Eulogy for Susan Weisser
by Leigh Casley
Susan was a “textile person”. She was both interested and skilled in
a number of textile arts, including quilting and cross stitch embroidery,
spinning, knitting and weaving. I too, am a textile person, and met
Susan through our membership of the Canberra Spinners and Weavers.
Susan served the association in numerous ways, holding office as
Vice President, then President and for many years as the Shop
Manager. Whilst holding these formal roles, Susan participated as a member of the Exhibition committee, organising the exhibition of members' work, and then being on duty whilst the Exhibition was open, talking with, and assisting visitors, making sales and liaising with exhibition space staff.
In addition, Susan was one of the organisers of the Association's weekend getaway first at Birragai, and now at Greenhills Conference centre, as well as organising the shop for that weekend, spending many hours sourcing stock and 'enabling' purchases of all things fluffy.
She co-taught the Introduction to spinning course with me, indoctrinating the next generation of spinners. Makes you tired just thinking about all that, doesn't it? With that record of contribution, it is not surprising that Susan was made a Life Member of CSW.
As part of her role as Shop Manager, it was necessary to source interesting fibres, and this was often done with a road trip to sales held by suppliers and other craft groups. Sometimes such trips were quite local, here in Canberra, or to the surrounding areas. I started to call such trips our 'Woolly Adventures', which always earned me a very pained look. Interstate trips required many hours searching the Airbnb website to find appropriate accommodation for Susan's approval – most importantly she required her own bathroom and sufficient heating. We had planned to attend the Bendigo Sheep and Wool show in July of this year, but a certain virus put a stop to that.
Susan was always available to other members at drop in days, to answer questions, enable further stash enhancement, and help in any way possible, often meaning that her spinning wheel didn't make it out of it's case until lunch time. She shared her knowledge and her time freely.
Farewell my friend, you will be missed.
Obituary for Jeannie Fay Skyring OAM,
January 18, 1932 – August 11, 2019
By Meredith Hinchliffe
Fay Skyring was a weaver who played a considerable role in the
cultural development of the ACT and the nation as a whole. She died
on Sunday (August 11), at the age of 87.
Skyring began work at 16 years of age, in 1948, in a photographic
studio in Murwillumbah. She moved to Brisbane and established her own photographic studio, developing her skills in colour matching and decorating the black and white photographs of the period. Her photographs were of a high standard and were published in the Brisbane social pages of “The Australian Women’s Weekly”.
After moving to Canada with her scientist husband Graham and their three children, she returned to Australia and moved to Canberra in 1970.
Here she was introduced to weaving and became a member of the Canberra Spinners and Weavers (CSW), where she attended classes and workshops. She excelled in the craft and created works for many exhibitions for the CSW. She collaborated with other artists from different fields for exhibitions and projects, including dance with the Meryl Tankard Company and sculpture and wood with Phil Goldacre.
Skyring was awarded a grant by the National Capital Development Commission to study textiles in Japan and on her return was determined to establish a workshop where the craft of weaving could be shared and practiced within the community.
In 1985 she set up a weaving workshop – Skye Workshop – at Ainslie Village, funded by a Commonwealth employment program grant. The workshop accommodated eight people and she supplied the equipment and yarns. Here she taught and mentored the participants who produced a huge volume of work, due to her enthusiasm and encouragement. Their work was shown in exhibitions and fashion parades in several venues in Canberra. Several of the participants have gone on to develop careers in textiles and related fields.
As a member, Skyring exhibited in many exhibitions organised by Craft ACT. These included the Office Environment, which showcased the talents of local craftspeople and was intended to bring them to the notice of for the architects and interior designers of the then new Parliament House.
Skyring’s handwoven upholstery caught the eyes of Romaldo Giurgola and Pamille Berg, the architect and art and craft program coordinator, respectively. Skyring collaborated with them to produce handwoven fabrics to enhance the design intent of the major parliamentary suites: the prime minister’s suite, the leader of the opposition’s suite, and the speaker’s suite. The project required imagination and expertise with the colour and design aspects, experimentation and determination to refine the technique, and the capacity to complete the job under pressure.
This was a large commission of the finest quality, particularly for a solo weaver. It was highly successful and she was commissioned to reproduce the fabric three times – for replacement fabric, completing 650 metres in total. Although the job was huge, time consuming and physically demanding, she kept the production going so that future commissions for the fabric can be passed on to other Australian artists.
Beaver Galleries also carried her beautiful scarves.
In 1989 Giurgola commissioned Skyring to weave the altar linen for the St Thomas Aquinas Church, Charnwood, which he designed and which she donated. In 2003 he commissioned her to weave the altar cloths for the new Saint Patricks Cathedral in Parramatta and in 2008 she was commissioned to design and weave the altar cloths for the new chapel at Saint Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney.
Skyring’s work for Parliament House was recognised and featured on “Stateline,” ABC TV Canberra in 2005, and in 2013 a documentary titled “The Warp and the Weft ,” a weaving story of national significance, produced by Richard Snashall was commissioned by the Canberra Museum and Gallery to document the production of the Parliament House upholstery.
In 1998 Skyring produced prayer shawls for the Jewish Contemporary Ritual Exhibition which toured four Australian states in 1999. She was also commissioned to weave the stage curtains at Gorman House Arts Centre in Canberra in 1990.
She curated several exhibitions, including a major tribute exhibition to Solvig Baas Becking, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Canberra Spinners and Weavers, and who taught many people in Canberra to weave.
The exhibition “Decades and Diversity” was held in 2007 at Craft ACT and was considered to be one of the most successful of the year. The work of Pam McDougall (taught by Baas Becking), Fay Skyring (taught by McDougall), and Di Landsdown (taught by Skyring) and Baas Becking commemorated mentoring and the sharing and passing on of knowledge from one artist to another.
Skyring taught evening classes for many years, first at Weston Creek and then Dickson Evening Colleges. As an informal teacher, she gave generously to many budding weavers and they, and the Canberra community have been the beneficiaries.
She frequently joined the managements of organisations with which she was involved. She was on the management committee of the CSW and Craft ACT. She was a ministerial appointment to the interim board of ANCA and later became the honorary secretary when she moved into a studio at ANCA Dickson. After moving her studio to Gorman House, she became a tenant board member.
Skyring practised her craft to a very high standard and inspired others to achieve their potential. She made a significant contribution to the development and recognition of weaving in Canberra and in Australia.
She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in June, 2017.
Fay Skyring is survived by her husband Graham and their three daughters.
Vale Kay Faulkner
It was with great sadness that we learned of the recent death of Kay Faulkner.
Kay was a weaver of great skill. She experimented with and researched
many different aspects of weaving. Internationally she is known for her work
in woven shibori which she developed in parallel with American weaver,
Catharine Ellis. When Kay and Catherine discovered they were independently
working on the same technique, albeit in slightly different ways, they decided
to share ideas and share the technique with others. The two women have
just held a joint exhibition, aptly called 'Parallel', in Queensland.
In recent years, Kay has been Vice-President of the US based Complex Weavers organisation. She has given workshops in the USA and also of course here at home in Australia.
Kay has taught two workshops for the Canberra Spinners and Weavers. She has shown herself to be a very knowledgeable tutor who likes to challenge her students to work through the difficult bits. She was generous with information about how she achieved a particular result in her own work when questioned about some technique.
She has left a huge legacy to the weaving world and had events been otherwise, still had so much to contribute.