Friday, December 20, 2013



 Just five simple questions for this one...
Please answer via Comments, leaving your name.

Feel free to repost on your own blog as you wish.
Thank you in anticipation...

1.  What is the earliest Christmas gift you remember?
2. Your favourite Christmas memory is ...?
3. Do you bake anything special for Christmas?
4. Where do you usually spend Christmas Day?
5. if you could have just one Christmas Wish, what would it be?


Click on the link to hear one of my favourite Christmas songs while you work out your answers...

Sunday, November 10, 2013


writing clipart 1 700x683

As I write to friends all over the world, I often marvel at how things have changed. It's not unusual for people to be born in one country, then move to several, maybe with family, then move again, from one place to the next, as they follow various careers.

Like most in Australia, I come from a family of immigrants... few of us don't. My Greek grandfather left the village of Potamos in Kythera, in 1904 to try his hand in a new country. He had been a farmer and a guard at the Greek palace.. here he started out as so many before him, as a kitchen hand in restaurants owned by fellow Greeks. He went into partnership with his cousin, also from Kythera and had a cafe in Bellingen, previously having been in Grafton.

I wish I could ask him why he then decided to go back to farming, this time in Whiporee, near Casino... then Aberdeen, then to Urunga, where he farmed for the rest of his years. My grandmother grew cotton and spun it, then wove it, before also leaving Kythera and coming to join her husband.Their children became farmers, cafe owners, soldiers, truck owner/drivers, worked on the railway, hoteliers, small business owners... then came the grandchildren...

Occupations changed. Here we have bank tellers, businessmen, a geologist, teachers, university lecturer, small business owners, cosmetician, media promotions director, transport operator, lawyer, timber importer, company representatives, managers, with partners as lawyer, travel agent, theatre manager, chemist, medical representative, small business owners, developers, property managers... I'm sure to have missed some. The great grandchildren have become lawyers, public relations directors, company owners, health insurance representative, computer security, engineers, swimming teacher, DJ, entrepreneurs, project manager, writer, nutritionist, and various other careers along the way...

So many have travelled overseas, most for pleasure, many to Greece and other countries, some for business... to all parts of the globe... None of this is unusual for families today, but if we could chat a while to our ancestors, what would they think of all this? Do mothers feel any different today as they wave their loved ones 'farewell' than mothers of long ago? At least today, we have communication previously unheard of... we can email, or pick up a phone... We can sit in our homes and see the person we are talking to in 'real time' via webcam. We can send them videos via the internet; photos, not needing film, can be sent via email or uploaded to the web, then family and friends invited to see them... at their leisure. The miles fade away as instant communication keeps families in touch...

As I picture my grandfather's family seeing their son leave for a virtually unknown country, I can feel their heartache... knowing that in all probability they would never see them again... was it any different for my maternal grandmother's Irish parents? They, too, watched their family leave for Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada.

(c) Wikimedia  
Bronze figures, Fleetwood, Lanc

Though both families were filled with hope, that their children would never have to endure the hardships they had in their native lands, the tears of the mother still rolled down a quivering lip; the firm handshake or hug of the father lasted just a little longer, while they tried so hard to keep their emotions confined and hearts still break a little more with each goodbye.

Crissouli (c)

Sunday, September 22, 2013


One of the exhibitions I have most been looking forward to is the one that includes the famous Rajah Quilt... I have written about it before... It was every bit as fascinating as I expected, but it was by no means the only quilt of interest. 

I could have spent far longer exploring the intricacies of the wonderful quilts on display, so diverse, so intricate, so inspiring and to me, most importantly, such a wonderful glimpse of times gone by. 

 If you didn't get to see it, then it's too late, at least in Brisbane... maybe a trip to the UK is in order.

 This is part of what you missed.

Until 22 September 2013: 'Quilts 1700-1945' exhibition | Maker unknown | Central section from a printed cotton patchwork coverlet showing King George III reviewing the troops 1803-05 | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London | view full image

There was also....

and so many more. 

No photos were allowed to be taken at the exhibition, so these photos are courtesy of the 
Queensland Art Gallery exhibition information.

The Rajah Quilt is far larger than I expected, even though I had looked briefly at the measurements. 
Considering the conditions in which it was made, it is an incredible piece of work... a great achievement by many who had never sewn before. 

You can read more about it here...

I marvelled at the intricate designs of many of the quilts, at the very neat stitching, at the colour combinations and at the
patience and persistence of sewing by hand by daylight mainly and candlelight when available.

To me, the stand out quilt was simple, not particularly perfect sewing, but created with something far more important,

The Changi Quilt

Video may take a moment to load.

Olga Henderson with the Changi quilt at the V&A exhibition in London Photo: JAMES


OLGA HENDERSON: The hut we were put in was for 34 people to sleep in and there was 119 of us in it. So you can imagine what we were like. I mean you just more or less slept together and you had no bedding, you had nothing like that.
The Japanese gave us a piece of land and each person, each child worked it. But you were not allowed to eat anything off it. As soon as it ripened you had to tell the guard and they would pick it. You weren’t allowed to eat it at all.
I think the horrible thing was that you had no soap. You had water … if you were in the fields, because you had to work in the fields, if they turned the water on it wasn’t a gush, it was a very slow flow, but by the time you came off the field, picked your piece of tin up that you had – an old tin can – by the time you got there they’d turned the water off, so you had nothing. We used to try and clean our teeth with ash if you could get it. We used to get the little twigs and knock the ends off and make a toothbrush.
When we were first in Changi, after we’d all got settled down and were given our allotted spaces, it was very boring because there was nothing to do.  So Mrs Ennis decided to start a little girl guide group. There were 18 of us that started. Eileen and Helen and Evelyn and Shirley – they were all from one family. Shirley was the elder one. She was more the leader of one group. Mrs Ennis was the boss, you might say. We decided to do the quilt for Mrs Ennis as a birthday present. We didn’t know which year she was going to get it, but we started it anyway.
We left our homes and went as we were dressed so that’s all the clothes we had, so we had to make do. Practically all the time we were in patched bits and pieces. I started by having a little eidelweiss because I got a bit of blue wool and anything to get bits of material. We had to scrounge enough thread to make our own little badges. Thread and needles were the most important things and we used to get those by unpicking old dresses to get the thread from the seams. My mother took some needles in and thread. She gave us a little bit of thread, but it was like gold. But needles were the most important thing because you didn’t get any more. What you had in camp was what you had. We used to try and sharpen them on the concrete pavements, but it didn’t really work.

Tiny URL to a book that talks about the Changi Quilt...

There were other quilts made in Changi... see

As a lover of stitching, of patchwork, of history, 
of those who rail against incredible odds, I have been 
" truly replenished of soul ".


 Mary Cassatt's  "A Woman Sewing"

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Every now and then you come across someone who makes an instant impression on your life. 

One such person was Ruth Stoneley, quilter, fibre artist, teacher, shop owner, mother, friend and Churchill Scholarship recipient... to summarise her incredible presence...

Many tributes have been written, one of the most moving was by her great friend, Judith Baker Montano... see link at the end of this article.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth for the first time in 1983... to say that she made an impression can best be summed up by the following ....


As I climbed the many stairs
I felt it reach out to me
We sat, coffee in hand,
amongst the clutter
that only 'moving in' can arrange..
and yet, the feeling was there
all around us.
In her company
I felt surrounded by tranquility
yet knee deep in energy.

The patchwork of her life
enveloped her
not merely in the marvellous fabrics
awaiting her creative talents
but in her assortment of baskets
and interesting glass jars. 
An old fashioned urn sat in a corner
resplendent with rolls of fabric
spouting from it's top
where once there'd been steam.

She explained her life
and her ideas and dreams
and wove them into a quilt of visions.
She was so content in her life
at peace with the world.
Today, I met a lady and her soul.

© Crissouli

Ruth Stoneley portrait by Richard Stringer.

Ruth introduced me to many ideas, one being the process of printing photos on fabric, something which I had admired, but hadn't got around to trying... This is but one of her pieces.... part of a beautiful memory quilt.

Sadly Ruth passed away in May 2007. 
She lives on in the incredible pieces she left behind and the lasting memories of all who knew her.

Ruth Stoneley, Australia 1940-2007 | Quilt: It’s not all sweetness and light (detail) 1983 | © The artist | view full image

Ruth Stoneley: A Stitch in Time

13 July – 7 October 2013 | Glencore Queensland Artists’ Gallery (Gallery 14), Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) | Free admission
Opening Hours
10.00am — 5.00pm Monday to Friday
9.00am — 5.00pm Saturday and Sunday
9.00am — 5.00pm Public Holidays
To complement 'Quilts 1700–1945', the Gallery presents an exhibition of contemporary quilts by the late leading Brisbane quilt-maker Ruth Stoneley (1940–2007).

Links re Ruth Stoneley...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL... Parramatta Female Factory


You are invited to attend a showcase of artworks created by 

14 September 12.30 -4.30pm. 
This is an official history week event and will be followed with a public history symposium
 exploring the institutionalisation of women and children in Australia
held consecutively on the 26 and 27 September at UTS Broadway and at the Precinct.
Both events are free, symposium seating is limited and bookings are essential.

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Thank you to all of you have visited giving me a total of 28,529 views for just 192 posts... in just two years.

Your favourites have been as follows...

It seems you like anything to do with Australia, as these three in particular and all others with Australia or Australian references are still attracting readers every day.

Visitors come from the following main countries in order... a couple of surprises there....

United States


United Kingdom








I hope you continue to visit, enjoy and leave comments... nice to know you drop by. 

I'm looking forward to seeing where we venture over the next two years...

Crissouli...from Oz!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

MICHAEL KENNEALLY... the face of Ireland .... 2013

This article appeared some time ago in The Irish Times, back in March 2013. I thought it was well worth sharing.

Hill farmer who never left Ireland but featured in array of international pictorials

Pictures of Michael Kenneally travelled the world

Michael Kenneally was a Co Clare hill farmer who lived all his 82 years at the foot of Mount Callan, overlooking the road from Inagh to Miltown-Malbay. He rarely left Co Clare, and never left Ireland. He never owned a car. Yet, through a series of chance encounters, and his own charm, he enjoyed an unusual and joyous relationship with the media that spanned more than half a century.
Kenneally was 24 when the great American photographer Dorothea Lange saw him working in his fields and drew up to the cottage he shared with his mother, Nora. Lange had been inspired by Conrad Arensberg 's book The Irish Countryman , which described an intact rural society where the people and their culture were rooted in the land. Michael was the seventh generation of Kenneally to farm their 70 acres, and in his warmth and rugged handsomeness Lange found her Irish countryman.
Of the 2,400 photographs taken on Lange's trip to Ireland, Michael Kenneally appears more than any other person. He featured in Lange's photoessay that appeared in Life magazine in March 1955. At the time, Life was the biggest-selling publication in the world.
Kenneally married his childhood sweetheart Bridie McMahon in 1959. They set up home in the Kenneally cottage, and ensured it retained its reputation as a welcoming place for family, neighbours and strangers.
Kenneally was the embodiment of the Ireland we like to sell to our tourists. Although Ireland changed much in his lifetime, Kenneally and the life around him in west Clare didn't. It was those qualities that seemed to draw photographers and other visitors to him.
In 1990, New York photographer Pat Crowe came across Kenneally wearing a "'scarecrow' type of a hat and walking along the road carrying a bucket of water". His photos of Kenneally became part of a cover story in Aer Lingus 's Cara magazine.
In 1991, when 75 of the world's leading photojournalists descended on Ireland for the Day In The Life project, it seemed inevitable that one would find her way to Kenneally's home. Stephanie Maze from National Geographic was the photographer, and although her shots of the Keaneallys didn't appear in the book, they were prominent in the documentary film made about that day.
In 1994, Gerry Mullins began researching the photographs taken by Lange on her 1954 trip. His book Dorothea Lange's Ireland opened with shots of the Keneallys, and it became a bestseller.
This prompted the arrival of many photographers and journalists to Kenneally's door, eager to retrace Lange's footsteps. Subsequent articles appeared in Irish, British and American publications.

 For the full story, please go to