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Monday, November 4, 2013

Interview with Julie of Cloth Fabric: Fundraising for wildlife affected by the NSW bushfires

Julie Paterson at her studio in the Blue Mountains

You may already be familiar with the beautiful work of Julie Paterson of Cloth Fabric. She is an inspiring designer whose textile designs are hand printed in Australia and sold both locally and internationally. What you may not know is that Julie lives in the suburb of Blackheath, an area that was recently affected by NSW bushfires and her studio is also based here. Thankfully her home and studio were spared however the loss to the community and the wildlife is large. On her blog she shares having to pack up her precious belongings and leave town during the fires:
Julie's local area burnt during the NSW bushfires

"We drove up very late at night when the winds were calm. We got there at midnight and Julie was straight outside to water the thirsty garden. Early the next morning we packed up the car. It was interesting what we chose to save. Julie got a few of her earliest art pieces and the new unfinished ones, a new series that she had already called her Burnt Landscapes. And she harvested all the vegetables. We’ve been eating some kind of tough purple cabbage for days now.

I saved my favourite books and photos, and some treasures I inherited from my grandmothers – a flame orange cast iron pot, Mama’s mahjong set that she brought over from Shanghai, the rabbit egg cup Nan used to hide the house key under so you could let yourself in if she was out. Not worth anything much, but precious to me. We took photos of the house, the garden, our caravan called Meg. We had only bought her recently and hadn’t yet organized the right towbar kit for her so we couldn’t take her down with us. We hadn’t even spent a night in her or taken her on a trip. Julie was sad the most about leaving Meg." 
(Read the full story here)

Julie is also an ambassador for the Foundation of National Parks and Wildlife and has drawn on her skills as a textile designer to produce a series of three tea towels that will be sold online. All funds will go towards helping injured wildlife affected by the tragedy. I told you she was inspiring!
Banksia and Echidna tea towels designed by Julie Paterson - Cloth Fabric 

I recently interviewed Julie about her work and her fundraising project:

How did you start working with the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife and what do you like most about the work they do?

Emma the marketing manager contacted me - she kept driving by our shop on William St. and seeing the fabric with its Australian landscape focus. And so she got in touch as she knew it could be a relevant connection.  The bush and the land care work they do and the native animals they help to save is a worthy thing to be an ambassador for. I said yes in an instance.

Please tell us a little about your background and your journey into textile design.

From the age of 17 I knew I wanted to be a textile designer. My art teacher was one, it seemed fulfilling and I could understand the discipline. Also I think that textiles is the closest design practice to fine art and really thats what I want to be. A painter. Growing up in England in the '70's with Margaret Thatcher saying 'Get a real Job" every day of my life made me think that painting was not an option as a career so I focussed on studying a design degree.

I moved over to Sydney in 1989 after a couple of years working in a Textile design company in London and realised that the lack of design history in Australia at that time had a sense of freedom for me. England has  a great deal of textile history - certain things you could and couldn't do. A more closed headspace. Whereas Australia was open in every sense. I found it stimulating and liberating to be here. Still do. I began Cloth nearly 19 years ago with the idea of making local textiles based on the local environment for the people who lived here. Real down to earth textiles that people could connect to. I feel that Im still doing that.

The recent NSW bushfires were a devastating event and happy to hear your home was spared. Please tell us about the fundraising project and the inspiration behind the first tea towel design.

My garden is special to me. I grow native plants as well as a veggie garden, and was particularly worried that the fires might ruin all the hard work I had put in over the years. My banksias grow particularly well up there. And the Banksia is quite fire resistant - they like the smoke to germinate. So I thought the Banksia was a good plant to use as a symbol of the environment - the delicate balance of burn and regrowth. And because the fires came so close I wanted to mark the moment by creating something and doing something that could give back to the land. The echidna is a vulnerable animal that really suffers in a fire. They are particularly good to draw with all those spikes but they are hopeless at out running a fire. All they can do is roll into a ball and then their spines melt. So they are my symbol of the fragility of the animals caught in a fire.

Julie has released two tea towels available for sale now on the Cloth website with a third tea towel in progress. At $38 each they will make a great Christmas gift and will also go towards a wonderful cause.

Thank you Julie for sharing your project with us and wishing you all the best in your fundraising efforts!

+ Images provided by Julie Paterson - Cloth Fabric and used with permission
+ Website: www.clothfabric.com







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