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, 18 September 2011

Georgina Whitchurch

The fact that you’re a member of Fibres and Fabrics shows you are creative by nature. Define yourself – art/craft wise? Enigmatic is the first word that comes to mind.  An obscure riddle  - it ways in the dictionary – others might say I’m very confused and don’t know what I want to do yet!   I love variety and I love to blend crafts to get different results.
Are you more comfortable working in one particular medium than most others?
I work with most modalities that come under the banner of wool crafts and sewing / stitching but I probably do more machine sewing and knitting than any other at this stage.   My stages vary depending on where I am living and what I am doing. 

Are there any artists or crafters who, more than any others, have influenced you in your creative life and why?
·         My paternal grandmother, taught me the fundamentals of sewing and knitting and how to use and read patterns. 
·         My mother, who was an established textile and design artist over 60 years ago, encouraged me through her teaching to create my own designs and patterns and take inspiration from nature and life.
·         And all the people I have ever shared fibre and fabric fun times with.  We are all students and teachers when we play together.
Describe your workspace.
Once upon a time -  I had a dedicated ‘studio’  and it was great – I loved it and thought I would fall apart when I had to leave it -  but I got over that and now have the whole house  and I use it all.  Drawers and cupboards are neat and orderly (I can mostly find what I am looking for when I want it).  The tables are a different story -  there are often many layers of different projects one on top of the other, on top of the other!
What 3 tools could you not live without?
My Mind -  where all things are created.
Sewing machine and knitting needles -  these are probably the most used tools that I possess other than my hands and fingers.   I have survived without the machine and needles for short periods in the past and it was definitely a challenge not to be repeated too often. 
The hands and fingers I am hoping to keep for ever and keep using for a long time.
Do you keep a sketchbook or journal?
Not an artistic one -  but I do have frequent recurrences of written journals that are instrumental in keeping me focused and inspired.  My creative journaling is in my thoughts so I do need to keep track of that place where I store mostly visual and tactile ideas.
We all share our knowledge at Fibres and Fabrics. Do you extend this in any way by participating in or teaching workshops?
I love to share experiences and knowledge with other interested parties and enjoy being an encourager for people wanting to have a go at something different.  I taught basic dressmaking, knitting and crochet many years ago, also macramé, beading and felting.  I conducted patchwork and quilting classes for several years in WA.  In more recent years I have given licence to ‘traditional’ knitters to let go of control and create some truly amazingly ‘wild’ pieces  for the ‘TREE’  and extended that challenge to the VERY traditional knitters of a small group in rural New Zealand to decorate street trees for their annual arts festival. 
How do you inspire your creativity when you’re stuck?
I guess like most things in life – it is cyclical.  I am happy to have time to devote to other aspects of life while the creativity has a rest, then when it’s ready to  return it is usually well worth the wait.  It makes me wonder though, where has it been?  What did it see?  Who did it visit?  And what ideas has it brought back for me to play with?
If cost wasn’t an issue, what avenues would you choose to explore to expand your skills?
I would love to visit other cultures to work with, play with and join their fibres and fabrics groups for long periods to experience the differences as well as the similarities and to exchange methods, techniques, fun and friendship. 
Places that interest me at this stage are starting right here in OZ – working with Aboriginal women who use natural dyes for grasses, more time in NZ to work with Maori women and their dedication to and use of Flax, Peru for their use of colour and weaving techniques, India also for their use of colour and silk waste and some parts of Africa for their unique pattern design.  I could go on, but that will do for now.  These are some of my retirement dreams.
How do you balance your life? 
A bit like balancing the budget – sometimes I’m in the black and sometimes I have a blow-out! That’s life!
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?
·         WAQA  Annual Exhibition 2000 – first time entrant, beginners section, traditional quilt  1st Prize (photographed)
·         Pinnacles Gallery – 2008 – Threads of Habitat -  artistic concept, direction and construction of the ‘Knitted Tree’
·         Creative Fibre Annual Woolcraft Exhibition – NZ 2009 -   knitted dolls.
o    Presentation / lecture of Threads of Habitat with demonstration on ‘wild’ knitting and crochet used in the tree.
·         Costume design and construction 2009, for a film and stage presentation at the annual International Science Fiction Convention -  Melbourne 2010
·         Wedding garment 2010.  (for my daughter-in-law to be)
What does your work mean to you?
When the ability to create is as natural as breathing one would be ‘dead’ without it.  That may sound harsh or macabre, but if I couldn’t do something, even a small postcard or piece of knitting in each week I would think I had died.   I started knitting my own garments at the age of 8 or 9 and using my Grandmother’s electric sewing machine at age of 9.  In my early teens I was making my own clothes from unpicked recycled clothes and without patterns. I made a complete wedding ensemble, bride and 3 brides maids dresses, at age 18 while working full time and studying.  My own wedding dress featured a macramé overlay with high neck and yoke that I made with pearl crochet cotton and beads.
When I look at the list above, there are so many things that I have done that are not significant enough to list, but together make up the whole picture of who I am, what I do and why. And it is proving difficult to choose any singular item or event as one that may have given me the greatest feeling of achievement.  All are so different in purpose, techniques, time frames and materials and the outcomes where also very different.  I’m going to say the wedding garment for my son’s bride probably caused me the most anxiety.  To be asked by her was both an honour and fearful challenge.  If I stuffed up, she had my son as collateral.  Miss Alice was and is very particular and knows exactly what she wants and how it should look.  The concept of her outfit was in her head and we had to do some form of thought transplant – blood sweat and tears.  Brain surgery would have been easier. We made it though!  and even spent some time together doing the beading on the bolero jacket. My sense of achievement was realised when I saw her arrive.  
I wonder what’s next . . . .

Thank you Georgie! That was a great conversation. Come back to us .....

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