Thursday, October 27, 2011


Welcome to my blog (of sorts)..... Australia - Textiles, Travels, and Teaching.

The recent posts are from my trip in September and October. If you would like to read it in chronological order (so that it might make more sense), scroll down and start at September 10, 2011.

I hope it brings you both inspiration and pleasure.


Janet De Boer (OAM, my dragonfly sister, and CEO of TAFTA) and I did Sydney. We did it all. We visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales, we saw the incredible "Tsunami," an aerial lace installation on the Sydney streets, and we went to the amazing Love Lace exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum. We went by ferry, taxi, train, bus, and private car. We drank beer in Manly, ate yum cha (dim sum) in Chinatown, and dined at both the Opera House and at Darling Harbor. We visited with friends. We had Thai massages. We walked and talked and laughed. It was a very special time, and a perfect ending to my trip.

just a tree.....

The Cullen Winery

We were treated as royal guests at the Cullen WInery. Vanya Cullen is the managing director and senior winemaker. She has won several major awards, including the Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year in 2000. Our lunch at the winery was exceptional, as were the wines: Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon and Kevin John Chardonnay - the winning chardonnay of the 2010 World Wine Awards. It was a VERY good wine.

the town of Margaret River

the Margaret River meets the Indian Ocean

Margaret River (continued....)

From our (Cullen) home, we ate our breakfast overlooking the Indian Ocean. Humpback whales were cavorting almost every time we looked. Could this ever become boring?

Shel Cullen was a delight, sharing her knowledge of flora and fauna. She brought us to a karri forest and to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, on the southwest tip of the continent, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.

Margaret River

The Margaret River region, in southwest Australia, is known for its wines. And they are great wines! It is a beautiful region, lush and green (at least in the springtime), with calla lilies growing wild everywhere. We saw sheep and cattle, vineyards and wineries, kangaroos and black cockatoos, and even more vineyards and wineries.


Fremantle is perhaps the loveliest of Perth's surrounding towns. It is where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean. We shopped at the Fremantle Market, strolled down 'Cappuccino Strip,' and enjoyed the local prawns (shrimp).

Kings Park and Botanic Garden

The spring wildflowers in Kings Park were stunning. Just stunning. The kangaroo paws were in full bloom everywhere. (They are on the official coat of arms of the state of Western Australia.) The trees, the barks, and the grasses were all visual delights.

In and around Perth

Perth is a beautiful city, with parks and walking trails along the Swan River. The heart of the downtown (in my opinion) is the Cultural Centre, home to both the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Western Australia Museum.


My 'holiday' began in Perth, in Western Australia. I met up with the Tasmanian twins, Di WIlliams and Liz Dombrovskis, my frequent Australian traveling companions. Their aunt (and Di's godmother) was Diana Cullen, the first woman winemaker in Australia, and found of Cullen Wines in Margaret River. Diana's children live in both Perth and Margaret River, and made us feel most welcome in their homes.

In Cottesloe, a Perth suburb, we stayed in a (Cullen) home overlooking the Indian Ocean. On the day I arrived, a man was taken by a great white shark in the ocean just below us. You can be absolutely certain that my 'bathers' were never unpacked.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adelaide Hills and Basketry South Australia

It was a really easy transfer. My next class was with Basketry South Australia, the guild of the Adelaide area. I moved into Laima Guscia's lovely and peaceful mud brick home in the Adelaide Hills.

Laima and I are at the top of Mount Lofty, overlooking the city of Adelaide.

Southern Textiles

"Baskets and Surfaces"
It was a very fun class, with great students!

Adelaide, the city of pubs and churches

Colleen and I spent hours in the South Australia Museum - and we only walked through a few rooms. The Aboriginal baskets and artifacts - the skills, the designs, and the use of materials were mind-boggling. I just stood in front of them - looking and smiling and shaking my head in amazement.

Adelaide and the home of Colleen Morrow

Collen is an amazing woman. She has made over 70 trips to Indonesia and southeast Asia, purchasing textiles, baskets, jewelry, and art. She sometimes sells them, often saving her most favorite ones for herself. Her lovely home is like a museum - filled with incredible artifacts, baskets to drool over, clothes, beads, weavings, and over 1000 books with information about all that she collects. She encouraged me to just poke around, and that is certainly what I did.

The Final Installation

The final installation happened at the airport, created by three tired but very happy women - Donna Toussaint, Inga Hunter and myself.

The Design Focus Programme

My job was coordinator for the Design Focus Programme, an experimental program that offered five classes focusing on design, content, and ideas. Specific techniques were also included in each class: batik, basketry, feltmaking, stitching, and quilting. Lissa Hunter, basketmaker extraordinaire from the US, was one of the tutors.

My position as coordinator included coordinating my own position - what should I actually be doing? It was a great challenge.

Geelong Grammar School

The Forum was held at Geelong Grammar School. (We would call it a high school.) It has a beautiful and historic campus on Corio Bay, south of Melbourne. HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, is one of the schools' alumni.

The installations by Wendy Golden and Donna Toussaint made it a joy to walk around campus.

What a week it was!!! - the TAFTA Forum at Geelong

The Australian Forum for Textile Arts - with Janet De Boer as the Chief Executive Officer, general manager, and party director - puts on a great Forum! It is six days of classes with the 'tutor' (teacher) of your choice, 20 tutors in all.

The week was filled with laughter, learning, talking, sharing, cost
umes, conversations, and great fun. The last night at Forum is always a dance party, done in true TAFTA style. This year's theme was Animalia.