Embroidered photographs

I saw one of Melissa Zexter’s sewn photographs one day and just thought – I’ve got to do that. Since then I’ve seen many others including Hinke Schreuder’s work. It is very contemplative to hand sew.

Gifts from Japan

Gifts from Japan 2021

Gifts from Japan references two gifts given many years apart. The first was the little doll. It was gifted to me from a Japanese man my husband was working with many years ago. I had three dolls – his mother and his wife had made two of them, and he’d bought me a kit to make the other. I still have the first two – even though they are showing their age. They have been kept because they are quite lovely, and for sentimental reasons. My sister-in-law had brought the small glass vase back from Japan for me a couple of years ago. If you look hard, you can see some of the fish that are sandblasted on to it. I have used Sashiko embroidery to add to my Japanese connections.

Portal to a different world

Portal to a different world, 2020

Entering the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is like wandering into another world. The temperature cools, and you are enveloped in a world of green leaves and buttressed trees. The senses are aware of the bird calls from the canopy and the rustle of a pademelon on the ground. There is also a certain wariness of snakes or leeches! My work tries to emulate the feeling of ‘difference’ discerned in this environment by using a disconcerting double perspective in the photograph, and the close proximity of the plane of hand stitched leaves in the foreground. 

Beerwah Voyeur 2

I’d driven past this view when the flowers were in bloom. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) by the time I’d returned to the site with a camera the flowers were looking very faded and tatty. My Nikon D800 was pressed right up against them and focused on the mountain to get this rather delightful blurry shot. For an exhibition at the Bribie Island Community Arts Centre I decided to reintroduce the flowers with some embroidery cotton.


Flight through the Piccabeens

Hand embroidered photo of Picabeen palm roots
Flight through the Piccabeens, 2018

There are many Piccabeen palms where I live, but this one was in the Buderim Forest Park. They usually have their feet in damp places, so I could also imagine all the little insects that might fly around them at night.

Portrait of a leaf – embellished

Embroidered photo of a leaf.

Portrait of a leaf – embellished, 2016, 12″ x 16″

Generally my embroidered photographs all have an overall pattern stitched on to them. As much as I like working to a grid pattern, this time I decided to let the image dictate the flow of the stitches.

Safe Passage

Handstitched photo of Bruny Island lighthouse


Safe Passage, 2014, 16″ x 24″
CQ University collection

The lighthouse in the photograph is the Bruny Island Light in Tasmania. The sewing pattern is based on cardinal channel markers – the ones that show whether the deeper water is north, south, east or west of the mark. When I first started sailing there was no GPS – ones location was determined by compass bearings from channel markers, lighthouses and prominent landmarks. Even with GPS a lighthouse or channel marker allows safe passage, and peace of mind, through a waterway. 

Lady of Monastir

Embroidered photo of a woman in Monastir
Lady of Monastir

This was my first embroidered photograph. It is about A4 size. We spent a winter at Monastir, Tunisia, in 1994, on our boat Burramys. That is when I took the photograph. I was intrigued by the wall painted in a tile pattern. It was just luck that the lady in the sifsari walked into the picture. The embroidered pattern came much later, but the design was taken from the large area of paving surrounding Habib Boughuiba’s tomb.