I began silk painting in about 1982 or 83, in my early thirties. I started out as a complete novice and in those very early days, I was self-taught. Gradually I learned many techniques through research and then through going to one off workshops with experts in various fields of textile art.
In the late 80s I started teaching workshops, and by 1991, I was selling my work in about 40 craft shops, boutiques, and galleries around Australia and even overseas. My label Lizzid Silks had become quite well known, and I had taught myself so much in terms of textile techniques that in 1992 I wrote, and Simon and Schuster published, a book on “Silk Painting: a Guide to Techniques and Materials.” It sold out in Australia, and in England, within the year.
In 1994 my life changed utterly: at the age of 42 I became mother to two wonderful foster children, who have remained my family ever since. Needless to say, my burgeoning business came to a fairly sudden halt for a while, but it gave me time to explore new ideas and techniques.
One of the close connections I always maintained was with Alice Springs, my hometown, and in 1998 I took the children up to Alice Springs to live. Here I finally formally studied practical and applied art at the local TAFE. Then in 2003 we decided to go back to Adelaide to live and have been here ever since.
Already being a member of T’Arts Collective was the single most helpful thing for me: I had left Adelaide 20 years before as an education bureaucrat with no knowledge of or interest in art. I returned a different person with new interests, and T’Arts gave me both the outlet for selling that I needed and an entrée into several Adelaide artisans’ networks. I am still a very involved member of the Collective.
Working together with other people in art making has been a constant in my journey as a textile artist. I have come to realise, after 37 years, that being a facilitator of other people’s work (and play!) is as important to me as doing my own art. There are at least four ways in which I do this:
Collaborations with other artists, where we both work together on a single piece. I have done this with many artists over time, but most often these days it is with another T’Art, Maude Bath. I paint and print silks and she nuno felts them and makes them into garnets and accessories.
Mentoring, where I not only teach techniques to emerging artists (from the age of 14 to 75!) but also help them to promote and market their products. The Malka group of Aboriginal artists is my constant group for the past few years.
Play days and workshops: I love to have T’Arts members, and friends and neighbours on occasion, over to my studio to play with textile techniques. We learn from each other. I still sometimes do formal workshops for a fee, but not often.
Working partners: I have never been able to sew and have always relied on paying someone else to do this for me. Now I collaborate with the wonderful Naina Devi, who works with me in my studio a few days a week, where we jointly design garments and accessories, and Naina constructs them. Naina was trained in fashion design and production in India, and when I discovered her skills, it was inevitable that we would join forces.
I am constantly trying out new designs and techniques: lifelong learning is an important part of my philosophy and practice.