If you would like to read more of where my tree obsession comes from, this post might help.) As I am stitching I am thinking of all the trees that have been lost in the fires over the Summer.

I am calling it “The Forest Regenerates”, but I may change forest to bush, to give it a more Australian flavour.

Its size is 25 x 30 cm, because that is the dimensions of a canvas I found to use when I am ‘framing’ it. I started without really thinking much about where it was going, only to find I was having problems with the tones. I couldn’t see which trees may be behind and which in front. Fortunately couching is very easy to pull out. (This photo doesn’t give you the true colour of the cloth, which is actually a vibrant purple.)

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So I began again. (The cloth colour is better, but it is still a more royal purple than shown here.)

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I was merrily couching along, until it dawned on me that it was becoming rather repetitive.

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Inspiration came from Patricia Brown who stitches over her paint cloths. I love her work. My work demanded some overstitching to help to make it zing.

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This is where I am up to…

Contemporary embroidery

And a close up

contemporary embroidery

Lots of lovely SAL projects at these links

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley,Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ

And a quick follow up on my reorganisation of my studio/playroom. I had some great suggestions in the comments about getting my table to fit so that I could face the window. It is all sorted ~ thank you!

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And again, while I have got you, a reminder about my Letter from my Studio, which comes out each fortnight (although lately it has been more erratic than I would like). In it I chat about my art and direct you to places where you can buy it. Jump to this link if you would like to sign up.

 

Beware…woman on a mission

My Mum came for a sleepover last weekend. We went up to Kyneton to see my work in a group exhibition; we had lunch with a friend; we chatted; we ate yummy food; we had a lovely time.

My studio (aka the Playroom!) doubles as the guest room. So to have Mum stay, which I love, and is so important to me, I have to make space to unravel the sofa bed. That means packing up and moving my stuff out of the room, dumping it all somewhere else.

After the success of getting the hall sorted I am on an anti-mess campaign. I was determined to not just throw it all back into the room after Mum left. I was a woman on a clean-up mission!

The first step was to put up a window blind. I did this without killing myself or my Fella and only a truckload of swearing, especially after I realised I had screwed the attachments too far apart.

Next I sat and pondered how to organise the room better. The answer ~ that I needed shelves ~ binged into my brain. On to the computer, where I soon found the answer to my dreams. Clicked on “Buy me” and two hours later I had picked two of them up from the local branch of one of those global behemoths.

I love to jump into things and was on my way to assembling the first one. I had the pieces all laid out when we were offered an appointment at the Falls and Balance Clinic that day. The Fella is priority so there was no hesitation in saying yes.

Back to it the next day. The book cases came together easily ~ much less swearing than getting the blind up!

This was the some of my disorganised stuff

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The work in progress (sorry if this photo gives you a touch of vertigo!)

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Finished, but on the floor

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Next came the fun part of deciding what to move into the little cubes.

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My work table fits nicely up against the wall. However, it means I have to sit with my back to the widow. Firstly I don’t like working in my own shadow. Secondly, I don’t look at the treasured stained glass window that my Dad made for me. I wonder too whether having most of my art materials on my left side will be a problem. Anyway, I’ll try it.

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There is still a lot of mess left, but I am determined that I will sort through each box and basket and messy pile.

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For now I am basking in the delight of a very clean and very tidy work space. It’s amazing what a woman on a mission can achieve!

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Some of you may not know that I write a fortnightly letter from my studio. Well, it has been rather erratic over the last months, but I am going to get back into the fortnightly schedule. i hope to write one this weekend. So, if you would like to know more about my art, you can sign up here. You even receive a free drawing of one of my ink feathers.

The bushfires and climate action

You know that there are mega-fires burning in Australia.

You know that fires have been burning for months now.

You know that lives have been lost, many houses burnt and huge areas of bush land scorched. If you would like to read more depth about the fires, including the background to the extended fire season and the extent of the fires and scary videos, read this article and/or this one. My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones and their worlds. And a huge amount of gratitude to the fire fighters who have done such an incredible job, sometimes sacrificing their lives.

You know too that the generosity of people from around the world has been overwhelming. More about donations later.

So, read elsewhere for the facts and figures; I want to give you my opinions.

There have been horrifying images of injured and dead wild life. Many of them are our iconic koalas, whose population is already stressed by land clearing and disease. The fires on Kangaroo Island have torn through a koala population that was healthier than many others on the mainland. It is tragic.

Australian flora has evolved with fire and many species need it to set seed and germinate. Once the fires are out it will not be long before we see the new growth sprouting out of the epicormic buds of the eucalypts. That will give us hope in the areas of East Gippsland and the Alps, home to the majestic mountain ash gums.

But these fires have been so intense and the land so dry  that they have burnt areas considered to be ‘unburnable’ ~ rainforests of Queensland, bogs in the Alpine areas. These habitats have not evolved with fire, and do not rely on it. It is quite possible that they will not regenerate.

We need to think beyond the fauna and the large swathes of flora. Let me give you two examples of how disrupted the environment will be.

There has been research into the amazing Mycorrhizal network under the forrest floor. It has been dubbed the Wood Wide Web, because it is thought to be, at the very basic level, a fungal system that allows the transference of nutrients, minerals, water etc between trees. It may be a system that is so much more than this. There is a short video here, or this TED talk.

Could that Mycorrhizal network have survived? I doubt it, and yet it is vital for the health of our forests.

The second example concerns orchids. Research by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne has shown that our native orchids need two things to be successful ~ a specific pollinator, often a wasp, and the right fungi in the ground (yep fungi again). Again, I doubt whether these would have survived the fires.

It is important to care for our marsupials, our birds, our reptiles, but it is just as important to create an environment for the less glamorous, the unknown like  pollinators and fungi.

I started the post with things that we know. Here’s another one….we know that, while there are a number of factors contributing to this fire storm, the underlying one is climate inaction. Climate change is not something that will happen in 10, 20 years. It is happening now. A resident of the little coastal town of Mallacoota, which was cut off by the fires said it best ~ “Climate change, we are standing in it.”

However our Liberal government, especially our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is wilfully ignoring the issue. Just a couple of examples:

  • Our previous Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, was deposed because he tried to get a National Energy Guarantee. Scott Morrison became the Prime Minister.
  • Morrison brought a lump of coal into the Parliament, waving it about, saying “It’s only coal, it’s nothing to be frightened of”. His government has always been a strong advocate for the Carmichael Mine, also infamously known as Adani, which will be one of the country’s largest thermal coal mines. The Coal Industry is a very powerful lobby group.
  • At the recent Paris meeting Australia argued that we should be able to use carry-over credits from over-achievement on the Kyoto Protocol as part of our emission reductions. This sleight of hand accountancy means the government can say “We are reducing emissions” while doing nothing of the sort. In fact our emission will probably increase.
  • While the country is burning, and in severe drought, we are told that now is not the time to talk about climate change. If not now, when?

This is Morrison’s statement today

“In the years ahead we are going to continue to evolve our policy in this area to reduce emissions even further and we’re going to do it without a carbon tax, without putting up electricity prices, and without shutting down traditional industries upon which regional Australians depend for their very livelihood,” he said.

In the years ahead? What? We don’t have years. But let’s leave that aside, because I want to give you an analogy that seems to make sense to me.

The economy changed drastically at the beginning of World War Two. What’s more it changed because of Government intervention. Manufacturing was turned from domestic to military armaments; fuel was rationed to make sure the bulk was available for the armed forces; clothing was in short supply as the industry turned to making uniforms; food was rationed. The British economy had an even shorter turn-around period.

If changing the economy can be vital to the war effort, why can’t it be vital to mobilise all necessary resources to prevent more global warming? Well the answer is because it is not seen to be in the national interest. As Morrison said above, traditional industries (ie coal) are far more important than the health of the planet.

With the right political will we could become a leader in renewable technologies, electric vehicles, habitat regeneration, innovative solutions to world problems. So, if we can’t rely on our ‘leaders’, we have to look for leadership elsewhere, to look for those willing to be innovative and be change makers.

We also have to listen to our Indigenous Elders. Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders People have been caring for our land for tens of thousands of years. They used fire to manage the land, not burn it to a crisp. Their grief at the harm done to Country is immense. We must listen and learn from them.

I mentioned above about the generosity of so many people around the world. It is truly moving to know that there is so much support and care. There are many worthy organisations to donate to ~ but be very wary of scammers ~ as money is what is needed now. The ABC, our national broadcaster, has an excellent list of links. As you can appreciate, my heart is looking to the environmental future, so I would add these organisations:

But your support doesn’t need to be here in Australia. Climate change is global, and needs a global response. Maybe the best international help is to focus on climate change action wherever you are. Whatever you can do ~ from contacting your local representative to planting more trees to attending rallies ~ helps. If our ‘leaders’ are talking about vague action in the years ahead, we need to take action now.

(BTW, the photo was taken from my local park. If you look closely you can just see a 30 story apartment block behind the spires of the church.)

 

 

 

SAL

Yes, it’s that time again, to report in my sewing progress. However I am rather distracted at the moment. As you know there are devastating bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales. It seems like the country has been aflame for many months. Add this to extreme drought and record high temperatures. I want to blog some about that soon, as there are ramifications for all of us; in the mean time Ardez’s words, “Loving a sunburnt country” are very powerful.

I am also distracted by another dash to Emergency, with my Fella and his cracked ribs. He is on the mend, but you know the time that caring takes.

Anyway, back to my work. You can catch up with the beginnings of the work here. I was able to make good headway and finished it.

Most of the stitching is couched threads. When I got close finishing those lines I realised that the work needed more variety. You can see the French knots, but may not be able to pick up some of the running stitches that are there too. It gave just a little more texture.

abstract textile work

I was pleased with it, and offered it for a group exhibition at the Old Auction House at Kyneton. Then I thought that one was a bit lonely, so I did another! Both were accepted and are currently hanging in the gallery.

The Old Auction House is a lovely place, and has kept my creative practice going over the past year. (There’s another post about that too.) Kyneton is a regional town about an hour out of Melbourne. As well as the gallery there are other things to do, and lots of cafes for yummy lunches and coffee. So, if you live in or close to Melbourne, head out there for a lovely drive and exhibition visit. It’s on until January 20th.

The dilemma to exhibit these works was how to mount them, until I had a flash of inspiration one night while I was unable to sleep ~ to mount them onto shop bought canvases. Unfortunately the only canvases I could get were bigger than the works, which lead to the blank edge. It needed the line of sewing to give it some edge, to give it a frame. I even considered some form of quilting on that blank space. That might make some of you, especially Kate, smile ~ am I gradually inching towards being a quilter?!

Last night I set up another  work, this time based on my on going love affair with the texture and rhythms of trees. More on that one next SAL

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These SALs are organised by Avis. There is lots of lovely stitching to see on the following blogs, so do visit. And a warm welcome to our new member AJ.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Linda, Heidi,Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn,Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ

 

A special gift

It is a busy time, but I just had to drop in…..

We know there are deep divisions in the world, and we despair over what we are doing to the world. We feel anxious. It is easy to succumb to the negativity.

But then along comes the postie, with a special gift made by a special person, to remind me that for all that is wrong with the world, there is an awful lot that is right.

The gift was from my friend Kate, who blogs at Tall Tales from Chiconia. I know that many of you follow, read and comment on her blog (and if you don’t, you should). You will know her as a very generous soul. I know her too as a dear friend, even though we have only met a couple of times ~ the distance between McKay, where she lives in tropical Queensland, and my home in Melbourne is huge.

These last six months for me have been full of medical matters for my partner and my Mum. Both are on the mend, but everything has been a distraction from my artistic work. Kate has picked up on this, and sent me a beautifully quilted brush roll. She hopes that it will help me get my creative mojo back, and I am sure it will.

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Kate has not only made something special for me, but her extra layer of thoughtfulness is that the pattern of the material is watercolour feathers. It was a special piece of material from her stash.  She knows that feathers are important  to me. How special is that!

I have often admired the brush rolls of other painters, but none compares to mine, because theirs have not been made by a thoughtful and insightful friend. Their’s don’t have feather fabric nor custom made pockets to hold a variety of things.

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So thank you Kate, for reminding me of all the good there is in this world. Enjoy your Christmas with those you love! 💕

Have a lovely festive time. I hope you spend it doing the things you love with the people you love. And that Father Christmas brings you an extra special something.