Monday, January 11, 2010

Australia!!!! 2009

Another trip to The Land Down Under - the home of serious textile-makers, kangaroos and koalas, and very warm and welcoming people.

My first stop was Melbourne - back to 'my' room at Wendy and Peter Golden's home. We visited my favorite spots: Wendy's studio at the Abbotsford Convent and the Aboriginal Gallery at Federation Square. During her spare minutes, Wendy finished creating Maude the Meek, a life-sized nun, who would be present at and bless the Geelong Forum.

My two days of teaching plaited basketry for the Basketmakers of Victoria were fun for me, and allowed Wendy and Maude a little extra working time together.

On to Geelong (by Aussie train) - where I helped to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Geelong Fibre Forum. Janet De Boer and TAFTA (The Australian Forum for Textile Arts) keep these conferences fresh and alive and exciting. Once again I was on staff, and performed my duties as The Virgin Mother, welcoming all the newcomers (Virgins) to the conference.

We all agreed that we were the best office staff ever. Besides running a very organized conference, we served as bartenders, and set examples for the Frida Kahlo look-alike contest.

I had one free afternoon, and sat in a yurt and learned throat singing. (What an amazing opportunity!) It was a very special time in a very special place.

And of course there was my Dragonfly Sister, Janet De Boer. We had many smiles and much laughter.

Once again, Di Williams was my great traveling companion, with Kangaroo Island and Adelaide as our destinations. Kangaroo Island was stunning - flowers, gum trees, hiking trails, beautiful beaches, incredible rock formations, and many, many koalas.

The field of yellow in the first photograph are canola flowers.

Adelaide is a charming city. The arts abound, and we appreciated them all, including a visit to Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute with a beautiful gallery. We were very fortunate that our visit coincided with the Port Adelaide Festival, where we spent some time with Aboriginal basket weavers. We also visited with two very talented and creative Australian basketmaker friends - Judy Grey-Gardener and Nancy Duggan. We reaped the benefits of one of Ken Duggan's many pastimes - feeding the birds. They were colorful and noisy, and ate a lot!!!

OZ and Bali - 2006

It was another special time in Melbourne, staying with Wendy and Peter Golden. We started each day eating grapefruits picked right off the tree. We visited Wendy's studio at the Abbotsford Convent, where we were serenaded by a flock of bell birds. And I taught a class of wonderful students for the Basketmakers of Victoria. It was great to catch up with my Melbourne friends.

Then it was off to Brisbane, sharing the home of Janet De Boer and her wonderful husband Peter. Exploring the city and the Queensland countryside, some of it with Jude Skeers, was a special treat.

I always expect that teaching at a TAFTA Fibre Forum will be a great experience - great fun and great learning. BrizVegas certainly lived up to its expectation. It was a very good week!

As always, at a Forum, costumes are encouraged and just add to the enjoyment.

Once again, Di WIlliams joined me as my traveling companion. We flew up to Cairns and started our 1800 kilometer journey. We visited every botanic garden from Daintree to Brisbane, and went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. The fish were beautiful. The coral was truly amazing and special. We visited Cape Tribulation, Magnetic Island, and innumerable beautiful beaches. It was a special time with a special friend.

And then I went to Bali. I joined Janet and Peter and a very special group of textile artists. We stayed in Ubud, high in the hills, near Monkey Forest. Bali may be the home of the most gentle souls on earth. We saw parades and festivals and daily offerings. We had fresh pineapple crepes for breakfast. We saw ducks at work in the rice paddies, cleaning the insects after the rice was harvested. We visited craftspeople all over the island, and we learned about 'Threads of Life,' a fair trade partnership that promotes traditional textiles.

Bali is a very special place, filled with very special people.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Return to OZ - 2004

We were blessed - Doris Messick and I were invited back to OZ! Doris as a tutor at the Geelong Forum. I was to be The Virgin Mother.

Our first stop was Melbourne, staying with Wendy and Peter Golden - wonderful hosts and tour guides. We enjoyed a few days of food, laughter, and the sights and sounds of the city. Then on to Geelong.

The Geelong Forum is a large and exciting textile conference. Each year there are new people, VIrgins, who have never attended a TAFTA
conference before. It can certainly be bewildering. My job, as The Virgin Mother, was to take care of all these Virgins, to make them feel welcome and special. It was just plain fun. Each

Virgin received a set of Mardi Gras beads on the first day at registration, and then a charm every day thereafter. My gift from them, at the end, was a stunning necklace, with a small gift from each of them.

Costumes at Geelong, as always, play a major role, no matter what your job. This is a costume befitting the Virgin Mother working as a bartender, with a scarf crocheted of old audio tapes.

Doris' wish was to see Tasmania, and so off we went. What a welcome - we were feted everywhere we went. Both Anna Lizotte and Beth Verschoyle created wonderful gatherings for us as we traveled around Tasmania with mates Di and Liz.

For American travelers, feeding a wallaby with her joey looking on was pretty exciting!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

OZ travels - 2003

It was a long and special journey - two months on the roads of OZ!

Tasmania was the first stop. Di (Williams) shared her home, her island, and her family. We visited Strahan and the Creative Paper Mill in Burnie, and went to the Basket Gathering at Poatina. It felt so very welcoming. I knew most of the basket makers, even on this other side of the world (literally).

Sydney was next. I stayed at the beautiful home of Helen and Bruce Hill, overlooking one of Sydney's many harbors. I presented a workshop and slide lecture at Primrose Paperworks. The most special part of this trip was meeting up with my youngest daughter RIna, who was attending Macquarie University in Sydney. We shared the sites of the city (including the Aquarium), and attended a concert at the Sydney Opera House.

On to the Fibre Forum at Mittagong, a conference run by TAFTA and Janet De Boer. I taught for a week to a great group of students. The TAFTA conferences are so very special - serious hands-on learning, incredible inspiration for both the tutors and the students, with fun and laughter all added in, as evidenced by "The Dance of the Too-toos."

Melbourne is one of my favorite Australian cities, and I was happy to return. I met up with both Doris Messick, my "mate" from the US, and Di from Tasmania. We toured Melbourne, visited Federation Square, and found the heart-warming MILK exhibit (Moments, Intimacy, Laughter, Kinship) along the Yarra River. Our tour, of course, included a visit to the Basketmakers Cottage at Wattle Park.

On to the Basket Gathering at Bacchus Marsh, where we were joined by several other Americans, and many Australians. Each one of these biennial gatherings is held in a different state, providing an opportunity to reconnect with basket friends, to laugh, share, and create. They are very special times.

Di's twin sister, Liz Dombrovskis, joined us for our next adventure - a two week zig-zag driving trip from Bacchus Marsh through the Red Centre to Alice Springs. It was another journey of a lifetime - ochre quarries, Coober Pedy, Uluru, Priscilla Creek. Each day brought something new and beautiful and exciting. The colors and visual images touched my soul.

Doris and I bid sad good-byes to Di and Liz, and flew off to Darwin, for a few days of teaching. We joined up with Janet De Boer and two bus loads of textile artists and friends for our next journey, heading west to Broome. We saw the lush part of Australia - Katherine Gorge, thermal springs, Emma Gorge, flights over the Bungle Bungles, and riverboat tours.

The stunning scenery was made even better because of the people with whom we shared it. There was laughter, many flat tires, singing, joyous dancing, knitting Broome beanies, and pencil spinning. On our last night, each of us performed. Doris and I appeared, in a command performance, as Carol Channing and Isabella Rossellini.

Our last stop was an Artist Camp in Broome. It was a time to relax, to enjoy Cable Beach, to make things, to laugh and to dance. Once again, it was the people who made it such a very special time.