New beginnings II
25th Oct 19
A new beginning.
It was that simple. Love eh? I could do my degree in Australia as an international student. In Melbourne! I loved Melbourne. It felt the most like home - It was kind of dirty like London, it was multicultural, had amazing food and unpredictable weather and it was creative. Its heart was beating with creativity.
Where am I going with this again?
Oh yes, let me move this on. I didn’t do the degree in the end. I chose the TAFE course (Technical and Further Education). It was a studio based textile course. I wasn’t learning to design for industry on computers. I was in the studio, getting my hands dirty, Screen printing, dyeing, weaving, knitting, stitching. I loved it all, but when I got behind a weaving loom I knew this was where I was supposed to be. I felt this archaic pull. I felt this was home.
I could later ‘bridge’ to the degree course if I wanted; doing a further 2 years instead of 3 - I still had a fixation about getting a degree. I married my Australian (his name is Shah) - at the Horniman – you can take a girl out of south east London but SHE will always come home. I wore a dress I had designed that I had dyed and pleated in the microwave – It’s a legit technique that I carefully worked out, one day I will patent it. I was wrapped in a 3 metre square silk and merino blanket I had woven – It was December.
All the ingredients in my wedding get up = Habotai and georgette silk. Landscape Dye. Microwave. Stove top. Steel Pan. Laceweight Merino wool. Laceweight Silk yarn. Silk ribbon. Stitched. Woven. Loom. Sewing Machine. Pins. Needles. Thread. A little blood. Busy Fingers.
I got knocked up! Maybe I wasn’t that keen on the degree after all.
Random jobs –
Working for a music promoter, ferrying musicians around when they came to town / hunting necessities for their rider - A memory of sitting in the driver seat of a mini bus knitting a tiny little cardigan over my neat belly. I had just delivered Enrique Iglesias, Anna Kornikova and entourage to a Sunday barbecue at Molly Meldrum’s house - The Australian equivalent of Bruce Forsyth. Enrique came out early, he was very interested in my knitting - clearly more so than the chat at the Barbie. That job was a lot more glamorous than the one I got in the outdoor bounds factory in the suburbs, glue gunning my fingers and polar fleece samples onto swatch cards, I graduated to quality control on hiking socks. Meanwhile still working as a waitress at the local racecourse, with my old friend static. I told you I was a grafter.
A new beginning
My beautiful Matilda was born.
She was heaven.
No more polar fleece.
No more static.
My Aunty Jenny bought me a weaving loom. I had hunted. Really hunted. My loom was a beauty. Made by a passionate man in his shed in a small country town in Victoria. I love my weaving loom. I love that she is made of different kinds of wood and is scarred and has paper fasteners holding the bars holding the heddles in place. I love that you can see the practicalities of her creation, not pretty in places.
I got a studio with my best friend Kim. We set up a children’s clothing label to pay for the studio costs and because really we wanted to make cute things for Matilda. Tilda had a caged in corner full of ‘activities’ but she still managed to put buttons in her gob. I wanted to learn to draft patterns properly. I wanted to make my own clothes from my own hand woven cloth. I studied pattern making and garment construction at night school. I loved it and for 2 more years I studied couture dressmaking. I wove cloth for a tailored Jacket (that I’ve worn once - because I still haven’t done the buttonholes ha!).
Beth is wearing a ballgown I cut from some curtain fabric found in my neighbours loft. It took 3 washes to get it clean before I started sewing it. Can you spot my Tilda?
Til was 3. Our Kidswear label ‘Pram Outings’ had a regular stint at a local artists market. We had a few boutique stockists in Australia, one in New York and one in London. Kim and I were so relaxed we were almost asleep.
We had the best studio - it was tidy. We had everything we could need to lay our hands on in a creative capacity. It had beautiful big windows. We had a shrine to Princess Diana and Bryan Brown (because we love them). Matilda’s Dad nicknamed us the ‘Tidy Koalas’. Kim and I are very tidy and we enjoy talking about being tidy (seriously Marie Kondo would have a ball hanging out with us). Every week we would open up our special space for friends and friends of friends to join us for ‘Studio Club’. It was ace. We would share what we knew, share our creative space, share our skills, learn other people’s skills, share our materials, talk, listen, tidy, snack. Studio club was legendary around our parts.
Matilda’s dad and I broke up. 8 years in Australia and I said goodbye to my beautiful friends that were my Straayan family and moved back home, into the open and loving arms of my family and friends here. Back in my teenage bedroom, the odd boozy sneaky rollie out my bedroom window, age 31, a 3 year old daughter and a broken marriage. Still no degree. The future ahead of me a glorious blank unknown.
To be continued…