Goanna Ridge

My husband, woodfire potter — Chester Nealie — and I live and work on our rural property near Gulgong in New South Wales, Australia. Named “Goanna Ridge” after the numerous goannas here, the property is also home to other Australian native animals and birds. The land is largely natural bush with rocky gullies and outcrops covered in lichens and hardy mosses. We built our house to include studio space, with Chester’s kilns on the ridge nearby. He specialised in anagama-style pots which show the rich colours and textures of wood-firing (http://www.sidestoke.com/Nealie).

 

Process

I use personal response and experience as a starting point for design concepts in my work, sometimes as sketches, photographs or a combination of source materials. I play with these in the computer to explore compositional possibilities and use a printout of my roughly captured concept as a basis for developing the image.

Fabric is stretched and pinned ready for airbrushing. I use an acrylic pigment and ‘paint’ the image with a combination of a free-moving airbrushing style and a variety of stencil controls.

When colour application is finished the pigment is ‘set’ through heat and evaporation. The dyed image is layered with a backing cloth and a filling layer of wool. These layers are trimmed and edges finished ready for fixing to front and back rollers of my stitching frame. Stitching follows a strategy to add line, movement and emphasis to the composition.

Each stitch through layers indents the fabric surface. The accumulation of these indentations gives greater strength to the fabric and produces an enticing texture over the whole surface, adding depth to the image in the work. Viewed from the front, the surface of the work shows the interplay of ambient light. Stitches perform as strokes of line and the rhythm of rows builds to a sense of flow and movement.

Looking across the work at an angle it’s possible to see how the overall stitching creates an accumulated texture akin to windblown dune sands or reminiscent of stipple work in antique quilts. If you take time to look at an acute angle across the work you can see how this undulation of surface texture takes on a sense of tessellation as the fabric absorbs or reflects light. I like to stitch across the entire surface of my work because of the textural interest it creates. This effect can be seen even in my small pieces but can be quite spectacular in the larger work.

 

Workshops & Lectures

I have given workshops and lectures for many years (see Resumé). Subjects have included exhibition design and installation, professional practice for craft artists, my own work both in dye technique and stitching, and design and composition. Many of these workshops have been in the context of Summer Schools, Fibre Forums and regional workshops. I also accept students for In-Studio workshops which offers a closer tuition, able to respond directly to your area of interest and enquiry.

Contact me for further details.