When our theme, A Cockies Yarn, was chosen I was happy to explore a part of my history that I know only through stories, conversations, a variety of photos, precious movie reel footage and some odd family objects. I have chosen to imagine and interpret my early years spent on the farm through these.
The conundrum of whether this personal history was a worthy base to build art works upon did stay with me all year, yet each series draws from life that I may have no memory of but with which my life is intrinsically linked.
My mother usually knitted whilst watching TV. She knitted jumpers - always plain patterns and solid colours for the six of us – whilst watching the ‘yarns’ on TV.
Watching the telly didn’t allow for the intricate patterns I desired so I have created an alternative story – merging my collection of old, fancy, knitting patterns with our ‘stocking stitch’ reality.
Materials: woollen fabric, felted batting, thread, buttons, Technique: quilting, machine stitch, hand stitch.
One of the marvellous family items in my possession is my grandfather’s old movie projector and some of the movies he took. He was a a Men’s shirt & pajama manufacturer and conductor of The Australian Imperial Choir who took delight in the workings of the farm, and he owned a movie camera.
These three pieces are based on footage of the working farm seen through his eyes.
Materials: Photo paper, glue, cotton thread, wire, beads.. Technique: Digital breakdown of old movies into stills, edited, printed, stitched.
Four stories collided to make these works;
A friend in a lengthy solo lockdown in 2020 kept me updated on his changing hirsute looks.
A friend who always wanted to marry a bearded farmer…and did.
My father who was, for a while, an un-bearded farmer in Avenel, Victoria.
The notorious Ned Kelly lived in Avenel during his formative years - just down the creek from our farm.
Dimensions: 44cm x 59cm x 3cm (WxHxD). Materials: Paper, pencil, watercolour paint, frame. Technique: Drawing, collage, painting
Leather coat lined with ‘pages’ from The Farmer’s Handbook
Another item from my odd collection of family memorabilia is the coat that Dad wore at the farm. I’ve looked at this all year but only when nearing the finishing line did I decide that this was a now or never moment – for both the coat and The Farmer’s Handbook.
A gentle ode to hard work and hard won knowledge.
Dimensions: 90 x 114cm (variable) (WXH). Materials: Old leather coat, cotton sateen fabric, thread.. Technique: Digital manipulation and printing on fabric, hand stitch.
History generally, (and family history regularly), guides my thinking when approaching a new series of works. My starting point for HOLD was the five baskets passed down to me from three family members; my mother, my maternal grandmother and my mother-in-law.
How to make these ‘mine’ was a conundrum but the answer came when considering my other ‘basket’ collection – a group of ‘card baskets’ made in the first half of the 20th century from printed images and plastic, blanket stitched together.
The original five baskets were photographed extensively then, playing loosely with scale colour and repeat, I replicated the ‘gist’ of each as digitally printed fabric.
The flat planes and hand stitch of each basket are my enthusiastic nod to those ‘card baskets’… and an honouring of three special women.
Materials: Cotton sateen fabric, threads, interfacing, cardboard, vinyl tubing. Technique: Photography, digital printing on fabric, fused interfacing, hand stitch.
I collect feathers on my regular walks in the bush around Dwellingup. Seven years of collecting ‘down’ are held inside these pillows – hundreds of ‘soft, warmth and comfort’ feathers in each. These works tell many stories - of the bush, of birds, of ‘cockies’ making a living on the land, of youth and age, of life and death.
Though a city girl for most of my life my early days were spent on a farm. That experience, whilst non existent in my memory is very much a part of who I am.
Sixteen pillows, filled with down, each carrying words to make up the verse.
Series 1 – Materials: Silk and cotton fabrics, down feathers, thread. Technique: Digital print, hand stitch, machine stitch.
Series 2 – Materials: Linen fabric, down feathers, thread. Technique: Digital print, hand stitch, machine stitch.