Irene's painting is finished and studio things 
Well, it took me a while but Irene's painting of the Pohutakawa blossom is finally finished. I really enjoyed working on this painting and have decided that now I have started working with the acrylic paints again I really should continue with it.

In the studio I have also been working on another woven transparency, this time using a drawing of a cactus plant that I had done some time ago. I had the drawing printed on to acetate, cut the images up and did four weavings on a monofilament warp weaving the acetate strips as weft. I layered the four weavings into a perspex box, putting them very close together so that the whole image showed as one work. Here it is. The photographs show the work from each side so that it appears almost as two works.

My first painting for Thirty years 
At home I am working on a painting commissioned by my brother Peter for his daughter Irene. Irene is now living at Maraetai Beach with her husband Shaun and children Charlie and Emily. Maraetai Beach has many pohutakawa trees growing along the beach front so this paiting is of the pohutakawa blossoms.

Here I am with the painting in progress. I haven't actually used acrylic paints for a long long time. My last painting has the date 1980 on it and for the first week of working on this one I was quite tentative and not very confident. But the more I do the more comfortable I am feeling with this medium again and I think it is going quite well. My grandaughter Jenna and her partner Brent visited for a night last weekend and Jen took this photo. Here is a closer view of the work.

Progress of Lace 2 
Since my return from up north I have been working on 'Lace 2' again and am progressing well. I would love to have this tapestry completed this year if possible.

I have been working in this right hand corner - a lot of colour blending and doesn't the little bit of red look good.

Here is a close up view of this section. It took me the best part of four days work to do this small section on the right - probably about 16 hours work over the four days.

A Neat Surprise 
Before I came home from Auckland two weeks ago today, I attended the Professional Weavers Seminar which we have every year. The Professional Weavers Network of New Zealand Inc, has been going since its inception in 1991 at the International Weaving School in Picton where myself and Birgite Armstrong started the group. We have a seminar every year holding it one year in the South Island and the next year in the North Island. This year we stayed at the St Francis Monastery and Retreat Centre in Auckland, a lovely calm place to hold a weekend seminar. Our first visit on Friday the 5th March was to meet at the Auckland Museum where we were to see the Research Centre and Library and also the Textile Collection. What a surprise I got when the group I was with went to see the textiles. There, lying on the top of all the other works was one of my very early tapestries. I had not realised that this work was in the Museum collection, so it was a big buzz to see it again. It was woven in 1980, probably at the end of the year, as my very first works were textural, using rya knots and soumak, and this work was one of the first true tapestries that I wove. Inspired by the work of Alec Pearson it is an abstract landscape. Here are some of the PWN members looking at the tapestry.

And here am I, looking very pleased to see this work again after almost 30 years. Luckily we were allowed to take photographs and Wilson took this one on my camera.

Back in Christchurch 
Well, here I am, home again after three and a half weeks away in the North Island, visiting my kids, the four of them that live up there, visiting friends, Ross and Anna and also visiting galleries with a view to being able to show my work in Auckland. I am pleased to say that at this stage three galleries are interested in having my work so I now have to make contact with them again and put things into motion.

I took my sketchbooks with me and managed to do a drawing almost every day though I did miss a few days. There was a lot of travelling between Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, and Reparoa where Kellie lives. My kids were so good about taking me places and taking some time out of their busy busy lives to spend the time with me.

I took a new sketch book with me and this drawing is over two pages in the book. It features the chook house in Krista's garden. They have three chooks named Henrietta, Harriet and Ella and they are very tame and friendly, laying an egg each most days.

Last weekend I attended the Professional Weavers Seminar at the St Francis Monastery and Retreat in Auckland. We had a wonderful inspiring weekend. Both mornings I got up before breakfast and went and sat outside sketching the grounds and the view over Auckland.

Two more sketches and a small tapestry 
Here are two more pen and ink sketches, drawn the last two evenings. I made plum chutney the other night and this first sketch shows the jars of chutney sitting on my table.

I was chatting to my eldest daughter Nicola while skeching these jars so they are almost a doodle.

And here are the last of the plums in the fruit bowl alongside some bananas.

In the studio I have been working on a small tapestry 'Forest Floor' The design for this wee work came from my trip to the West Coast in November. We walked through the native bush past Karamea on the way to see the Oparara Arch and I took heaps of photographs of the forest floor and the big trees etc etc. The design is a composite of a number of these photographs, scanned and altered to fit in with my concept.

The red represents the danger that we are in because of our lack of care for our environment and the black squares represent the void, the emptiness, the possible loss of humankind from the planet.

A Sketch a Day 
This year I made a New Years resolution to try and do one sketch every day so I went out and bought myself a small sketchbook and so far I have only missed two days, so feel that I am doing quite well. I decided to draw whatever was on my kitchen table each day. Some days there is not much on it so I have to bring something to the table to draw, but mostly there is something interesting there for me to draw.

The two mandarins were looking lonely in the large fruit bowl but were nice to draw. I am practising my skills with watercolour which I haven't used for a long time, and am finding that the more I do the better they get, so hope that continues. I still don't feel hugely confident with watercolour yet.

There are nearly always flowers on my table, either what my friends bring me when they visit or something out of my very small garden. In this sketch I was trying not to use an outlining in ink as this is what I usually do. I was quite pleased with this image of the lilies that Rose brought me when she stayed during Peg's exhibtion.

I did this quick drawing of bananas at my daughter Krista's place in Hamilton. I had to dash up there as my third daughter Kellie, was in hospital having heart surgery which was really successful, thank goodness. The drawing was done at ten o'clock at night when I was more than ready for bed.

When I arrived home from Hamilton this is how I found the lilies - most of the leaves had fallen on to the table, but they were good to draw.

'Colour and Light' An exhibition by weaver Peg Moorhouse 
Last night was a very exciting night for my 92 year old friend and weaver Peg Moorhouse. Her exhibition 'Colour and Light' was opened in the Mezzanine Gallery at CoCA (Centre of Contemporary Art). Peg has been weaving for many years and at the age of 75 purchased an Oxebeck damask loom from Sweden. Since then she has woven many colourful abstract and textural textiles in both damask weave and in her own technique which she has developed on this loom.

Here is Peg at her opening. She is a lovely vibrant lady who gets every enjoyment out of her life and work. She weaves most every day and produces a lot of wonderful, colourful hangings in her own technique using her damask loom.

Peg puts a lot of novelty yarns into her hangings, using colour and texture as a focal point for her work.

Four of The Professional Weavers Network of NZ Inc. Here we are, Wilson, me, Peg and Rose Pelvin. Rose stayed with me over the last couple of days and it was great having her here. She brought Peg down to Christchurch from Blenheim and has always been a wonderful support person for Peg.

Tapestry completed and other stuff 
The small tapestry 'Sentinel' is now complete and ready to put in its frame. It will sit in a box frame which is how I usually mount the small tapestries.

Last week I travelled up to Blenheim with Penny Orme, a local arts writer, critic and curator. We visited Peg Moorhouse to choose her work for her exhibition at CoCA next month. Peg is 92 years old and is still weaving every day. Her exhibition will be held in the upstairs gallery at CoCA. I will post images of her work when the exhibition is hanging.

On our way home from Peg's place last Thursday Penny and I stopped off at the Marlborough District Council offices as I wanted to see the tapestry that I was commissioned to weave back in 1994 for the Women's Suffrage Committee. It had been hanging in the entrance to the Council office for over ten years and was spelled for about two years and put away in a cupboard for that period. It is now back in place but hanging away from the light coming in from the front door and is placed in a special alcove behind glass to protect it. Here is a photograph of the work in its new spot.

It is good to see that the tapestry is really appreciated and cared for by the people of Marlborough.

My latest small Tapestry 
I have now started working on a series of small tapestries featuring birds. I am about halfway through the first one. This tapestry is of seagulls swimming in the pond in the North Quad of the Arts Centre. I was out on the balcony one day when I noticed the seagulls swimming in the pond and then flying up on to the ledge near where I was standing. Heaps of them!! So out came my camera and I took many photographs which I then cropped and played with on the computer to come up with the final images. I decided to weave this one.

The sett on this tapestry is 14epi and the size is approximately 32 x 24cm. I can't quite remember the actual size - will have to measure it when I get back in to the studio. The work is progressing well. I have done just over a week's work in this tapestry and I am now about half way through it.

The last photograph shows where I was up to yesterday at the end of the day.

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