The last two years have been so hectic with work and health things, and then selling my shed, that I decided to take a little time out from working and just sitting and being still. That didn't last for too long, as I seem to be incapable of sitting still. So gradually stitching drew me back and some visiting of friends and a few sights- but not too many because the idea was to be still.
I have been staying in a friends mobile at Royan- and the weather was not too great, but on the other hand it gave me time to procrastinate and try a bit of this and try a bit of that and go for a few walks when the weather improved.
Then I went to visit another friend who lives near La Rochelle and of course we visited the town and port, and the wonderful Aquarium. Sea Creatures are weird and wonderful, hard to believe that they are creatures at all sometimes, but they are,and the colours, luminosity and movements simply mesmerising. It gave me lots of food for thought not only as inspiration but also about how we must do better to protect this amazing planet that we live on, despite the best intentions of big corporations to destroy as much as they can so that life itself becomes endangered. And people seem to be totally blinkered to the fact that this is happening - you only have to look and see.
I got enthused to finish a linocut I had been working on that was made by Jacinta da Costa from Boneca de Atauro whilst I was there in february and that got me back into some sort of stitching rhythm.
I then started on the Lady Without A Donkey linocut I made last year for the Berry Retreat. The idea was that people would work on them and we would mount an exhibition of finished pieces at the Berry Retreat this year ( August 17-18 2019 ) and perhaps travel it to other venues that might be interested.
There is still a chance to buy a linocut printed fabric as I have the prints with me and I can send them here from France. I have a good selection of colours and if you are interested just message me. The cost of the panel is $25 Aus inclusive of postage and the panel is hand printed on hand dyed fabric and measures approx 25cms x 40 cms. You still have time!!
Traveller's Blanket Online Class
I have had quite a number of requests as to when I am running this online class again and have decided that I will run it again starting on Monday 17 June 2019. The class consists of the delivery of pdf files delivered on a fortnightly basis ( 4 lessons in all) with ideas and descriptions, dyeing instructions if you are so inclined and stitching ideas, and all sorts of other information and the setting up of a private facebook group for discussion and sharing of progress. You work entirely at your own pace as this is not something you can finish in a week. It is a contemplative process, and one that slows greatly and yet many people who have started blankets have finished them because there is so much of them invested in the piece. By this I mean you are encouraged to think of something you may which to tell or illustrate but with stitch and cloth and as it grows it seems to take on all sorts of meaning- each finished piece that I have seen has been very special and also very beautiful- it does not matter if you want to make your stitching simple.
I have put a Paypal button on this blog post to pay for the class which is $75 Aus but if you are in Australia and would like to pay by way of bank transfer please message me and I will give you details. There is also a brief class description of you would like some further information.
What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been, in fact I was exhausted and am having a few days of doing nothing much at all, not even stitching. Only the week before last we were saying goodbye to the women of Boneca de Atauro and we ate our last meal at a boat on the Yarra River. Melbourne with it's night lights and many people out and about on a warm autumn evening was like going to a giant party. The women loved their last days of tourist things but were also tired from the busyness of AQC and being outside their own language. Cannot wait to see the women again!
Almost immediately after I had to pack my suitcase for France to attend Pour l'Amour du Fil, where i was a guest exhibitor and was also doing some teaching. After checking in and waiting for several hours at the boarding gate we were told at 12.30 am that our flight had been cancelled for technical reasons. Whilst I was glad to not be on board a flight with technical difficulties, it did mean processing 800 odd people for hotels, taxis and replacement flights by the airline, which took quite some time and I did not get home until 4 am to sleep for a few hours and turn around to go back to the airport. Fortunately they were able to get me on a flight which got me to Paris on set up day, so I had some hope of actually setting up at the event in Nantes. The first day of the event was super busy with many visitors and I had to teach a full class in the afternoon.
I did actually manage to finish my wellness blanket on the day of my flight to France. I had to leave some captions out as my piece of blue cloth was not quite long enough. I think I will make a booklet of sorts to accompany the blanket as the captions that were left over were mostly about the creative process more than anything. After the Exhibition we took our time to drive back to Moux and visited friends, Caroline Higgs near la Rochelle, and Jane Rollason in the Charentes .The weather was pretty good so it was most enjoyable being on the coast and visiting Ile de Re.
I always love looking at different modes of transport- walking biking and sailing!
Piled rock mounds made by who knows whom, but a lovely contrast to the deep blue of the sea. It was also limited to a small part of the coast near the light house in attempt I suppose to limit people making them everywhere. And below the lovely ruins of the Abbaye des Chapentiers, a silent order of monks who tilled the surrounding fields.
The two photos below are of a small village, Montolieu to the east of Carcassonne known as a book village. As it is the beginning of the tourist season not all shops were open and I had hoped there might have been some indie publishers or bookmakers. We did visit a paper mill and inevitably I did buy some paper to make I hope a hand made book ( I have making books on my to do list- in fact on my doing list!)
Some bookish owls installed in a tree! And a rustic vignette.
And I finished my latest Blackwoods Dancing piece, i really like the pink hills in the background- a colour that happened because I did not have quite the right colour in my bag of threads awhile ago.
Firstly an apology to all of you following this story and who have helped with the fundraising for not telling you sooner that at the eleventh hour we did get visas- and did get flights to Melbourne and that the four Boneca de Atauro women, Virginia Saores, Maturina Araujo, Tachya Gorrette and Jacinta da Costa safely arrived in Melbourne. There were quite some anxious nights and moments in many parts of the world and it was with immense relief that we welcomed them in Melbourne at 6.40 am last Monday after they flew overnight from Darwin.
What a relief it was to see Tachya's smilling face!
Of course they were exhausted from the nervous wait for visas and the overnight flight and the much colder climate in Melbourne. The first day we walked around and visited Saint Patricks Cathedral as these women come from a strong Catholic community- Melbourne is so different than Atauro Island and it is fun seeing it with the eyes of the women. The second day we also walked around, Melbourne is big and we indulged in sushi which they love because it has rice!
Photographing each other on the walk bridge across the Yarra River.
Wednesday we set up their display and prepared everything in readiness for Thursday.
My daughter Siena Galtry came by to see the display.
It has been non-stop since! We did manage to get the treadle machine going with some help from some of the stall holders I know and Maturina's mechanical skills. Jacinta has been demonstrating printing with the linocuts she and Aguida and Virginia have made.
All round people have been so welcoming and it has been lovely to touch base with some of you who supported the fundraising- It means so much to these women who come from a tiny island at the bottom of the Timor sea. This event is huge for them and a big step and risk- to hear you say that their stand is your favourite makes them glow with a well deserved pride. The fact we did it all ourselves without the help of any governments or NGO's , but with help from you ,the people who believed in this project, is a tribute to their willingness to work incredibly hard and their tenacity to succeed for the women who work in the co-operative on Atauro Island and dare I say it- the power of the textile community!
I would also personally and on behalf of the women from Boneca de Atauro ,like to thank Sarah Louise Ricketts for her incredible support, for accommodating the women's stay whilst in Melbourne for this event and for believing in this project. I would also like to thank Judy Newman and Expertise Events for the opportunity to exhibit at such a wonderful event as AQC, and for the stand space to allow the women of Boneca de Atauro to exhibit their work and demonstrate their skills.
We thank you dearly for the opportunity you have given these women to grow, to see and to experience and to show what they do so well.
Tomorrow after the event we will indulge in a few touristy things like Puffing Billy and the Healesville Animal Sanctuary as they want to see koalas and kangaroos and then Wednesday they will go home with many stories and I hope smiles on their faces ( after another overnight flight).
This last image is a detail shot of a piece designed made by Maturina Araujo and Eva especially for this event. It measures 2.4 metres by 1.8 metres and has been entirely stitched by treadle machine. The background cloth is Turquoise and the red you see is entirely the result of free motion stitching- awesome or what?
I have had such lovely responses about the photos I have posted from Chartres that I thought I would add some extra delightful Chartrean finds and partly to distract myself from the anxiety of waiting for visas for the women from Boneca de Atauro. Last night I slept very badly, hoping that an answer would have come through this morning- the other side of the world already has it's workday over- but nothing and early next week I fly back to Australia so little internet access, plus there is the small matter of having work to do. Applying for a visa for Australia is not for the feint hearted especially if you come from a third world nation.
I want to share a close up photo of one of the work of Marie Gueriot-Flandrin a weaver, exhibiting at the ChARTres-Croisement des Arts. Her work has been at the last three exhibitions I have been at , and each time there are new nuances and details in her work. She often incorporates found objects, or glass, interesting fibres and also creates coils of fibre. It's been a pleasure to spend time with her work and really look closely at her additions to her weaving.
Most visitors to Chartres tend to come for one day only to see the Cathedral, so it is lovely to be here longer and find the city unfolding itself as I get to know it better. There is a couple of other lovely churches not far from where I am staying one of which is Saint Aignan dating from the late 15th early 16th centuries. The stained glass windows are lovely, but the ceiling is wonderful as is the internal painting, which though in bad repair gives you a sense of the colours that adorned churches from this period.
The patterning on the ceiling is beautiful and the central star decoration on the supporting beams of the dome is stunning- wish I could get closer.
A details of some of the motifs in the church- it would make a gorgeous more traditional applique design and the colouring is interesting too- the green of the leaves occurs throughout the church especially in the central aisle.
Some more street art- a bit weathered like the paint work inside Saint Aignan's.
There are some lovely walks along the river Eure with a number of wonderful old stone bridges over the river at regular intervals. The black box in the river is the projection equipment that is used to illuminate the bridges along the river when the illumination season starts.
I have been spending most days at the Collegiale Saint Andre doing a bit of stitching when I don't feel too cold. I have been stitching more circles and this one is one of my prints which I have cut out and embroidered.
I am not quite sure what I will do with it yet. Below is an image of the Blackwoods Dancing linocut print that i started embroidering quite some time ago and thought I would finish whilst I was in Chartres. I haven't finished the top because I haven't quite got the right coloured thread so I may need to detour via one of the Mercery shops. I liked the moodiness of the fabric in the background of the print. I still have this print available for sale if you are interested.( though I am not sure if I have that colour)
So whilst i was debating as to whether I would buy more thread ( as I know the colour thread I want is back in Australia- you can't pack everything when you travel) I started embroidering this linocut print made by Jacinat da Costa whilst i was on Atauro Island- I love the bold shapes of the shells- so may simply keep stitching this piece and get a bit more colour on there and see whether I can finish it before I leave early on Tuesday morning.
And last but not least I have been staying at a small studio apartment called Studio Adulaire whilst in Chartres- its in a lovely old part of the city but close to everything. I found the little book in the photo below in the apartment. So I share a photo of the apartment how it is now, and how it looked quite some years ago. The large tree has disappeared but otherwise the streetscape is not much changed. And last night I had a very odd experience. A couple were walking along the street, with maps in hand and knocked on the door. They insisted they wanted to stay but I explained that I was already staying there- but still they insisted- I repeated that i was booked until monday morning to stay there and that they should contact the owner- and then they wanted to come inside and look- I said I think not???
Have been in Chartres this last week for the annual Croisement des Arts held in a magnificent 12th century building , Collegiale st Andre, on the river Eure. However because it is on the banks of the Eure it is also bone-chillingly cold even when the sun is shining. There has been plenty of visitors but few sales unfortunately. I sometimes think that when people visit these events they view it pretty much as visiting a museum- as in you look at the artwork, but in the museum situation it cannot be bought- so you don't even think about it. And it is not just a hobby, it's a job. when people ask me how many hours it takes to make one of my pieces I don't actually give a direct answer any more but say- it is my job, it's like going to the office, but more- I turn up for work most mornings at 8 and don't finish until 6 pm and often on the weekend as well especially when things have to be finished. So if something takes 4 weeks how much would a salary earner expect to earn? Every week has to count, especially as during my illness and recuperation I could work very little.
The sculpture in the foreground is a bronze by Manuala Papeians from Belgium.
On the upside it has been quite beautiful spring weather with lots of sunshine so I have been trying to walk as much as I can, simply to build up strength in my leg again.
The theme for this years Festival was "La Joie, dans tous ses eclats..." and I made a forest quilt of sorts in response to the theme. One of the requests from the organisers is that you provide a written explanation of your work addressing the theme which is collated into a booklet. It is interesting to see how other artists responded to the theme. Here is what I wrote:
Recently I have had many reasons to engage with thoughts about joy and how it touches so much of my life if I let it. I realised joy is not some big effervescent bountiful moment but many little moments that start with waking and end with sleeping. A whole day of joyful moments, and when you let the joyful moments reign you can encounter happiness even in the darkest hours.
But I think my greatest joy derives from the fact that I am able to walk and enjoy nature. About 4 months ago I found myself unable to walk due to an operation. The result was unexpected, and it’s restitution was largely up to me if all things went well. The nerve in my right leg had somehow stopped communicating with my leg and it was up to me to reawaken the channels of communication, with exercises and visualising what I expected my leg to do. It was an unusual task to have to actively think how I wanted my leg to move when I was so used to simply being able to do it. Each time I slightly moved a muscle where previously it had not moved, and each time the sensation was a little different than the day before meant somehow that I was reawakening the nerve to begin it’s talking with my leg muscles.
I progressed through first steps with a walker , then a crutch and finally walking without a crutch about 8 weeks after the operation. That first walk without a crutch was one of wonder, that i could simply walk without something to aid the walking. As time progressed I found myself to be able to go on long walks again and to walk on beaches, in parks and in forests.
Every time I step out it is with a sense of joy that somehow I can do it- that I can enjoy the marvels of nature by simply ambulating myself to a place of wonder, and to feel part of the magic of existence. I love how the light dances amongst the trees in the forest, how there is dark and hidden places, and how nature finds ways to be breathtakingly beautiful even in the darkest of places.
This piece is called "Light in the Forest" and measures approximately 105 cm square, has been hand dyed and printed with bracken leaves and sheoak leaves. It is for sale for $1500 AUS plus shipping.
There are many lovely encounters to be had in Chartres., lovely old tertes ( stone stairways/walkways) and old cobbled streets. And of course there is the magnificent Cathedral- one of the Notre Dames. It has been sunny and in the late afternoon light she looks beautiful indeed .( I am never here for the illuminations they do at night on the front of the cathedral which is a pity as i am told they are very beautiful)
Below is the lovely cobbled road I walk every day to get to the exhibition venue .
Below is my favourite window display in Chartres- it's a shop for bookbinding/restoring and always has a lovely display of books and working equipment.
As always there is street art, part of all modern cities, this is one by EZKStreetArt - there are several pieces by this artist around the city , and he is part of a small Street Art exhibition in a small city gallery around the corner from where I am staying.
My cousin came to visit last week and we went to Picassiette- which is always a delight. It is just outside the old part of the city and was the house and garden of Raymond Isidore. I guess it is art brut, in that his paintings are naive, and his passion and obsession turned his entire house and garden into a surface for mosaics which he gathered from initially the graveyard where he worked but acquired more and more whimsy as he covered more and more surface
Chartres is famous for its stained glass, and there are studios around the region of artists making stained glass. There is also the informative Musee du Vitrail, that allows you to get up close to fragments of very old stained glass pieces. I love the image below because the braids of the woman in the foreground is beautifully executed, and of course braids in the early medieval period were much admired
I am still fundraising for the women from Boneca, and we are very close to our target even after the amount we were seeking had to be increased- so we are incredibly grateful for your support! However we are still waiting on visas- what a process, and actually very stressful, , 20 pages of documentation to fill in ( and I can tell you it challenged my english, plus one question that was completely unintelligible) plus all the support documentation to accompany- times that by four for four women- it took more than a week to get everything together . Who devises these things??? I understand the need to vet applications but when I go to East Timor- I pay $30US to a small window, say I am staying for 30 days , no further questions, just the address where you are staying and bob's your uncle, oh and if you overtsay your visa there is a hefty fine.
Life has turned busy again in a good way! I have been busy stitching on a quilt for the theme at the exhibiton at ChArtres- Croisement des Arts which starts this Saturday. This festival includes art, music, films and lectures and this year offers many delights. I also get to spend two weeks in Chartres, which is always a delight! So if you intend to come to the event let me know , I will make sure I am there! My piece for the theme, "La Joie, dans tous ses éclats..."
It has been a joy to be able to go for walks again, and particularly walks in nature!
I have also been busy preparing a list of work that I will be exhibiting at Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes in April, which will be all my Traveller's Blanket work ( Plaides Nomads) and realised it has become quite a body of work. My last blanket which is not finished yet, and will be my wellness blanket- the words that I embroidered every day until my radiotherapy finished. But I thought I would share the work thus far.
And last but not least my piece inspired by early morning walks on Atauro Island. On my first trip I often found sea urchins on the shore, also known as buli matan in Tetum.I find something joyous in their shape and whilst the piece isn't anatomically correct I wanted to create the wonder that the humble sea urchin inspires!
We are still fundraising to have four women from Boneca de Atauro come to to AQC in Melbourne in April. The visa applications cost $140 per applicant- and the amount of paperwork to apply took more than two days to fill in ( and English is my first language), let alone the time taken to gather supporting documentation. Australia really is not an easy place to visit! For example they wanted copies of banking statements- the women do not have bank accounts- and there is just one bank on Atauro Island- which nobody seems to use and there is no ATM. How to explain to the first world that the third world does not have such luxuries as bank accounts.
So we have reached the point of having covered the cost of the Visa applications and almost three airfares. The women of Boneca de Atauro are incredibly grateful, as am I ,for your incredible support. However we need to raise just that little bit more for the last airfare and insurance- approximately $1500 all together. Any help will be much appreciated. You can donate using the button below.
Today I want to honour and try to help empower these four amazing women from Boneca de Atauro- Jacinta da Costa, Virginia Saores, Tachya Gorreti and Maturina de Ajuaro to come to Australia in April for the Australasian Quilting Convention to show what they do and to share their passion.
Boneca de Atauro is a women's co-operative on Atauro Island, part of Timor Leste. The co-operative consist of 60 or more women who create textile dolls, bags, wall hangings and also run a guest house and small restaurant on Atauro Island, and a small gift shop in Dili. Their goal is to employ women from all backgrounds and their dream is to run an education centre to help with language and vocational skills for all who want to learn more. Their hard work , their dedication and their vision is inspirational. Their lives are not easy yet their vision embraces those around them and touches all those who meet them. They are a quiet but determined revolution on this small island to see women reach their potential and to be able to give their best for their families,
I want to thank the women of Boneca de Atauro for letting me into their lives and sharing their dream with you. I know there are many worthwhile projects in the world that have just such goals and dreams, and all of them start out of need. This project really touched my heart because it is driven by the women themselves: not an NGO or a Charity group- they have received very little funding in the past and everything they have achieved has been through hard work and a willingness to work together and for each other- it is why they formed a co-operative. It is a wonderful example of the power of women!
Below is an image of the Bonecas ( dolls) that started it all. They were commissioned for schools in East Timor in 2007, and continue to be made.
You can help the women come to Melbourne with your donation- every little bit is appreciated. I also want to thank all of you who have donated so far- I am amazed from how far and wide donations have come- and just as amazed that I know most of you through textiles- what a world we weave!! We have almost funded two airfares- still a way to go but we are immensely grateful to be at this point! ( things haven't been helped by a price rise in East Timor airfares late last year when an airline company bought out the competition and created a monopoly- it is having a very adverse effect on tourism in Timor Leste)
I constantly keep saying time flies but it really does. My father died just before I left Timor-Leste, he had been ill, but in the end things went very fast and I couldn't get back to Australia in time, as the earliest flight back was the one I was booked on anyway. He requested no funeral which made the being and not being difficult to process. Also I had tried to visit him on the day before I left for Timor-Leste, but could not as there had been a gastro outbreak in the residential care facility where he was so I did not really say goodbye apart from on the phone.
I was barely home from Timor-Leste and I was on my way on a long haul flight to Europe. Fortunately I left myself a few days to recover from the flight in order to head to Liege in Belgium to teach earlier this week. It's a bit hard getting used to the colder weather, but the classes have been fun filled with enthusiastic students, some as old as 95 years young! Mathilde at the back of the photo worked hard and had fun with the embroidery. There is still some places in Fridays ( 9 March) hand stitching class- Plaid Nomads in which a small sampler will be made using the techniques I use in the Plaids Nomades/Travellers Blankets. If interested just message me and I can send details.
Still working hard on getting the Boneca de Atauro ladies to the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne. I am so grateful for all the donations that have been coming through , but we still need more.
The hoped for funding from an Australian funding body fell through whilst I was in Timor-Leste- and despite last minute meetings with the funding body there was no way they were going to change their minds- so that left us in a bit of despair. The officer i talked to from the funding body was rather disparaging about the Australasian Quilting Conference which was disappointing , as was their decision. So if you feel you could help ,it is as much needed as ever. I will place the donation button again . So instead of finding funding for two airfares we need to find airfares for four women. It is important that four women come because I also want them to learn from this experience and to be able to see the other things on exhibit at AQC as well as demonstrating what they do so wonderfully. And this event is very busy with many visitors so I think they will be kept incredibly busy!
A new linocut design made by Jacinta da Costa, one of the young ladies coming to Melbourne- whose designs just keep on getting better and better!
Whilst I was on Atauro Island we also worked on creating some new items for the Boneca de Atauro shop and came up with ear rings and necklaces inspired by Buli Matan( sea urchins) which are a common find on the beach at Atauro Island . Jacinta da Costa is modelling the proto types!.
So any help is much appreciated. And I will respond individually to the wonderful donations we have received so far when I have a bit more time. I am so grateful that some of you have the same vision for the ladies from Boneca de Atauro as I do. They work hard in sometimes difficult conditions ( no electricity during the day , not much running water) and what they make is amazingly creative and lovely. The Boneca ladies ( all 60 of them) and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts! and hope they can put on a wonderful display in Melbourne.
I have another request- whilst I was recovering from my operation and radiotherapy I sold my block of land and shed in Gellibrand which meant all my belongings had to go into storage. Somehow my treadle machine which I had bought for the ladies to use at AQC ended up towards the back of the storage which means it is difficult to get to ( the chaps who did the loading and unloading misunderstood that I wanted the machine at the front of the storage). Is there anyone in Melbourne that could lend us a working treadle machine to use for the four days of AQC ( 10-14 April)- if so please message me, I would be immensely grateful.
We had a real treat last Saturday when the rapan hirik weavers walked the one and a half hours from Maquili to Vila Mau-Meta to show the Boneca ladies and myself how they make the fibre for the weaving as well as the weaving of Rapan Hirik. The woven fabric is a form of tais but is woven with fibre from the rapan hirik palm. It makes a fairly coarse thread, but makes a fairly supply cloth. Rapan hirik was traditionally woven on Atauro Island until demand for it diminished with the availability of cheaper thread and synthetic materials , and cheap tais from the much larger Indonesian market. Fortunately there has been a bit of a revival happening in the weaving of the fabric due to Boneca de Atauro using the fabric for a number of things they make, like bags, wall hangings and pencil cases/wallets. And younger women are involved in the weaving of the rapan hirik as they see some economic viability in producing this most traditional of fibres and woven fabric.
I will share some photos of the process and I am very grateful to the Maquili ladies for allowing me to photograph the process and themselves in the making process ( we will also have some videos of the process at AQC in Melbourne in April)
The first part of the process is to sort the leaves from the Rapan Hirik palm and split them into individual fronds, ready for stripping down to the best fibre part of the leaf. This process was demonstrated by Tereshina Lopes ( who also helped with the making of the fibre thread).
The next part of the process involves stripping the actual fronds as not all of the frond is suitable for making the thread. This process was demonstrated Ermilinda Freitas. If you look closely you will see the bottom part of her leg has been wrapped with some cloth with a frond strapped to it as well. This acts as base for stripping the fronds ( at first I though Ermilinda had a wound on her leg and wondered whether this was a traditional wound dressing, however I soon discovered otherwise)
The next photograph shows Adelia Saldalha shredding the fibre into thread thickness with the help of Ermilinda ( the fibres are joined by a barely discernable knot and certainly not a knot you can see in the woven cloth)
The next photograph shows Luisa Ellu Setting up the warp on the back loom, which was made by placing spikes in the ground. The process of creating the warp took all morning to make roughly 1.25-1.5 metres of fabric.
Then it was onto weaving of which only a small amount could be done because the rain decided to arrive. It is the wet season at present so when the rain comes if buckets down and everything has to be packed away.
The lady on the right is Herminia de Costa, who wound the thread into balls of thread to facilitate the weaving process and also helped out with other tasks in setting up the back loom.
I am just amazed with how little these women can create such wonderful cloth and it is an ode to the creativity of the human and women really. We had to have a group photo at the end of a wonderful day and of course we had to have a little rungu ranga in the photo, because everyone needs a little craziness as part of their creative day!
Fund Raising Progress: I am still fundraising for the two airfares ( and insurance) but thought I would update you as to how the fundraising has gone so far and am extremely grateful that we have reached the point of almost funding one airfare. Thank you for helping us reach this point!
I hope we can reach a sum of money for both airfares and insurance. I must admit I was not sure how this fundraising would eventuate but am so grateful for your support, as are the ladies at Boneca de Atauro. When I told them that we had almost reached the point of funding one airfare they decided that they would like to reward donations of $50 or more with a small gift of their appreciation ( it will include a small piece purse made with rapan hirik and a small surprise)- which I will send once I return to Australia, because the postal service in East Timor is all but non-existent.
I will place the donation button again, and we appreciate any amount that you are willing to donate ( there is information about what we are fundraising for in my previous post)
I am back at Boneca de Atauro for an artists residency, but mostly to help the ladies from Boneca to prepare for AQC in Melbourne in April. When I say an artists residency, this is very much a "community" based residency, in that I am here to help upskill techniques, teach some new things and brainstorm some new products that can be sold.
This group of women, who live on a relatively isolated island formed a co-operative 11 years ago with help from Ester Peira Zuercher-Camponova and David Palazon, but also with a lot of their own initiative and determination. Atauro Island lies 25 kilometres off the coast of Dili, and it is only reachable by boat ( unless you happen to fly a single engined Cesna and are prepared for a rocky landing). The ferry takes 3.5 hours, and the Dragon boat and hour and a half. On this island which is r secluded from most of the tumult of the western world, making a living is incredibly difficult. Mostly life is subsistence and reliance on tourist dollars, which don't always come ( for example February is wet season and there are very few visitors). The island is a paradise for divers, but they are busy diving not spending tourist dollars. So it's remarkable that the Boneca co-operative manages to employ 62 women , of all ages and all skills, to be able to earn a sustainable living on their island and to have set up a shop in Dili and to now venture to Australia to show off their work and to hopefully sell their work so they can attain their dream of setting up a school to learn languages and other skills. They have vision and passion and are by far the most egalitarian organisation I have ever encountered.
But we need help. I mentioned it in my last blog and will again. We are trying to fund raise two airfares and travel insurance for two of the ladies to come to Melbourne. We would like four ladies to come to Melbourne. We hope we have funding for two ladies already, but feel for them to get the full benefit of the experience we need to have four ladies at AQC so they can also enjoy the event a little as well as show you what they do. It is also incredibly important to reinforce the english language skills that they have been studying at an adult school in Dili- they are determined to be the best they can. Also they have never been to an event like this. They have been to a Tourist gift fair at Macau, but never to a textile industry specific fair. I am sure they will be amazed by what they encounter at AQC- simply the quilts will be inspiration. Looking on-line is not really an option ,as internet access is expensive comparatively and it is also 3G so on the slow side. Plus you need to remember to charge your phone at night because the generator that powers the island only runs from 6pm until 6am- so no power during the day.
I was surprised to find that airfares from Dili to Melbourne have roughly increased by about 30-40% in the last year which is substantial- airfares are around $1000US flying with a reputable airline. This is a significant sum of money as you no doubt will have guessed. Already some of you have donated and I send you heartfelt thanks on behalf of the Boneca ladies. All monies donated will be put towards their travel expenses. It has been suggested I do a Go Fund Me campaign, but to be perfectly honest, my head was not in the right place to set it up , given I wasn't sure how I would cope with radiotherapy ( which did not finish until 8 January). And also internet access is varied on the island. The other thing about such campaigns is the platform does take a small percentage of donations ( which is fair enough given they provide the platform) and you have to reach your target. So we will try and do it this way and we would appreciate it of you could spare any amount of your choice, you simply click on the donate button.
And to show we have been doing things since I have arrived ( my goodness the heat and humidity have been challenging, but I think I am getting the hang of it. I don't know how the Boneca ladies do it every day)
I work with a small group of women with the idea that they will teach some of the other women what they learn. Jacinta da Costa worked with me previously was incredibly motivated and an adept learner ( remember that exposure to anything art or textile at school is non-existent). She is also creating really wonderful linocuts and senses how some of these will translate with the application of stitch. She is also a very careful printer, a skill she has passed on to Agida in the photo below.
I try to get the women to use their environment as inspiration and am constantly surprised and delighted with how they interpret their world. I love how their linocuts reflects them. This isn't about creating perfection but creating from the heart- from their island from their lives.
The fabric in the image above is known as Rapan Hirik and is only made on Atauro Island ( the tais on "mainland" Timor Leste are made from cotton fibre and lately also with syntehtic fibres). Until about 5 years ago there were only a few women on Atauro Island who made the rapan hirik fabric ( it is quite stiff but suprisingly pliable and can be stitched) in a village on the other side of the island .The island measures 25 km x 9km, and has a quite a big hill, well mountain smack bang in the middle of it. However since the women at Boneca have been using the rapan hirik fibre to make bags and pencil satchels there has been more weaving going on. The fabric is woven on back looms.
Maturina Aruajo is the head designer at Boneca- and her vision is big. This is her latest creation- the colour you see ( apart from the turquoise) is all stitching- all done on a treadle!!!! And it measures at least 2 metres long by 1.8 metres wide.
Eva is working on some of the linocut printed fabrics with the linocuts the women made when I was here in 2017. Again this is a treadle machine that Eva is working on, and her stitching skill- free motion is amazing!
There are still a number of traditional houses on the Island ( I am staying in the town of Vila-Mau Meta) and this is one I encounter on my early morning walks.