octagons, starbursts and birds

What are these embroidered hessian octagons for, I hear you asking. 

Well, I'm very excited to report that I've been invited to take part in an exhibition called 'Soft Cuts' at Waikato University. The exhibition, curated by Karl Chitham,  includes illustrative works, and works inspired by illustration, and Karl asked if I'd like to include some of my School Journal textiles in it.

Of course, I jumped at the chance to show my work alongside the likes of graphic artist, illustrator and book designer extraordinaire, Sarah Maxey, and Auckland artist Gavin Hurley, among others. If you've been browsing through bookshops recently, Gavin's gorgeous collage of William Colenso might have caught your eye, gracing the cover of Peter Wells' new book The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso.

The 'Soft Cuts' exhibition opens at the beginning of February, so I had to bring my glorious Kapiti Coast holiday to a close and get my sewing skates on, so to speak.

Jill McDonald's School Journal covers from the mid-60s were a formative influence on me. My love of symmetry, abstract compositions and bold colours, almost certainly comes from her, and my inability to draw people or animals in three dimensions definitely does. I have a clear memory of Sister Miriam handing me a copy of  'The Hungry Lambs' in my standard four class, and quickly checking to see if I had felt-tip pens in the same colours, so that I could replicate the cover illustration on a piece of butcher's paper when I got home.

A year or so ago,  jeweller Raewyn Walsh kindly gave me the three School Journals pictured above. I've been wanting to convert Jill McDonald's colourful cover designs into textiles ever since, so it's wonderful that Karl's exhibition has provided me with the perfect excuse!

My decision to use hessian for the installation of octagons and starbursts was purely nostalgic, recalling my first experiments in school sewing classes making oven mitts from scratchy pieces of hessian that we decorated with clumsy cross-stitch designs.

Jill McDonald (1927-1982)
Photo taken in the 1960s when Jill was working at Penguin Books.
Reproduced in A Nest of Singing Birds by Gregory O'Brien (Wellington: Learning Media) 2007: 126.

Next up, I think I'll make a couple of textile versions of Jill's lovely red birds to throw into the mix, and see if the octagons and birds look good together on the wall.

Happy New Year everyone!
I hope 2012 is shaping up well for you.


Meliors Simms said…
oh yay, your work is coming to Hamilton! are you coming too? Will we finally get to meet up?
can't wait to see what you do with these lovely stitchings
Bronwyn Lloyd said…
I'll definitely be coming to the opening. I'll post details of the date and time as soon as I find out. It'll be so great to finally meet you!
Thin Puffin said…
Wonderful to see more of Jill McDonalds work - and to see more inspired by her.

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