Convalescence Project: Mary River Mountain

After having an operation to repair two hernias on March 4, I have been taking it easy at home. For the first few days after being released from hospital, I was a bit dopey and sore, but came up with a project I could do without hurting myself – a sewing project. I had received a prompt to enter the Wangaratta Art Gallery’s Petite Textile Miniatures award. I had an idea that would utilise some felt and other materials Already in my collection, so I didn’t have to start from scratch. Interestingly, I found myself taking to my Mum as I stitched, (even though most of my readers know she died last year).

“Should I use green or brown thread?”

“Is that enough decoration?”

Of course I had to decide myself in the end, but it felt like a kind of consolation and a time of companionship. I suppose when we are hurt and vulnerable we all want our Mum! Anyway, on the every last day for entries, I finished the piece. Before setting off to the medical centre the have my dressings checked, I snapped some images and filled out the form. The project really helped occupy my time and my mind.

The theme: Works by Australian artists, no more than 25 cm in any dimension,

Artist Statement

Zela’s work in textiles shows an ongoing preoccupation with the natural world, with its special places and the welfare of the wildlife with whom we share it. She has been a long time activist for the ecological health of the Mary River, where she was born and still lives today, working with natural resource management groups in on-the-ground projects and using natural materials, principally wool felt, and hand methods to make wearable art, sculpture and wall hangings.

About the work

Mary River Mountain uses wool felt and embroidery to showcase the three endangered species of the Mary River, the Mary River Cod, Mary River Turtle and Queensland lungfish. In the form of a mini-beanie, Mary River Mountain displays the two great fish along the sides, with the elusive turtle at the zenith. Former environmental Minister Peter Garrett reported that he vetoed the Traveston Crossing dam because he could not see how the proponents of the had taken account to the impacts it would have on these already-endangered species and other wildlife. 

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Susan Zela Bissett (Zela) is an educator, writer and artist with a lifetime involvement in environmental education and advocacy. Zela was born on Butchulla Country in Maryborough and has worked as an artist, educator, permaculture gardener, studio potter and consultant. She is passionate about sustainable lifestyles, maintaining habitat for wildlife and about unleashing the creativity in all of us.

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