My journeys are always a source of inspiration and foundation for my artistic practice as well as the way in which I live. This is my second hand woven blanket- Fields #2 . We drove in a 96 year old car through Thailand, Laos, China and Kyrgyzstan on our way to London; and the fields were the core of the lives of not only those who lived in these rural communities; but for those also where the crops were delivered and exported to. . I spent weeks observing the fields and those who worked in them. As we travelled it was difficult to post updates due to time constraints as well as censorship; and although my intention was to ‘catch-up’ when we arrived home… I’ve found myself diving into my artistic practice and have immersed myself in weaving these beautiful blankets. . I’m using wool from my collection, and found that I start with an image/theme in my mind; then do a quick gather of yarn and then just start weaving without any fussiness about colour choices. It seems to have all just flowed without much thought. I then hand stitch a small motif as a symbol which represents the theme of the artwork. The […]
As an artist, all my creative expression is founded upon my experiences. Our recent journeys through Thailand, Laos and China have inspired a series of blankets I have hand woven using the most beautiful indie dyed wool from my collection. Seeing so much weaving in the rural areas, and participating in my weaving class with @theweavingsisters inspired me to recommence weaving which I havent done since I was an adolescent… quite a long time ago! I’m so enjoying my 48″ or 120cm Rigid Heddle Loom by @ashford_wheels_looms . I don’t have any podcasts playing. No Audio or visual programmes in the background. I am accompanied only by my thoughts and the sounds of nature outside my studio. It is such a lovely space to be in to weave meditatively. Here are my first two blankets inspired by the fields along our journey. You can view more of my artisan handwoven blankets here by clicking my Skeinydipping Website.
We had a wonderful morning with Evgeniy who brought our reserve tyres from Almati to his home town of Osh in Kyrgyzstan for us, subsequent to having to readjust our schedule after our delay in Bangkok. Adrian from ROARR originally organised for our tyres to be transported to Almati for us as we knew that we needed spares along the way. Evgeniy is the most generous man and we’ve had the best time with him here in Osh. Penny also had an oil change and was set to go on our next adventure. We headed back south toward the Kyrgyzstan border into Tajikistan where for me was going to be the highlight of the trip, to drive the Wakhan Corridor. I felt a sense of freedom after leaving China and the cold air and Max and I were both really excited. I started singing crazy songs into the blue sky. We had a couple of options for the night – Homestay or camping. We had our camping gear with us and it was only going to be about -6 or so at night… so I was secretly scouring for a campsite that was close to our proposed destination for the night. Max was a […]
Poached quince in a yellow bucket was being squished in the dark hands which reveal a tough life. The lady wearing a red apron and dust coloured headscarf reassured me with her smile that it was ok to eat… and all my sensibilities left me. Into the pulp on the plastic bag covered plate she sprinkled walnuts, chickpeas and sultanas; and then big dollop of thickened kefir yoghurt which was scooped from a nearly empty plastic jar under the table on the dirt; and then finished with a drizzle of honey which was scooped out of the honey pot with the yoghurt spoon! Big breath. At this point I was praying to every higher authority …Jesus, God, Buddha, Allah… that I wouldn’t get sick. I had been so diligent for the whole journey, and until now had not once been affected by errant bacteria..so this was it… do I… or don’t I???? I decided to dive in and try… and to top it off ALSO try a rice parcel which was wrapped in leaves and steamed… thinking that it was wrapped and hot it had a better chance of being safe to eat… but I didn’t count on the lady […]
The landscape changed again from Zanda to Rutog. It was so dry. Rock was exposed. Prayer flags shivered in the cold wind on the tops of the passes. Snow was shrouding the surrounding mountains as we drove in cool sunshine in the sweeping valleys. The geology of this area was extraordinary. Time folded and eroded in the rugged landscape. The Tibetan Antelope looked healthy and strong…and so did the herds of cashmere goats…. surprisingly, because the vegetation seemed to be sparse. The road was good. Recent tarmac which had been prepared by a different operator than a few hundred kms further south! This stretch we could travel about 80kms/hour on, but much more slowly on the hairpin turns which we are always very careful with. My job is to always keep an eye on the digital map on the iPad mounted on the dash…and let Max know when a hairpin is coming up… and also look for the exit-side of the hairpin for oncoming traffic. “Looks clear. Yes”…. is always a good call from me… but occasionally – “ Stop, Truck on our side!”, is a call Max doesn’t like to hear! Penny was running really baldly – coughing and spluttering ….and […]
Time to leave Qomolongma, but the Himalayas remained our companion to the left of us for many days. Sometimes for hours on end the snow capped peaks shouldered our route northwestward toward Kashgar, where we have a few days planned. The landscape was constantly changing. The valleys became wider and slopes softer. Harvest season was nearly completed and the hay which had been drying in paddocks for several weeks, was now being brought in to be thrashed. Nomad dwellings provided by the government lay blocked in strips in small communities along the roadsides. Autumn mutton hung on display to be sold as the seasonal source of protein. Nomads and their children gathered in groups to skin and butcher the sheep. Dung was being gathered and stockpiled to use as fuel for heating and cooking in the harsh cold winters. Construction, concrete, construction. New power lines were being constructed alongside a regional road to join the 219 to Kashgar; and regardless of the terrain, the large silver stands had to be installed. Huge flying foxes are used to transport some of the materials to the sides of the mountains, and sometimes donkeys are used to carry materials… even buckets of concrete […]
I was excited. The alarm went off in the dark and I popped on the rice-cooker we purchased in Bangkok. This rice-cooker has been a God-send! Lately I’ve been cooking in the morning whilst we are packing up – buckwheat porridge, sultanas, and sliced fresh apple; for when the small rural hotels don’t provide breakfast. Brilliant! Who would ever think of travelling with a small rice-cooker?!?! Penny had a substantial layer of frost on her black cover and it glistened as the sun rose and we packed her up ready for our drive to Everest Base Camp. Porridge consumed – and off we went. It wasn’t far down the road before we encountered our first of four checkpoints for the day; two of which were police ones, and the other two ticket ones. Recently there has been an increased number of police checkpoints throughout China, and we encounter on average 3 per day, where our guide provides the paperwork with our passports; car registration, drivers license, and appropriate permits for each region. We drove west passing through small villages where the barley harvest was in full swing. Rising from the river flats Penny navigated 42 hairpin curves on the way […]
Tibet is so rich. The culture, landscape, and the Tibetans are so friendly. I love waving to people as we drive by; and nearly always I’m met with such vigorous waving in return. I have to admit that at times I’m brought to a little wave of tears when I wave to someone working in the field, and they return a wave with such generosity and joyfulness. Our days start early and leaving Lhasa and heading northwards – construction was evident. Newly constructed roads; bridges; cement plants; stacked concrete blocks; trucks filled with gravel; power plants; solar energy plants – everywhere eking into the rural landscape there seemed to be construction and development. The expansive plains and soft hillsides with freshly harvested grain gently rose in elevation and soon we were amongst the clouds and snow reaching our highest elevation of 5,440mts. It was so lovely seeing the yaks grazing on the pastures, but to learn from the nomads that they are unable to graze in their traditional highlands any more is disturbing. It seems like we’ve entered sheep territory and I was so delighted to see so many sheep. Their minders stood guard in the cold wind and bright sun […]
Higher and higher and higher into the cloud and snow we went! What an incredible time we’re having. I can’t keep up with journaling because the days are so long … and to be honest sometimes quite gruelling…. but today is a quiet day in Lhasa in Tibet Autonomous Region … so here’s a snippet of how the past week has been. We decided to take the roof off as we left Deqen, even though it was drizzling a little. The thought of driving ‘lidded’ amongst the imposing mountains was just not an option. We put our snow wet-weather gear on, and chose to suck up the cold and moisture, to have the opportunity to be able to enjoy the spectacular geology and landscape of the Lacang Gorge, which is the beginnings of the Mekong. It was a little daunting driving along the narrow roads with large conglomerate river rocks ready to rock and roll down at any time. Max was quite relieved to be passed these areas of overhangs, as we could see rumble slides constantly along the road. Pockets of green terraced villages made opportunistic use of any flat land upon which to grow their crops. Bridges leaped […]
Hi julie Starting with another wet day, from Lijang to Shangri La we decided to take the motorway rather than the slippery mountain-road heading north on our way to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province in China. The road construction was evident throughout the day with a quite an extraordinary sight of a four lane suspension bridge being built for the new expressway to Shangri La across the river gorge of the Jinsha river which becomes the Yangtze further downstream. Tiger Leaping Gorge is the third deepest gorge in the world, and the legend goes that when the river is low, there is a rock in the centre which was used by a tiger to leap across the gorge. Regardless of this fable; it’s just an incredible experience hearing the swirling water rage down between the steeply rising mountains. It is so awesome, that thousands of tourists visit each day; and the buses streamed in, one after another; offloading umbrellas with two legs underneath scurrying to view the raging torrent. Many had shoes covered in brightly coloured plastic covers making the steep staired descent…. and a much more labored ascent unless you chose to negotiate a price to be […]
Into China now, and what a marked difference from Laos. Our border crossing was seamless, but it was apparent immediately that rules and regulations must be adhered to. After I was processed via the passenger lane at the border I went to Max and Penny at the boom-gate and had a friendly conversation with the border guard and hopped in Penny. My bad. I wasn’t supposed to do that, and it was indicated to me that I needed to get out and walk 5 metres ahead; when I was then allowed to get back into Penny after passing through the entry gate. Max and I realized immediately that our casual Australian disposition needed to be sharpened up a bit here. There was a four-lane highway north of the border, a marked difference to the rough dirt roads in Laos; and also now with lots of Police border checkpoints. Construction littered the landscape and huge grey concrete pillars grouped across the land. These fortresses are the roots of the proposed new highways and railways which connect China to neighbouring countries. The surrounding mountains were covered with rubber plantations, with several National Preservation Parks however, where there are Asian elephants in […]
Long, hot, fabulous days on the road from Northern Thailand; through Laos and now in China…. and I’m playing catch up with my Journal broadcasts and it’s late after another big day so I will try and do a brief round-up to give you an idea of how we’ve been going and what things I’ve seen along our Journey. What and full week it’s been. After leaving Chiang Rai we headed north-east to Luang Namtha. The rice fields became more prevalent and regardless of the increasing poverty, colours were everywhere. Buildings. Clothing. Motor-bike tyres were wrapped in metallic packaging to protect them from perishing in the sun. Umbrellas in all shapes, sizes and colours created shade in the oppressive heat. From Luang Namtha we then went to Luang Prabang…. 313kms each way so I could participate in a traditional weaving class with The Weaving Sisters. We had planned to return to Luang Namtha after a one-night stay in Luang Prabang, so that we could be relatively close to the border in preparation for our China entry on Tuesday 17th September. It took us 9 hours for those 313kms to Luang Prabang across incredibly treacherous bumpy road for many sections, […]
Being on the road again is just fabulous. I had forgotten though how absolutely exhausting it can be; in a noisy old car in the heat, humidity, rain, traffic, cramped conditions and at times treacherous road conditions. I do though so love driving along in an open car smelling cooking rice wafting from within the small thatched shelters; the damp smell of dark wet forests; pork fat rendering in blackened woks; rainforest blossom. Our first day was hot, but seemed to brighten the colours of the buildings and glistened the gold of the temples, Wat’s and statues of Buddha. The school buildings and fences were often pained in purple and adorned with flags. Buildings in blocks are differentiated by paint. Giant colourful statues of animals stood on display along the roadside. I could understand the roosters, deer, rabbit, tiger, pig, cow…. because of their reference in Buddhism, but I just couldn’t get my head around the significance of a giant statue of a giraffe or Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. We passed through so many check points along the road north close along the Myanmar border, and came to a section where every 100mts was a soldier with an automatic […]
We’re on the road again for our next adventure… well not quite. It’s been quite a while since my last broadcast and life’s been pretty full since last year. Max and I had the most wonderful time driving around Scotland including the Outer Hebrides and the Shetlands in March and April; I participated in many classes at Edinburgh Yarn Festival; then I returned home and had some skin cancer treatments, which included a skin graft using some of my forehead to make a new nostril. How cool is that, that surgeons can do that kind of stuff and the body heals so beautifully! I am so grateful. Healing is quite a miracle really hey? So… now we are in Bangkok preparing for our planned adventure driving in Penny our 1923 Vauxhall from Bangkok to London. . 22,000kms and 16 countries. 3 months. We will have a guide for our 29 days in China, but other than that we are on our own and winging it along our proposed route. We left Brisbane on 23rd August and on Monday 26th we went to the Freight Company to accompany the representatives to the port to collect Penny. We […]
Well… our next journey begins. Bangkok to London via the Tibetan Plateau in Penny, our 1923 Vauxhall. This will be a remarkable experience travelling; making new friendships and enriching existing ones; learning about myself and the world in which we live. 22,000kms… 16 countries… 3 months. I hope you can follow our journey over the coming months and I will share when I’m able to.