Rejig the following quilt layouts

Hog tie, his head hit the wall, eat your brains. Think about designs with a background and a foreground and negative space. If I want to have a background I can still piece it but flatten it in monochrome. I’m going to have to forget the focus on solarfast and photography I think. But I might try making a green fabric with solarfast exclamation marks in a circle ⭕️.

I could also use reverse appliqué or normal appliqué or piecing to create the cow


This is Dan’s insult of choice when he is angry with me. I have never heard him swear. This is as bad as it gets and comes out when he is unwell.

Here I have chosen green because in primary school Dan got told off for drawing a cow in green when he thought he was drawing brown. I have tried to choose a vaguely unsettling colour and pattern for the background in keeping with using the word cow as an insult. Cow would usually reference peacefulness and I want to disrupt this. I wonder if a darker purple would be better. Once again I have used traditional patchwork for the background but I think a dynamic on point pattern references action and is a bit more unsettling. COW is written in capitals as it is said in anger and I wonder if I should add an exclamation mark ❗️ to better indicate the spirit in which it is meant. An exclamation mark could look like a bit of a fence post too I guess, in keeping with the text representing the animal. Not sure how accessible this would be in regard to illustrating another aspect of the motherhood experience. I think I might need to pull back and allow it to mean what it means to people but I would like to at least make work that looks like it means something.

Discussed with Nik today and he is happy to see this one go ahead. He is interested in further separating figure ground by using a monochrome for the background. Perhaps hand dyed fabric in darker purple and rearrange to grade the colour subtly. Maybe darker at the top to enhance foreboding. Excited to try this. Possibly even quilt with a paragraph around cow and it’s origins but largely not readable.

Alison Dower and Nikala Bourke Exhibition

Went to this opening at Moonah Arts Centre on Thursday July 1. Ian Munday also had work there but I am more interested in the work of these two.

Alison Dower

Alison is doing Honours with me and does work that is grounded in family experiences but now has branched out to include the way external world events get integrated into her own domestic everyday.

I am especially interested in this first work which is a very small photo printed on thin paper that has subsequently been waxed. The photo itself evokes nostalgia in me. It shows a dog obviously looking up to a human with a background of what would consider old fashioned carpet. The photo itself is faded and translucent making it seem clearly ephemeral, like the time depicted in the photo. The sense of the past is further referenced by mounting all the little photos on a background of old fashioned style wallpaper. This sort of angle for a dog photo is familiar to most of us, and I felt that surge of recognition that I am looking to elicit, when seeing this work.

Nikala Bourke

Nikala makes photograms under the water at night. For this exhibition she has taken these further with scanning and digitalising the original black and white to add colour and contrast. The formal qualities of these are what attracts me with the unique markings that are possible through photograms. Once again I think about using original photograms on fabric. If I push the exposure on photograms made from denser objects, I can get a strong background colour in the solarfast.

Digital reproductions of photograms by Nikala Bourke.

I am considering using solarfast photograms to make abstract fabric that I then use in quilts. Not photographs although I could use photographs too that I cut up and rearranged.

Here is a first attempt. I have used both violet and blue solarfast to try and achieve a purple blue. This was exposed for five hours and consequently there is some loss of the photogram image because of potential overexposure in the centre. The fabric hasn’t taken it as well as I’d hoped and not sure if that is because it was too wet and in effect obstructs the uv itself. I’ll try again straight on to dry fabric.

Ishihara chart revisited

Wondering if I should make the blocks for the Ishihara chart quilt in postage stamp pieced blocks rather than circles. This would be for ease and laziness rather than looks I suspect, but the other is a huge job to get neat and I like neat. But just looking at the circle one I can see it is good. The other option would be to put the circles against a pieced background. It would stand out and be readable even by Dan then though. I’m hoping that if Dan ever saw it he wouldn’t recognise the words because he was likely a lot sicker than we knew then but he might, and this poses the ethical dilemma too of quoting Dan when I know full well he wouldn’t want to be quoted. But then this is really about me and me dealing with these things, so I guess they are valid. Should I reference Dan’s quote :):):)?

His head hit the wall

A quilt about a really guilt laden moment in my life related to Dan’s upbringing, when he was about four. Somewhere I had read about holding your child tightly to try and settle them when they were having a meltdown. This didn’t work and I lost it and picked up Dan roughly by the legs to take him up to the bedroom. As I went up the stairs his head hit the wall at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn’t life threatening but no doubt unpleasant and felt like abuse to me. It was one of those things that I couldn’t tell to anyone and yet persisted to eat away at me over the years. Now I think I will make a quilt that references that tangentially. I don’t want to display all the details but just enough to suggest something a bit unsavoury but in pleasant colours.

Pale blonde and white hot anger colours. Struggling with text for this as you can see.

pale blonde

and white hot


This is still in its infancy but I think I should be able to make something that references head with circles, and movement, possibly circular quilting, and colours pale yellow and pale orange. Not necessarily repetitive in this case but maybe more negative space and dynamic. Not happy with the above but will work on a design.

Semester one assessment

This is my feedback for semester one, written by Toby Juliff.

Pretty happy with this feedback. I know that my work is not perfect so I’m pleased that Toby can find away forward in this. He is always very encouraging and that makes me a bit cautious, but he has pointed out problems which I agree with, so we are pretty much on the same page.

Colour and negative space need work. I think I have been considering colour quite a lot but maybe more around colour blindness and less around the emotional qualities of colour and colour combinations. I need to think about this a bit more. I haven’t given much thought to negative space. I seem to have moved to the traditional all over pattern, but I wonder if I could combine traditional piecing with negative space to move the work slightly further away from craft. Is really what is explored in modern quilting and may work well for some works. Possibly I’ll think about it for hog tie.

I agree relief is wrong as a keyword. As with healing, it’s too strong a word and I agree with Toby that it does suggest a more complete experience than the one I am offering. Another word I considered was ease, as I’m really only wanting to suggest something transient and small. I definitely want to explore the feeling of recognition and bond that I feel when I see someone coping with a similar situation. That feeling that there is a fellowship with other mothers who haven’t had goddess experiences of motherhood.

Putting some structure to my plan:

Research – Mary Kelly, Rosemarie Trockel, Susan Hiller, Jo Spence

Write up the saqa quilt artist Lyric Kinard and explore more saqa artists.

Look at developing a quilt that includes negative space. Maybe hog tie could be that one. I could develop it as one big block. Perhaps deconstructed on a background with some restful areas. It would reference an Amish quilt, square in a square, but maybe offset the positive and negative space in the block and then place it all on a background. So first step here is to plan that in watercolour.

Thirdly I need to take some of the planned quilts through to completion before late July when I have my critique again. I feel enthusiastic to get going again.

Discussion with Nik around feedback. Important help from Toby too. Tell my story. Please myself. Tell how I’m not alone rather than focussing too much on the viewer. Just take the viewer on the journey and the rest may or may not follow. So less of a focus on what can be helped in the viewer and more on the telling of my story that works for me.

Hog Tie

Developed this block to reference a time when Dan was in trouble with the police due to delusions. I later found out that he had described being hog tied to his psychiatrist. I can only imagine what that would have meant to him. The colours here reference the police, and flesh. The use of commercial fabric is just to keep the continuity with traditional quilts going. The idea to design my own block keeps the link with traditional quilts but allows me to generate personal meaning in a block.

This is what it would look like all together. I was reasonably happy with this but attempts to generate flesh coloured fabric were less successful than I would have liked. I have got a smooth blue fabric but I wanted a softer rustic calico for the flesh and it has turned out too orange. That’s not to say I couldn’t do it in a further attempt. I need pastel yellow and pastel pink to make a flesh tone and The colours I got were a bit bright. If I try again I need to be really restrained with the amount of dye and perhaps build it up over multiple attempts. I’m here thinking of colours as realistic I guess. I need to consider symbolic colours too.

Toby mentioned the use of negative space and made me wonder about something more like this which uses traditional quilt piecing but in the style of the modern quilt with the use of negative space. I have added red as a background to reference pain but I wonder if I should consider juxtaposing flesh with a cold concrete grey. I was thinking of tattooing the flesh with the words but something about the floral style which I associate with tattoo also gives me a medieval feel which is not relevant. Maybe it the letters are not floral but a more infantile print that would suggest vulnerability better and be less medieval. I’ve also changed the police checkboard to have the blue presented against the flesh colour. This is really meant to be about Dan’s vulnerability in police custody and bringing the vulnerability of flesh up against police blue. The “tattoo” is attempting to suggest the enduring nature of that experience. I don’t know if it has left Dan but I know it will never leave me.



This is a more schematic version of the photographic quilt almost walking together. The idea is that the orange strip represents Dan and the blue strip Brian. Slowly they come together but not completely. I will hand dye the strips of orange and blue to get the colours. What does orange and blue mean? For me again they are complementaries which was important to suggest contrast. I have chosen blue for Brian as he was largely cool and withdrawn through the issues with Dan, and orange for Dan who was anxious, angry and upset. In between the strips will be thin strips of patterned fabric in darker colours, greens, purples and browns. Green comes from the trees in the original photo with purples and browns just to contrast both tonally and with colour contrast with the blue and orange. The strips will be foundation pieced on to flannel in maybe 6 inch blocks. With the text I was going to use hand cut stencil and solarfast. I want the background to be darker than it appears here. More dark green, brown and purple. I should be able to use commercial fabrics here that I already have. I’m hoping the flannel will give a lot of stability to the quilt top and then I can possibly quilt down in pretty easily.

So things to do in regard to this quilt. Dye a nice brown orange and a deep blue. Sort out dark fabrics with the in between strips. Wash some flannel for foundation piece backing. Wash some calico for full backing. Mock up another tester pot holder. Cut stencils and print the text using solarfast. Try and expose to get a deep colour.

And do some research on other saqa quilters. If possible try and find quilters using traditional type quilting and just tweaking it for meaning.

I watched a quilt critique session run by Lyric Kinard. It was really well structured and went over formal elements and ways in which they may work to influence reading of the work. It got me thinking about the line in this work and how if I put a full length strip out of pattern down the right side it would create a block to the eye travelling from the top left to the bottom right. Instead it might be better to break up that line, as in the above drawing. Perhaps move the silhouettes into the far right spot. Colour I’ve already mentioned. Shape is very much vertical strips relating to vertical separation. Repetition but with variation. Plenty of symmetry but with a couple of different things to add interest. Texture is a tricky one – not sure how that relates to the meaning. The texture will turn out to be vertical ridges but I’m not sure what that means. I guess it will be a further representation of physical separation. I’m not really only referring to physical separation though. I’m wondering if my stuff is too simple.

Reading further into the book I’m now concerned by balance in the above composition. She talks about vertical solid shapes looking still. I find the text appears to be hanging from the top a bit precariously. Possibly it would be better to have the text intersecting the bottom three rows and stably situated amongst the blocks that better reflect the text. And then the figures could also be on the bottom row somewhere near the far right. Possibly that will allow the strips to flow in their zig zag unhindered and more clearly appear to be coming together at the bottom around the stable text and figures. Would give it a sense of groundedness at the bottom. I guess the final block placement can wait until it can be laid out with the other blocks.

In terms of line, specifically quilting line, I am thinking of more verticals pretty much over the whole thing but perhaps organic slightly wavy and also perhaps drawing out a rough figure silhouette in the orange and blue blocks.

Latest work

These are the samples I put in for assessment with the rest of the completed stuff. My room is like one big journal and I hope they don’t mind that because I don’t have a real journal.

Wondering about cutting up fabric photos to use in a quilt, wouldn’t be able to see more than snippets of photo but could integrate better with the commercial fabric than a whole photo does. I’ve used some of my own printed fabric in here and it works. So might go to that too but maybe with solarfast.

Reflecting on 5 in 5

Think I was meant to have done this previously, but I didn’t realise, so now I need to listen my talk and the comments again on mylo.

5 in 5

Sounded more similar that I realised. Much more focussed now.

Engendering maternal failure and research. Patriarchy. Toby asked this and I knocked it. Research – eric revello

quilt collaborative – collecting or using affective archival material, asked about Tal Fitzpatrick – other people’s stories.

Nicole oLoughlin – Never followed up on this.

When I listened to this discussion again recently, I realised that my new proposal has changed quite a lot in regard to techniques, and content is much more focused, but the underlying idea of how my work might function has remained the fairly constant.

I was very nervous doing this presentation, as I am with all public speaking, but the communication channel of zoom does relax me somewhat. I have to read from a script or I get altogether too anxious, but I can see that I am trying to relax away from the script at times, and at the time I was reasonably pleased with how it went.

In terms of feedback, Toby’s initial query about the patriarchal approach to parenting failure, has probably had the most effect. At that stage I was planning to include a wide range of emotive subject matter from my life as content in my work. I have since narrowed my subject matter to one area only, the feeling of motherhood failure that I experience in the context of my mentally unwell adult son. However I have not addressed this from a feminist perspective. As I mentioned in answer to Toby’s question, I have taken the blame for parenting failures onboard, without questioning the paternal role. The subject of my work has narrowed to personal feeling around this perceived motherhood failure and the approach to addressing these feelings now, rather than looking closely at the origin of this feeling in gender roles and society. This may, however, need to be addressed in my final writing.

Other discussion was around the collaborative nature of quilting and how this may be incorporated. Now, as then, I do not consider the making aspect of my work a collaboration, but I do hope that there will be a collaboration of sorts with the viewer. A kind of secret club. I do plan to repurpose scraps of my own material from the making of quilts gone by, and in this way may be considered to be collaborating with my own personal memory or past. Tal Fitzpatrick’s covid quilt was mentioned as an example of bringing others stories together. I have looked at this, but my intent is to confine myself to my particular story and hope to call up recognition in the viewer, rather than presenting the stories of others. It was suggested that I follow up with Nicole O’Loughlin at UTAS. I looked at her website, but my shyness has meant that I have not yet approached her directly. I like to think I will do that but have been putting it off.

In conclusion, I think that the presentation was a good way of clarifying my thinking at the time, and reflecting on it now I see that it has helped me focus my ideas around subject, as well as broaden my scope for research.