Sunday 31 May 2015

WOW in Townsville

Last Wednesday, having learned that dear old BioLumina was going to be worn at the opening of the World of WearableArt exhibition at the Perc Tucker Gallery in Townsville, Matt and I decided on a whim to fly up for the weekend. We're so glad we did! The opening was quite a spectacle on Friday night, with the street closed off, lights, speakers and a video loop playing (with a lovely scene of Hakuturi included!), not to mention flowing bubbly and lovely noms. We met up with fellow
designers Erica Gray and Jessica Thompson, as well as some of the WOW team, including the lovely Nicola wearing BioLumina. It was quite the happy reunion, as you can see!
We returned to the gallery on Saturday morning to get a close look at the works, and how wonderful that was! Especially to see what I think is one of the finest ever made, Ornithomaia by Nadine Jaggi. There were many school groups there, and Matt couldn't help but boast to anyone who would listen that a designer was in attendance, as in fact he did on opening night! And the next day. I think he might be a bit proud of me.
It was a beautiful exhibition, and the support material was fabulous too - I loved seeing designers sketches and seeing some of the processes they go through in the construction phase, not to mention seeing the work from only centimetres away!! SQUEEEEE!! I was hard pressed not to get 'The Exchange' moving, so I could hear the delightful tinkle of the many hundreds of ceramic pieces against each other, which was yet another part of the massive stage presence of this work. It was also wonderful to see both the process work and finished work of Lynn Christiansen, a fellow WOW tragic of many years, and producer of many amazing and award-winning pieces!
We crossed over the road to The Brewery, Townsville, where we ascended the stairs to this luxurious room! We were so impressed by the beautiful felt chandeliers, and the feltwork under glass as the bar decoration.  Well done, Brewery, for taking the bold step to be beautiful by design! Here we listened to Dame Suzie Moncrieff recount the story of WOW, now in its 28th year. Although familiar with many of the anecdotes, there was still much to learn about the journey, and Matt found himself intrigued and touched by the story. I was inspired by the relentless enthusiasm and perseverance of Dame Suzie over the many years when insurmountable-seeming problems must have raised their heads at frequent intervals. And look at it all now. I am so proud to be a part of this amazing venture.

We arrived back in Brisbane early Sunday afternoon, with enough time up our sleeves for both of us to scurry away into our respective workspaces. I have to admit, I was so fired up with the WOW spirit that I pulled out my design for 2016 and got to work on it!

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Perth Craft & Quilt Fair May 2015

 I arrived at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre to find my space - after about 8 hours work it turns into this. Two and a half hours more and it's back in the box.
 For the five days of the show, I talked to many people about the work that I do and the wide variety of techniques that I use. I mainly demonstrated leather working techniques, and greatly enjoyed witnessing the wonder on faces as they learned about what simply leather and water was capable of doing, with a little guidance from nimble fingers! The same goes for my demonstrations of kumo shibori shaping techniques. This 'Golden Lobster', a 3 metre length of gold lamé, has had four rows of spikes bound into it, and will be boiled to heat set the shapes before being unbound.
Wonder was also expressed at how I fit everything into a crate for travelling - this is partly possible due to five inflatable mannequins. However, this was not entirely successful: one of them had an undiscoverable slow leak, and would need frequent CPR to keep upright!
Many, many questions were asked about where such garments might be worn, and I explained that some of these were not intended as normal garments, but as sculptural pieces which use the body as a framework.  Most people had not heard of the World ofWearableArt, so I spent a great deal of time talking about that, as it has become a huge part of my life and my work over the past seven years. Some of the works are more wearable, as they are more along the lines of haute couture, and yes, could be worn to gala events. I do understand people's puzzlement, as it is only natural to make the connection between body and clothing.
I enjoyed some media coverage during the week, being interviewed for ABC radio, and providing the backdrop for the Perth Metro Whip-around on The Project on Friday night. Here's a video of it that I shot on my camera whilst watching it later that night in my apartment, due to the 2 hour time difference!
Each glorious morning I would walk around King's Park, and on Sunday I treated myself to breakfast at the café there, as my supplies were running low. What a magnificent view from my breakfast table! It is again another beautiful morning as I pack up and make my way home to Brisbane. Sadly, my suitcase is 5kg overweight, which has cost me $70 - rookie error. Should have known and prebooked a second bag..... at least Sean Sheep got to get swabbed for explosives - highlight of his life, I'm sure - and lots of love from the airline staff! He wouldn't have experienced that if he'd been packed in that second bag.....

Tuesday 19 May 2015

King's Park and Botanical Beauty

Before I begin, just another quick shot from yesterday at Freemantle Markets - Croinuts! OMG! Croissanty-Do-nutty-Custardy SIN!! And no, I didn't go there - I just looked.
 Monday began with rain, but to my surprise soon cleared, so I headed out into King's Park - a botanist's paradise! I couldn't help but think of my father and how much he would have appreciated it all, as I saw so many different varieties of species not common in Queensland. I found this amazing, almost white eucalypt, (left) and these gorgeous blossoms, (top right), as well as the button-like buds that remain after they bloom (right). There were a lot of windfall branches from the recent rainy weather, and the ground staff were all busy tidying it up - I only wished I could be taking them all home with me to do some eco-printing!! The area near the
beautiful glass bridge (right) provided a lovely view across the still water, and over the Swan Brewery (left). As per my travelling principles, I have indeed tried the local brew, and give it the thumbs up! I tried to cover as much of the park as possible, and end up down the bottom so I could try out the Jacob's Ladder stairs (right), the equivalent to Brisbane's Kangaroo Point Cliff Stairs. I managed to run most of the way. With a few wee stops. Phew!!
After a breakfast stop back home, I was surprised to see the weather still defying the forecast, so ventured into the CBD to get a few stores for the weekly lunches. I do find the city centre a bit confusing, as there are a few pedestrian malls, and they don't seem to have any $2 Choice-Bro shops!! It was another big afternoon of walking, but I was happy to discover these great artworks on some windows, and a few groovy alleyways.

After a short rest of the tootsies, it was time to go and get a head start on the unpacking at the Craft Fair. Time flew, and after several hours, I had most of the main mannequins dressed, and a few issues identified, so, well worth doing.
I was back just after 8 this morning, to do a little more work before my radio interview with ABC Perth. I was interviewed by the lovely Lorraine Horsley, who saw my work with fresh eyes, and I enjoyed chatting to her.  Many of the problems I found yesterday were solved with the help of the fabulous Expertise Events team, saving me a trip out to find supplies. Finished by 1, I was happy to head home, where I have spent the entire afternoon finalising the slide show that will run on my laptop at my stand, and now, finishing off with this blog! Time to relaaaax!!!

 Wing shaped leaves, an awesome spiral eucalypt, and a beautiful blossom, just to finish off. Zzzzzzzzzz.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Wet and Windy Perth

After a smooth 5 hour flight, I arrived in Perth, lumped my full duffel bag, suitcase, back pack and handbag to the end of the terminal to catch the city bus, which dropped me metres from the front door of where I was staying. When I finally got in (long story, very embarrassing) I was keen to head off in to town and get my bearings, as well as supplies. Sadly, as with most cities these days, it's the same old shops - you could be anywhere! Although I ended up with a good stock of food, it ended up being a cheese and crackers kind of evening - bliss!
This morning I arose at 6 whilst it was still dark, and had to wait for it to get light to go out (Lone Bunneh no brave dah dark wifout kompanyun Bunneh!) It was drizzly, but I held out hope. For a short time. I managed to bumble my way around the Convention Centre and towards Kings Park, where I foud some serious steps to take me to the top, near the Flame of Remembrance. (I have since learned that there is an even greater challenge - The Jacob's Ladder stairs!) I stopped for a coffee, and as soon as I left, the rain poured down. I sprinted to a large tree with many high buttress roots, nearly ending up joining someone who was already sleeping there! When it finally let up I ran off again, then suddenly found myself across the road from my abode - what a pleasant surprise!
I was picked up at 10am by the very generous Jennie Abbott, who proceeded to chauffeur me around for the entire day! First stop, Freemantle markets, having driven through King's Park and the many posh residences on the way. I left the markets with some stinky cheese, a kilo of cherry toms for $4, and a very beautiful silver ring. The old area of Freemantle is absolutely gorgeous - I have never seen an entire suburb with so many old buildings.
Lunch with Jennie Abbott
With Barb Thoms
Then it was off down the highway to Mandurah to visit CASM, which was displaying the Common Threads Wearable Art showcase. It was a fabulous display, and I was very pleased to meet the charming Barb Thoms,  Arts Festival Officer, who spared a great deal of her time to talk about the exhibition and  wearable arts in general, a topic close to my heart! I was very impressed with both the quality of the work, and the professionalism with which the whole event has been managed.
Weighted Untruths - Sue Smorthwaite
Jennie Abbott's Chameleon
Overall winner, Icosahedron by Kerry Gelmi
Elements of Steampunk Alice by RT Kids
Avant Garde Winner Val Hornibrook
Metallic Reflections by Jo Ireland,
made from Nespresso pods!
Global Matriarch by Jo Bowman,
 Sculptural Category Award Winner

Amazing body art is another aspect of this event
  Arriving home exhausted at 6pm (8pm for my poor QLD brain and body), I am indebted to Jennie for a wonderful tour of Perth. I definitely must relax tomorrow in order to prepare myself for the rest of the week!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Pre-Perth update

With my flight to Perth looming on Saturday morning, I have been continuing to work towards creating an exciting display stand. I have finished the banner for 'StudioSvenja', made from pieces of dyed silk and re-purposed silk garments - I'll post a photo when it's flying proudly! I have also started work dyeing some lovely rayon garments which will be available for sale, starting with a few for myself, of course! I want these to be quite special and unique items, which requires several trips through the dye baths and/or some screen-printing. Here's a kaftan top dyed for myself in purples and blues, with my 'Bracket Fungi' screen-print in rose/silver. Here's another one in multi-colours which has been overdyed with black.
This lovely piece of eco-dyed silk georgette was just too long to be a wrap, and I didn't want to cut into it, so I shrunk it in with a strip of felt in the middle, which also gives it a nice bit of body, and enables it to be worn as a double layer stole. The photo does not do the lovely, delicate prints of the eucalypts and onion skins on it justice!
After spending several hours at my mother's house, hemming her curtains (whilst still attached to the rod!) - a very dull job - I was eager to get into the studio to work on a toile for a new garment. What a wonderful  time I had - it has been a long time since I experienced the fun of drawing and cutting on calico, pinning bits on, and finally getting a successful pattern out of it - yahoooo!! It's the kind of joy I know Matt understands, as he does the same kind of magic up in the shed with steel. 
As I walked into the loungeroom this afternoon, the warm sunlight was catching the top of this little shibori  sample, and it was just glowing - it was a lovely sight. I had thought of cutting bits of this off to sew onto the banner but I'm not sure I can bear to! See you all post-Perth!!

Sunday 3 May 2015

Rains, floods, and reflections

Friday was a day of much rain, which saw me digging new drains outside and clearing current ones for a few hours, before I realised that my studio was ankle deep in water!! Not the good one, I'm talking about the 'wet' one,
Silk shawl with block printing
which is somewhat exposed to the elements, but it was something I was not prepared for. So, there were a few losses, nothing too tragic, and it spurred on an almighty clean up. Perfect timing - post WOW entry and pre-travels. I have allowed myself to slow down quite a bit in the last few days - a novel feeling - and this slow time in the studio just getting to know each other (and where everything was!) felt pretty good.
Nuno felt sample with polyester corded
lace - successfully eco-dyed!
When all was in order, I was able to finalise a few eco-dyed pieces I had recently done, which just needed a final touch to make them work. Using the wood blocks I picked up at ConTEXTart, I added some metallic prints to some silk ties, silk scarves, and a silk shawl.
During the recent eco dye-baths, I added a small felted sample from my recent workshop, which included some polyester corded lace, which to my amazement, took on colour! Oh squeeee! So much potential here!!
Eco-dyed and block printed silk ties
StudioSvenja flag materials
With some re-shuffling, I have regained some room, and joy of joys, can see the entire surface of both the felting and the printing table. I fully intend this week to make a nuno-felted wrap with lace and then eco-dye it. In case any of you are worried that I am losing my passion for bright colour, fear not - here is the tentative layout of materials for my 'StudioSvenja' flag which will grace my stands at the Craft & Quilt Fairs. Pink, orange, velvet, silk, and plenty of bling - it's all there!! (Is it just me, or is that pic a bit blurry? Or am I blurry?...) Oh well, good night!