Threads and fibres
NO matter where you look behind the creations showcased at Wangaratta’s Stitched Up Textile Festival, there is a story behind every stitch and fibre.
One such story belongs to Glenrowan woman Bobby George, who will be involved alongside Maggie Whyte in The Story of Rug Hooking demonstration on Sunday, July 9 at Stitchy Central (Gallery 2 at Wangaratta Art Gallery).
Originally from South Wales, Bobby said she has been attracted to rug hooking ever since childhood, as she saw collier families around her making rugs out of recycled materials.
“Blankets and garments were torn or cut into short strips and prodded through old hessian sacks with modified dolly pegs to make floor coverings,” she said.
“Unfortunately for me, my mother decided that we weren’t so poor as to need rag rugs on the floor.”
Bobby got into the craft with a passion in adulthood, inspired by a book on the subject by Miriam Miller, an English woman who has made her home on the central coast of NSW.
In the past few years, she has made several works using rug hooking, ranging from a sturdy rug for her floor to artistic pieces, and most are made from recycled materials.
“I am not artistically endowed, so my rugs tend to be based on geometric designs, or patterns and forms that can be obtained using anything at hand,” she said.
“I really like the idea of giving something a new life, so mostly use old clothes, woollen blankets and op shop bargains.
“My current project is a departure - I am using carpet yarn which I have dyed.”
Bobby praised those involved in the Stitched Up Festival, saying it is “a fantastic thing for Wangaratta”, and said she loved meeting new people at the event.
“The people that are attracted to textile groups are people that have a generosity of heart,” she said.
Elsewhere in the North East, members of the Wooragee Felters have been busy creating a submission for the Stitching A Story community exhibition at Stitchy Central.
They have created an imposing felted piece telling the story of pioneer woman Eliza Forlonge, who drove Saxon Merino fine wool sheep across Europe, brought them to Australia and settled at Euroa’s Seven Creeks Run.
Group member Marion Stewart said 10 members of the group, which has members from across the North East, have been working on the piece, which is three metres across and one metre high, over many hours and several months.
The wet felted piece, which features scenes from Eliza’s life, has needle felted and embroidered details.
She said the group chose the story of Eliza Forlonge as it showcased the achievements of “a pioneering woman of great strength and character” which had strong ties with the North East.
Marion is an ardent felting enthusiast of many years’ standing and loves being involved with the Wooragee Felters.
“You’re actually creating a fabric, but it gives you control over the colours,” she said. “It’s almost like drawing with wool. “I prefer to use it in an artistic way.” Marion said the Stitched Up Textile Festival “is of huge significance to not only the textile groups, but anyone interested in textiles”.
For more information on the Stitched Up Textile Festival, see: www.stitchedupfestival.com.
FUN WITH FIBRES: Whether they are for art or practical use, many of Glenrowan woman Bobby George’s rug hooking works feature repurposed fibres, from car seat covers to old clothes and more.
PAINSTAKING: Bobby George at work on one of her latest rug hooking projects.
TELLING A STORY: Jane Trabant from the Wooragee Felters working on the group’s submission to Wangaratta’s Stitched Up Textile Festival, the story of pioneer woman Eliza Forlonge. This panel portrays the wedding of Eliza to husband John in 1804.