To encourage and assist fibre artists to achieve their
fullest potential by providing advice, facilities
and educational material in an enjoyable
social environment.

Meetings held weekly on Wednesday at Possum Hollow Hall within Townsville Showgrounds, Hyde Park. 10am - 1-00pm

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Having a chat to Margaret Dunn

You’ve contributed so much to Fibres and Fabrics over the years, including taking on the role of President for a term and taking on the mammoth task of relocating the group to new premise. This is an undertaking you’ve pursued with tenacity and determination against all odds.  I believe your labours have recently borne fruit. What are your goals now, in this area? A great part of my life in the past nine years or so has been working towards finding a new home for Fibres and Fabrics. My only hope is that we will be able to build our own home where we will be able to hold meetings, workshops and exhibitions. As we have been granted land to build on or relocate to, I am looking forward to members as well as our supporters to contribute to the Relocation Fund to help Fibres and Fabrics achieve this goal. I have also found that the members are great givers of time, material and talents to support many and varied projects for needy causes. Fibres and Fabrics is a wonderful association that needs your support. 

Can you define yourself – art/craft wise? I find it hard to define myself as I really have a leaning to oil painting. Since joining Fibres and Fabrics as a spinner and knitter and painter, I have tried to express the way I can in oils to using material or threads, either by hand or with free machining. I have been a knitter since a very young child. My grandmother who lived with us all my single life and my mother both were very good knitters and crocheters. My mum being a dressmaker by trade, my sister and I have been taught knitting etc. and have always knitted from a very early age. I think I knitted my first twin set in grade six. When my daughter was taught how to spin in grade 5 it was on the condition I learnt as well. Spinning has proved to be a wonderful and relaxing pastime. I enjoy stump work, cross stitch, as well as book making, felting, patchwork and quilting. All of these latter interests happened because of joining the wonderful organization of Fibres. 

Are you more comfortable working in one particular medium than most others? I began as a small child sitting on the floor with my back against my parent’s radiogram (a large piece of furniture) listening to music and drawing. I would draw in shadings of black and white with a lead pencil. I loved colours but found I could express myself much better in shades of black and white. At about the age of eleven I was being treated by a Chiropractor/Osteopath who was a wonderful man and an exceptional artist with oil paints. Richard Hertzog became my lifelong friend and later in my life asked me to study with him. I was unable to accept this offer primarily since I was a single mother of three. At this time my friend suggested to stop only using black and white lead pencils and introduced me to oils. This I will always thank him for. After his passing at the age of 84 I took it upon myself to follow in his footsteps and portray in oils the beauty of Australia as we both saw it. 
Are there any artists or crafters who, more than any others, have influenced you in your creative life and why?  I have mentioned in the previous question that Richard Hertzog was an influence with my painting. On shifting to Townsville, having workshops with Ken Smith with machining, Judy Stevenson with stump-work. During our visit to The Shetland Island I was inspired to spin one ply wool. Ricky Tims, with the creative use of colours, using materials, and Alison Withers Painting with Freestyle Machine Embroidery. I now am using this knowledge to translate my photos into a thread painting. 
Describe your workspace.  My workplace has expanded over the years. It started off sitting on the floor in my parents lounge room to sitting in a warm and quiet place by myself. Since being in Townsville we have extended our home several times that is situated in an acre of garden. Now I am so lucky to have my own studio facing out into the garden with birds and wallabies. Though, my husband does call our whole home my workplace. 

What 3 tools could you not live without? I would hate to do without my camera, my propelling pencil and some paper, any white paper will do. I have been known to sit at a golf club dining room in Ireland and sketch the wonderful stone crofters cottage on the other side of the green using my napkin as I didn’t have my trusty camera by my side, just this once. I would like to add a 4th and that is a good book to read. 
Do you keep a sketchbook or journal? I started keeping a journal when I first attended workshops after joining Fibres & Fabrics. These have been a place where I kept notes, sketches and photos of the different workshops I attended. I was often laughed at for all the writing I would do during a workshop but they have proved to be a wonderful source for a memory that sometime lets me down. I have also extended my sketchbook journaling to our trips overseas. 

 We all share our knowledge at Fibres and Fabrics. Do you extend this in any way by participating in or teaching workshops? I have always tried to attend different workshops we have had over the years at Fibres as well as Quilt Experience held in Townsville. Yes I have passed on some of the things I learned over the years with workshops to new members such as quilt as you go shoulder bag, a pocket book bookies workshop, and recently flip and sew method of patchwork which could be used from a cushion to a full queen size quilt.  

How do you inspire your creativity when you’re stuck? When stuck I resort to reading a novel far removed from craft or sewing and just rest my mind. More often than not something will always pop into my creative mind and set me off again. 

If cost wasn’t an issue, what avenues would you choose to explore to expand your skills? I would invest in a time machine – there is never enough of this and I haven’t found the shop you can buy it in. I think when I am fully enthralled with being creative I always run out of the most important commodity, which is time. 

How do you balance your life? My wonderful husband and much-loved cat constantly remind me of the basic needs of life with their support and love.  
Has any of your work appeared, or is it going to appear, in a display or exhibition either collaboratively or alone? If so where and when? I have had some of my work exhibited. Two of my oil paintings won first place at the Ceduna Show then hung a gallery in Perth. Other paintings have hung in a gallery on Magnetic Island. I have had two of my picture quilts in competitions; one being awarded Highly Commended and with the other I was fortunate to win first prize. I have also exhibited in an exhibition at the Pinnacles Gallery called the ‘Fabric of the River’ and the bookies exhibition of ‘Altered Books’ held in the Umbrella Studio. I hope one day to have my own exhibition of works. 

What does your work mean to you? Expressing of my feelings and experiences using material, thread, or paint has and will always be very important to me. The one wish I have is to live long enough and be healthy enough to continue along this long path that has no end.

Well, I don't know about you, but I really enjoyed chatting with Margaret. Thank you!

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