Warrnambool Tapestry Camp – summer 2013 (that’s January in Oz!)

We (my wife came down too for a week’s break) decided to use our seniors’ vouchers and get to Warrnambool by train and bus – and that would let my wife get to see the countryside for a change rather than concentrating on the road while she drives (I don’t drive – really). Flat basalt plain stretching westwards. Nobbly rocky chunks with stone strewn paddocks and hand-built  sharp edged stone walls. Ideas for compositions in sandy ochres and orangy reds…

I was surprised at the way Warrnambool seems to eat out a lot – at a number of very decent little cafes and restaurants like Figsellars, Images, Java, Logan’s, Brocky’s – it’s clearly no disadvantage to be in the country theses days!  The cafes were useful on the several days that it was both cold and rainy! And all roads lead down the hill to the Tafe College (Technical and Further Education) – which is a mix of preserved beautiful old buildings and the very new and refurbished:


Tapestry has just moved back into this central campus after a number of years’ ‘banishment’ to the Deakin University campus a at Sherwood, out of town. Not everything is fully set up yet – so dyeing will be deferred till later in the year.

It was great to meet tutors face to face for the first time – Cathy Hoffmann, Jude Stewart, Karen Richards and Sue Ferrari.  Cathy showed us a couple of her middle sized pieces including the Lake Mungo one (and in the library I found the brochure about her work on the Ballarat University tapestry).  Jude introduced us to the HUGE one of the bay that she worked on way back when – it’s hanging in the Lighthouse Theatre – and she also showed us the long historical strip tapestry she worked on, at Flagstaff Hill.

The four of them  presented, demonstrated and oversaw work on colour, drawing and mark-making ( this was a new area to me – mark-making – very great fun), history – and of course weaving:

Warrnambool weaving

As you can see, there was a variety of frames both wooden, metal, and combinations…

And then one met  fellow students. There were five first year, three second and two sixth – a good mix.  When you are face to face it is so easy to ask those little questions which seem to be too small to bother people with when you are away off-campus –  then when you do ask them it can lead into a discussion which illuminates several useful areas. And actually seeing how a professional does even little things – like holding the bobbin – and suddenly a light flashes!

As I noted before, we were doing a lot of other stuff than weaving, but even so all the first year seem to have done more than half of the first sampler – and none of their circles were squashed eggs. In second year, what with choosing the segment of historical wave we were going to do, making cartoons and warping up with 9 or even 6, we only got to doing most of the hem – we are hemming and not braiding.

The library catalogues and some material is available to us on-line, and the Tafe will send us books if we need them. Great.

A local wood-turner, Judith Sharrock makes and sells plain and brass-tipped bobbins (15 and 17 cm) for considerably less than one can get them in Melbourne!

All in all, this was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to the next one, even though it will probably be much shorter – a couple of days concentrating on dyeing.