My work is an exploration of landscape and history, utilising and responding to the materials available from the land, uncovering the layers, the shadow and the light, and broadening an understanding of place. Blankets carry history. Worn, patched, family blankets, blankets used for trade, blankets relating to journey, for warmth, protection and security. Blanket stories relate to colonisation, migration and refugees. Multiple threads of meaning are found in blankets.
I created Numbers Count from blankets which have been dyed in eucalypt dyes; bark, leaves and flowers of different native plant species. The dyed blankets have been cut into strips and stitched together with red woollen thread, blanket stitch along the edges and joins, chain stitch for the repetitive motif which represents counting.
Numbers Count speaks of the records kept relating to the distribution of blankets to Aboriginal people and the many stories linked to the blanket exchanges. The eucalypt dyes connects with landscape and through the process of hand stitching and repeating, I strengthen the story and draw strands of past history into the present. Rolled in the landscape of the blankets, unravelling and revealing, are layered stories from our past.
Numbers Count 2005, and top left (detail), woollen blankets, eucalypt dyes, red woollen thread, blanket roll 16 metres. Last exhibited In the World: head, hand, heart, 17th Tamworth Textile Biennial 2006. Photo Michal Kluvanek.