Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year's all terribly exhausting round this time isn't it.  Hope you have been able to pick up your overeaten and overdrunken bodies up from new year celebrations and will hurl yourselves into the new year with gay abandon.  Forget resolutions - just get through it without too many dramas I say.
My schedule is fairly full on at this time of year.  Next week I am off to the Northern Beaches for my summer new year show.  Always enjoyable.  It is a different world on the peninsula.  Everyone wears hardly any clothes and operates  on African time, permanently blissed out and on holiday.  I feel like an urban chic running amok amongst surfers. 
As soon as the beach gig wraps up I am off to the Jaipur literary festival for fun and r and r......then into exciting new work experiences ( i hope) in Bengal and Delhi not to mention all over Rajasthan.  Going to India keeps the passion alive and is my permanent textile teacher.  When I return in February I hope the ideas will overfloweth and wonderful new pieces will be created.  Love to you all and I hope some of you laid back beach bloggers can make the exhibition.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Xmas show

My Christmas Show

Its the time of year again and my exhibition is finally happening.   I am very excited about it and want all you textile bloggers to come. I have made 4 trips to different parts of India this year designing new quilts, clothes, scarves, cushions and tablewear.  Giant hand stitched calico parcels are still trumbling through the door as I write.  I have worked with new people in Gujurat from Bhuj.  They work with natural dyes and are magnificent tie and dyers and ajrakh printers.  From their exquisite fabrics I have scarves, clothing and childrens patchworks.  In Bengal I work out in the weaving and stitching villages and from their beautiful work is my new range of handwoven, hand-stitched quilts.  In Jaipur I work with Sunny, Meeta and Pintu famous for their natural dye mud resist block printing.  I make a range of men's shirts from their delicious printed cottons.  Not to mention the great shibori sister team Prabha and Kusum and their amazing indigo designs I cannot resist.  From their fabrics I make clothes and patchwork quilts.   Also dotted round all these foreign parts are marvellous, shrewd antique textile dealers.  I sit and have my tiffin lunch with them while I drool at which fabulous old kanthas or phulkaris.  Greg my partner in crime has to deal with all the fierce bargaining. They are all so talented and mostly fun to be with (not mentioning the hiccups along the way).  I am constantly stimulated and learning from them.  After every trip I am pouring with new ideas.  Its the great seduction of heavenly textiles of course.  And I am a total addict. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Desert People of Bhuj

While I was working in Bhuj in Gujurat I headed off  to explore the desert villages famous for their embroidery.  Bouncing along in our jeep we picked up local tribals that squashed in the back with me. Dressed in purple and hotpink turbans,gold and ruby earrings,dhotis and curly toed shoes with chiseled faces and piercing eyes I couldn't stop staring at them and they at me.  A riveting experience.  And these were just the men.

The men are shepherds, always looking after their sheep and goats using their crooks to herd them into line as they slowly meander over the road.  It is such a pleasure to just follow them at snails pace checking out every detail.

When we finally arrive at a village taking endless detours the first person we see is the head woman with her cows.  She is a blast of colour, embroidered head to foot in swirling skirt, jewels, tiaras and anklets....not to mention the cows with beaded necklaces and horns.  She takes us into the village which are mud and thatched huts on the outside and inside the walls are sculptured mud designs inserted with tiny mirrors everywhere.  All sublime.

No electricity or running water.  It's down to the well with the earthenware pot on the head and a good old gossip with the girls.  Some villages are just starting to get running water and the women don't like it as they are shut up inside their huts and can't meet and gossip at the well anymore.   The temperature is over 50 and I can barely cope with the heat.  The women have little embroidered fans made with fabric and mirrors. 

 It was monsoon when we were there - mozzies and malaria are common. The women only have the neem leaf and their light cotton shawls to protect themselves.Flooding regularly causes the mud huts to disappear. Rebuilding damaged huts is always necessary after the monsoon.

The children, who are drop dead gorgeous, make their own beaded jewellery. There are no schools in the area, so they help out at home.


All the beautiful work in the village is done on synthetic fabric using synthetic threads.  They buy it in the market and it is cheap. For the women to afford cotton thread and fabric requires an NGO organisation to work with them.  This is a very slow process.  The tourist industry is just starting to open up again since the devastating earthquake of 2001. And tourists want to buy cotton not synthetics.

 After being served delicious tea in saucers we said our goodbyes and the wonderful head woman, with tears in her eyes, said to the translator I was too short in their lives.  This of course broke me up totally.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Belle's Nomad Champagne launch

 Yesterday was the perfect sunny afternoon for a champagne book launch.  Sibella was signing and selling heaps of her heavenly new book Nomad at her lovely shop Society Inc.  Full of exquisite photos by her and her brother Chris Court she brings  her inspirations and ideas from her travels to Japan, Syria, Italy and Mexico right back into the home.....showing us with a blink of an eyelid how to make our environment a special world so everywhere the eye rests is a source of stimulation and interest. As the bubbles went to the brain I noticed heaps of people shopping while they gossiped, whether it was a feather xmas ball,  miniature wooden limbs or tinsel flags that cash register was going ..........kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A caravan of creativity called Belle

I feel it is time I wrote about my dear friend Sibella Court who is a constant source of inspiration to me and a squillion others. She fell into my life through our mutual love of textiles and my admiration of her wonderfully talented mother Dee who was a textile queen in her own right. Belle's nomadic life is a whirlwind of twetts, blogging, photographing, writing, workshopping, and designing......the results summersaulting into books, events,  interiors and her gorgeous shop Society Inc. Not stopping for a second, in one day she seems to design and decorate a bar for the Hemmes empire, create an event for Moet, launch one of her books and have a workshop on how to create your own interior.  All with the confidence of a proud lioness. The next day stopping to breathe for 5 seconds she hops on a plane to begin it all again in another country.

She spent some time with me in India and I immediately got caught up with her manic world of exciting action.  One minute we were at the literary festival,next at the Polo...(where I might add she is particularly glamorous and the press constantly turned their cameras onto Belle rather than the horses)then she is being courted by royalty showing her their latest jewellry collection. She is up at dawn travelling round Jaipur in a hot air balloon and by breakfast time her experiences are being twittered round the world. In between she somehow manages to design a new hardware collection for her shop.

She has 2 gorgeous girls back in Sydney called Hannah and Leah who hold the fort and are worked to the bone trying to juggle all the events,books and shoots.  Thank god they are only 20 and have to be multi taskers in technology and creativity.

Last week Belle gave a workshop on how to create your own interior from a totally blank room. Attended by at least 100 riveted women Belle managed to paint a wall indigo, add a dado of wallpaper made from draughtmans blue prints,then proceeded to decorate the walls and room with her kind of props....all the time chatting away about which kind of hooks to buy,what type of staple gun to use,which markets to go to,where to buy fab furniture,fabrics and lighting. This week she has managed to design a 6 star luxury resort in the Maldives and celebrate her birthday in Paris.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Artisans of Bhuj

I have just returned from working in India and managed to escape a bomb, earthquake and flood.  All this occurred in 2 days. Caught in the flood our car surfed across the street,narrowly missing stranded cars,cows and camels.  Naked street children were laughing  hysterically  as they leapt onto toot toots to hitch a ride or hurled their bodies into the raging muddy waters. So much was happening in the chaos it was too scary to look out the car window.  It seems daily, somewhere in India there is always a catastrophe.  All this and we are trying to make it to a meeting on time.  All part of the daily working experience,  gradually the panic leaves the body and calm takes over.

Part of this trip was to visit artisans in Bhuj (a desert town in Gujurat).  I had put in orders earlier in the year for an exquisite pure indigo tie dyed scarf range and some beautiful ajrakh fabrics.  The heat was to be believed but Bhuj was amazing.

Jabbar Khatri looked after us brilliantly.  His natural dyes are magical, not to mention his tiny weeny wonderous tie dye designs.

Jabbar took us out to the villages and to visit Dr. Ismail Khatri who is the best ajrakh printer in India. It was all a thrill.

The ajrakh will be made into men's shirts, kurta dresses and beach wraps.  Some of his prints are so fine they look like cobwebs.  All on handwoven cottons. They will all be selling at my Christmas show in the Shapiro gallery, Woollahra.

I also visited the exquisite compound of Shamji whose family has been weaving amazing woollen blankets,throws and shawls for generations.  Even a hand woven coat for their fridge.