Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Best wishes for the New Year

Taking this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very happy, creative and peaceful New Year as 2014 comes to a close. I have been having a lovely time catching up with family and friends in Victoria over Christmas.  I also managed to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the NGV, which was amazing, so if you get the chance to see it do so, because it changes the whole way we think about the presentation of fashion and garments in the museum context. Below are a few details of the haute couture costumes.

Crocodile skin

Fully beaded

Crocodile scales on hosiery

Meticulous attention to detail.
However,  its back to work at the end of the week.  I will be teaching a workshop at the Sturt Summer School including a free public talk on Thursday 8th January from 5-5.30pm.
I will be posting some images from the week at Sturt next week so until then, best wishes for 2015.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Taste of Textiles

I can't believe how busy the last half of this year has been. Deadlines loom large on every horizon, and I feel like I am chasing my tail just to get everything finished. So, apart from markets and open studios, my exhibition in Sydney and the Bespoke exhibition at MoAD Old Parliament House, I have just finished a huge hand-stitched piece for 'Taste of Textiles' which opens at Timeless Textiles Gallery in Newcastle tomorrow night.

Taste of Textiles brings together work from 20 fibre artists from around the world displaying their passion for textile art, cooking and growing food. The contributing artists have represented a variety of vivid produce in their works, including the humble potato, mushy mulberries, beetroot, saffron and rose petals. Each has created a visual narrative based on and inspired by their love for that particular produce. Inspired by the artists’ passion, local cook Bev Whitehead has created and tested simple recipes to mirror the artworks. These include lemon myrtle spelt sables, chilli jelly, fig affogato, pomegranate with rosewater jelly, cardamom labneh and Persian Fairy Floss. 
 Taste of Textiles - the recipe book
Anne Kempton, owner of Timeless Textiles, has teamed with photographer Garrick Muntz to create a boxed set of recipes, together with reproductions of the artist's work and this can now be ordered online  here.

Those of you who are familiar with my work over the decades will not be at all surprised that my chosen ingredient was......lemons! How could I have chosen anything else?  I am dying to read 'my' recipes and I have ordered some extra copies for presents...such a great gift for Christmas!  Here's a sneak preview of a detail of my work.

'Lemon : Time'  - fruit fermented, naturally dyed, hand stitched

Monday, 17 November 2014

Open Studio this Sunday

In between making work for 'Bespoke: Design for the People' (see below) and getting ready for Modern Market at Nishi this Saturday, I have been busy printing and dyeing up a storm to produce new stock for my first-ever Open Day at my studio in Pialligo.  Only a select few have managed to talk their way through my studio's huge purple doors and witness the creative chaos that reigns within.
Working away in my studio at Pialligo
I have a HUGE studio within 'The Hayshed' at Pialligo, as do well-known glass artists Kirstie Rea and Lisa Cahill.  We will be opening all three studios this coming Sunday, 23rd November as part of DESIGNCanberra. We will be open from 10-3pm, but will give some formal floor talks between 12.15 and 1.15pm.  Don't worry if you can't make those times, we're happy to talk to you anyway! All works will be for sale and there will be work available that is never seen outside our studios in retail, gallery or market venues.
When:     Sunday 23rd November 2014
Time:      10-3pm
Where:    7 Beltana Road, Pialligo.
Parking:   Please park out the front on Beltana Road and follow the signs in to the studios
Contact:   Julie: 0414738251 

Friday, 7 November 2014

'Bespoke : Design for the People'

I have been busy this past week minding my exhibition in Barometer Gallery in Paddington and finishing off work for the 'Bespoke' exhibition that will open next Friday night at MoAD (details and information below). This exhibition runs for a year  until 2015....I have already had some comments from people asking if this is a misprint?? no, it is seriously on for a year, so no excuses not to see it if you are living in or visiting Canberra.....!
My work responds to a particular piece of furniture - a red leather chaise longue - and until the show opens that is all I am saying.  Read more about the exhibition and other artists below.
Craft ACT Craft + Design Centre together with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
Exhibition opening
When: Friday 14 November, 2014, 5:30pm.
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra.
RSVP to: by 5pm Wednesday 12 November
Bespoke: Design for the people
As part of DESIGN Canberra, Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre is thrilled to partner with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MoAD), to bring you an exciting exhibitionBespokeDesign for the people.
In this stunning exhibition, 6 Australian craft and design practitioners have created new works that reflect and respond to the iconic designs of the original furniture at Old Parliament House.
Each artist was given unprecedented access to the rooms and collections, and the freedom to create a personal response. Informed by their own artistic backgrounds, each artist considered notions of political perspective, change, accountability and power in their pieces. The result is a thought-provoking collaboration between design, creativity and Australia’s political history.
The selected Canberra artists are Jennifer Robertson, Niklavs Rubenis, Julie Ryder, Caren Florance in collaboration with Melinda Smith; and Sydney-based artist Cecelia Heffer.
The exhibition will run from 15 November, 2014 and will be on display for 12 months.
To view the full DESIGN Canberra program of events visit
Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre is supported by the ACT Government and the Australia Council, the Federal Government's arts funding and advisory body.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sunny Sydney

Sitting here at the Barometer Gallery enjoying the beautiful Sydney weather and talking about my exhibition to the locals on their way to and from Five Ways. If you are out and about drop in and say hi or call in for a cold drink or a cuppa.
Installation view of 'Molonglo: Domestic Blueprint'

Just down the road at Sabbia are two beautiful exhibitions by Jenni Kemarre Martinello and Jess Loughlin.  Jess's is beautifully quiet and contemplative whilst Jenny's is full of pattern, form and colour.  I love the new shapes of the dilly bags in glass.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Natural Wonders at Barometer Gallery

Sorry for the lapse in blogging over the last few weeks, but I have been all over the place (literally!).  So many posts to write and not enough time.  One post that will be coming up soon will be an overview of my recent workshop 'Experiments in Printing with Mordants and Natural Dyeing" that I taught for Fibre Forum at Geelong.....stay tuned.....I then had to deliver work for the 'Artisans in the Gardens' exhibition at the Sydney Botanic Gardens, as well as complete my mini-residency at Playing Field Studios which I have posted below.
So.......I'm now in Sydney at Barometer Gallery with my exhibition 'Natural Wonders', which explores the hidden beauty and history of Canberra at the time of settlement through to today.  It opens tonight at 6pm and runs till 9 November.  For more information click here.
Natural Wonders at Barometer Gallery, Paddington

This morning in the gallery I gave an impromptu artist talk to students who were on a tour with Isobel from ArtLib, so it was great to talk about Canberra's history and the reason I chose the two sites I did for collecting plants for my naturally-dyed textiles and paper. In fact it was quite a pertinent conversation, given that the ACT Government wants to expand its transport infrastructure by installing light rail, and there is a lot of opposition in the media about it.  Looking at the early contour map of Canberra that I have embroidered into the tablecloth (above) I recounted to the students that in Canberra's early planning stages Walter Burley Griffin had envisaged a city of around 22,000 people and had drawn up plans for this expansion that included green corridors, parks and the city.  However, the Councillors at that time pooh-poohed this number of inhabitants....and made him redraw the plans to suit a city of only 16,000 or so....! They could not think far enough ahead into the future to see that Canberra would prosper and grow.  What on earth would they think now with a city with over 360,000 inhabitants and growing? Can Canberrans think further than next year or the year after to envisage a city -a vibrant capital city - of over half a million????  Get rid of the Canberra cringe folks and plan for the future.
Now I'm off my soapbox, here's another installation shot of the work in situ:
'Mapping' and 'No Man's Land', naturally dyed textiles

I will be minding the exhibition for the next couple of weeks, so if you are coming to Sydney to visit Sculpture by the Sea, Paddington is not too far away.  Do pop in and visit.  Check the gallery website for opening times, but feel free to contact me outside of gallery hours...I am more than happy to open up for you if I am nearby.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Playing Field Residency Talk

Come and hear me talk about my mini-residency at Playing Field Studio this Sunday.  
I have been loving the vibe that is happening in this part of the city this week.  It is so quiet and peaceful in the studio and then you walk out the front door and people are milling around, gathering at the Food Co-op next door to shop, eat and listen to music at nights.  I have been eating lunch there everyday myself and feel totally energised! Plus they have some great cakes for afternoon tea.  The Childers St precinct is just around the corner, as are the wonderful coffee shops and restaurants.  The Drill Hall is diagonally across the road and yesterday I spent some time in there looking at two wonderful exhibitions including some amazing ceramics by Hellen Fuller.

Artist Event

Community Arts Residency 

You're Invited...

Interested to see what our residency artists have achieved during their time in the studio? Please come along to a FREE showing of their work.

Sunday 12th October
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Playing Field Studio
2 Kingsley Street, Canberra

Julie Ryder (Visual Artist) will discuss how the her work benefited from the residency.

Please come along and enjoy this free networking event. Tea & coffee will be provided.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Playing Field Residency

I started my Playing Field residency this week, and have been having fun walking around the Kingsley Street precinct taking photos and becoming inspired by the urban architecture.  I aim to produce a series of block prints on paper every day, paying attention to architectural details and interesting patterns found around this downtown studio. I will be giving an artist talk this coming Sunday - for more details click here.
Top: Block prints on paper with inspirations below

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Bus Depot Markets Turn 20!

Well, it has been a busy week for me, requiring the wearing of many different hats along the way.
I have been busy printing new stock at Megalo for the upcoming Old Bus Depot Markets on Sunday 14th September when they will be celebrating their 20th Birthday.  Congratulations! It will be a fun and vibrant day, with entertainment and a cutting of the cake at 2pm.
Busy printing new stock and dyeing merino socks for the upcoming OBDM

I have also been madly dyeing a whole new batch of super-fine merino socks as I have been inundated with requests from loyal customers who just love the funky patterns and colours but also the quality, fineness and softness of the wool. They are sure to be a sell-out on the day.
On Thursday night I put on my Craft ACT cap as a member of the Management Committee and opened three exhibitions - the APM annual exhibition on the theme of Awaken, The Arid Zone  by local ceramic artist Cathy Franzi, and Scantlings by SA ceramic artist Lesa Farant.  More information on these wonderful exhibitions can be read here.
AND I have been busy proto-typing new work for the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) at Old Parliament House for an upcoming exhibition I was selected for, responding to historic furniture in various rooms.....more updates on this later.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Playing Fields Workshop

I ran a short block-printing workshop at the Playing Field Studios this morning to a group of 12 very creative ladies (14 counting Ali and Gael!).  We had such a great time and I could tell they were focussed because there was utter silence for most of the morning, apart from "ooh" and "ahh" and "I'm lovin' it!" Anyway, here's a few photos of what they achieved in just over two hours.  Well done! I'm really looking forward to my residency there next month.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Natural Dyes and Mordant Printing at Sturt

Sturt have just released their  Summer School 2015 workshop information and I will be teaching Natural Dyes and Mordant Printing on Fabric.  Places are filling fast so if you are interested now is the time to enrol!.  I always have such a good time at the Sturt Summer School - everybody is super friendly, the tutors are the top of their field, the Sturt staff are fantastic and the weather is usually lovely. I seem to attract a great group of students and we all end up having a fun yet productive time. I hope to see some of my students return for another great week of printing and experimenting.

While I was in the UK I went to loads of museums and galleries and one of the most interesting I went to was the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  I am including a few images of some very old block printed  textiles which have been done with mordants and natural dyes.
Indian textile from Indonesia (1400). Block printed cotton with resist and mordant-dyed red.

Indian cotton textile traded to Egypt, block printed, painted mordant and resist.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Block Printing Workshop

As part of an upcoming residency at the Playing Field Studios in Canberra later this year, I will be giving a short community workshop on block printing on paper on Saturday, 6th September from 10-12.30pm.  The venue is great, and the price is super cheap ($2 !) but places are limited so book your place now.  The Playing Field Studio is located at 2 Kingsley Street, (Cnr Barry Drive), diagonally across the road from the Drill Hall and next to the Canberra Dance Theatre and the Food Co-op.

Selection of my block-printed works using hand-cut blocks 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Asialink Residency Talk

I will be giving a short talk about my 2013 Asialink residency at Rimbun Dahan tomorrow night.  Please see the details below.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

almost Wrapped-Up!

Today is the final day of our POD pop-up shop in the Lonsdale Street Traders. Its a chilly Sunday here in Canberra, but the atmosphere in the LST is buzzing! The hip crowd are here having brunch, lunch and browsing the eclectic shops, so if you're not doing much get out of the house and get your circulation going where it's all happening.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Wrap UP!!

I am showing my new range of hand printed scarves and warm winter socks, along with beautiful handwoven scarves by local weavers Belinda Jessup and Melanie Olde, at the POD pop-up shop in The Lonsdale Traders in Braddon until the end of this week only.  We open tomorrow night at 5pm, so drop in and join us for a drink if you are in the area.  Thereafter, we will be open every day 10-4pm with our last day on Sunday. Hope to catch up with you there!
To read more about the Wrap-Up artists click here

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Connected Cloth

This fascinating book which was published last year presents an invaluable guide for textile artists who work collaboratively, either in formal situations, such as art residencies with institutions, or informally such as small community groups. It provides useful information on setting up groups, finding venues, establishing ground rules and working methods, and staging group exhibitions. It also gives plenty of practical advice on how to hang and display textiles, themes and inspirations, collage techniques and working towards an exhibition.

My arts residency and collaboration with Dr Christine Cargill at the Australian National Botanic Gardens,  and my 2010 residency in Hill End is featured in the book (p96-97). Also included are many other well-known textile artists such as Els Van Barle, Alice Kettle, Glenys Mann and Machiko Agano.

Connected Cloth is written by well-known UK textile artists Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly.  Cas is no stranger to Australia as she often teaches in residential workshops for Fibre Arts Australia in Australia and NZ each year.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Mordant Printing

I have just written an article for the latest 'Embellish' magazine (Issue 18) on the early history of mordant printing in conjunction with natural dyes. It was fascinating to discover that the Egyptians used mordants from the 12th Dynasty (2055-1650 BC) and that alum was used in India around 2000 BC. The advantages of applying mordants and resists to a cloth before dyeing enables a polychrome palette to exist alongside areas of undyed cloth with only one or two dyebaths. I will be teaching this process at the Geelong Fibre Forum in September-October this year. I believe there are only one or two places left in my workshop, so if you are interested, get in quick!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


I have just sent off my entry for the annual 'Petite' miniature textiles exhibition at the Wangaratta Art Gallery. The exhibition opens on Saturday June 14 from 2-4pm, by Antonia Syme, the Director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop. There will also be an Art Lovers Talk in the Gallery on Wednesday July 16th from 10-11am.  If you are down that way in Victoria, put this on your agenda!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Winter has arrived!

After a week of glorious Autumn weather, Winter arrived this morning in Canberra and we woke to heavy grey skies, intermittent rain and a definite drop in the temperature.  I have spent most of today sitting in front of a crackling fire and stitching some textiles for exhibition later in the year. So cosy listening to some classical music and watching the flickering flames warm up our home.
I am also getting stock together for the Belconnen Art Centre Mid-Winter Market which will take place in the BAC foyer on Saturday 28th June from 12 noon to 5pm. I will be launching a new series of silk/cotton scarves as well as the ever-popular tea towels, merino socks and hankies.....hope to see you there!
Come and visit me at the BAC Mid-Winter Market

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Ni Hao from China!

I have just returned home after three weeks in Dalian, China, situated at the tip of the Liaodong peninsula in Liaoning province. Dalian is a major seaport and is easily accessible by boat from Yantai in Shandong across the Bohai Sea, as well as North Korea, just across the Yellow Sea. Dalian is a relatively young city of 100 years,  had been under British, Russian and Japanese occupations, and was formerly known as Port Arthur, Dalny and Ryojun in the past.

I was in Dalian to visit my sister and to install an artwork in her restaurant, The Riviera, which specialises in Italian, Spanish and French cuisine.
'Biota' installed at The Riviera
I ate many delicious meals at the restaurant during my stay, and was also there for The Riviera Annual Italian Wine Dinner, cooked by an Italian master chef and accompanied by Marchesi di Barolo wines from Piemonte.
I do have to say that The Riviera makes the best Tiramisu I have tasted in a long time (and gazpacho, cannelloni, portobello mushrooms stuffed with shrimp, etc etc.......). Consequently, walking around Dalian was high on my agenda every day, and I got to see most of the nearby sights. 

Unlike my usual trips abroad I was hard-pressed to find any local textiles though- I searched high and low, believe me, but perhaps  this is because Dalian is such a young city. I did manage to take this photo of what the local menswear trends were.....
Not sure what occasion would call for this attire .......
Dalian is going through a huge building boom at the moment, with massive developments popping up everywhere. Down near the new conference centre on the water is an amazing development in progress called 'Montage', complete with European inspired buildings and its own Arc de Triomph.  The mind boggles as to who will be living and working in this mini-city built on recently reclaimed sea.
Montage Development goes on for miles along the seafront.
And from the whimsical to the sublime, at the other end of the Montage fantasy you have the new Dalian International Conference Centre, by Austrian architecture practice Coop Himmelb(l)au which features a 1600 seat theatre, a primary conference room for 2,500 delegates, an exhibition gallery and 6 additional smaller conference rooms for 300-600 people each.
The Dalian International Conference Centre
Located directly across the road from the Conrad Hilton, this inspiring building was planned according to sustainable principles, such as using the nearby sea water for cooling.

The downside of China was that I could not access my blog or any other social media sites and also found it difficult to surf the internet or even access some website that we commonly take for granted.  Some residents get around this restriction by having a VPN and going through another country for connection, but that was not possible for me in such a short visit, so hence I could not post anything on my blog the whole time I was there.

Anyhow, I'm now back in the glorious Canberra autumn, checking out what plants have grown since I left and getting used to cooking meals again after the luxury of eating out every night!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Experiments in Printing with Mordants

Just a heads-up on the workshop I will be running at this year's TAFTA Geelong Forum from September 28 - October 4th. My class will definitely be going ahead, and is almost full, so if you are interested now is the time to register.

Combination of resist, dye and mordant printing on cotton.

Discover the magic of printing with mordants in conjunction with natural dyes. Mordant printing is a centuries old process whereby different colours can be obtained on your cloth from just one natural dyebath. This class will focus on several mordants and dyes as well as different printing and stamping processes. It is suitable for those wishing to extend beyond immersion dyeing to printing. It can also be understood as suitable for relative beginners to the very experienced as participants can determine how to incorporate the Mordant Printing methods in their own practice.

Naturally dyed silk wool and cotton with mordant printing

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


At the Sturt Summer School this year I taught a "Colour+Print" workshop that focused on the basics of mixing colour for printing onto textiles. 
One happy class!
Most of the participants were beginners although some had related experience in the areas of weaving, sewing, dyeing, graphic design and teaching art. Student learnt to mix their own colours from scratch, learning about colour theory and the technical aspects of the chemicals involved, including exploring the many different binders that could be used onto textiles to create different effects.  Once we got a hang of that, we had fun playing with carving blocks and using traditional blocks for block-printing as well as cutting stencils for screen-printing.
Kate's green hydrangea block-print

Elizabeth's vibrant block-printed cotton

Exploring both traditional and hand carved blocks
This was a fabulous collaboration with a professional outcome!
The cushions seen above are an example of how much work and effort the students put into a 5-day workshop.  The Japanese Maple block was carved by Jen, the design and construction was executed by Lee, and Marylou acted as colourist and stylist. Lee and Marylou also made matching aprons from their colour swatch experiments (seen in the background), tote bags, napkins, tea-towels and much, much more.  It was awesome to come into class each day and see what they had achieved.  In fact, the whole class was so enthusiastic that we received many many comments about the work produced during the public Saturday Open Studio.  Well done ladies! 

Oh....they also presented me with this fab tote bag, screen-printed and signed by each one of them, then sewn up in the dead of night by Lee...and filled with bottles of wine of course! One of the most enjoyable workshops I have taught.

My next workshop will be at the TAFTA Geelong Fibre Forum in late September - Experiments in Printing with Mordants. Great for those of you who have an interest in natural dyeing and want to expand into printing with mordants and natural dyes. 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Natural Wonders Exhibition

My latest exhibition, Natural Wonders, closed earlier this month, so I thought I would post a few photos for those readers who could not make it to the gallery.  I had terrific response from the hundreds of visitors who attended, with wonderful comments such as "Magical exhibition in a magical place", "A very inspiring exhibition - the quality of work is outstanding" and "Well worth the drive, wonderful "  "what vision and patience". Many thanks to all visitors from Canberra, interstate and especially the visitors from New Zealand, Holland, Edinburgh, Germany and South Africa (to name a few!) who did manage to make it down to Tanja.
Narek Galleries at Tanja
View of 'No Man's Land' on plinth, 'Seasonal Variations' large hanging textiles
in the centre and works on paper on the left wall.

A closer view of 'Seasonal Variations' with 'Domestic Blueprint' in the
apse at the rear of the gallery, and 'Molonglo' photo to the right.
View of framed textiles at the opening.
The textiles in this exhibition used a mordant printing process, which I will be teaching at a Textile Fibre Forum Workshop in Geelong in September this year. For more information see