A Matter of Time


I am so pleased to have my work “Regeneration” included in Brenda Gael Smith’s new international traveling exhibition – a matter of time. It is great to be among the illustrious company that the other exhibitors are and to be part once again of one of Brenda’s professionally conceived and handled exhibitions.

The concept for my piece of work centres around banksias which, for anyone who knows a little about my work, will not be surprising. In October 2015 my husband and I stayed with our friends Judy and Ian Turner in their lovely house at Tura Beach in NSW. Apart form a stunning view of the beach and two headlands the property adjoins some bushland which had been burnt by the authorities to reduce the fire risk near the houses. I spent quite a bit of time roaming around there taking photographs of the wonderful burnt banksias and also doing some sketches. I loved the way the fire had exposed the trees’ “skeletons” and the silhouetted shapes of the banksias caught by the fire.

Blackened banksia bush

Blackened banksia bush.

Drawing done onsite at Tura Beach

Drawing done onsite at Tura Beach

Some of the trees had started to sprout again with green shoots coming from the junctions between branch and trunk. This was news for me as I knew that banksias regenerated themselves from seeds released when the mature fruiting cones were exposed to fire but did not know that the trunks themselves could send out new green shoots. On researching this I found that banksias can regenerate from lignotubers which can come from the base of the plant or the trunk.

This experience led to me deciding to use the life cycle of the banksia as the theme for my submission for A Matter of Time. I had my sketches ready to use as the basis of my design which was a great start. I used them to draw up a full size image to use as the basis for my silk screen stencil.

Full scale drawing made with reference to my sketches.

Full scale drawing made with reference to my sketches.

I then used my full scale drawing to design and cut my stencil which I would use when silk screen printing the focal image of the work. I also researched the representation of fire and cut a stencil  for this element as well. I envisaged that the fire would be  a band which would run across the bottom  of the piece. I used a large sheet of stencil paper which is a plastic coated paper which can be washed and reused. However, when I cut large stencils like this I just allow the paint left on it to dry before reusing it as they are generally a bit too delicate to subject to washing.

The banksia bush image printed on the grey/white background fabric. the photo here is of it already as part of the back of another quilt!

The banksia bush image printed on the grey/white background fabric. the photo here is of it already as part of the back of another quilt!

My original thought was to use the mid toned to pale colours plus grey that I had been using in my recent work ( a departure from the quite strong colours that had previously been seen in my work) and to this end I had printed a white piece of fabric with an allover grey banksia seed pod pattern. Therefore, it was on this fabric that I first silk screen printed my banksia bush image. It was clear as soon as I lifted the screen clear of the fabric that this was not going to work. The contrast was not high enough to give the image strength and  it did not speak to me of the charred bush scene I had witnessed.

Consequently I decided to use black fabric as the background with the charred look of the banksia trees in my mind. Part of my plan had always been  an allover banksia design printed using lino blocks or scratch foam as a background. I chose opaque red fabric printing ink because it suggested fire to me. I did try out an orangey colour but didn’t like that. In all, I printed 6 different background fabrics to find the print I thought worked best.

printing the background

Printing the background using the seed pod design.


Various backgrounds which I printed but ended up putting aside.

My thought was to use a neutral grey to print this design – I couldn’t use black as the banksias  were in reality because it was the background and thought that grey would signify the lack of life. In the end I chose to added a darkish grey to the greyed blue which I used in my white based experiment. I thought that this might e a bit more interesting than a neutral grey.

One of the trial pieces plus the stencils and silk screen (back right) and squeegee.

One of the trial pieces plus the stencils and silk screen (back right) and squeegee.

I silk screen printed this design on several of my background prints to test how they worked. I think it may have been the colour combination , but when I had them pinned on my design wall and stood there contemplating them at various times, the grey/blue had a curious way of seeming to float  in front of the background print as if suspended invisibly. Interesting! At this time I also experimented with printing the fire on some pieces, playing with the placement and also with the idea of whether to print it in front of or on top of the banksia bush stem.

I chose to use the background pattern depicting the mature banksia seed pods as it was a nice all over textural effect which was not too distracting form the main image of the burnt banksia bush and was also particularly relevant to the ideas I wished to convey in my quilt

I wanted to depict the two methods of regeneration of the banskia and so imagined seeds falling from the mature fruiting cones which had been subjected to fire and also new growth coming from the branch/trunk junction as I had seen at Tura Beach. I trialled  a couple of ways to achieve this:- I made some monoprints and cut them out to use as appliques and used cut paper to try the effect of a solid colour applique. I rejected both these ideas immediately as too alien to the image that I already had . I decided to cut a couple of stencils for the banksia seeds using a reference book as an aid and a couple of stencils for the new growth. I used Shiva oil paint sticks with these stencils – gold for the seeds just because I thought it would show up well and copper for the new growth as the new growth of banksias is often a rusty colour. I trialled these on some of my expeimental fabrics before going ahead with them on my chosen fabric.

Free motion quilting completes the quilt. I used a bright red polyester machine embroidery thread to lift the red of the background print which was seeming a little dull to me and a mauvey blue to outline the banksia bush. Finally, I decided the quilt needed a little more lift colourwise so made the decision to print another line of fire partly over the first line of fire. I created another fire stencil  and printed a second row of fire overlapping the first but this time using a yellow/orange. Because I was printing over already quilted fabric, the print is  “imperfect” as it doesn’t cover all the fabric but sits on the top of the quilted surface in some places. I liked this effect as it had the crackly effect of fire. A facing completes the quilt. I hope you enjoy seeing it as part of the wonderful A Matter of Time exhibition. I am looking forward to seeing the collection. Thank you Brenda!

The finished quilt.

The finished quilt.

I’m looking forward to seeing the full complement of quilts at AQC in Melbourne this year. Thanks Brenda for all your hard work and the opportunity to be a part of this.

One Step Further win!


At the beginning of December my husband and I attended the opening of Victorian Quilters Inc.’s contemporary quilt exhibition, One Step Further. The exhibition was  at Oak Hill Gallery in Mornington. This is a lovely community run gallery which is situated conveniently right next to the Mornington Regional Art Gallery. I had a piece of work in the exhibition called “Notations 2 – Musings” which was a sequel to a work that was accepted for display in the Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award exhibition. I am hoping it will also be the precursor to more work in this vein. The colours are a bit different for me but the techniques flow straight on from work I have been doing for years. It’s good to be able to make a piece of work that has your name all over it but that  nobody actually recognises as yours. The work is inspired by walks along the ocean beach where we live. My mind tends to wander in all sorts of directions and I am generally riveted by the patterns left on the shore by the waves and wind and deposits from the ocean. One day I saw a particular arrangement of strands of seaweed that made me think of  some invented form of written language. The patterns are records of time and a narrative about  the day to the point at which you observe them.  Anyway, we were very glad that we had made the effort to attend as I won the award for larger quilts which is a beautiful Brother sewing machine. My quilt was also sold at the opening to a friend of mine so that made the day even more special. There was a lot of really interesting work of a very good standard in the exhibition and a great display of work from the two judges, Jan Frazer and Jan Preston


“Coastal Patterns – Banksia”…..my inspiration

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Welcome to my contribution for the SAQA Oceania Collection Blog Hop!  My donation to the 2013 AQA Benefit Auction is Coastal Patterns-Banksia. You can see more works in this vein in the ZigZag gallery of my site called “Changes”. I am a total blog novice and the process of getting this together has been agonising! I know there are shortcomings but hope you enjoy my posts anyway.

Native plants have always held a fascination for me and they have appeared in my work throughout my career. We moved to the coast from  inland  NE Victoria  20 months ago and developing “a sense of place” in my new environment sparked a whole new surge of interest in banksias. It is a delight, being able to grow some of these beauties in our garden and also to see them growing naturally. I recently created a body of work  for an exhibition appropriately called “Changes” with Yvonne Voss and June Brown (we are known as ZigZag) and focused on the fantastic local vegetation. My auction piece was from this body of work and because I didn’t set out specifically to make that one auction piece I did not have progress photos of the actual piece. Therefore, what you see here is a reconstruction of the processes, hence I have chosen to use a peachy pink for the background print here rather than the orange of the actual piece.

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banksia pattern

In this dried collection you see close up, the banksia cone - the seed pods have developed after flowering and opened to distribute the seeds.

b. integrifolia

Here are banksia flowers at various stages and also the seed bearing cones of those which have finished flowering.

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and now to print……………




“Coastal Patterns – Banksia”…..making the prints


Coastal Patterns – Banksia is composed of a collagraph printed background with a lino printed applique depicting a banksia superimposed on it. Following is a description of the processes.

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The collagraph block made for the background of the quilt. The leaves of a different banksia (banksia marginata) were used to create the block. The cardboard backing was covered with double sided tape and the leaves were pressed onto the surface. PVA glue was then used to seal the surface. The block is patchy in colour as I used it for an "experiment" involving a heat source and managed to damage it and consequently had to repair it!


There are numerous ways that collagraph blocks can be inked but in this I am inking the block as you would do for a releif print such as a linocut. I have a large sheet of plate glass on my worktop on which I roll the ink out using a rubber roller.

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The colllagraph block inked .and ready to print

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Background of the quilt - collagraph print on canvas using banksia leaves.

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The lino block used for the applique banksia.


This is my etching press on which I print both collagraph and lino blocks.

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The lino block is inked in the same manner as the collagraph block.

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The lino print on white fabric.

and now to bring it all together…..

“Coastal Patterns-Banksia”……It all comes together


Once the two prints were done, fusible webbing was ironed onto the back of the lino print and the white, unprinted fabric was cut away using a combination of scissors and a craft knife.

The paper was removed from the back of the applique which was then arranged on the background and fused into place.

The top of the quilt was backed with wadding cut to just inside the outer edges and then the “sandwich” was completed with black felt used as the backing.

Free motion stitching close to the edge of the applique with a blending thread was the next process before echo stitching the negative spaces .

The final step was to trim the black felt to 12″ x 12″ which left a fine black line around the quilt.

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A detail of the finished quilt showing the free motion echo quilting in the negative spaces and stitching of the applique close to the edges.

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The finished quilt - "Coastal Patterns - Banksia"