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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

‘Between Worlds’

“Between Worlds”. That’s the title of my exhibition in Kyneton, at the Old Auction House.

If you read my newsletter* you will know that I have been offered an extension to the exhibition dates. That was such a nice surprise (although not for the artist who was unable to mount theirs after mine). In Melbourne we are back in lockdown, so visiting is out of the question. I felt that maybe my collages would be locked away in the gallery for the time.

It is now running until September 13th at

The Old Auction House

52 ~ 56 Mollison St

Kyneton

Surely in that time this current lockdown will be lifted so that I can get to see it, along with lots of other Melburnians too of course. It is already open for those of you living in regional Victoria. I was delighted to come across this on the Visit Macedon Ranges website.

A taste of some of the collages in the exhibition. These are all in the Reeds series, inspired by my local wetlands.

Reeds #2 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #2 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #3 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #3 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #1 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #1 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #2 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #4 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #6 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #6 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021

* If you are interested in finding out more detail of my art practice, my newsletter is the thing to read. I publish it monthly, although at the moment, with the two exhibitions on the go, it has been a little more frequent. People tell me that they really enjoy reading it, which is always heartening to hear.


My blog looks different now. You may remember me bemoaning that I couldn’t type/edit/publish posts on WordPress on my laptop. That page was just blank. Advice was to change the theme, so I have, and it worked. I am happily typing with my fingers rather than my thumbs on the WP app on my phone. Bonus is that I quite like the clarity of this theme.


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 emerging.