Welcome to the seventh in my Three Questions series, where I ask makers about their creative practices. I met Brenda through QuiltNSW, a state-wide groups that aims to promote the art and craft of patchwork and quilting. Since then, we have worked together on various projects for that group and enjoyed ‘creative excursions’ to further our exposure to quilt and textile art.
Brenda creates textile paintings and sketches made from a rich palette of her own hand-dyed fabrics complemented by extensive, textural stitching demonstrating the transformative power of stitch. She also share the joy of colour, textiles and design through curating exhibitions and teaching.
During the pandemic, Brenda’s studio has morphed into a virtual classroom. She is excited at how technology enables us to effectively share our creative spaces and work side-by-side no matter where we are in the world and what time zone we are in.
How did you get started on your creative path?
“I learned to sew by a kind of osmosis watching and helping my resourceful and talented mother as she clothed the family. My father, a keen amateur photographer, encouraged me to use a camera from a young age and to explore composition. Together, my parents instilled a sense of wonder and love of being outdoors that now fuels my art.
“I made my first quilt when I was at university to keep warm in student houses as I studied law and politics but did not return to making quilts until 2000 when I made a baby quilt for a friend. Making baby quilts was a great way of exploring different techniques and styles and developing my sewing and design skills. These days, my preferred approach is freeform piecing with my own hand-dyed fabrics. I am drawn to saturated colours and my favourite design principle is “economy” where every element counts and nothing is extraneous.”
What satisfies you about the creative work you do?
“Working in series involves repetition, reflection, refinement and reward. I find that as I get to a deeper understanding of my process and subject matter, I improve upon my depiction of the essential. Familiarity and mastery brings fluidity and clarity. A kind of flow that is both satisfying and motivating.
“My teaching focus is on freeform piecing, effective design and the use of colour so as to promote fun and encourage creative momentum. To see students develop their own expressive voice is the ultimate reward.”
How do you stay inspired to create?
“Daily walks are a creative habit integral to my studio practice. By closely observing my surroundings and taking hundreds of photos, I have a bountiful inspiration bank that informs my work. Abstraction is a persistent and insistent force in my creative practice. Inspired by patterns and shapes of nature, and a deep affinity to place, I capture the essence of my subjects in my textile art. I constantly test how far I can pare back my designs and yet retain a connection with their inspiration source.”
See Brenda’s work in The New Quilt 2021 exhibition that continues at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery until 11 April 2021.
Follow Brenda online