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.

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work

Snipping away at the hedge

My masterclass with Donna Watson, “Essence of Identity” has made me think about a number of things. I had just begun in the last post.

The first thing Donna asked us was to deepen my understanding who I am. I have written lists of personality traits, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses and words to describe my art. It is the beginning, to explore deeper, to find my own voice, my own artistic map.

A side note: One of the exercises was to think about what various words mean to you. One was hope. I realised I didn’t really understand the word. I glibly say “I hope you have a good day”, “I hope you get better”, “I hope the world can become a better place.” I wondered whether hope was another word for wishful thinking.

After some reading I now understand that hope is a powerful treasure. Hope implies that there is the possibility of a better future, a vague glimmer of something better. However, it is more than that. It is not just passive wishing, but motivates positive action. It is optimistic and courageous, and gives us confidence. We have hope, I never gave up hope, implying that hope is something you hold dearly. We loose hope and fall into despair.

It’s not delusional , it isn’t denial or pretending. To have hope is to acknowledge the truth of the situation while working to find the best way to cope. It is something to hold onto at all costs.

Meanwhile, back at the masterclass….. The end of this module was to create a self-portrait. I made a book, which itself was part of the portrait. I am very tactile, and love to be making, love to be using my hands, so folding the paper into the book was another part of who I am. Finding ways to express who I am was a good challenge. What would you put into in a self-portrait?

The next exploration was our sense of place, a place that has figured prominently in our lives. I needed to define what that meant for me, and came up with words like magical, safe, interesting, resonates; a place that expands me and allows me to be who I am meant to be.

My place is my home and garden. It nurtures me; it’s my creative space; it is where I have strong roots; it is my safe, secure space. The garden, while frustrating at times, is also a place to explore plants and to connect with nature.

Again our task was to create a representation of our space. This was hard. I found it so difficult to find a way to express in a physical/creative way all of what I feel. It is too complex to distill down into a few images. So instead of making another book I created a mind map.

My latest exploration has been into the design elements I respond to. Design elements are:

  • Colour
  • Value
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Pattern and mark making

Donna’s exercises and examples have helped me understand and sort through my ideas. Some things become much clearer. For example when I was a botanic artist I would start to understand my subject by doing a tonal drawing of it, and my colour matching was often skimpy. I am an artist who responds to value rather than colour, which is why I loved the tonal drawings and struggled at times with the colour. Looking at my photos I see that I am attracted to the highlights of colour and strong contrasts.

Now I also know that I am an artist who responds to organic shapes, rather than geometric ones. That I love texture, but I have always know that. However I have learnt that I think I prefer texture created within the work by using stitch or marks or lines, rather than added onto the work, like bits of lace. This is something to explore further, as I would like my collage and textile work to merge.

Last post I used the image of a hedge as a barrier in my way. I think I have begun to snip away at that hedge. I have hope that my artistic voice will be clearer on the other side.


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.  I also acknowledge that this Wednesday, the anniversary of the day white settlers invaded Aboriginal land, is a traumatic day for many Aboriginal people. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Categories
AnneLawsonArt My art work

Standing before a hedge

It’s been a funny old time lately. As I have said a few times and in a few different places my creativity/art practice feels stuck. I realised I didn’t like the idea of stuck, with the image of me in mud, unable to move. My mind is happier with the image of a hedge in front of me. It’s a barrier, but even if I can’t chop it all down, I know that I can snip my way through it.

So what’s in the hedge, what’s stopping me?

  • Mess and stuff, which seems to have accumulated around me. I have begun to tidy, clean up and throw out/recycle, and am happy to take this one cupboard/box/basket at a time. (Wasn’t this what lockdown was supposed to be about ~ cleaning out cupboards?!)
  • Having enough finished works. Part of me thinks, why do I want to make more?
  • The lack of inspiration. In my life BC (before covid, of course!) I loved to meander through galleries, along beaches, in new towns and along highways. That came to a halt, and I still feel wary about getting out and about at the moment.
  • and other things that are going on in my life. They aren’t my stories to tell but still demand my time and energy.
  • Maybe too there is the general malaise that many of us are feeling. Weary, uncertain, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Then the perfect online masterclass came along. “The essence of identity” with Donna Watson. The goals of the course seemed to fit me perfectly ~ “This class is ideal for you if you are looking for clear strategies and exercises to move your creativity forward and if you are ready to go deeper, raising your level of creative consciousness.” Yep, that’s me.

Already I have insights, that arose out of Donna’s simple request to write down the strengths and weaknesses of my art. I love doing the collages of reeds, mangroves and rock pools, and I thought I was showing the fragility and importance of those habitats. However I wasn’t sure where to go beyond that. More of the same? Another habitat? I realised I had an interesting technique but that I needed to go deeper with the concept of environmental fragility that lies behind these works. I am not sure what I mean by that, but I want to find out.

At the end of the course I would love to have integrated the different parts of my art. I have a range of techniques in my toolbox. I am excited by collage and I love textile work. I want to learn how to use the different technique/element from my toolbox at the right time and in the right place. I think that will come when I have delved deeper into my art and practice and found my own voice.

As I mentioned in my SAL post, I am not taking on any projects at the moment, either textile or other. I want just play with ideas, bits of paper and stitches, to see what emerges.

However, not having a project is difficult. I am quite outcome driven, and not knowing what I want to do before I sit down can be quite uncomfortable. The mantra “Don’t think, don’t name” is useful. So is remembering that uncomfortable is good if I am prepared to work out the why’s of that feeling.

This exploration coincides with an idea I just found today ~ to go deeper not wider. It comes from David Cain, and the idea is to use whatever you have for a year, a Depth Year. Use the materials, the skills, the books, the musical instrument that you already have, and gain experience and find value in those things.

I like that idea although I am not sure about the books, especially if it includes Library books. I am attracted to the next bright and shiny thing ~ a piece of material that I might need, a pencil that will make my work sing, a new sketchbook, a new technique ~ especially a new technique. Using the skills, knowledge and materials I already have is another way of focussing and limiting my options.

So, I am going exploring. I will be fooling around and playing. I will be thinking and meandering in my own head. Also I am hoping that my thoughts and ideas will come tumbling out onto blog posts.

(I am reminded of the delightful children’s book “How Tom beat Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen” by the wonderful Russell Hoban and illustrated by the irrepressible Quentin Blake.Do you know it?)


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. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Categories
My art work SAL

SAL

I haven’t been sewing anything in particular lately. Instead I have been inspired by Claire Wellesley’s idea of a stitching journal. I am just stitching, playing with stitches, with no thought for the finished product. In fact I hope there is no product, and maybe no finish.

It is on off cuts of linen from a dress I recently sewed. It didn’t matter to me that the off cuts were odd shapes, nor that the edges are raw. The seams are handsewn French seams.

I was practising how to control running stitch to get different effects.

Circles in chain and stem stitches. They were fun to do, after I had traced around a 20 cent coin.

I will happily work on this, probably adding more linen as I go. However I am not starting any other textile projects for a while. At the moment I am working out where I want my art to go. Part of that is thinking about how to meld my textile work to my collage. I don’t want to just add textile bits to a collage, but instead to have the two media work together, where it is appropriate.

So, I am doing a lot of thinking rather than much making. This will be my last SAL, for a while at least. However, the others on the list below, will still be creating wonderful embroideries.


AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


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
Odds and Ends SAL

SAL ~ last one for 2021

You were all correct….my embroidered yoke needed time to talk to me, to tell me what was to come next.

I added more pistol stitches to each flower (although I think they may also be fireworks!); they gave the flowers/fireworks more oomph. Then it needed a line of stem stitch weaving its way. One line become a couple close to each other.

Once I had finished that I realised that the fancy, feathery yarn that was a feature of the front pockets would now work, as there is enough stitching to carry it.

My pattern was slightly out, as I found when I sewed the patch onto the yoke of the jacket….but not enough to worry me. If you look closely in the photo below you can see that the right shoulder doesn’t quite come to the sleeve.

And from the front

I am really happy with the jacket. It was the perfect weight to wear today, when the weather was cool enough to need an extra layer, but not something too heavy. It was fun to wear, and even the Fella said it looked okay. That’s high praise from him!

Thanks to the Fella for the photographs. He is improving, as he didn’t cut my head off in either of these!

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


Update on my possum problem

Neither the possums nor I have got the upper hand yet. I have doubled the number of strings to train the shoots up. A couple of shoots have reached the wires of the pergola, only to be eaten when they get to the top, but there are more inching their way up. I am optimistic, and determined, that I will succeed! However, to be sure I am still wrapping up the delicate little shoots at night. It keeps me amused!


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….or outfoxing possums

We have no air-conditioning. In Summer we rely on our grape vine to drape over the pergola to keep out the morning sun. It’s been that way for many years.

Until the last couple of years when the possums discovered the tasty new shoots that emerge. So I joined the large group of gardeners suffering from The Attack of the Possums, working out ways to out-fox the critters. Mine seem to be the very cute little ringtails, rather than the big boofy brush tails. I am hoping that the small ringtails eat less!

Of course they are excellent climbers and the trunks of the vine, the fence and the supports for the pergola make excellent highways. They can hang and nibble on those tasty shoots. The top of the vine is perfect for them. Not so good for the vine.

By December this should be a canopy of leaves and tendrils.

Fortunately the vine is also persistent and sends shoots out from below. I am relying on them to create the shade.

My thoughts are that if the possums can’t get a secure purchase they won’t be able to nibble. So here’s the plan….to encourage these shoots to grow up to the top, away from the grasp of the pesky pests. That plan needs a few things.

Firstly, strings attached to the wires at the top and then tied to the shoot. Climbing a ladder and trying to throw the string wasn’t the best method. With some lateral thinking I realised the rake was the perfect solution. I could put the ball on one of the tines and direct it over the string, making sure the shoot is growing up away from anything that might give a secure footing. (Then dodging as the ball of string came tumbling down!)

This one is certainly reaching for the sky.

The second part of the strategy is to wrap the new shoots up at night as possums are nocturnal. Each night I go out and tenderly wrap the little ones up in an old bedsheet. Each morning I take it away so that they can photosynthesis their little hearts out.

So far my strategy is working. However I am sure you can see the flaw in it….what happens when the shoots reach the top. I have tried to put the strings into places on the wires that aren’t so easy to reach. As well I am hoping that these upright ones will provide some sun protection.

So far I am out-foxing those pesky possums, but who knows what the outcome will be!

The glory days of the vine!

P.S. You know how WordPress gives you a link to similar posts at the bottom of each post? Well, after I published this I saw one titled “Pesky Possums”. Not only have I told you about this problem before, but used almost the same language!! That made me smile!


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
My art work Odds and Ends SAL

SAL

Last time I had finished embroidering patches on the pockets of my jacket and was eyeing off the yoke.

I have worn it a couple of times and it feels good to wear.

So, I decided to play with the yoke. The front ones seemed a bit too obvious, so I have begun the back. Another advantage of the back is that it didn’t have to be a close match of the pockets. However I wanted to keep some of the same elements.

The fabric is quite different — a mustard linen from a dress I recently made. The colours of the threads give it a different feel.

What is the same is the stitching. The outside border is coral knot stitch, then white chain stitch. The flowers are created with pistol stitch, which I think gives a funky feel.

Now I am a little stuck. It’s not finished, and needs more oomph, more wow. I tried the feathery yarn that worked so well on the front. It didn’t work on this 🤔. So I am letting it talk to me, to tell me what comes next. It doesn’t need to be rushed. I am sure there will be progress to show next SAL.

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.



Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Megan, Deborah, Renee, Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, AJ, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Helen


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
Odds and Ends

My wardrobe

My latest stitching for the Stitch-A-Long has been freeform patches for a useful but uninspiring jacket. In that post I mentioned that I have been thinking about my wardrobe.

Like all good thinking there are a few threads (that pun is for you, Kate!) that have come together. A couple have been inspired by the Soul Craft Festival. (I would highly recommend this to you for next year!)

Thread One

Last year the various speakers and the warm and thoughtful Felicia herself encouraged me to think about what happens to our clothing after we have finished with it. I don’t have a lot of clothes to move on, but when I do move them on the op-shop is my choice. I realised that what I was really doing was shifting my responsibility for the garment to the op-shop. I felt good that I hadn’t sent it to landfill, forgetting disregarding that someone else had to make that decision.

So I decided to be more conscious about what I bought and made.

For example, I wanted to knit over this last Winter. Normally I make quick decisions without considering where a garment will fit into my wardrobe. This time I spent time considering patterns and wool to make the sort of jumper I wanted.

Unfortunately, when I finished knitting I realised that it was too small. Not unbearably so, but enough to make me overlook it when I was considering jumpers to wear. So out it all came and I knitted it up again a couple of sizes larger, only to realise that it was slightly too short in the body and arms. Same problem….I would overlook it and the time, materials and energy would be wasted. So, I undid the rib of the body and sleeves and knitted it longer. (It was a pattern that you knit from the shoulders down, so I could easy unravel it.) Now I enjoy wearing it. And each time I do I think about taking the time and making those conscious decisions to get it right so that I would enjoy wearing it, and have it for quite a few years to come.

Thread two

This is along the same lines of making conscious decisions….the ideas around wearing clothing that have positive values in them, and values that fit in with my own. Are they made from more sustainable fabrics? When buying this garment/pattern/fabric/yarn am I supporting an indie maker or local shop? Can I get a sense of the environmental and social impact of this garment?

I realise that there will always be some social or environmental impacts. And I am honest enough to know that I am only going to put in a small amount of research into those impacts, instead relying on the integrity of those I buy from. My aim is to be as thoughtful, considered and mindful as I can.

Thread three

For a while I have been wanting my clothes to be more interesting. I am so tired of reaching for jeans and jumpers and jackets.

So….

After listening to some wonderful women* speak at the Soul Craft Festival I was inspired to really think about my wardrobe. I even made notes and drew sketches of the garments that I enjoy wearing! I came up with some ideas:

  • I love, and need, my clothes to be comfortable. The tops I enjoy wearing pull over my head ~ no zips, buttons, belts. I like them to drape and hang, and to have pockets where possible.
  • I love layers, and scarves. This is great, because I don’t like being cold!
  • I want to get into the habit of really considering new clothes. Do I need it? Does it fit in with other things I have? What will happen to it at the end of its life with me? How was it made? Where have I bought it? Would I get pleasure if I made something like this rather than buying off the rack?
  • I want my clothes to be interesting. This might be handmade (like the patches on my jacket pockets) or a quirky brooch or a different combination of clothes.
  • I want to severely limit the clothes I buy from mainstream shops.

This is a very self-indulgent post, written mostly to get my thoughts in a coherent fashion. However I wonder if you have been thinking about your clothes? I would love to know what is important to you.


* These are some of the women who spoke at the festival

Meg McElwee from Sewliberated She says that clothes should be treasures and heirlooms, that reflect who we are and the story we want to tell the world. I like that.

Leeyong Soo who blogs at Style Wilderness. She has some wild creations made from op-shop finds. After looking at her work I was inspired to create the patches for my jacket. Mine are nowhere near as flamboyant as her outfits.

Katrina Rodabaugh. You may already know her work, especially those menders among you. I have just finished reading her book Mending matters

And for more inspiration:

https://www.instagram.com/tumanualidades.de/ was suggested to me by Dawn, who, by the way, makes the most beautiful jewellery.

I hope those of you overseas can access this documentary from the ABC. Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson were icons of the Australian fashion industry, and their creations are inspirational.


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

Categories
My art work SAL

Stitch-A-Long

Three weeks ago I showed you the square I was stitching. I had no firm idea about what it was going to be as I was just playing with stitches I learnt form my stitching wheel.

At the same time I was thinking deeply about my wardrobe. The full explanation is for another post. However one conclusion I came to was that I want the things I wear to be interesting, unexpected and things that I enjoy.

My mind wandered off to a plain lightweight jacket that I should wear more often. It is perfect for cool Spring or Autumn days, where you need something but nothing heavy.

And then the question/suggestion: “Why don’t I embroider patches for the pockets?”

So I did.

It was fun to play with different threads from my stash, including one that has long pink threads embedded in it. And more coral knot stitch.

The patches are only hand sewn on, so are easily removed if I decide to go back to plain ~ or desire different unexpected patches.

It’s an odd unexpected combination, but the patches make me smile. (I am eying off the yoke at the moment!)

This stitch-a-long is for personal stitching. There is a group of us who post every three weeks. Follow the links as there is such a wonderful diversity of stitching going on in the group.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


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

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

Some Halloween joy ~ or we made it, Melbourne

I am not a fan of Halloween.

It is too centred around lollies and sweet things. And all those decorations that, at best, will end up in landfill.

But maybe I am a Halloween grinch because it is not my tradition! We didn’t have it when I was growing up, so I ignore it.

However I felt more fondly towards Halloween this year.

It was a beautiful evening in Melbourne, and we had just emerged, bleary eyed from six long lockdowns over the last 18 months. I went for a walk to the wetlands, a place I have walked almost daily over that time.

And it was alive with ghosts, witches, pirates, zombies, fairies and every other dressed up child. They were going to the houses that boarded the wetlands. There were picnickers, and adults walking with fairies on bikes and zombies on scooters. All around was the sound of children having fun.

These are the same kids that have missed out on parties, sleepovers, school camps, footy training, playing with friends in park, hugging grandparents. I could not begrudge them the joy they were finding in being together to get lollies.

I remembered how way back in March last year I was walking the same area, anxious about how the world would be, worried that we would descend into a dystopian future. Last Sunday I realised that this joyous event was a declaration ~ that we had made it through the lockdowns, that we had worked together (well, most of us!) to make sure the vulnerable were protected, that our sacrifices have given our stretched hospital system some chance.

It’s not over and care, masks and continued vaccinations are still needed, but it was so lovely to see all those kids being kids, the big grown-up kids too!


Melbourne experienced extreme winds last Friday, bringing down trees and power lines. Some homes are still without power. My internet has been off for the last eight days, but came on this morning. Yay!

Now I can catch up with all those tasks that require the internet, including catching up with your blogs. Things are just not the same on the small phone screen.


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, present and emerging.