Newcastle’s Timeless Textiles Gallery will continue a five-year tradition of holding community-based art events to celebrate International Women’s Day, with the culmination of its Flying Free project featuring a huge flock of hand-made fabric birds that will ‘fly free’ outside the gallery in March this year.

Timeless Textiles has collaborated with local artist, Wilma Simmons, to create the IWD art events, with local artists offering free community fibre art workshops, using techniques such as embellishing, screen printing, painting, stitching and dyeing. As well as the chance to learn new skills, the workshops allow people to brush up on their techniques and, of course, to enjoy themselves. The focus for IWD has varied each year including stitching 100 metres of white ribbon for 14 hours (2014) and creating hope flags.

For IWD last year approximately 2,000 fabric tiles, created in workshops over seven months by more than 200 people, were laid into an art path designed by local Aboriginal elder, Elsie Randell, at the front of the Hunter Street Gallery and Letting Go was celebrated by over 150 local people.

Now these 2,000 tiles have been re-purposed into birds as part of the Flying Free project.

After attending the Letting Go event last year, UK fibre artist Abigail Brown was inspired to develop a template for fabric birds to contribute to Flying Free for 2016 IWD. With more than 1,070 birds created to date, Flying Free will see a huge flock of colourful creations hanging in the Norfolk pine trees outside Timeless Textiles Gallery on 4pm 8 March 2016, to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Each bird will be hung with a white ribbon (symbol of the anti-domestic violence campaign) and these beautiful handmade fabric birds can be purchased for a donation of $20, with all money raised donated to local women’s refuges in the Newcastle area – Jenny’s Place (Newcastle), Warlga Ngurra (Wallsend) and Carrie’s Place (Maitland).

flying free