Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.


Australia is a vast and ancient land of desert and mountain ranges that have been sculpted by the forces of nature resulting in a huge range of colored muds, dirts, soils and ochres. The aborigines used and continue to use, colored clays and ochres to decorate their ceremonial artifacts, bodies, caves and bark paintings. They use yellow and red obtained from ochres including ironstone and limonite, black from charcoal or manganese ore and white from pipeclay or gypsum. After grinding these finely, the aborigines mix them with water and a natural fixative of gum or resin is added if necessary.

I live in the small seaside settlement of Connellys Marsh in Tasmania, the island state of Australia. My coastal environment is important to me as the major source of my muds and dyes and as the inspiration for much of my artwork.

My artistic career began with my training as a graphic designer and I have worked in Tasmania, Britain and Zimbabwe, where I lived for 14 years. In 1976 I returned to Tasmania and decided to study for my Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts Teaching). Although I did not realize it at the time, Africa was an unconscious influence in my artistic development.

In the 1990s I left teaching to concentrate on my own creative work and since then I have attended dye workshops and conferences in Australia, Canada, the USA, Japan and India. These experiences have enriched my development as an artist, exposing me to a broad range of techniques and processes, some of which I have incorporated into my artwork.