My New Home, Studio and Gallery 
]On 10th March I shifted into my new home, a lovely old villa in St Albans Christchurch. I decided that I needed to have a larger home as once my studio was installed in my small two bedroom flat after the earthquake, there was just no room to move. I couldn't have anyone to stay and was unable to bring in any extra income at all. I was very lucky to find this house, given the difficulties that people are experiencing here in Christchurch with finding places to live. I started looking for a new place back in October last year and this house became available in late February. There are four bedrooms, so I have my bedroom where I also do my paintings, a guest room for students who come for accommodation and tuition, a studio for the looms and my library, the Hallway where I am going to have exhibitions. The first exhibition is booked for mid July in the Hallway Gallery and will run for three weeks. My first student arrives next week, so it is all go here at 74 Edward Avenue. My sign is on the front fence and I welcome visitors. I am also open now for exhibition concepts for artist's who would like to show their work in the Gallery.

This photo shows the front of the house with my sign on the fence.

Here is the studio with work in progress.

A view of the Hallway Gallery with some of my work on show at the moment.

The guest room for students and for Home Stay guests. You can contact me by e-mail if you are interested in coming to stay as a student or a Home Stay guest. You can also make contact through this blog.

I also have one room to let. It is a large unfurnished, sunny room with its own access to the front deck. It would be very suitable for a person who would like to run a small business from there e.g. a graphic artist would fit very well into this house. It would also be suitable for a flatmate to live in. I am looking for a professional person who has a job and an empathy for the arts, to share this house with me.

Still Slack!!!!! 

I have finally opened up my blog page and realise that my last entry was way back in January. I guess I have some small excuse as since then I have shifted house, set up my new studio and Hallway Gallery and contracted shingles which is only now starting to get better, worked towards an exhibition of tapestry in Blenheim in April..............and heaps else! I have just stopped working on my last painting for the exhibition which my friend Wilson Henderson and I are doing at Arts in Oxford in July. Over the last few weeks I have been working on a series of large paintings all around 2 metres by 1 metre in size for this exhibition. I have been photographing Wilson's weave structures in his work and taking them way out of scale and then painting from them. I am quite pleased with the results. I knew I would not have time to weave tapestries for this exhibition and so decided I would paint instead. I am using the canvas as a textile though, cutting into some of the works and weaving into them with strips of painted canvas. So new work for me. Altogether I needed 8 paintings and have just started the last one a few days ago. The two photos show close-up details of two of the paintings.

A New Start for the New Year 
I have been very slack about updating my blog over the last few months. I have been working on a number of tapestries and drawings etc for exhibitions and have been hesitant about publishing them on my blog until after the exhibitions are over. But becvause these exhibitions won't be happening until April and July 2012, it means I haven't had work to show on the blog.

I have decided therefore to show some photographs. On Boxing Day I travelled over to Westport with my brother and had a lovely time over there for four days. I took many photographs and here are two of them. These are pasture flowers, clover and I'm not sure what the second one is. Most people would class them as weeds, but they are quite beautiful when you get up close to them.

Actually, I am not sure that the first flower is a clover, but they are lovely aren't they. I photographed these when I visited my brother Jim Rea's new property and we were walking through the paddocks. I am always amazed at the symmetry of nature and the wonderful proportions of colour that occur - good inspiration for art works.

A Book about the Tapestry Screen 
I have been working on a booklet about the story of the making of the Government House Tapestry Screen. This screen has such an interesting provenance that I felt it was necessary to write a booklet about it. As Her Excellency Lady Susan Satyanand owns the copyright as the commissioner of the Screen, I asked her permission to write the booklet. She has very graciously allowed me to write this story as it will add value to the screen in the future, giving the true story of its provenance. She also agreed to write a foreward for the booklet, and I would very much like to thank her for that.

This image is a photograph taken from my computer as I cannot show a finished copy as yet. This will be the Cover of the booklet. Also I am not sure of the price of it as yet, as I will not know that until I know how many copies I will get printed. The more copies I have printed, the cheaper they will be. I am hoping that they will cost somewhere between NZ$20-$25 each. If anyone would like to order a copy please e-mail me - with your contact details. As soon as the booklet is completed I will let you know the price, etc.

The Government House Tapestry Screen 
At last I can tell the story of my last commission. In November last year I was approached by Ian Athfield Architects to submit a design concept for a tapestry screen for Government House. The screen was to be commissioned by Her Excellency Lady Susan Satyanand, the wife of the Governor General, as her gift to the House on their leaving in August 2011.

After receiving the brief, I worked very hard for a week to present two design concepts, weaving a small sample and creating a cartoon for one panel to give an idea of the finished size. I was very happy to be told that my submission was accepted. Little did I know at that point what an interesting journey these tapestries would undergo.

Because of the very short time frame I employed another weaver, Diane Ammar, to help me weave the tapestries. Diane was a former student of mine and she proved to be a very good choice as her weaving was excellent and we had a lot of fun times, and traumatic times together.

These two photogrpahs show the first two panels as they were a few days before the February 22 earthquake. We were about one week away from finishing these two tapestries.

Here are the looms in my brother's workshop after they were rescued from the Arts Centre studio. A couple of weeks later we also managed to get more yarns out so that we could continue working on the project.

We are back working together on the project and a week or so later the first two tapestries were cut from the looms and hung together for the first time. we were really pleased to see how well they fitted together.

Work continued on the next two panels. Every square in the background is made up of three or four different colours and not one square is the same as another. We had a lot of fun choosing the colours. Colours in tapesry blend in an optical way, the same way the colours blend on a computer screen and it was very interesting finding all the different variations in these tapestries.

This next photograph shows a close-up of the bobbins hanging in front of the tapestry.

Sewing stitches. All the slits in these tapestries were stitched together as we went along. The tapestries had to be 37centimetres wide, so we were constantly measuring the width and adjusting. Stitching the slits helped to firm up the work and keep the width even. You can easily see the mixtures of colours in this photograph also.

I invited a few friends and family to the cutting off of the last two tapestries in early June. Warren Feeney, the ex-director of CoCA, cut the tapestries from the loom. As my wee flat is way too small, we had some difficulty in taking good photographs, but here you can see Warren cutting the fourth panel.

And here are Diane and I celebrating the cutting off and seeing all four tapestries together.

After the tapestries came off the looms, there was still a lot of finishing to do on them. Threads had to be darned in the back and the fold back borders sorted out. We wove the last six centimetres for the borders as a mirror image of the previous six centimetres so that when seen from the back the borders were not obvious. It worked very well.

And here is the last photograph showing Diane and I in front of the completed screen. The tapestries at last in their frames. They were presented to Government House last Wednesday morning by Her Excellency Lady Susan Satyanand. We attended them morning tea put on for the Presentation and this event was one of the highlights of my artistic career.

Another visit to the Arts Centre Studio 
Last Thursday we were allowed back into the Arts Centre Studio to bring out some more of our 'stuff'. Wilson managed to bring his loom out and also his plinths and other things. I got the rest of my paintings the old tapestries that were in the storeroom, more of the yarns and heaps of other stuff. Loaded up the car until we couldn't get any more in. There are still quite a lot of things to get out so hopefully one more trip should do it. However, what is left in there are the big things, like the shelving, the lightbox table and the bin for the big paintings and drawings. There is still a cupboard full of yarns in boxes that must come out as well.

Here are some more photos showing the state of the studio. Evidently the walls are very fragile and may not survive another large earthquake, though they have survived a number of 5.something quakes, thank goodness. It doesn't feel too good being in there and we are pleased to come out. Quite a sense of achievement when we manage to bring a lot of stuff out.

Exhibition at 'Art in Oxford' 
The current exhibition at 'Art in Oxford' is 'Moving On' an exhibition of works by leading Christchurch artists. It was organised by Philip Trusttum and shows the work more than 90 works by 44 artists. I am really happy to have my tapestry 'Lace 2' as part of this exhibition. The opening was last night and Wilson and I went to Jo Seagers for dinner afterwards. She opened her restaurant for the artists last night and we had a lovely meal.

Some of the artists exhibiting are - Philip Trusttum, Barry Cleavin, Bill Hammond, Julia Morison, Graham Bennett, Martin Whitworth, Darryl George, Jason Grieg and many others. There were so many people at the opening that I didn't get a good look at all the work, so will have to go back again before the exhibition finishes. It is on for over a month, until the 10th July.

My Painting 'Native Fuschia' 
Yesterday I took the painting 'Native Fuschia' to live at my brother Tony's place. His wife and my sister-in-law, Marilyn, really loved this work so I suggested that I hang it in their lounge on a loan basis.

Here it is as it looks in a close up view.

And hanging on their wall.

The Transition from One Studio to Another 
The transition from one studio to another has taken a wee while. When I first came home to Christchurch a little over two weeks ago, my first thought was to visit my looms which were sitting in my brother's warehouse.

This is how the tapestries, the bobbins and the yarns looked when I first saw them. There was dust all over them but with careful vacuuming and shaking etc they are now all looking good.

A few days later my looms were brought into my home and the double taken and stored at Tony's warehouse in exchange for the loom. Thank God for a wonderful supportive family, brothers and sisters and all.

Here you can see my brother-in-law Cedric (at the back) helping the truck driver to carry one of the looms into the spare room. And here are the yarns that were first rescued.

And here are the looms all set up and almost ready for work.

Diane is tipping out the yarns rescued last Friday on to a blanket ready for cleaning. It took us about two hours to get all the dust off these yarns, but they are all looking good now.

And here we are - weaving again. Hurrah!

The space is small but it is working well. We just have to be careful to keep the yarns organised and tidy so that we don't trip up over them all the time. I am so lucky that I was able to set the looms up again and that we can now get back into the work. Happiness is............ being able to work at what we love doing!

My Studio in the Art Centre of Christchurch is No More! 
I am finally back into my blog again and see that my last entry was made on the 11th February. That day my studio was looking great and Diane and I were working away on my commissioned tapestries. Today, two months later this is how the studio looks. It is roughly the same area as the photograph shown in my last blog entry, except the loom is missing. My looms came out four weeks ago yesterday and were taken out by a team of people and an engineer whom my son-in-law Ian had organised from Hamilton. It was such a good feeling to have my looms safe. Ian worked very hard to achieve that and my heartfelt thanks go to him for all his efforts.

On February 22nd (my Dad's birthday) a very violent earthquake struck our city once again. This earthquake, only 6.3 on the Richter scale was the most violent I have ever felt, and I have felt numerous large earthquakes in my life, being born and brought up on the West Coast of the South Island. This earthquake was centred near Lyttelton, underneath the very hard rocks of the Banks Peninsula. These rocks are so hard that they did not absorb the shock waves but instead, bounced them off in every direction, towards and underneath the city. They were only about 5 kilometres underground as well which made it all worse. Evidently the G forces were enormous, larger than any before, for an earthquake of that size on the Richter scale.

I had a wonderful visitor in my studio that day - Sue Walker who was the director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop from its inception in the 1970's until a couple of years ago. I was so wowed by her presence in my studio, and we were discussing the tapestries when the earthquake struck about five minutes after she arrived. What a welcome to Christchurch for her!! I remember saying as we struggled towards the door trying to keep upright, "Boy that one has got to be an 8!" We stayed under the door for a few seconds until the shaking subsided a little and then Diane and I made sure that Sue and another couple who were in the studio got down the stairs safely. At the bottom Diane and I, at the same instant, said "Gee, Our bags, the car keys!!" and back up the stairs we dashed, rushed behind the loom, delved under all the fallen stuff from the shelving, the dirt and dust from the walls, and rescued the bags and Diane found my carkeys. And didn't my kids give me a hard time about going back up!!!!!

Outside it was all chaos, people rushing everywhere, the Observatory Tower down on the ground, screams coming from all directions and then everyone standing together in the middle of the South Quad lawn. I was so sure that there were work people underneath the rubble, but I found out about two weeks later that nobody was hurt in the Arts Centre. We were all so lucky! Chris, the maintenance boss told us all to make our way home. I looked for Sue and couldn't find her, saw Serena panicking and breathing hard, gave her a hug and said 'Slow Down, take a deep breath" but she was off again once she realised I was out of the studio and safe. She also disappeared and I saw Diane striding out across the lawn before she disappeared too. I think all our instincts were to just get home which was what I did too. Walked to my car and slowly made my way home. Lissie my daughter rang my cell phone just as I got to the Montreal St corner and it was so good that she managed to get through! She remembers me saying that there were buildings down on the ground everywhere, but I have no memory of actually seeing them.

This was how the Observatory Tower looked last Friday when we were allowed into the studio to rescue more of my 'stuff'. We were given half an hour on Friday morning. I had gathered together a team of us, me and Diane, my sister Julie and her husband Cedric and George, Wilson's friend who also came in with us to rescue Wil's work as he had to attend ERO meetings that day and couldn't come with us.

Here we are in our hard hats, me, Julie and George.

And here we are waiting for our safety talk! Cedric all geared up with his ladder to rescue the Railway Cup tapestries, which he did beautifully. Quite frightening, but once we got in there we didn't have time to worry about being safe. We just got on with it, bringing out as much as we could in the time allowed. Liz Hodgson, who was the person organising everyone to be able to go into their spaces, is in the middle of us in the orange jacket. Liz was very helpful and supportive of our rescue. My thanks go out to her as well.

Here is a back view of Diane starting to pick up the yarns as she knew just what we needed to continue working on the tapestries. See all the plastic bins we took up with us. Loads of black rubbish bags as well. These photos are very blurry, as my hand was quite shakey and I took the photos too quickly being aware of the lack of time.

Here is a view of the studio looking towards Wilson's and Anne's looms with George photographing the mess. You can see my tapestries still rolled up under the glass shelves. They soon got picked up and taken outside.

Here are some of my paintings resting by the pool and waiting to be put into the truck.

Here is the alleyway between the studio and the Scott building next door. Lucky we weren't standing here when the earthquake struck. The beautiful old buildings are going to be rebuilt, but that will take time and money, I guess. I will not be going back into the Arts Centre with my studio. At the moment my looms are in my spare room and we are back working on the tapestries. I will need to relocate though as my wee flat is not big enough to hold all my studio.

Back Next