In the Garden Exhibition: 25 March-12 April

Wilma Cawley and I have an exhibition In the Garden at The Q Exhibition Space, Queanbeyan from 25 March-12 April.  Opening night is Tuesday, 25 March 5.30-7.30pm.  All welcome!
In the Garden Exhibition

Canberra “The Planned City”

Today is the day to start the blog.  The website has been updated and modernised by Brenda Gael Smith, who in my opinion, has done a fantastic job.

The dilemma is what to start with.  After much deliberation I have decided to write about how a quilt can evolve due to circumstances.

As many of you know I am a member of the tACTile group consisting of Jenny Bowker, Dianne Firth, Helen gray, Beth and Trevor Reid (working as one) and myself.  Our most recent exhibition was 100: Celebrating Canberra.  In our most infinite wisdom we chose to make 100 quilts (20 each) plus a collaborative piece to celebrate the 100 years.  This was in 2011 – 2013 seemed a life time away.

2011 passed in the blink of the eye.  In 2012 my mother’s health deteriorated and our youngest grandson was diagnosed with a condition that required hospital treatment one day per week for at least a year. Almost nothing had been done about the exhibition except I had made the decision to have one metre as my maximum length as this allowed me to have two quilts at 49 centimetres in length to fill the space.  Small was good.

Time was slipping by and I was starting to get anxious about nothing had been started.  My normal method of constructing a quilt is fused and machine appliqué, and machine quilting but that seemed to be impossible to find the necessary time.  I needed some hand sewing that could be taken to visit my mother and the weekly hospital trips with our grandson.  I had previously done a workshop with Ruth Hadlow were we had covered how mark making in stitch could create a map of sorts.  With this in mind I thought why not create a map of Canberra.  Hence the idea of the quilt “Canberra–The planned City” was born.  A slice of Canberra – The city, Lake Burley Griffin, the Parliamentary Triangle all related to the Griffin legacy and the surrounding road system and suburbs that have grown as Canberra has aged.

Planned City by Beth MillerSensis, the company who has the copyright on the map I wanted to use was contacted to seek approval which was duly given.  It is always a good idea to get the approval in writing in case there is a query later down the track. The map was enlarged on the photocopier until the metre length was reached and the suburbs were a workable size.  The map now started with Dickson in the north, through the city, across the lake, over the Parliamentary Triangle and ended with Phillip in the south.

A colour scheme of white greys and black was chosen so the transfer of the map onto the white fabric was easy to do; however, the machine stitching on the quilt around each individual suburb, park, forest and wetlands was tedious.  I would stitch during the day and knot and tie off at night making sure that the black threads always were in an area that would be embroidered over.  The shadow of the black threads were very noticeable if they crossed over a road way.  It was very important to the design to keep the road system in clean white lines.

The lake was hand painted in a soft grey and the stitching was done following a legend in an orderly manner.  For example all the park lands were done in seed stitch, the nature parks in “Y” stitch, the golf courses and ovals in satin stitch and the suburbs in any other stitch that was left over.  I don’t consider myself an embroiderer but more of a mark maker.  My repertoire of stitches is quiet small which includes running stitch, colonial knot, cross stitch herringbone, buttonhole plus the ones mentioned above.  Of course there were variations on these stitches by changing the length and direction of the stitches or adding Colonial knots on top of the buttonhole stitch to make it look like each enclosed area was different.

The map took shape over the following months and was well travelled.  It became like an old friend, sometimes stitched on for a few hours and other times the whole day.  Friends and staff were eager to see if their suburb had been stitched in yet.  There was no text on the map but people had no trouble finding their street.  Maybe it is a Canberra thing – counting the roundabouts from a certain point.

The map was finally finished and was the catalyst for other hand stitched works in the exhibition.  Sadly my mother passed away but she did enjoy watching the map take shape and we are hoping our grandson’s journey is almost finished with a great result.

If you are interested in looking at all my quilts from this exhibition visit the Celebrating Canberra gallery.  There are many more quilts in my Gallery.

100: Celebrating Canberra Exhibition

100: Celebrating Canberra — tACTile, the latest exhibition by the tACTile group is at the Belconnen Arts Centre and runs until 25 August 2013.

100-CelebratingCanberra