Friday, July 12, 2013

Traveling Down Under - Inspiration Files

Travel is a most inspiring experience for artists. The memories and photos can provided fodder for years after a trip.

Last month I was fortunate to be invited by Cecile from Unique Stitching to teach at a paper craft and mixed media show in Brisbane and a big quilt and craft show in Sydney. First stop, Brisbane, a charming city with a lot of interesting street art.

The two abstract fern patterns above were metal work on concrete benches on the sidewalk.

The inside of the roof in the expo center in Brisbane had a beautiful pattern in the trusses, below.

After a few days in Brisbane we flew off to Sydney. The show was held in the expo center in Darling Harbor and we stayed in nearby Chinatown.

The wall along the walkway from Chinatown to Darling Harbor was sinuous and undulating.

There were mosaic sidewalk installations in the grassy areas in front of the expo center.

The expo center itself looked like a ship at berth. Sadly the building is being torn down later this year. I hope it will be replaced by something equally elegant and architecturally relevant to its location.

Darling Harbor is a revitalized seaport housing not only the expo center but many restaurants, cafes and shops. It is especially charming at night looking across the harbor at the city lights.

Chinatown had many fierce foo dragons including this massive guy and his twin.

The show was beautifully run, and had a varied, eclectic mix of vendors. Unlike most quilt shows in the states, this was a quilt and craft show so there were vendors selling supplies and finished goods in many, many craft disciplines other than quilting. This might contribute to the fearlessness that I noticed in Australian artists to mix their media and blur the lines across fields. 

The quilt exhibit was extremely inspiring. Not having the rigidity of the tradition of American quilting holding them back (no "quilt police" that I saw at all down under!) Australian quilters tend to experiment more than their American peers and worry less about how things "should" be done, or what's "correct". It was a really refreshing attitude reflected in the finished quilts and the students in classes. Another refreshing aspect of the quilt show was the music that was played all day every day - it really contributed to the energy of the show. There were mostly hits from the 70s and 60s, and each day the show opened with a dance party in the lobby with the vendors dancing (gangnam style, the macarena, even the electric slide) for the patrons waiting in line to get in. What a fun, happy, and original way to start the day!

After the show closed, Cecile, the most gracious host on the planet, treated me to a day tour to the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney that started with a bus ride to a wildlife sanctuary - where, yes, I pet a koala. We  paused for lunch in a chic mountain town, stopped for a ride on the steepest railway in the world, and ended with a ferry ride down the river and past the Opera House (plus even more in between). It was a magical experience.

The flora is so interesting and has sparked all sorts of ideas for surface design.

Crazy steep railroad - slightly intimidating but so so cool. You ride down to the bottom in cars in a nearly reclined position and then return backwards.

An amazing Aboriginal sacred site called the Three Sisters. The landscape was truly breathtaking everywhere we went. At one point we walked down a steep path to an overlook to see the valley and imagine it when the first European settlers arrived and learn about the trees, the periodic bush fires, and the history. The entire day (the whole trip really) was so educational and enlightening.

I came back invigorated and inspired and ready to hit the studio. 


Gloria Hansen said...

Nice post! I went to Australia years ago with a good friend. Your post reminds me of what a good time we had! Thanks for sharing.

Carol Sloan said...

Beautiful photos Jane! The show sounds great!

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