Monday, March 26, 2018

Stitched Up in Sydney

The Stitched Up in Sydney exhibition showcases the work of 19 contemporary textile artists in response to the history of the Newcastle Industrial School and Reformatory for Girls. It brings to life the tragic stories of 193 girls sent to the school between 1867 and 1871, an era of poverty, hardship and discrimination.
Girls under 16 were sent to the school when they were destitute, homeless, in the care of criminals or had been arrested for a crime. In a mandatory 12-month stay, they were taught basic literacy, along with stitching, and set to sewing clothing and household items as a cost recovery exercise.

Timeless Textiles Anne Kempton and Wilma Simmons co-curated the Stitched-Up exhibition at Newcastle’s Lock Up Contemporary Art Space last year. The contributing textile artists used materials reflecting the cloth and colours that would have been used by the girls to make functional items during their time at the school. Some of these items would have been used, reused and recreated. They would have been held, sometimes for long periods of time, in both the girls’ and the artists’ hands during the making process.

Thirty women from Timeless Textiles Gallery’s Wednesday Makers group stitched embroidered narratives of the girls’ lives in a nine-month long project. They created seven volumes of cloth books, each page dedicated to one of the girls or a family of sisters. The stitchers used local historian Jane Ison’s research to inspire their interpretations.

Stitched Up in Sydney offers an opportunity to experience this fascinating part of Newcastle’s history. Alongside locally based artists, internationally renowned fibre artists from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark and nationally across Australia contributed to the exhibition. It presents an extraordinary array of artistic works individually and collectively portraying stories of loss, betrayal, cruelty and endurance.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Out of the Wood - Community Art Project

It was  very exciting  to celebrate  International Women's Day 2018 with the launch Timeless Textiles’ new community art project, “Out of the Wood” for International Women’s Day 2019. Here is the launch live... 

“Out of the Wood” is a creative mixed media community project using recycled timber, textiles and fibres to create small works of art, to raise funds for a community organizations supporting the homeless. Building on the success of previous art and fundraising projects like  “Letting Go “ and ‘Flying Free” , participants are invited to come together at Timeless Textiles ( 90 hUnter Strret, Newcastle NSW , Australia )  on Wednesdays, 10.30am - 12.30pm to work collaboratively, share ideas, learn new  textile art techniques and be inspired and inspire others. 

The Wednesday workshops are free and lots of fun and the basic materials are provided.  Special thanks to Round 2Timbers Pty Ltd for the donation of the timber for this project 

The major recipient of “Out of the Wood” will be a privately funded program called Our Backyard”   a “car to home” project supporting the homeless by providing a private and safe space for people living in their cars  in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas. Our Backyard offers access to bathroom and kitchen facilities in the aim of making life a little easier. Support workers also assist to connect with other providers to access programs   and services which may be needed.

We are now welcoming participants from the local area and afar (Australia and overseas) to express interest in supporting this project. This a great opportunity to create art in a community for the community.  The Wednesday meetings and workshops will begin on 11 April 2018 and continue throughout the year. If you are unable to come to Timeless Textiles in person, send us  a message via the comments with an email address for verification and we will send out a piece of timber and a sample kit to help you get started. All participants and followers are encouraged to keep in contact with us and receive project updates via the “Out of the Wood” Facebook Page.  Like the page and you will get interesting updates... 

Hope you are as excited as we are about “Out of the Wood” and we are looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you at Timeless Textiles on Wednesdays, from 11 April 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Women's Progress

Photo transfer collage - marker photo transfer, fabric, eco dye, tea bags,stitching - Wilma Simmons 
Happy International Women's Day to strong, accomplished and beautiful women everywhere. 

The theme for 2018 International Women's Day is  PRESS FOR PROGRESS .... Last year, the World Economic Forum 's Global Generation Gap report indicated that gender parity is over 200 years away. There has never been a better time for women and men to strive towards gender  equity. And while we know that gender parity won't happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. 
International Women's Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere ...Let's all Press for Progress.
Today at a personal level, I'm celebrating the achievements of women before me and the progress in the status of women. I acknowledge there is still a way to go, but today let's celebrate how far we've come... Meet Rose Sophia Jones (Redrup) 1867-1940  (photographed above )  and consider her life in Birmingham, England through two world wars and the Depression as a 'char woman', a working class wife and mother. This photo taken circa 1912 shows a considerable level of poverty but she seems to have an air of contentment.From what we know of family history, in spite of the adverse living conditions she found herself in, she remained determined, strong and capable. Rose Sophia was my husband Jim's great grandmother

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Confucian Connection

These beautiful phalaenopsis orchids are happily blooming, growing in a pot on my dining room table. Sometimes they are referred to as moth orchids, because apparently a botanist from Sweden first saw them through binoculars in Java in the 1750's and thought the orchids were a cluster of moths ( probably not this colour). Such a mundane name for such an exotic flower, I think, but then moth lovers may think differently?  

Coincidentally, I am currently researching aspects of Chinese art for an essay, and it appears that the orchid traditionally, of all flowers, has had a significant impact on Chinese culture and society. Confucius particularly had somewhat of an obsession with orchids. He gave the orchid a noble character, drawing a connection between his own personal situation and those of wild orchids  .... 

Confucius was shown to have developed a special love for the orchid from an early age. It happened that he had been seeking a ministerial job with the emperors of the Eastern Zhou dynasty (“Spring and Autumn” period) (春秋) but his efforts proved futile after traveling among the kingdoms for more than a decade. One day as he was wandering in the woods he came upon some profusely growing orchids which moved him to say: “夫蘭當為王者香,今乃獨茂與眾草為伍譬猶賢者不逢時與鄙夫為倫也.” (my translation: “The orchids’ fragrance should be enjoyed by royalties in their residence, but they now look so solitary amongst grasses in the wild. They are not unlike noble scholars whom no one appreciates and who have to be contented with the company of the philistine class.”) Confucius likened his not being appreciated by emperors to the solitary orchids in the woods not being cherished by royalties as they should( 

The Confucian /orchid quotation I like the best is :  
If you are in the company of good people, it is like entering a room full of orchids. After a while, you become soaked in the fragrance and you don’t even notice it. If you are in the company of bad people, it is like going into a room that smells of fish. After a while, you don’t notice the fishy smell as you have been immersed in it. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Unseasonal Spring Flowers

Unseasonal Spring Flowers #1 - tea stains and stitching : Wilma Simmons 
I am sure this is not what Tag Tuesday followers will be expecting for the theme of Spring Flowers.
My tags this week aren't the popular beautiful interpretations of favourite Spring garden flowers - they are monochrome tea stained canvas tags, with hand stitching. I think it is amazing when you put wet tea bags onto canvas, the shapes of the tea stains are so like flowers and  when the tea stain from the string makes a line,  it looks just like a stem.
Unseasonal Spring Flowers #2 - tea stains and stitching : Wilma Simmons 
While those in the northern hemisphere are really looking forward to Spring and a burst of floral colour, we in the southern hemisphere are experiencing the end of summer and depending on where you live,  perhaps a little Autumn breeze and a slight drop in temperature. So, my tags represent Spring flowers-  out of season.
Unseasonal Spring Flowers #1 and #2 - tea stains and stitching : Wilma Simmons 
Here also is an  image of another subdued interpretation of Spring flowers. This embroidered card was made by a friend, but I just love the simple and calm beauty it portrays.
Embroidered card by Margaret Adams, Newcastle NSW Australia

Hope you will have a look at the fantastic art tags created over at Tag Tuesday - all interpretations of Wendy's theme, Spring Flowers.