Textile designer, painter and printmaker Julie Paterson lives in Blackheath. Julie used her journal to capture “Brave Ideas’ and ‘Kind Thoughts.’
A mix of watercolour, text and collage fills the pages of Julie’s journal which also became the stimulus for a new practice in ceramics and a creative project challenging artists to make new patterns EverySevenDays.
“Probably just a cold but who knows.”
We asked Julie three questions about her experience of isolation, completing this journal and her hope for the future. These are her responses:
Describe the experience of the period of isolation for you.
Physically the period of isolation for me felt the same as always - I live up in Blackheath at the top of the Blue Mountains, down a long dirt track surrounded by the National Park on 3 sides. A truly beautiful spot of 29 acres of pristine mountains bush. Mentally though, it’s been varied. I was and still am very busy with deadlines and projects and orders (people have wanted fabric and affordable artwork during isolation it seems).
After the initial shock in March where I can’t remember what I did for a few weeks, it was lots, long days working hard, 7 days a week all the way through to now, working to deadlines. I don’t think I’ve had a proper day off since April. However, my output has been varied. Some days in those first few months particularly were hard to focus and I found myself walking around my garden and on our land just not being able to concentrate. On other days I was incredibly creative - on new things, not on the work I needed to be doing but on things that were more experimental, ideas trials.
What does your book represent and how did you approach the challenge?
The sketch book captured some of that time - the beginning of my EverySevenDays2020 project was captured there, and the start of my ceramics collaboration was borne in the sketch book too. I was both creatively super-engaged with many ideas whizzing around and also scattered in my thoughts and unable to plan. So the sketch book was my thought catcher, where my ideas landed for a while. I have many sketch books that document time and thoughts and ideas - it is a familiar way of working for me. I didn’t want this book to be any different to any other one - so you’ve got rough and ready not some pretty pages and some nice drawings too.
What do you hope will change in Australia as a result of the pandemic?
One of the particular things I’m feeling and noticing in others is a sense of care and kindness coming through in all my professional and personal dealings with people. There are stressed out folk out there, me included, but I find if I respond to people with kindness and compassion everything changes. And it is generally reciprocated too. This, I hope is the most important and lasting thing to come from this pandemic - a new shared feeling of care and love and mutual respect. We have all experienced something profound, remarkable, unbelievable. From here we can move forwards in a different, gentle more compassionate way, I hope.
Julie Paterson is a painter, printmaker and designer of textiles. Julie owns a small fabric company called Cloth that she set up almost 25 years ago, because it made sense at the time and still does now.
Julie lives in NSW's Blue Mountains on Gundungurra and Darug land, where she works with a small team of people who love what they do, making textiles by hand, the old-fashioned way.
The pandemic has meant pivoting from running her imperfect workshops, to creating a collaborative ephemeral art project.
View Julie Paterson's journal here:
Image: Julie Paterson, Design/Isolate Journal (detail), 2020.