To the question ‘what sort of artist are you?’ I always hesitate and then say textile artist, because that is where it all began and the richness and diversity of textiles is what continues to inspire me – that and my garden.
In the early 70’s I studied an (even then) obscure form of silk painting in a Kimono factory in Kyoto, Japan. My year in Japan was only just enough time to explore and understand the mixing of colours for this exquisite technique of Uzen Zome. The ‘true to nature’ dye colours were applied to the silk with hand sewn hair brushes to interpret traditional Japanese designs on Kimonos that were then further embellished with gold and silver metallic thread. The initial design was sketched onto the silk with an ink made from the petals of a blue flower and the resist used to hold the dye was made from rice paste which was squeezed from a mulberry paper cone that had been soaked in persimmon juice. How can such an exotic experience not impact your whole life?
Since that time I have used variations of that technique to paint everything from tiny bags to a 70 panel (each panel 2.7 x 1.2m) children’s exhibition that toured Australia for 6 years courtesy of the Adelaide Festival Theatre. I have exhibited widely, represented Australia in Batik art, travelling to SE Asia and Indonesia to conduct workshops and accepted commissions of large scale public works in museums, galleries, hospitals, schools and civic parks.
These days my designs are inspired by the natural and mythical world of nature. Textiles in themselves are not designed to spend a lot of time outdoors in strong light but the colours and flow of dyes on silk are beautifully replicated in translucent glass. Apart from collaborative large glass and ceramic panels for hospitals and as outdoor public art pieces I also make birds, fish and angels for gardens and pots.
Most recently the world of digital printing on fabric has enabled me to focus on more intricate designs which I create in my studio and have printed in Sydney. This has enabled very limited editions of hangings and scarves that are printed with dyes that are steamed into the fabric. A new age take on the technique I used in Japan all those years ago.