Spotlight on Stitching and Beyond – Part Two

Spotlight on Stitching and Beyond – Part Two

Our spotlight on the Tasmanian based textile art group ‘Stitching and Beyond’ continues with founder Wendy Koolhof interviewing some of its key members about their work. In Part One we looked at the group’s history and where it’s headed, in Part Two we explore the work of members Lauree Brown, a mixed media artist, Lijlija Armstrong, who specialises in 3D textiles, and felt maker June Hope.

Lauree Brown

Textile art by Lauree Brown

Lauree Brown – Waterspout

Where did your journey begin?

Textile Art is my personal contribution to an ongoing conversation about Life.

I’m interested in Family History and find that I am descended from a line of female tailoresses in England and Germany and a male Ribbon Manufacturer in Coventry.

I grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, and learnt to sew on my German Grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. My mother taught me hand embroidery at a young age and I sewed my own clothes, knitted jumpers and also constructed many of my children’s clothes, not always to their delight!

After moving to Tasmania in 1986, Tiny Kennedy and her daughter Kathy introduced me to traditional patchwork and quilting. I met regularly with State and local quilting groups. When I moved south I began to explore art quilting and doing ‘my own thing’. I joined the textile art group, Stitching and Beyond in its early days and there I found new directions in my work.

Textile art by Lauree Brown

Lauree Brown – Rockpools (detail)

What is your medium and what techniques do you prefer?

I prefer to work by hand with fiber – fabric, paper, thread and stitch. I still stitch traditional quilts by hand and machine but art quilts are my most prolific area of interest. Rusting both on fabric and paper then mark-making with embroidered stitch and beading interests me greatly. I love to make cards, books and boxes, postcard swaps, and framed stitched pictures. I have dyed thread and fabric with natural and chemical techniques, but environmental and health concerns have limited the latter.

Textile art by Lauree Brown

Lauree Brown – Earth (Photo Credit: Chris Hussey)

What environment do you work in?

I stitch ‘on the go’ and hand piece or embroider whenever I attend meetings, visit family or watch TV. I am blessed with a heated studio space under the house.

Who and what has influenced you on this journey?

Stitching and Beyond has provided some wonderful tutors. Most notable for me have been Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, Cas Holmes, Gail Stiffe and Glenys Mann.

I attended 2 workshops with Glenys and I found that rusting watercolour paper opened a whole new world for me. I continue to stitch, embellish and sometimes frame these to depict local natural textures imbuing me with a strong ‘sense of place’.

Rita Summers’ ‘Gone Rustic’ Studio and Gallery at St Marys is home to our shared exhibitions. I consider Rita Summers to be my ‘artistic Sister’ and we communicate regularly to play off ideas. In 2011, I teamed up with three friends to form the ‘Circle of Four’ (Co4) where we challenge each other to complete a small Art Quilt on an agreed theme every 2 months. We subsequently exhibited these by invitation at the Tasmanian Quilting Guild’s annual “Island Quilts” exhibition in 2013.

I have always been inspired by the natural world and its textures, colour and form. I spend hours exploring and photographing the local seashore and rockpools. The ongoing theme ‘Seashore’ is the fruit of that journey.

Textile art by Lauree Brown

Lauree Brown – Weep for the Rain (Photo Credit: Chris Hussey)

My favourite piece of work?

My first art quilt ‘Weep for the Rain’ is still my favourite. It is taken from a personal photo of flooded Sisters Creek, NW Tasmania, when we first spied a juvenile Giant Freshwater Crayfish Astacopsis gouldii foraging in the roots of Treefern Dicksonia Antarctica.

What else would you like to tell about your work?

I love living in Tasmania and I feel fiercely protective of its areas of pristine beauty. I attempt to promote these in my finished pieces – interpreting my life, local environment and inner meditative world in fiber and stitch.

Textile art by Lauree Brown

Lauree Brown – Sorry

Where can readers see your work?

My work can be seen at regular exhibitions held around the state.

Lijlija Armstrong

Textile art by Lijlija Armstrong

Lijlija Armstrong – Despersate Years (detail)

Where did your journey begin?

My journey began as a young girl, watching my mother sewing clothes and design her own dress patterns using sheets of newspapers taped together. It seemed a natural process to follow in her footsteps. In the mid 80s I was fortunate to do a Mirka Mora workshop using fabric as a creative medium and I became hooked on the possibilities of using textiles as a form of expression.

Textile art by Lijlija Armstrong

Lijlija Armstrong – Moscow (detail)

What is your medium and what techniques do you prefer?

I prefer to work in 3D. I love intricate free machine embroidery using rich metallic threads combined with fluoro threads. Paint, coloured pencils, inks and dyes I can’t do without and I scour cheap junk jewellery shops for bling that can be incorporated into my work. The process of layering fabrics and thread is exciting and tends to lead to the unexpected.

Textile art by Lijlija Armstrong

Lijlija Armstrong – Desperate Years

What environment do you work in?

My work space consists of a spare room in my house which overlooks a lush garden. Over the years the room has been filled with “stuff” where it is almost standing room only. It is amazing how much one can squeeze into a small space and still find room for more treasures. There is a lot to be said about creative stacking.

Who & what has influenced you on this journey?

Since I retired there have been more opportunities to participate in workshops run by amazing international textile artists. I have also been exposed to many talented local people who have been very generous with their time and knowledge. Travel also has played an enormous part in developing my ideas.

Textile art by Lijlija Armstrong

Lijlija Armstrong – Life as a Student

Do you have a favourite piece of work? What is it and why?

My favourite work is a triptych which was born out of the idea to make a textile interpretation of a story my mother wrote 29 years ago. My mother, Marija, decided to write her story so that her grandchildren and great grandchildren would know something of their family background. It is a very moving account of life growing up in Ukraine and her first two years as a medical student before war was declared and Hitler invaded Ukraine. Marija’s whole world was turned upside down and she, along with most of Ukraine’s youth, was transported to Germany as slave labour.

The following four years were desperate ones, but all was not gloomy. Here she met my father who was a Serbian prisoner of war. Eventually war ended and my father married Marija. They decided to start a new life and leave war torn Europe.

Textile art by Lijlija Armstrong

Lijlija Armstrong – Leaving Europe (detail)

These textile pieces are based on the shape of the matroshka doll to give the story context. The first of the pieces represents the rich culture of Ukraine showing Marija as a young medical student with the image of her parents intertwined with her own. The forest also plays an important part in their lives.

The second piece with dark colours represents the desperate years in Germany. Years of mending and making do.

The third piece represents hope – leaving Europe as refugees to start a new life. They have nothing. They left with empty suitcases and survival was by way of packages from the Red Cross.

Textile art by Lijlija Armstrong

Lijlija Armstrong – Three Cities

Where can readers see your work?

Lijlija on www.stitchingandbeyond.com

What else would you like to tell us about your work?

My work is a reflection of my life and the experiences I have encountered.

June Hope

Textile art by June Hope

June Hope – Felted Tabbard (detail)

Where did your journey begin

I’ve loved fabric, texture and colour ever since my childhood where, at the knees of my mother, I learned to sew; a skill which saw me producing many garments over many years. In the years before my professional life took over everything, I had also explored many other art mediums including pottery, painting and other crafts. It is the culmination of much of this exploration plus the gift of ‘right time in life’ that allows me to pursue the artist within today.

Textile art by June Hope

June Hope – Artscarf

What is your medium and what techniques do you prefer

As a textile artist, I have found my speciality and my passion in the medium of wet felting. Using fleece from Australian merino and alpaca and often combining it with fine fabrics like silk, I create contemporary art to wear as well as visual and sculptural works. I love to explore the inherent qualities of felt in my artworks and work mostly in the nuno felt technique which combines fabric and felt in the most sensual, textural and interesting manner. Much of my art has more fabric than felt as I draw from my dressmaking background to create one-off wearables that are unique, elegant and somewhat artistic in character.

What led me to felt-making was love. I was a city girl with a busy career in Melbourne until I left everything and came to live in Tasmania late in 2007. As the location was a farm in a forest, very rural and remote, I needed something interesting to do in this strange new world. I had seen stunning nuno felt in Melbourne some time earlier and decided that could be something I could do in such isolation. So, I took a couple of basic classes before leaving city life. Some months after I relocated, in very challenging circumstances, I started playing around teaching myself felt-making… and desperately trying to remember what I’d learned those many months before. From the library, I borrowed every book on felt-making I could find and through a new friend, joined a Spinners and Weavers Association chapter. It was there I found support, encouragement for my non-traditional ideas about felt-making, friendship, skill development and a companionship which buoyed me through those difficult first couple of years in the forest.

Also, many years earlier, I had fallen in love with alpacas and as there was plenty of room on the farm, we decided to start a little herd. My romantic idea was to use their fleece in my felting. I was totally ignorant of the process required to convert dirty raw fleece into the streamlined carded rovings required for fine felt making! They say ‘ignorance is bliss’ and it was a rude awakening when I learned what was needed and then prepared my first and subsequently, only, fleece for felting!

Textile art by June Hope

June Hope – Colour texture

What environment do you work in

After a couple of years, the ‘we’ became ‘me’ and I relocated to a coastal town where I bought a lovely home with enough space to house a small studio which I subsequently outgrew after about a year. Here I explore my medium passionately with new ideas, improving skills and further opportunities opening up for me. Tasmania is a small place and it wasn’t long before my works were seen by a gallery and the curator of a rather prestigious annual exhibition and I was soon invited to exhibit in both. That was the start of a steep learning curve and a rapid acceleration of my burgeoning public profile as ‘that felt lady’!

Textile art by June Hope

June Hope – Artscarf

Where can readers see your work

In Tasmania, my work can be seen at Burnie Makers Workshop where I am a ‘maker’, at Hobart’s Gallery Salamanca and various other venues. Online you will find me at www.junehope.com.au and on Facebook at June Hope Textile Artist.

I am dedicated to developing a level of excellence in my work which therefore sees me travel nationally to expand my skills and expertise and to facilitate international tutors to teach here on our little island. As new challenges present, I discover ways to rise to them and constantly surprise myself. My passion for felting has grown exponentially as I continue to explore its possibilities as my chosen art medium.

Through my art, I am lucky enough to have made some wonderful friends, developed an artistic collegiate, been invited to participate in amazing exhibitions and have created a small circle of new felt-makers through teaching and sharing the magic of felt.

For more information please visit: stitchingandbeyond.com

Interviews by Wendy Koolhof, founding member of Stitching and Beyond.

Make sure to check back over the next few days for Part Three. You can read Part One here and if you’ve enjoyed Part Two why not let us know by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday 23rd, July 2019 / 22:28
Sam

About the author

Sam is the co-founder of TextileArtist.org and son of textile artist Sue Stone. Connect with Sam on Google+c/a>

View all articles by Sam

4 comments on “Spotlight on Stitching and Beyond – Part Two”

  1. Lauree Brown says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to share what gives ‘joy & purpose’ to our lives.

  2. Renate says:

    Thank you for sharing your journeys. It is enlightening to read how you began your artistic journey and from where your inspiration comes. I found it most fascinating to view Lijlija’s videos especially noting the length to which she researches her pieces.

  3. Bridget Nichols says:

    Thankyou Stitching & Beyond for all the fabulous creativity that is freely shared and becomes an inspiration to members.

  4. ilsa says:

    Weep for the Rain, (Brown) is breath-taking. Beautiful.

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