Saturday 24 December 2011

Photo shoots and a little fame!!

I’ve been so busy in the last month – yikes, 2 months – that I haven’t posted anything here. The fact that I can’t post anything about the main project I am working on for the World of Wearable Art is also to blame. I have so much to share, so many new skills, but I’ll have to wait, as will you. All I can say is, it’s going really well, and I’m having a superb time!! We spent a lazy Sunday together recovering from countless bottles of champagne consumed the night before, but from those ashes have arisen a gem of a concept. With 14 weeks left to create before the photoshoot, I have to be realistic and shelve my own dream of making an entry for the Illumination Illusion section and stick to getting mine finished. Then we face (sorry Matt, YOU face) the task of creating a custom crate with magic capabilities of fitting something very large into 1 cubic metre – good luck with that. But it’s so going to be worth it.
Another project I have worked on has come to fruition – we are very happy with our 4 page full colour spread in Embellish magazine! I think they used every image I sent them (cheeky as ever, I sent them more than they required) and kept every word. Thanks again to my beautiful models Magdalene Bufalino, Julia McCormick and Jess Sanders.
Speaking of photo shoots, here is a great video featuring the work of fantastic textile artist Kirry Toose… 

Our 4 page spread!!
I was contacted earlier this week by Bernina Australia about loaning Siren of the Sea for display to craft shows in Tasmania and Perth next year – yay! Certainly a better place to be than sitting in my cupboard!! Bernina is again supporting the Art U Wear Competition run by Expertise Events, the theme for 2012 is ‘The Fairest of them All’. Hmmmmmmm, can I fit this in?!! It’s such a fantastic event, I really want to support it….
Siren of the Sea, 2011. Model: Jess Sanders, 
Another nice moment this week was contact from a lovely lass in NZ working on a tourism brochure which is featuring 6 WoW designers, including moi! Even more exciting was the fact that she had put together my ‘quote’ from info on here – OMG, someone IS actually reading this! If I’m honest, I’ll say that this is what has spurred me on to post again.
Fun times at the Fimbria Figura shoot with Magdalene (above) and Jenelle (below)
Like I said, life has been manic of late, so much so that I FORGOT TO CHECK MY ETSY EMAIL!! At 4am this morning I remembered, and sure enough, someone had made a purchase ONE WEEK AGO!! Just terrible. I felt awful, and posted it straight away, with my fulsome apologies, and a white lie that I had been unwell. I AM unwell – I’m stressed, I’m not sleeping properly, I wake up clenching my teeth, I am so tired all I want to do in the morning is go back to bed. Hence my dental specialist recommending me for a Sleep Study – yup, I have to go and sleep in a monitored box!! Aaaaghhhhh!!

Well, it has been a busy and successful couple of months, and I’m looking forward to working hard over what little break I might get. The joy of creating. I’d die without it!! Wishing all a good break in readiness for another super creative year!

Monday 24 October 2011

Don’t Drink & Cook.........

It’s sad that I have had to learn this lesson again. After watching the Zombie March ( a fundraising event for the Brain Foundation of Australia) limp, scream and moan to it’s final destination in the Valley yesterday, it was off to our favourite chill out bar Lock n’ Load for some cocktails.  Then it was back home for some ‘Svenja Specials’, as I began to prepare dinner. In a flash I had sliced my finger through the nail ‘not good not good not good’!!!! It will be ok, but I already miss the use of it, I know I will hit it about a hundred times today, and I can’t wait for the throb to go away.
The weekend started much better than this though! Saturday was spent in the shed, cutting sheet metal, bending wire and braising it on to my WoW structure, which I cannot show you as all must be kept secret!
The bandsaw
 When Matt's not helping me, he's working on the dashboard and new gear shifter setup in his International - can't wait to have Murray back on the road!! Here he is doing the scary job of cutting out bits of the dash with a grinder!! I know, ya gotta break eggs........!!
Attacking Murray with the grinder - eeeek!!

Doing some tricky braising for me
I don’t think I have actually stated yet that for 2012, I plan to enter the Visual Symphony section of The World of WearableArtTM – the brief for which is: Design a work of art that makes sound & will be choreographed to a music score composed especially for this section. Each garment will have its moment within the music score on the stage which will be microphoned to amplify the garments sound, e.g. the garment becomes an instrument/sound within the music composition creating an interesting soundscape.   
Until I come up with a name, it shall simply be know as The Beast.
I am getting much better at lighting the acetylene torch, and I even managed to get my gas mix right all by myself! It is going very well, and I expect to be fibreglassing it soon! In the afternoon I zipped down the freeway to my favourite fabric shop, in the hope that they might just have the perfect material for the dress. You never know what they will have, you just have to go! And I was glad I did, as I think I found the one! A beautiful purple and gold shot fabric – the perfect combination of colours! A softer fabric than I imagined, but you can’t have it all! (the photo doesn't do it justice - it's like liquid gold from some angles
Sunday morning it was off to the Redland Art Gallery to see a performance by Colin Offord, an amazing musician who makes his own unusual instruments – a perfect research opportunity for my Visual Symphony design. His performance was beautiful, and the instruments absolutely fascinating! I just stood there in awe, and I began to feel like an idiot for attempting to make an instrument when I know absolutely nothing about sound, considering this guy has spent years refining his! I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him, but I certainly was inspired, and look forward to seeing a performance by him again – he mentioned one in January on Coochie Mudlo Island at sunset – this will be wonderful!
 Having said that everything with the design is going well, I am continually plagued with doubt as I progress – have I missed the mark entirely, am I expecting too much of my limited skills, am I rushing too much without considering everything…… time for a chill and a considered reassessment, methinks.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Geelong Forum and Melbourne, September 2011

Already it seems a lifetime ago! A week spent at Geelong Grammar School on Corio Bay, classes every day, design presentations by fantastic artists each morning, slide presentations each afternoon, plus exhibition openings and merriment opportunities! Not quite the relaxing sojourn I had envisioned, but an inspirational, enjoyable and memorable time. The school grounds were amazing – something from another world, perhaps related to Hogwarts – at least the dining hall was!

TAFTA Fibre Forums have been happening for many years, and amazingly, this was my very first one! I chose to enrol in the inaugural Design Focus group – 5 of the classes offered were part of this special programme with its emphasis on design aspects of our work, not the practical aspects of making.  Each morning we were enthralled (whilst coming to terms with the day sipping on our coffees!) with presentations from Wendy Lugg, Tony Dyer, Helen O’Hare, Akira Blount, and my brand new hero, Lissa Hunter.  Something about her work really struck me – I’d seen it before, but didn’t really relate to it – suddenly, I ‘got it’, and was moved, and in awe and incredibly inspired. Akira’s presentation was also notably impressive – initially unimpressed by her title of ‘dollmaker’, I was astounded by her fabulous sculptural works. Definitely not matching the picture of ‘dolls’ in my head!
The exhibition of Jiyoung Chung’s Joomchi  exhibition on site was another inspiration – see the work of this charming artist here:  Joomchi is a traditional Korean form of papermaking with similarities to felt-making –several layers of mulberry fibre paper are combined by agitating them for hours by hand – a true labour of love resulting in some very beautiful and surprisingly strong paper pieces.
Of course, some evenings ended up in far too much wine being drunk, leading to scenes like this in the common rooms….  It was here that Martien attempted to remove my last eyelash extension, and succeeded in removing a large chunk of my own lashes, which I miss daily. The morning after this one was tough.

I also met some great ladies in my class – Pam Hovel who is a wonderful felt maker creating beautifully fine felt garments dyed with plant material – see her website here RawEdge Textiles

I greatly enjoyed mad times with Meryl, a first-time felter who adapted to the class beautifully, bringing her many artistic talents into play. Our class was housed in a biology classroom, and in the corner we discovered a large jar of whale eyeballs, inspiring Meryl to make her own felted ones. Much hilarity ensued. Thanks for keeping me'sane', Meryl.
Many thanks also to Meryl for being a model for me in the final evening fashion parade. I had brought down many of my garments from Morphology II to showcase at the Friday night party, and to have a stall at the Heathen Bazaar in the morning.  Here I sold one of the two devore velvet dusters made for Morphology II to a New Zealand participant. It’s very fitting that it is going to NZ, as the bracket fungi design I made for the devoré  pattern came from a photo of an amazing growth of bracket fungi in my Aunt’s garden in Tauranga!

After the Heathen Bazaar it was back to Melbourne to reunite with my true love, who indeed lived up to this title by having already stocked the room fridge with bubbles and wine. What can I say, the man knows me.  Having quenched our initial thirst, we headed out into the city, where we ended up in Hell, an upstairs alley bar where they made a good Moscow Mule and had some seriously good nibbles for not much dosh. Never managed to find it again though……
Another highlight was rum out of a jam jar on a bridge pylon in the Yarra, as we discussed our future and had arguments for nothing over the WoW design...note the pen and paper for 'visual discussions'.....

Our 3 days in Melbourne involved a lot of walking – through Collingwood, Fitzroy, Prahran,  and a lost afternoon/evening in St Kilda, where we made new friends, danced to techno music (go Matt!!), lost my wallet, and found it again. The thing we noticed about Melbourne shops is that they really go to town with their names, and we found one we particularly loved…..
After a week and a half of catching up on everything I didn’t do, it is great to be back in my life, and working hard on the next WOW creation. Update on that and other recent events soon.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Brazing, pop riveting - awesome times!!!

I have had just the best time today! Dearest darling boi let me loose in HIS workshop, and I had so much fun! To start with, there were some empassioned moments, as I tried so hard to explain what I was actually trying to do, and cursed my inability to draw in 3D. Later, there were moments of understanding, as I finally realised the engineering principles Matt had been trying to explain to me. I'm a visual learner; unfortunately I have to see it to understand it. 3 hours were spent riveting a framework together out of steel strapping, before I understood the design and weight were not going to work. But what the hey, I have learnt new skills and understand more. (I am almost embarrased at how long it took me to understand which way to put the rivet in - I just couldn't get it! Luckily, they are also really easy to drill out.)Then came the second framework in steel plate and wire - and this is where I got to braze! Awesome fire stuff and melting metal!!! Bear with me engineers, I normally just sew and paint. Can I also add that in between supervising me, Matt was overhauling my Dad's old bandsaw, ready for me to cut some steel sheet for the back and shoulder piece. New rubbers, new blade, and wow - thanks for making the stop button work hon - think that will be mighty handy!! To make things even better, it was the hottest day in ages - 31 degrees. Bring it on! Makes my beer feel even more well deserved! I am tired, sore, and oh so happy, and I hope tomorrow I get to play with fibreglass! Thanks for letting me play in your space Matt, errr...... get used to it!!!!

Friday 16 September 2011

TAFTA Forum in Geelong

Just over a week and I will be off to Melbourne for a week of felting at the Geelong Forum! I am really looking foward to this, as I have never been to a Forum before, and it is a long time since I have done any week-long workshop. I know it's going to be great to be immersed in such a creative environment, and I'm aso looking forward to wandering around and seeing what the other classes are doing! I will be taking a class with Irish felt maker Helen O'Hare, with a special Design Focus element to it. There will also be lots of fun stuff, including an end of week Fashion Parade on the Friday night, and Heathen Bazaar on Saturday, so I will be taking lots of my work down for this.
Boas and scarves

Packing and pricing of works currently in progress - always a big
job! This is why nothing is up on Etsy yet - I thought I'd best wait until this event was over. StudioSvenja should be stocked up in early October after my return from Melbourne. It has to be done by December, as the fabulous girls at ArtWear Publications Embellish Magazine are doing a profile piece on me, and I have listed this blog site and my Etsy shop in it! So, no pressure then......
The other thing looming large on the horizon is my 2012 WOW entry. Due in April next year, I have a good amount of time, but my design this time is pretty complex, and again takes me outside the realm of my textile skills - something I swore I would never do again after BioLumina! I'm not sure whether I have really gone nuts this time and have set myself an impossible task, or whether it's a brilliant idea that I really can do. Well, we'll find out, 'cause I'm going to try any way!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

The Brancott Estate World of WearableArt 2011

Cliché as it is – WOW!! My third year as a viewer and as a participant, and it was the best show ever! I was certainly glad I got to see it twice, there was just so much going on. Every year the quality of the work and the show itself just gets more and more impressive. In 2008, my first year, I was gutted not have received an award, in 2010 I was elated to get my moment of glory, but this year, I can honestly say that I felt I had achieved just by being in it. I used to hear people say that and secretly thought ‘you’re just saying that, you can’t really mean that’, but now I understand!!
The WOW week has now become a time of reflection for me – each year it is the culmination of many months work, and a week away from everyday life, then a crash back to reality. It seems the perfect to time to reflect upon my work; what I have achieved, what I want to achieve, where to next? It’s both an exciting and a relaxing process, as I consider my art practice and question myself on its future. The only sure thing is that I am already working on next years entry!
Licorice outfit
So, a brief run through of the week: arrived late on Monday evening, woke late on Tuesday and headed down to my usual coffee window on the corner for a fix. Weather gorgeous, as indeed it was all week. Spent the day walking around the town, ending up for lunch at our favourite French restaurant in Cuba Street, Le Metropolitain. Was a bit disappointed that Wellington hadn’t really dressed up much for WoW – there weren’t many signs or shop windows decorated as usual – but these did turn up later in the week, including a fabulous outfit made out of licorice, one out of dried fruit, another out of white chocolate. Yum!

Wednesday was Dress Rehearsal day – I went to pick up the tickets and was thrilled to find a picture of last years entry BioLumina in the new book of wearable art ‘Off the Wall’!! The programme was still unavailable – kept tightly under wraps until 5:30pm! I raced down then to get it and digested it over some lovely Passionfruit Cosmopolitans at One Red Dog (affectionately known to me as the Dead Dog). On seeing the 28 or so entries in my section, Under the Microscope, I didn’t feel at all confident! One thing I noticed after seeing the show was that it is incredibly hard for photos to do justice to the works. It was an amazing show, and it was wonderful to see Fimbria Figura looking lovely up on stage! Everything was beautifully choreographed and stage, and the ballet and opera just blew us away!
Lunch at Zealandia
Thursday was International Designers Day, where those artists who have travelled to see the show are shown around by Wellington City Hosts  Lauren Fantham, Kowhai Montgomery, and  International Designer ‘Wrangler’ from WOW, Esmé Palliser. It was great to see familiar faces there, and meet those I have been communicating online with, like Norelle Kendrick (NZ) and Sadhana Peterson (Aus). During our backstage tour it was also lovely to reunite with Heather Palmer (WOW Manager) and Ingrid Peek, our beloved Wardrobe Mistress!!
Lovely Lichen at Zealandi
 We had a lovely lunch at Zealandia, where we also enjoyed seeing some of NZ’s rare birds, then in the evening were hosted by the Mayor of Wellington at a cocktail function in a spectacular new building on the wharf down near Te Papa. Here it was great to get to speak with Suzie Moncrieff, creator of WOW, and her sister Heather Palmer, who manages it, as well as catch up with many other artists. We were also treated to some previous entries walking amongst us, one by this years Supreme Winner Mary Wing To, and last years’ International Winner by Christine White and Bonnie Begg of Australia. It’s just such a superb creation, I will never tire of looking at it! After this, we trotted back up to Le Metropolitain for jazz, and more food and wine that we didn’t really need! I indulged in some spectacular stinky cheese for dinner!

Friday morning and my eyeballs were out on stalks, I was so tired! I was devastated to have accidentally set the alarm clock for 6:30 am……..  Off out again, this time to the Australian Embassy for Breakfast with the Deputy High Commissioner Amanda Gorley, who hosted us the previous year. Here it was good to mingle with the other Oz designers, and I met Sharon Baccus, who had entered a fabulous work in my section.  After a relaxing day, I managed to have a nanna nap before getting ready for the big night, with some bubbles, of course! I joined Janet De Boer, Susan Holmes, Bonnie Begg, Christine White and their students for a cocktail at the Intercontinental before heading over to the TSB Bank Arena for WOW 2011.
Ecdysis, Bonnie Begg & Christine White 2010
With Bonnie Begg, Susan Holmes and Janet De Boer

TSB Bank Arena pre-show
It’s always interesting to see it from another angle, although I think our seats at the front for dress rehearsal were probably the best!! After the Awards Ceremony, it was back to the Intercontinental for the post show function, where I met some great people, including a stockbroker who had made an entry for the first time! After managing to say a quick thank you to Ingrid, my fabulous shooz said it was time to head home, where upon removal of shooz (in the lift) I discovered some purple toes….ouch!!! So worth it
With Norelle Kendrick on The Night!

Saturday morning – media breakfast at the Oh So Lovely Museum Hotel, this year at the much more civilised time of 9am! It was good to again catch up with Julie Brawley, designer of  winning Man Unleashed entry, and last years Supreme Winners, Manas Barve and Yogesh Chaudhary, amongst others. Then over to Te Papa for the Judges Forum, which is always interesting, and I do feel I once again picked up some good advice.  After final goodbyes, it was over to Mac’s Brewery for the afternoon for their fantastic Great White cloudy beer, and fish and chips. Although I never managed to score my table in the sun, I was comforted by Janet De Boer and cohort Peter arriving with a bottle of Mumm to share on the wharf – just the ticket!! More cheese for dinner in our room and an early, early night!
Fantastic student creation from weed matting
in Te Papa store window
Beautiful coloured water and major mussel growth in the harbour

CHHHEEEEEEEESE!!!! And that was only half the table!!
Beautiful unpasturised French Cheese!
Sunday I headed out for a coffee on the wharf (it came with a jaffa!!) and discovered a lovely farmers market with such delights as smoked garlic (!!!) French patisserie and bananas for $1.99! I also enjoyed watching the fishermen in their boat tied to the dock filleting and selling their fish, for what looked like the most amazingly cheap prices! After a walk out along Oriental Bay, we picked up some delicious cheeses, blue cheese and walnut bread, and some venison salami for lunch with the rest of our wine in our room. Whilst waiting in the foyer I got chatting with some ladies who had been to see the show, and I ended up signing my page in an ‘Off the Wall’ book – thanks for making me feel like a celebrity!!
So that’s my WOW 2011, thank you to the WOW team who make this amazing creation happen, without which we would have no reason to make the things we do.  As an International Designer, I also really appreciate the way we are welcomed and made to feel so special. I hope to do it all again in 2012! I am already well in to designing something very different – 7 months to go, I believe?!!
Fimbria Figura - Model: Magdalene Bufalino, Photo Paul Hagger

Fimbria Figura Detail

Fimbria Figura - Under The Microscope Section

Monday 22 August 2011

WoW Wardrobe

Only a few hours until I leave for the airport - SO trying to get a pic of the outfit and shooz out there for you! Here goes....
I've made a corset and shrug in dyed and printed silk. They actually sit more snugle against each other on me than on Shirley here, and the line of spikes appears to wrap right around. I have used the same print on my corset as on my entry, Fimbria Figura, in a pewter-rose colour. I have also used the same type of shibori spikes in silk and black crushed lame, and beaded heavily around them. If only I'd had time to make a spiky bag as well!!! I'm wearing black wet-look printed leggings and a glittery mini with it.

For those in the know, I also have a pic of my eyelash extensions - they're driving me crazy, but I'm glad I got them!!
OK - just washed the hair dye out, time to finish off the packing! Which means it's time for a champoo!! Cheerio friends!!

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Do you think Wellington will notice me?!!

Just under 2 weeks now until I fly over to Wellington  NZ for the Brancott World of WearableArt™ Awards show - brrrrrrrrrrr! In anticipation of the bracing wind and well, frankly, just mind- numbing cold, this sunny Queensland girl decided to make herself a hat and boa to keep the cold at bay. The boa was fun – it’s the first one I’ve made in black with multi-coloured centres. At first glance it looks just black, but then on closer view, the different coloured materials and sparkles in the centre of each piece appear. I’ve included sari scraps, disco sequin, lame scraps, silk fibre, and printed silk organza scraps which are offcuts from my actual WoW entry. I made a few extra pieces to use on the hat, but they were huge, so I made 5 more tiny ones – it’s even harder making them smaller! The hat is a hoot – it’s just a basic capeline with a little ledge on the top and a cut-out at the front – helmet style! Because I want to be able to pack it in my suitcase, I used stitches instead of millinery stiffener to give it strength and retain the shape, by free-motion embroidering all over it.It's not my normal kind of look, but really, I just want to be warm!! 13 more sleeeeps!!

Friday 5 August 2011

Is Fashion Art?

Last night I went to a lecture which was very timely for me, as I consider my own textile art practice and ask questions about where it sits in regards to fashion and art. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) posed the question “Is Fashion Art?”, and discussed the many issues this question raises. It would appear that the commercialism and mechanisation of fashion is one of the biggest challenges in viewing fashion as art, making it more of an industry. Fashion is also viewed as ephemeral and superficial, whilst fine art is considered to have an element of spirituality and eternal beauty. The fact that fashion is intimately involved with the body is also a stumbling block. I liked the recognition that fashion is seen to be connected with feminine values and vanity, whilst art is viewed as masculine genius. The fact that Charles Worth made sure to present himself as an artist, not a dressmaker, by styling himself after Rembrandt by wearing a beret, and signing his work as artists do (the beginning of the label) was very interesting, as was the fact that Coco Chanel believed fashion designers were not artists, and were a purely commercial industry. Her belief was apparently something like “fashion should thrive and then die, in order that commerce may live”. Fair enough. I guess then it comes down to the idea that “anything can be art, but not everything is art”. Yves St Laurent’s partner believes “Fashion is art if it is made by an artist” – I like this. No, not all fashion is art, but it can be, depending on the intent with which it is made. It would appear that fashion is in the process of legitimisation as an art form, as photography and jazz music once were. Bring it on!!

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Blogger arrival!

Well I'm here - nearly. The last few weeks have been a whir of activity, trying to set up my Etsy shop, new Gmail and paypal accounts, this blog..... need I say more? Well, what I usually say is "I did ART!!!!" I have a way to go yet, so be patient as I learn and tweak. My Etsy shop won't be too far off - stay tuned for the grand opening of THAT!! A lot of works from my recent exhibition Morphology will be making an appearance there, as well as random new things that my heart tells me to make.

Morphology II at Gallery 159, June 2011