TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, May 2, 2008

Guest Artist: Dijanne Cevaal

I can't remember how I exactly I found Dijanne Cevaal- I think her blog, Musings of a Textile Itinerant, was linked to another one I looked at. Of course, I immediately became a fan and invited her to write for Fiber Focus. Visiting her blog is a must! She has packed it with all that I love: textures, color, process, approachability. Dijanne is from Australia, but presents herself as a world citizen. She is a master of technique and has won awards, curated shows, teaches classes and written a book. This article is but a small sampling of her varied palette and subject matter, all of which are united by rich colors and texture. Welcome, Dijanne!

I have been a full time textile artist since 1992 but have always had a love of textiles including embroidery and applique. I also adore ethnic textiles- the unexpected combinations of colour, the presence of the maker and a certain richness for ornamentation and decoration which speaks to me. I do usually work in the quilt form, but would have to say that a whole range of textiles and techniques appeal.

All of my work commences as white cloth , and from there I dye the fabric, print, and stitch. One quilt which shows how this process works is View from My Studio which won the Husqvarna Viking prize in the Councours at Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork last year. I dyed the whole cloth with the intent of creating a forest scene- the process is low immersion dyeing and as such has a certain element of serendipity- but I like that as it then gives me clues how to work further. I then stitch ( usually in the quilting process) to accentuate elements, bring in new elements and use coloured thread to bring the whole thing alive- the quilting becomes a kind of embroidery creating not only texture but line and form.

Currently I am working on work for a solo exhibition entitled Caravanserai-inspired by the colours and silks and legends of the Middle East and Syria. I have been fortunate to travel quite widely in the Middle East, which of course, is a textile lovers paradise which is fast disappearing. I have also taken travelling exhibitions to the Middle East and it has been fascinating watching the response to the "contemporary" work which I have taken there- firstly it appeals to men and women alike. They loved the colours, were astounded how much you could do with simple techniques. Immediately, you could see people thinking about their own textiles and how they might incorporate the faster way of working into their own textile experience. For my part, I was inspired by the textiles and the ambience of the whole place - especially Syria where the past is such a presence, with magnificent ruins, where the every day blends with things from so long ago.

That experience for someone who lives in a what is described as a "young country" is truly inspiring. I know we have an ancient people here in Australia with a wonderful visual vocabulary, too. This is theirs and I, as an outsider would never dare to assimilate, though I may be inspired by the colours and juxtapositions and even the stories that so much of their work entails. I find Middle Eastern textiles awe inspiring. To think that textiles have been carried through this rich history since the beginning of time gives me a rich thread with which to work. There are the exploits of Gilgamesh, believed to be the oldest written story. Then, the Assyrian stone-reliefs of battles and kings riding horses with horse blankets in which the stone carver has gone to remarkable lengths to show the quilted texture of the cloth. Contemporary patterns and colours of salt bags and present day horse blankets combine with the habits of hospitality and the profusion of colour and scent and spice of the souq.

Asurbanipal's Horse Blanket

It is my aim to tell the story of the richness of the experience- to pay homage to the hospitality I received and the visual stimulation that danced before my eyes.

Dijanne, at the sewing machine, with her interpreter, Hiba,
answers a question at a workshop on free machine sewing
and appliqué in Egypt in 2006.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Dijanne,

    We find ourselves posting next to each other on Rachel's blog. Your work is wonderful - color, pattern and subject matter all speaking to me! We have a lot in common - the name of your blog describes me as well.

    I'm very intrigued by your references to Gilgamesh and Assyrian culture - my husband is Kurdish and describes himself as both Mesopotamian and a citizen of the world. I too understand being a member of a young country enthralled by ancient ones, and your statement about 'never daring to assimilate' is why I don't weave and find other ways to express myself.

    Hope to see more of your work here!

    Best wishes,
    Catherine Bayar


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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