Located in Deloraine, within the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre, is an extraordinary experience awaiting you. Yarns Artwork in Silk is a labour of love, a testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together with a passion in common. Over 300 community members, 200 metres of white silk, and 10,000 hours of hand work over almost three years… the result, four incredibly detailed panels of three dimensional stitch craft which tell not only of the history, but also of life today in the Meander Valley. Each panel also represents one of each of the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Yarns Artwork in Silk: Illuminating Community Spirit
The story of Yarns Artwork in Silk began in Griffith, N.S.W., in the early 1990s, when Tasmanian Tiger searcher and retired farmer Ned Terry viewed the soft sculptured curtain of the Griffith Regional Theatre. From here Ned developed a vision for a community project for his hometown of Deloraine in the beautiful Meander Valley of Tasmania.
After a series of public meetings, a committee being formed, ideas were discussed and finally a submission was put to The Australian Council for the Arts for funding. Further supported by the Meander Valley Council, Arts Tasmania and donations from local businesses and community fundraising, work got underway and the project, having taken its own creative path, became a plan for four 4 metre by 3.5 metre panels of handcrafted stitch work showing the Meander Valley through all four seasons.
Due to its beauty, versatility and archival qualities, silk was chosen as the dominant fabric. In making these wonderful creations many techniques were used, including hand and machine embroidery, applique, silk dyeing methods, silver smithing, spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, beading, patchwork, leatherwork and quilting. Fabrics not only included the silk, but also tulle, wool, velvet, cotton and lace. Hand painting of the silk resulted in realistic tree trunks, rocks, snow, foliage and animals. Each of these panels is truly an intricately detailed work of art. Yarns Artwork in Silk was completed almost three years later.
Today in a small purpose built auditorium you can view these exquisite panels of stitch craft, the lights go out and areas of these panels become illuminated/spotlighted as you hear the story being narrated. Named ‘Yarns’ not only for the fabrics used, but also for the stories the community shared throughout the making. Personal life stories, stories of families, stories of history and past endeavours… stories which brought residents of the Meander Valley, residents from all walks of life, closer together as they achieved their goal.
Spring begins at Deloraine, where two bridges span the Meander River, one vehicular traffic, one for trains. From a background of The Great Western Tiers and Quamby Bluff, to the township of Deloraine, one can quickly recognise historical buildings such as Bowerbank Mill, the Family and Commercial Inn and St Marks Anglican Church. The more you look, the more you will see; even the running of the Grand National Steeplechase at the Deloraine racecourse, famous for its natural brush hurdles which are unique in Australia… to the beautiful Meander River, incredible detail of fisherman on the riverbank and townsfolk enjoying a delightful Spring day.
Mother Cummings Peak in the Great Western Tiers creates a stunning backdrop to rural Meander Valley. Summer, a time of rural shows, of markets, of harvesting and baling hay… the sawmill complete with timber stacked to dry. Heritage rural homesteads feature, such as Calstock, where Malua , considered the most versatile Australian thoroughbred racehorse in history was bred by John Field.
Malua won over distances ranging from 5 1⁄2 furlongs to 3 1⁄4 miles (1,100 – 5,200 metres, and in 1884 won the Melbourne Cup). The creative inclusions of a wombat, waratah flowers and banksias give insight to native flora and fauna within the region.
The deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), or fagus as it is commonly known becomes rich with autumn colour in the foreground of the Autumn panel, along with the mountain cattlemen featured moving their cattle, while down below, farmlands create an Autumn patchwork. An apiarist tending his hives gives recognition of the value of the honey industry to the region, a pig farm, a truck transporting logs from the forests and native fauna up in the tiers with Tasmanian Devils, parrots, currawongs are only a few of the features of Autumn.
The Winter panel comes alive with snow on the mountaintops and wildlife. A platypus upon rocks where Meander Valley Falls cascades through, from the patterns in tree trunks one can pick the acacia from the snow gum, and the species of ferns are so obvious. Unique birdlife to the region appear, yellow tailed black cockatoos flying in, a wattlebird, a red breasted robin and more. The intricate detail of Tasmanian tigers, a quoll, a possum and even some butterflies truly bring to life the skills of those who made these artworks.
A Detailed Story: Life the the Meander Valley
Combined, Yarns Artwork in Silk becomes a detailed story of life in the Meander Valley. A story of The Great Western Tiers, of rivers, flora and fauna, of rural industries, lifestyle and history, of town life and community gatherings… but most of all to me, it is a story of community spirit, dedication and love, for it was the combination of these three things that resulted in these magical Yarns Artworks in Silk, the creation of a community heirloom to be enjoyed by future generations.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards
Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian.
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