This is the Royal Exhibition Building, the home of the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne.
It was built in 1880 with a brick structure and wood interior, it has two floors and is in the shape of a cross. There’s no heat or airconditioning, and since fall was well underway it was a bit cool at times, but luckily there was always plenty of tea and coffee close at hand.
The ornately painted interior is stunning with elaborate detail.
The lower floor had vendors and exhibits and the second floor had the classrooms and was the location for several other activities such as evening lectures, the cocktail party and awards dinner.
What an amazing show, well organized and very fun!
Before I go much further telling you about the convention, I have to introduce you to the wonderful woman that made this trip possible for me. Cecile Whatman of Unique Stitching, is the mixed media tour de force of Australia, she brought me over as her guest artist for the show and then let the convention organizers book me to teach two classes while I was there. Thank you Cecile from the bottom of my heart for my fantastic trip down under.
Now, to kick things off at the Australasian Quilt Convention, there was a cocktail party wednesday night, with a vintage fashion show and presentation of the top three awards for the shows theme challenge. I met up with Helen Godden, who won the challenge and fellow teachers Brenda Gayle Smith and Susan Brubaker Knapp.
Cecile’s booth was the first one you saw upon entering the show. It has every supply you could want for art quilting and mixed media art projects.
In a booth next to Ceciles, I demonstrated techniques for embossing, coloring and stitching metal and painting fabric. It was kind of like doing open studios at quilt festival, but I dont think I’ve ever had such a constant flow of people interested in what I was doing at a show before. I have to say it was pretty flattering, I was definitely feeling the love down under.
The first class I taught was Tea and Ephemera, which is a class where students get to try out a number of mixed media techniques like; drawing and painting on tea bags adhered to fabric, adding extra color with colored pencils, collaging printed abaca paper and a wide variety of other decorative papers onto the fabric, printing with thermofax screens, incorporating rubber stamp imagery and working with shiva paint sticks and stencils all in one class. It’s a class designed purely to open up new ideas about what’s possible for surface design on fabric.
On Friday night, I gave my lecture on Inspiration, discussing the life events and things that have inspired my art quilts. You know, like what on earth made me want to make quilts with nude female martians smoking cigars or giant gold squids on them and where I got the ideas for incorporating things like painted batting, tea bags and stitching metal onto my work from.
Saturday night, the awards dinner was hosted by one of my favorite sewing machine companies, Bernina. They even gave away a free sewing machine with a decorative skin with the AQC design theme on it to a random lucky guest at the dinner. How cool is that?
There were two awards given at the dinner, one was the Best of Australia award, given to Rachelle Denneny for a beautiful white whole cloth quilt, and the prestigious Rajah award was presented to Jenny Bowker for her outstanding work in the field of quilting. Of course the highlight for me was after the formal festivities were over, there was an hour of dancing to great classic rock music with many of my new friends on the dance floor.
On the last day of the convention I taught Tsukineko Inks.
As you can see the classroom walls are temporary, they are all set up just for this convention. It was pretty amazing how well that worked. I think maybe due to the high ceilings of the building and the great classic 80′s music that was piped in over the sound system throughout the show, sound from nearby classrooms was never a problem.
It was another great class with some really beautiful work done by my students.
I can’t go with out mentioning one of the really fun parts about teaching in this internet age is meeting the people you become acquainted with online.
My student Susan De Vanny introduced herself as my Facebook stalker, well we should all be so blessed to have stalkers as charming and fun as Susan, I think she can probably now upgrade her status to friend