‘why water has sustained my textile practice for so long’

Alison Muir


‘Water and its many manifestation have been a continuing theme through your work; can you outline how and why ideas related to water have sustained your creative practice over several decades?’

My ‘sign’ is water and I try to regularly immerse myself in it. Water is the driving force in my ‘World’. Basically, I am passionate about the environment and in particular water in all its forms and am interested in how it represents the feminine, and allows meditation.


Reflections of a Coastal Deweller

Reflections of a Coastal Dweller

I have produced 118 pieces of textile using water as the subject since 1993

Prompted by the call for works to illustrate ‘Australia Dreaming’, quilts to Nagoya, Japan by The Quilters’ Guild NSW, the first piece of art expressing my love of water, made in 1993, was ‘Reflections of a Coastal Dweller’. The work was made using a large bag of silks given to me when a retiring dressmaker; a happy but challenging gift.

Textile juried is ‘Cremation quilt for Poppa’ made from medical wrapping cloths, dyed & hand stitched.

Cremation quilt for Poppa

Alison Muir at National Quilt Museum Paducah, USA for the Opening of ‘Gala of the Unexpected’ 25th anniversary in 2016. Textile juried is ‘Cremation quilt for Poppa’ made from medical wrapping cloths, dyed & hand stitched.



My first solo show in 2005 ‘Aquamarine: recent textiles by Alison Muir’ was held at Mosman Art Gallery and included 12 new works and a number of pieces from public and private collections. At the opening of the exhibition Liz Williamson encouraged me to consider further study. That led to study and research for a Master’s degree by research at the College of Fine Art in Sydney.

Aquamarine’ 2005

Fathoming the Depths

My thesis and accompanying exhibition ‘Fathoming the Depths: informative textiles’ used pieces to examine the social and environmental issues, challenges and politics of water. Using 12 experimental works, the audience were questioned about the messages in the textiles and their feedback led to four remade/new works. The project was completed in 2010 and I was awarded a Master of Design with Honours.

Image 4 Global warning 2019.jpg

Global warning

For the last 10 years, I have been experimenting with natural dyes and mordants, using indigo and Australian flora as my primary source material.

I believe that it is important to share our creativity and to support shows and calls for exhibition works, whenever I can. My works have been included in Quilt National 2001, 2011 and 2019 in USA, all ‘Australia wide’ travelling exhibitions, various textile exhibitions in Europe, in ‘Art Quilt Australia’ since its inception and many of the ‘New Quilt’ exhibitions.

Pieces usually start with a ‘water message’ – an idea, a concept, a fact, an image or a feeling I want to convey – and the design is generated following research and experimenting and testing techniques, colours and stitching. Often this process brings together otherwise unconnected ‘traditions’ such as political comment, scientific details, graphics and text to form natural dyed stitched textiles most commonly as abstract landscapes/seascapes.

The focus on one subject allows me freedom to continually develop new ideas and expand my knowledge and messages. It also allows pieces of my previous work to inform my current and future works. Just like the water cycle my practice is circular, sometimes political and always passionate.