Katya was just three when she first experienced the Dreaming which would begin her cloth Dreaming storytelling. Although she didn’t know it then her first Dream images came from watching bubbles emerge from a pipe. Building, renewing and growing one upon another the bubbles created, a fantasy world for as long as she had energy and breath. Popping, spitting and crackling the more she blew through the pipe they grew and renewed one upon the other. En masse they slithered wet and slimy down her arm and fell to the ground. What fun! How fantastic!
Later she would bring the bubbles to life again through the cloth. Cloth that was transparent and easily manipulated but not by breath this time. By repeatedly tying marbles inside the cloth, boiling in hot water then cooling and untying, she recaptured the image of the bubbles by using the Japanese tie-dying technique, called Shibori.
Shibori bubbles in organza
As a young child Katya was often sick and bedridden with respiratory infections and bronchitis. Whether it was the drugs she was administered at the time or the many hours of lying alone in bed, her Dreaming began in earnest and along with it the stories. She derived great pleasure from rubbing, between her fingers, the satin ribbon that bordered the mohair coverlet on her bed, while she created hills and valleys, caves and pastures in the blankets and imagined the fantasy worlds and folk that lived and travelled across the bedclothes. No wonder the cloth and stories merged to become one. In particular the “Mohair” blanket journeyed with her for many years. I suggested she take it with her; a transitional object to keep her anchored.
Not all her experiences of Dreaming were as exciting or whimsical. In fact Katya felt invisible most of the time as a young child; if not invisible at least transparent. So much so that she would hide and make herself ‘disappear’ to prove her theory. Under the bed in the dark for instance, she would wait for someone to miss her, notice she was gone, turn on the hall light and call her name. They never did. In later years her Dreaming and cloth making reflected this experience of being present but unnoticed, and therefore unimportant. She would dream about what it had been like to be ‘invisible’ and as she wondered about “Invisibility” she would struggle to depict it in her cloth as shown in her “Autumn Bird” series. Never quite achieving extinction completely and rewarded only with transparency and suggestion. Her stories in the cloth were delicate, not even outlined. Thus evocative creatures emerged using feathers, wool, and fabric. Marks made intentionally and set strategically within the cloth grounded the scene in the present but for ever expressing a time of transition maybe…..when the light is dim …almost twilight all the time.
 Transitional Object is a term from developmental psychology specifically relating to those objects of affection, with which the child soothes itself and which functions as a substitute for the mother.
A kind of autumn…….
Autumn Bird in Flight. Mini Textile Art 6th International Juried Exhibition. June 18-30, 2013. Kherson, Ukraine.
She came to recognise times of transition as an opportunity for movement from one space to another….. a pathway to somewhere else…moving from invisibility to being seen.
The “Autumn Woods” cloth is an early piece. An experiment of free machine embroidery over satins, string, calico, and opaque organza. In it she recognises her story of moving from the darkness ‘under the bed’ along a path toward the light ‘in the hall’ on her own. Stepping carefully across uneven, marshy ground to begin with but then with more confidence along a more solid path through the forest. It is interesting to note that she continues to perceive the future in the distance as somewhat threatening and dark. Equally interesting is how some of the material used in this work; heirloom doilies from her grandmother’s era and handkerchiefs that once belonged to her mother, have surrendered their original identity. Hastily torn then reconstructed pleated or folded they contribute to this story in a different way now. As if mother and grandmother have been deconstructed and reinvented to show the promise of more welcoming and reachable comfort ‘down the track’.
Autumn Woods. ‘Progressions’ 7th Juried Textile Art Exhibition, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, September 2012
Autumn woods detail
In her isolation Katya would search for those she knew she could depend on. Imaginary Dreamt up friends who lived in the worn out cement between the brickwork of her house. She named them all and talked to them often. They told her their stories too, of their life in the patch work wall of her house. Later she returned to this patchwork Dreaming in the cloth many times. Carelessly torn, cut, stressed, and unwanted scraps woven together providing the background upon which to begin her story.
Cloth made from woven strips of fabric. Used as a background for future stories. 2012
Much later she captured the essence of these fantasy characters in a painting. As a much older Katya she reminisced on the whimsical nature of her childhood.
Friends in the Wall. Private Collection 2014
However it was not just the company in the crevices of the wall that gave rise to her caricature Dreaming.