We move forward from two successful exhibitions in 2016 in Prague and in the USA to the challenge of an exhibition in the Netherlands in the Autumn. We continue to work on A2 sized pieces in portrait format and will be producing four pieces over the year with the theme of 'Freedom'. An essential part of our art is working in series to a common format which does give us all a framework for our creative endeavours.

Friday, 30 December 2016


My treasures

This year I chose to focus on amulets as cultural treasures of the Mediterranean countries, mostly Turkey, Greece or Spain, but also among citizens of Israel, who brought it as legacy from the countries they immigrated from.

An amulet is an object that has the power to protect its owner from danger or harm. Therefore, it can be wear or hang as decoration on the walls or doorways.

I focused on four very common icons and tried to explain what it means.


The Hamsa is a palm-shape amulet. "Khamsah" is an Arabic word that means "five", but also "the five fingers of the hand". The hand, particularly the open right hand, is a sign of protection that also represents blessings, power and strength, and is seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye. The hand can be depicted with the fingers spread apart to ward off evil, or as closed together to bring good luck.
Hamsa is the most popular amulet that was transformed into jewelry, either neckless or bracelets, offer various kinds of blessing to those who wear them.

Horse shoe

Horseshoes have long been considered lucky. This ancient structure was tended to believe can protect the house and its tenants against evil eye. Opinion is divided as to which way up the horseshoe ought to be nailed. Some say the ends should point up, so that the horseshoe catches the luck; others say they should point down, so that the luck is poured upon those entering the home. Either way, those who believe it can protect them, hang them on their home's entrance door.


Garlic is known for its pungent smell. It is also known for its efficiency to strengthen our immune system. It is unclear how and what made it powerful against the evil eye and removing negative energies. Facts are that those who believe in its power use to hang garlic bulbs, tied to a braid made of natural fibers, in their hoses for good luck.
Like other superstitions, so about garlic, a person would need "to do something" to feel he has a way to influence and change his fate. It is said though for it to work, it must be given to you not bought.

Evil eye

There are two most famous "evil eye" in the Mediterranean region:
The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. It was also bind to resurrection. Although it's antiquity, its power still exists today and is the ultimate sign of protection.
A nazar (blue bead) is an eye-shaped amulet, originally from Turkey. It is called so because a typical nazar is made of handmade glass featuring concentric circles shapes in dark blue, white, light blue and black. It is believed to protect its owner from evil spirits and the jealousy. This is the reason why it is so popular to wear as neckless or bracelet.

Shoshi Rimer


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Treasures - treasured places


There are some special places that we return to again and again where we treasure memories of past visits and always intend to come back. My four pieces are based on two English places and two Italian places that we have grown to love. 

Digital printing is something I have been very ambivalent about in the past unless it is using your own designs/art  - I decided to experiment by using my own sketches and paintings of the places together with some photographs and text. I rendered them all  with a simple ink application  to give a cohesive feel to all the pieces, I wanted to get a 'pen and Ink' rather than photographic effect. I printed them all as separate images to create a collage of the place  and fused then stitched them in place. I used cotton poplin treated to ensure permanence of the ink pigments.I then had fun trying out lots of different free motion quilting styles to match the needs of the sketches.

Treasures 1 -Southwold
A coastal town in the East of England where small scale fishing does still operate from the river estuary.  

Treasures 2 - Blakeney Marshes

Huge expanses of salt marshes stretch along the coastline with small river inlets where fishing still continues, a protected coastal site where wildlife flourishes.

 Treasures 3- Grado

A beautiful town and port off the north east coast of Italy close to Trieste. The town is only reached  by a long bridge  causeway over the lagoon and is an island surrounded by the Mediterranean sea. The town and it's heritage have been preserved in this unique place.

Treasure 4 - Aquileia

A Roman port on the north east coast of Italy, a large amount of the port and the town remain as ruins amongst more modern developments. Enough of the town remains to understand the life that was led in Roman times . The mosaics are exquisite and so well preserved.


Sunday, 4 December 2016


The Hopi (Tohono O’odham) people live primarily on three mesas in Northeastern Arizona, about 70 miles from Flagstaff. In Hopi cosmology, the katsinas reside on the Humphreys Peak, approximately 60 miles west of Hopiland. Each year, throughout the period from winter solstice to mid-July, these spirits, in the form of katsinas, come down to the villages to dance and sing, to bring rain for the upcoming harvest, and to give gifts to the children.

The katsinas are known to be the spirits of deities, natural elements or animals, or the deceased ancestors of the Hopi. Prior to each katsina ceremony, the men of the village will spend days studiously making figures in the likeness of the katsinam represented in that particular ceremony. The figures are then passed on to the daughters of the village by the Giver Kachina during the ceremony.  Following the ceremony, the figures are hung on the walls of the pueblo and are meant to be studied in order to learn the characteristics of that certain Kachina. Edward Kennard, co-author of Hopi Kachinas, says concerning the purpose of the kachina figure, “Essentially it is a means of education; it is a gift at dance-time; it is a decorative article for the home, but above all it is a constant reminder of the Kachinas."

We are losing the culture and arts of our indigenous peoples at an alarming rate.  Their colorful history and customs are cultural treasures to be prized and protected.

The inspiration for the Katsina figures for my quilts came from the modern-day Katsina carvings by Jerome Naquatewa, a half-Hopi, half-Zuni artist living at the Zuni pueblo 150 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.  I believe his carvings capture the friendly, playful essence of the Katsinas.

1.  Eagle Dancer:  Usually appears in the night ceremony in March; ruler of the sky and messenger to the heavens.

2.  Sun Face:  Represents the sun’s warmth and the hope for shelter for old people and a bright future for the young.

3.  Crow Mother:  Mother of all Katsinas; watches over the children as they play.

4.  Buffalo Warrior:  Appears only when children are initiated into the Katsina cult; assures there will be adequate food in winter; most powefulr of all Katsinas; protects children and can rid bad people of evil thoughts.

Frances Murphy

Saturday, 19 November 2016

'One Man's Trash is another Man's Treasure' 2


Majani is Kiswahili for tea leaves. I saved old tea bags and quilted them onto a piece of cotton dyed in strong tea. My husband returned from up country with a goat leg wrapped in gold embossed cellophane. The gold had come off on to the meat. After much trial and error I managed to emboss my tea bags using the same cellophane. Then came the cup and saucer and the tea plant.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

My four Treasures

I was undergoing a rather difficult period of my life when I had to empty my parents' house in early summer. I had expected to find plenty of precious or not so precious memories, but the reality surpassed any imagination.
My mother, who had lived in the house alone for about twenty years, had never, it seems, dumped anything unless it would stink in the long run. Even when things were torn, worn, shattered, broken, etc. she continued to keep them, all nicely washed, wrapped, boxed, categorised and labelled. I had found literally everything that I remember from my childhood and young adult years, including plenty of things from my grandparents from her side.
These treasures inspired my four pieces in 2016: Worn Shoes, Dislocated Knives, Shattered Glasses, and Broken Vases. They were all made with a sew-cut-resew-cut-etc. technique, using a "parfait-dyed" background.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

"Memento Mori-Stampi"

And finally the fourth quilt this year and challenge completed!
So this one is a little different to the others, in so much as the others where natural forms, shells and daisies. This one is made from "postage stamps" or more importantly stamps from my own collection.
I think it was probably one of the first collections I started as a child, I loved the colours and patterns of the stamps. I was given my pocket money and spent it all on little packets of stamps from different countries. I loved trying to find out where the countries were in the atlas and can remember having particular trouble locating Yemen. I still have them all in five folders, very dusty but lovely to look at!

So here is number four:

"Momento Mori-Stampi"

Background is hand dyed cotton. The skull is photo transferred images of some of the Irish Stamps    (for the year that's in it, centenary of the 1916 Rising, very big event in Irish History) from my old collection.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

"Memento Mori- Bellis Perennis"

Daisies of all shapes and sizes but particularly the small kind found in gardens with the pretty pink edges on the petals have always been my favourite flowers.

Flower symbolism associated with the daisy is purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience and simplicity! Daisies are often depicted in meadows in medieval pantings and are believed to be over 4,000 years old.

I can remember sitting as a child and making daisy chains and creating necklaces and crowns many times. I still love the flower and once picked a bunch of Dog Daisies and didn't realise until the following morning where the name came. I walked into my kitchen to the smell of smelly wet dog, needless to say they haven't appeared inside again!

Had a bit of a fascination with Ladybugs as a child too, used to love to let them walk across my hands until one pooped on me!

So here's number three:

"Momento Mori- Bellis Perennis"

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Porto 1
Here are my 4 Voyage Quilts, although I may change the last one, and do a different one.
Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so a "Treasure". I place I have been to a couple of times and am going back again to later this year
I love the waterfront area, most of the houses have either painted or tiled facades, and most have washing hanging out of the windows.
This one was fun to make, and I tried a free approach - just cutting random shapes for the windows etc - not trying to be too careful.

Porto 2
This time I focused in a little showing more of the washing on the lines, with more embroidery and painting

Porto 3
For the next one I focused in a bit more and put traditional costume on the washing line, with a tiled background. The apron (or rather my interpretation of an apron) has a story, as it is one I bought in a charity shop in the UK, and until recently had no idea that it had been made in Portugal. 

Porto 4
I think to complete the series correctly I should make a piece that focuses on the stitching on the traditional costume, and maybe I will later in the year, but for now this is my 4th piece. It is inspired by the rows of sardines in the shops in Porto


Monday, 8 August 2016

"Memento Mori- She Sells Sea Shells 2"

As usual when I start preparing materials for a quilt I get a bit carried away and end up with enough fabrics for ten quilts!! I had such fun choosing and preparing the shells for the first piece that I still have loads left over. 

Anyhows shells have also been a part of my adult life and I have wonderful memories or collecting shells on a beach in Kerry year after year with my kids when they were tiny tots. My daughter Isobel  made a big mosaic mirror for her room with them and there's still at least two buckets of them sitting in my studio, somewhere!

So here's number two:

"Momento Mori- She Sells Sea Shells 2"

The background fabric is hand dyed cotton. The shells were put onto fabric using a photo transfer method. The skull was assembled and stitched to a black background first, then cut out and appliquéd to the background fabric. Machine quilted using a YLI variegated thread.