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Spent part of a very wintery afternoon yesterday in the NGV International taking in the last day of the Bugatti show and the early days of the exhibition of embroidered Chinese robes.

Firstly, Bugatti.  As an old car nut from way back, the chance to see a couple of examples of these amazing cars was too good to pass up.  Combined with the amazing bronzes of Rembrandt and the inspired furniture of Carlos, it made for interesting viewing.

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The experience was spoiled by the constant ‘requests’ by the gallery staff not to use flashes when taking photographs – signage at the door may well have alleviated this issue.

The viewing experience in “Dressed to Rule” was an entirely different kettle of fish – quiet and uncluttered; atmospherically lit to highlight the amazing embroidered silk robes from the Imperial Courts of Peking, it was a pleasure to view.

I had a minor disagreement with my camera – digitals can be great but when they have a mind of their own and won’t respond to you turning off the flash… gggrrrrr!!

Dragons featured on many courtly robes... usually nine at a time... there is one hidden on the inner lining of this garment.

Dragons featured on many courtly robes... usually nine at a time... there is one hidden on the inner lining of this garment.

Anyway –  I resorted to the trusty camera in the mobile phone and captured a couple of shots of the dragon robes…..there were several more robes in the collection featuring dragons but I thought these would suffice!

A less colourful design but the nine dragons are featured - including the one hidden!

A less colourful design but the nine dragons are featured - including the one hidden!

Two samples of uncut robes were amongst the collection – all the embroidery had been completed on the lengths of silk fabric however the garment had never been completed.  This enables us to see and appreciate the manner in which these garments were constructed and to admire the amount of hand work required for such delicate and complex embroidery.

There are floor talks, films and lectures associated with this exhibition – one of which is highly recommended to embroiderers.  This is to be held in June.

I have completed the first stage of my contribution to The Milkweed Project and managed to remember to record at least this part of the process for once!

blocking

The piece is several feet long and required blocking – so it had to be done in stages throughout the afternoon with breaks while it dried and cooled completely before I moved and pinned a new section.

This part shows a mix of the linen yarn and the standard 8ply wool, knitted and interwoven.

Near Richmond Vic

Near Richmond Vic

Such a bizarre contrast of texture and form….. the tenacity of the weed plant to take a foothold and persistantly flourish in such a hostile environment – I could not resist recording its success!

If you haven’t had the chance to see this quilt “in the flesh’,  you still have a little time to go into the NGV Federation Square and take a long look.

Early reports suggested that it would only be on display until March but that time has been extended and now the quilt will remain in Gallery 5 until at least the end of April.  There has been no confirmed date for its removal but it is scheduled for “some time in May” according to gallery staff.

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The gallery bookshop has been selling copies of Dr Annette Gero’s new book “The Fabric of Society –  Australian Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960” in which this quilt is profiled.  The gallery bookshop is currently out of stock but have stock on order.  Interestingly not only does the book document our history, it provides patterns for 29 of the quilts.  The book can also be ordered directly from Annette via her website.

This is a worldwide collaborative project to create an installation art piece assembled from the contributions of craftspeople and artists all over the world.

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I was so taken with the idea that it inspired me to pick up the needles and knit!  I have been able to knit for as long as I can remember – my Gran taught me.  It wasn’t one of those crafts that inspired me to create – I had a short attention span and it seemed to take forever to finish anything!

I did enjoy knitting small garments so there were a few hand knitted baby items and jumpers for my girl when she was a toddler.  There are too many unfinished symphonies hanging about the place to admit to; so the knitting yarns were put to good use for couching and embellishing, quilting and needle felting, doll making and experimenting – everything except knitting!

This project called for work in white – no pattern specified, no stitch count or design to be adhered to – just white and if it was narrow to be long!  I could do this!  I scrounged around the boxes and bags and found linen, hand spun silk, mohair, synthetic fuzzy with a cute silver highlight and even wool – all white, of course.

I have had wonderful fun with giant needles creating a spidery strand finished with some finger knitting.  The next stage is to block, then weave in some other fibres, add some tassels and bows and perhaps even stitch on a button or two.


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