We were accompanied by rain as we drove westward over the Great Dividing Range, across the western Downs, through cypress pine bush till the land stretched out flat and dry. Our destination was a small quiet country centre that once rode on the sheep’s back. After camping along the river at Mitchell, we arrived in town after the 8 hour trip.
Wide roads where bullock drays could turn around, left marks when life was booming in the hotels, warehouses and homesteads. The newly built levy bank near our Motel was evidence of floods that ravaged the community many times ago.
The art & craft space where we worked was used by ceramic, silversmith and patchwork groups and supported by the Charleville Council for cultural activities since the mid 70’s.
I was excited about introducing a wool craft back to a region that depended on its production for so long. I was also keen to share my felt making skills and experiences with a diverse group of rural women and the pleasure of communicating and hands on createing.
With the promise of a hot 42 degree day outside, we started by introductions, feeling the samples, decided on which bright coloured wool tops/silk and experimented with the light weight techniques of nuno felting. Everyone enjoyed the active process and its results. The possibilities where fed into discussions of individual designs for a larger lightweight wool on silk wrap or accessory to be made the next day. When we got weary it was time to sample the delicious baking over a cuppa.
After a weekend of careful design, layout, wetting, pre-felting and throwing the felt all participants produced a unique piece to wear.
Our stay was highlighted by warm hospitality, a country race day and experiencing the local flora and fauna in the wild. Thank you for inviting us into your wide open spaces and the chance to share some creative textiles!
Mieke den Otter
Artist/Tutor with Flying Arts