Fiona Rutherford, Textile Artist

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leaving canberra

May 7, 2008

Last Days

Tomorrow I leave for home and so this is the last chance to write something from Australia. It has been a truly memorable six weeks made all the more wonderful by the people I have met and their warmth and generousity. There has been a lot I haven’t put up on this blog partly because of time but also because they are very personal experiences.

The dried leaves were from a trip into the rolling hills and beautiful landscape surrounding Canberra with Chrissy or G W Bot as she is also known. We sat on the banks of the Murrambidgee river in the Autumn sunshine peacefully drawing.

Then there’s Annie in her studio surrounded by all her fantastic fabrics and prints as she is preparing for her exhibition at the end of the month.

Finally this morning Julie took time to show me the War Memorial in Canberra. It’s not a place I would be naturally drawn to but others had told me it was worth a visit and indeed it was. The black faced war memorial studded with red poppies was like an art work to the dead and brought tears to my eyes. What was so moving was the ever hopeful and creative nature of people in the face of terrible brutality. But what was so inspiring was the human spirit and this is a country with great spirit.

Tapestry 2008

Aino Kajaneimi (Finland) and Annie Trevillian(Australia)
Jane Kidd (Canada) and Kristin (Norway)
Sue Lawty U.K. and Jessica Hemmings U.K.

Valerie Kirk in her studio

Tapestry 2008

So much has happened over the past week it’s difficult to capture without starting to write a book and I’m not going to do that.

We started the week with Susan Maffei and Archie Brennan’s workshop and finished yesterday with Sue Lawty and Jane Kidd’s workshop. The Textile Dept. has been a hive of activity and people but all is quiet now as life returns to a slower pace. For a little while anyway.

The talks covered everything from ancient to contemporary textiles and beyond the realms of tapestry discipline to include wider art forms. The influences and implications for the development of tapestry in the future are wide open. My head is full and my suitcase is going to have difficulty getting off the ground with the amount of information, books and catalogues I’m taking home with me.

There was a lot of socialising during Tapestry 2008 and this will be my enduring memory. As I have said before friendships and international connections have been forged for the future. The pictures above give a little bit of the atmosphere I hope.
The bottom picture was taken last night when the remaining group of visiting artists had a chance to look at Valerie’s studio.


The Symposium: making it happen

May 6, 2008

Behind the scenes

The Symposium took place over Friday and Saturday with around one hundred and fifty visitors attending from Australia and all over the world. It was a hectic, fascinating and highly sociable time with an immense amount of information absorbed and exchanged in a relaxed atmosphere.

I was glad that my talk was early on Friday morning so I could relax and enjoy the other speakers to the full. Valerie Kirk put on a tremendously varied and interesting mix of talks with artists from all sorts of backgrounds and nationalities providing plenty to inspire the audience. For me the best part was to be able to meet and talk to so many great people and to make good friends along the way. 

The days have been so busy that it has been difficult to find time to get to the Library to write this up. But for an in depth report with lots of images check out Belinda Jessup has been doing an amazing job keeping pace with the events and Annie Trevillian has been doing the photography.

Everyone at the Textile Dept. worked incredibly hard to make the event such a success. What was so lovely was that everyone started to “muck in” and help. A gang of us started early morning making sandwiches for the day ahead. The food was superb and well co-ordinated and planned by Jennifer Robertson (of the textile staff). 

Sue Lawty’s daughter, Katie, swept the floors and Jane Kidd, exhibitor, came behind with dust pan and brush. They made a lovely pair.

Belinda our Tapestry2008 blogger posed crazily tea in hand in the office as Annie sat and uploaded all her images.

Monique wasn’t making sandwiches because she was busy registering all the visitors and making the accounts balance. Valerie was quietly co-ordinating the whole show!

I need to talk about the Symposium in the next blog. The unsung heroines in the background needed to be acknowleged first for the huge amount of work they did and for doing it such an atmosphere of good fun.

So thank you to Valerie Kirk, Head of Textiles and her staff Annie Trevillian, Monique van Nieuwland and Jennifer Robertson for a fantastic effort.

hoardings art

May 1, 2008

The art of impermanence

I walked in a slightly different way this morning. On the road leading up to the Art School there is a lot of building work going on and so I’ve avoided this route before.

I was submerged in thoughts about my talk tomorrow about the nature of change and impermanence in the creative process and how in our personal lives we can so often be resistant to change. Stuff like that.

I suddenly realised someone had posted up charcoal figure drawings along the wooden wall hoardings surrounding the building site. An impromptu exhibition revealed itself along the road. The blue paint was a perfect background for the drawing in their various stages of wear. Art for free. Art that is impermanent.


winter is coming

April 30, 2008

Walking in to ANU

Winter is on it’s way in Australia. On Monday the temperature dropped dramatically and there was snow on the hills south of Canberra. I didn’t think that happened here!

This morning a beautiful silvery frost covered the grass and melted away as the sun rose into a glorious blue sky. I’m very glad of the lovely Arran cardigan I picked up at the Trash and Treasure market. A bargain at 15 dollars. Besides being an amazing piece of knitting it’s incredibly warm. Valerie bought one as well and we look like twins.

The walk in to the University takes about half an hour through a park filled with warm Autumn colours and the chortling and screeching of parrots and cockatoo’s flapping overhead. I still haven’t quite got used to seeing these exotic birds sitting in the trees and rooftops.

These are some images along the way from my walk in this morning. There was an order to them that traced my walk but they all seemed to have got jumbled. See if you can work it out……