Monday, April 30, 2012

What is a map?

I've just prepared my post for the maps reveal later today and I had a terrible thought that perhaps I had not addressed the theme. Gulp.  That got me thinking, what is a map?   According to Wikipedia:
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes.
Many maps are static two-dimensional, geometrically accurate (or approximately accurate) representations of three-dimensional space, while others are dynamic or interactive, even three-dimensional. Although most commonly used to depict geography, maps may represent any space, real or imagined, without regard to context or scale
Maps are a form of symbolization, governed by a set of conventions, that aim to communicate a sense of place. To fully understand a map it helps to know how to decode its message and place it within its proper spatial, chronological, and cultural contexts.    If cartography is a form of communication, the measure of a good map  is how well it conveys information to its readers to enlighten, convince, or persuade. It sounds a lot like art really and that is a comforting thought.  You are here.

Map Reveal countdown Teaser 4

Another clue as to the street on which my Map might be based...

I don't need to tell you who this is do I?


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Map Reveal Countdown 3

The third clue in my teaser campaign...

Fourteen year old school boy Hastings Ndlovu


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Map Reveal Countdown Teaser 2

Further to yesterdays post, another clue to the street in my map...

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu



Friday, April 27, 2012

Map reveal countdown teaser 1

My map quilt is done and it involves a real street. I wonder if anyone will guess the location from the clues I will give between now and reveal? All the clues are people connected to the street in various ways and I will get more obvious as time goes on!

First South African Photojournalist Sam Nzima

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Untitled by Umzavi
Untitled, a photo by Umzavi on Flickr.
The fear of most every art quilter is that our precious artwork be mistaken for a potholder. Looking fear directly in the eye, I've created the potholder look on purpose.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taking a Detour

You know how when you're traveling, you start out following the map, and then you take one side road and next thing you know, you're somewhere you never expected to be?

Well, on the way to my Map quilt for the May 1 challenge, I stumbled onto a reference to the "Hollywood Freeway Chickens."  That led me to the story of how, back in 1969, a poultry truck overturned on the Hollywood Freeway in Southern California, releasing over 200 live chickens onto the road.  Many escaped and fled into the roadside brush, and took up residence in the bushes growing along a nearby on-ramp.  They were even fed for years by a chicken-loving elderly lady, who sprinkled chicken feed through the chainlink fence so they wouldn't go hungry.

Who knew?

You can read all about them here.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moving Along

I'm quietly embroidering away on my towel and things are looking good. I'm taking my time and making sure I am happy with each stitch. It's moving very slowly, but this is the path I chose to take.

As I work, I'm visualizing the route ahead. I like to have a plan, but I also like to allow room to change direction, or allow for serendipity. In general, I'm not one of those quilters who can map everything out on the computer or graph paper and then follow that plan to completion. I get bored when the process doesn't need me. This piece is starting to bore me. Right now I'm thinking two things about this piece: one, it is very stitchy, but not quilty; and two, it's neat and tidy and lacks in emotion (partly due to my tidy stitching).

As I work, I think, and I think that I've come up with solutions to both issues. Normally, I wouldn't care too much about how quilty a piece is or isn't, but since this is an art quilt challenge, I'm going to give it some consideration. Quilting this will be the last step (usually is) and will reference other kitchen items beyond the souvenir tea towel. Adding a spark of personality will happen after the embroidery (not TO the embroidery, for anyone thinking that loosening up the tidy stitching was the answer). It won't have much to do with maps or kitchens. Not too much.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Career Mapping

Maps dominated my fifteen year career as a commercial and regulatory lawyer in the energy and infrastructure sectors. I met my future husband while advising on land title and transmission line easement issues for a proposed power station.  These days we only visit the region to go wine tasting but I can still map out the route and rattle off the names of the affected landowners.

A year long secondment to The Cabinet Office of New South Wales to advise on the rail restructuring involved hours of poring over network diagrams with tracks, turnouts and sidings in far flung places. It was fascinating to visit the rail property headquarters to see original maps in large velum books with copperplate script.  You could breathe colonial Australia in that place.  Did you know that the interstate network was only converted to a standard gauge after World War II. and that signigicant variations in rail gauge still exist across Australia? Crazy but true. I don't drink tea or coffee but this mug with a Sydney rail network diagram circa 1995 is a favourite souvenir of my lawyering days.
Another big project I worked on was the corporatisation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I was closely involved with the transfer of the transmission line assets from the Authority to another government agency.  In a rare, out-of-the-office excursion, I actually spent a day in a helicopter flying along the 60 foot wide easements, landing at various power stations.  These pages will not mean much to you but just looking at them transports me to another time.

When a US client bid for broadcasting transmission towers around Australia, I become acquainted with various country high points with evocative names such as Mt Misery, Mt Warning, Mt Disappointment and Mt Buggery.  My knowledge of Australian geography was further expanded when the same client purchased hundreds of mobile telephone towers around the country. I would go to sleep listing the sites (and their legal issues) in my head like my own professional version of the classic Australian song I've Been Everywhere Man.*

With this rich resource of legal-geographical memories, I have many ideas for this challenge.  However, my quilt ended up going on a quite different tangent in a couple of days of studio time over Easter.  I'm looking forward to 1 May to show you.

* Lisa Walton made Everywhere inspired by this song and this work features in the Beneath the Southern Sky exhibition that I curated.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

looming, LoominG, LOOMING

The next reveal deadline is looming and will be here before I know it.  I'm not ready!!!  The "map" challenge has challenged me this round.  I need to figure out something and quick.

So far I've had two thoughts on the subject.  One, which I believe Karen touched on a bit in an early post, is mind mapping. 

Upon doing a little online research, I even stumbled upon a Mind Mapping blog.  Who knew??!!

And another idea I've been tossing around on this subject is treasure maps.

So I'm really hoping that something hits me soon and then hopefully I can figure out how to execute it. 

Note:  Photos are from Wikipedia.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Strange Maps

I just love the Map theme for our current challenge (stay tuned!  Reveal date is May 1!).  My problem this time is that I've always been drawn to maps, have the start of a series of large maps quilts going, and have TOO MANY IDEAS.  Not that I'm complaining -- but settling on one, and sorting out how best to use the 12 x 20 inch format, is proving harder than I thought it would be!

I thought I'd share one of  my favorite interesting map sites:  A blog called Strange Maps.  There are all sorts of cool things there, including the world's largest world atlas, a socket map of the world (so if you are traveling you know what kind of adapter you need), a taxonomy of city blocks, where French artist Armelle Caron deconstructed the maps of various cities to create charts of city blocks by size (and creating fascinating and beautiful patterns), map tattoos ... and more and more and more.

It's definitely interesting and inspirational and gets you thinking about the breadth of what a map is!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Twelve by Twelve Exhibition in Cincinnati

If you are attending the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati next week (12-15 April), be sure to stop by our special exhibit featuring all 288 art quilts from the Theme Series and the Colorplay Series. None of the Twelves can make it in person but we are grateful for sponsorship from the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection that means we can share our project with you "in the cloth".  There is so much more detail and texture to see when you get up close and personal! 
And don't forget that all the quilts from our first series are featured in our book:  Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Quest

Now that I've decided on a direction for my Maps piece, I need to find an appropriate tea towel to embroider on. I went to one likely store and they had nothing. Too many towels with chickens or olives and not enough plain ones.

Store two had flour sack towels which are exactly what the souvenir towels are printed on, but although authentic, don't exactly "read" as towel. I liked the waffle weave and subtle tan stripes on another towel, but once home and washed the waffle texture became a lot more pronounced. Nice for drying dishes, but too deep for embroidery. My best choice is the green stripe, but I'm not entirely convinced it won;t compete too much with the embroidery.

The next day it dawned on me that my blue checked towels might come in other colors, and sure enough, store three had a set in tan. Now I just need to decide which is towelier, the green stripe or the tan windowpane checks. And even if I decide, there's no guarantee I won't change my mind and switch towels half way through. It's part of my process. I'm also seeing that the lovely cross stitch "Home is Where..." from one of my other artworks, when scaled down is too fiddly. I will need to look for a simpler cross stitch font.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mapping Tasmania

There's not much sewing happening as I explore with relatives visiting from the United States. First stop, Stewarts Bay lodge near Port Arthur in Tasmania, a very tranquil part of the world that Helen told me about. Now you know too.


Karen and I attended the Studio Art Quilt Associates conference in Philadelphia last weekend. It's a good thing we snapped this picture because we only ran into each other briefly at a few of the galleries. Not much time to chat... so much art to absorb!
But it was so great to see her. A big hug is such a lovely reminder of the wonderful connections we "twelves" have created over the last several years of working together.

Kristin was in Philly too -- or at least her art work.

This is her War Sucks quilt in the Art Quilt Elements exhibit.