Fiona Rutherford, Textile Artist

Fiona's Blog

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climbing canberra

April 23, 2008

The beauty of Gum trees

I suppose the Eucalyptus tree is what you most associate with the Australian landscape. They are quite beautiful. 

There is something quite sculptural about the tall bark trunks, chalky white and grey like peeling plaster. Rust red oozes out like paint running down a canvas and squiggles like thread abstract thread marks the hard papery surface. 

I spent hours yesterday absorbed in this landscape. Walking through the Botanic Gardens and up through the National Park to the peak of Black Mountain where the views overlooking Canberra and the surrounding mountains is quite spectacular. I never thought of myself as a landscape artist but my sketchbook is all about the land. A new land.

The Botanic Gardens feels less exotic than Sydney and more Australian. That may be because it hosts nearly every indigenous plant possible to grow in it’s grounds.

balloons over canberra

April 21, 2008

Surreal Skies

It was a whooshing noise above the studio I’m staying in that got me out of my bed. As I looked up into the brilliant blue early morning sky a seres of hot air balloons sailed by majestically.

Most fantastical was the gigantic Kookaburra that hung over the tree tops like a surreal image. What an inspiring way to start a Monday morning.

one for the family

April 18, 2008

We get everywhere…..

I’ts a pity the car is in the way and then you could see that Rutherford is a posh jewellery shop in the centre of Melbourne. The kind of shop that none of us Rutherford’s could afford to buy anything from.
Hello to Lib and Caroline!

brunswick street

Brunswick Street Melbourne

Brunswick is a long strip of shabby chic bohemian shops and galleries. It’s an artists hangout with graffiti on the walls and weird and wonderful sculptures hanging off walls. It’s a good alternative to the big gallery spaces of the established art world. 

I spent most of yesterday in NGV Australia. It’s a huge jagged and confusing piece of architecture in the centre of Melbourne but it contains the most superb and comprehensive collection of Aboriginal art in the ground floor Indigenous Galleries. I have been inspired by Aboriginal art for a long time and so I felt like a child in a sweety shop when I walked through the doors. I had to go back again today just to look one more time.

Another smaller gallery that was worth the visit is Craft Victoria with some particularly lovely ceramics on show by Bridget Bodenham.

I’m all “galleried out” now and returning to Canberra tomorrow to gather my thoughts…….. 

victorian tapestry workshop

April 17, 2008


The main reason for coming to Melbourne was to visit the Victorian Tapestry Workshop. For years now I have had books on the studio that have been a source of inspiration for me. Established in 1976 the VTW has given artists and weavers the opportunity to design and weave contemporary tapestries. Their tapestries are dotted around public buildings in the centre of Melbourne and have been exhibited around the world. These aren’t just copies of paintings they are strong interpretations into another visual language. The colours sing.

The picture above shows the old woolen  exchange building that the VTW is housed in. The weaving studios are light and airy with about five different commissions being currently woven. Two or more weavers work on a commission depending on the size and complexity of the work. John Dicks took the time to show me around and introduce me to everyone. The whole place has a very relaxed atmosphere in spite of the intensity of the weaving being undertaken. I was in awe of the skill being demonstrated here.

The colour of all the yarns is quite joyful. The multitude of colour shades are produced in the workshops by dyer Cliff Renshaw. I bought just a few shades of yarn to take away. The ochre colours of Australia. A different palate that I can use to weave a small sample sketch.   

An exhibition of VTW tapestries titled “From Here To Eternity” has opened in Prato, Italy – 14 April -6 June.

Before I met John at the VTW I wandered around the streets of south Melbourne. The architecture is English Victorian meets American south. Fascinating. Everything is very laid back and leafy. I love the iron work verandahs and little picket fences.