It’s a year today since my Mum, Dulcie, died. She is often in my thoughts but today I want pay tribute to what a huge influence she’s been in my life and art practice. She was very creative although she didn’t have the opportunity to really follow that path and learn pottery until we were in high school. Before that she used to make just about everything we needed – our family was not well off but we always had beautifully made clothes, hand knits and household items like soft furnishings, etc. I remember loving the appliquéd dresses she made me when I was little and going shopping to the now long gone fabric departments in Boans, David Jones and Pearlmans to snap up a bargain. Mum did a lot to save money – using every scrap of fabric and mending things, like when sheets wore out in the middle, she would cut out the weak parts and re-sew them, as well as making old towels into hand towels and bathmats. She also bottled fruit and made jam.
Mum was also doing free motion machine embroidery in the 1960s – making and selling linen placemats and tablecloths embroidered with Australian native flowers in her own designs. She had a booklet on her techniques published in the Australian Womens Weekly. I guess I can thank her for my love of textiles! She was definitely a perfectionist in whatever she did. When she did a pottery class, she was soon researching glazes and different types of clay and feeling the limitations of the class. But she had found her passion and set up a pottery studio with her own kiln at home. She was quite successful, having a couple of exhibitions in Perth and selling a lot of work at the Subiaco Theatre Markets for several years. Her work was always hand built sculptural and a bit quirky with her sense of fun. I’m very happy to have several of her pottery pieces.
We were always encouraged to be creative – lots of pencils, paper, paints, fabric, wool, etc on hand but Mum’s attempts to teach me dressmaking usually ended in arguments – I didn’t really get into sewing until I was away from home and didn’t have anyone to take over and fix my mistakes or lack of skill. Mum was not an easy person to get to know – although she had confidence in her own ability, she was quiet and shy and very much an introvert. I guess I’ve inherited that too.
When Mum became too weak to be able to manage at home, she decided to go into care even though we tried to give her other options – I think she didn’t want us to feel obligated to look after her. Thankfully she got quite good care when we found a suitable place where she had a nice room with a bathroom and her pottery and watercolours on display. She was there about 9 months.
We have a lifetime of memories but will always miss her.