This is a close up of part of a quilt poster I recently made concerning an issue of growing importance; that of the enormous number of waste plastic bottles which are clogging up landfill sites and floating around in the worlds rivers, lakes and oceans.
The quilt was made in response to a SAQA call for entry to create a textile poster. I have been thinking for a while about the subject of my entry and it was and whilst I was out walking on the beach that I made my decision. After a big storm out at sea a lot of debris had been washed up and I was astonished at the huge amount of plastic waste that was now beneath my feet on the normally pristine beach. Plastic bottles of all kinds littered the sand - the vast majority of which were - rather ironically - water bottles. I didn't have my camera with me, but this photo by Ben Salter shows what it looked like, and also shows this is a common problem all over the world.
One of the things I really enjoy is when I can get a glimpse into how others 'make the work they make', so I thought I would share some photos of the process I went through in making this quilt.
The background started off as a sun print - I was trying out using soy milk again and ended up with this rather pale and ordinary looking piece of cloth.
In my sketchbook I had been playing around with 'H2O' and liked the way it all lined up - so I decided to make some stencils to add on top of the sun printed background. At this stage I wasn't sure it was working.........
For the landfill section I made bottle shaped stamps from lino - I tried to choose distinctive bottle shapes.....
Then on to the tap - I drew several in my sketchbook and this is a hybrid of them all. I used a piece of grey hand dyed fabric that I made years ago for one of the ostrich quilts - I knew it would come in handy one day. That fabric is well travelled as it came all the way to New Zealand from South Africa!
For the tap water I used a variety of different threads and wool remnants, and for the bottle another old piece of hand dyed fabric. I can't remember which quilt I dyed it for, but I thought the colour was perfect to go onto the blue background.
And finally the dark blue letters - more fabric from the ostrich quilts - this was originally used for part of the sky.
And here it is all together. It was a nice quilt to make - not too complicated at all - and I hope it sends the message clear and loud.
A few days ago I had the great news that the quilt was selected to be part of the SAQA touring exhibition named 'Textile Posters'. It is You can read more about it here. Unfortunately I wont be able to see the exhibition in person, but I had a lovely email from Brenda Wroe who is going and she has kindly offered to take lots of photos for me!
I have also had an email from Martha Sielman at SAQA who tells me that at the SAQA conference in Lincoln at the end of April she will be presenting a mock-jurying program using quilts from this call for entry. I think it is a great idea, and am sorry I wont be there to see it, as not only will it be interesting to hear how the whole process works, but also any information that helps people understand the criteria used to select quilts for exhibition will give people confidence to enter. If you are attending - I hope you get to see this presentation - and let me know how it went!
Thanks for reading.
Votes for Women - A world first for New Zealand
Unless you are from, or have a connection with New Zealand or the Womens' Suffrage Movement, it is quite possible that you have not heard of this remarkable woman and her achievements. I certainly had not until I started my research. You can read all about her and her remarkable story, winning the right for women to vote in New Zealand - the first place on earth, by clicking here.
The quilt measures 24" x 30" and brings together images of several significant elements of the story that led to this historic victory. The largest and most significant part of this quilt is the picture of Kate herself which I decided to draw this directly onto a piece of fabric using Derwent Inktense pencils. Naturally I needed to use photographs of Kate Sheppard to help me draw her likeness and this is where the important issue of copyright comes into play. One of the most important parts of creating artwork such as this lies in ensuring you have the correct permissions in place when referring to or using other people's original work. Knowing whether or not you need permission is not always straightforward - so I follow a simple rule - ALWAYS check thoroughly. Just because an image is all over the internet does not necessarily mean it is free to use - others are quite possibly infringing copyright, so don't be the one that gets caught because you assumed it was 'ok'. Find out who 'owns' the material and then check. Besides - it is just polite!
Here are a few images of Kate Sheppard that are easily found by a quick Google search:
Although I was only using the photographs as inspiration to guide me with my own drawing of Kate Sheppard I was unsure as to whether I needed permission. I thought wouldn't as I was not making a direct copy, but to be on the safe side, I checked. Just as well, as it turns out! The University of Canterbury informed me that I did need their permission. Fortunately they were happy to give it once they understood what I was using the image for. A few emails and forms later I have a 'release' which I can give to the exhibition organisers and everyone is happy.
The quilt was a lot of fun to make and allowed me to play about with a wide selection of fabrics, dyes and stains. I used recycled velvet, linen broderie anglaise and kimono silk as well as quilters cotton fabrics which I modified with Rooibos tea, bleach and fibre reactive dyes. I added trapunto to several sections to add dimension and added heavy machine embroidery to give depth and texture.
Getting back to the complexities of copyright. I know it is not straightforward, and to make it more confusing still it also depends on national laws and whilst there is no International law on copyright there are many treaties and conventions which offer protection to foreign works; there are also all sorts of rules and regulations about how long copyright lasts, whether the rights are passed on once the original creator dies (and for how long), whether an image is in the public domain, or is licensed creative commons, not to mention the whole minefield of 'fair use'. In this instance I have a very old photograph which is held by a New Zealand University and I am making a piece of art derived in part from that photograph to be hung at a commercial exhibition in the USA. Complicated? Yes! But despite all that, I was able to approach the owners and get their permission to use the image.
A useful and well explained article on US copyright can be read here
and another on internet image use can be found by clicking here
Thanks for reading.