Pam says "Quilting has pretty much taken over my life - until I decide not to do it, that's the way it will be".
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO: Favorite place you've been or lived?
PAM HOLLAND: Wherever I am, I am me, I am free from constraint. I'm lucky - I work and travel for almost 9 months of the year. In essence I live two lives.
When I travel I teach, film, write, photograph and illustrate. I'm keenly aware of my surroundings, colors, sounds, smells and of course the food !!!! My photos and film are a constant reminder of those exotic places.
At home, I'm a Mother of 15 children, Grandmother of 9 and a Wife of 43 years. I cook, clean, work in my studio and spend fabulous days with my grandchildren. So I have to say, my favorite place to live is home, in the small village of Aldgate, South Australia. We live in the Adelaide Hills, 1,000 feet above sea level and yet we have glorious beaches just 25 minutes away.
However, I suppose really I would say my other favorite place to spend time is in Mexico. Maybe it's Jerusalem or is it Dubai, Bangkok......Oh heck, I just love it all really.
RWSS: Do you have a dedicated studio space?
PAM: Yes I do, I'm lucky to have two studios. One is called "The Shed", it's separate from the house and is about 30 feet x 20 feet. This is where I film, create, write and make quilts....
I was a fashion designer for 20 years in a former career and it was my studio built purposely for that. It was the place the children were asked to go to when they were in trouble...."Jamie, come out to the shed for a chat" !!!! Over the years it's been a meeting place for many groups of friends, now I don't host groups or have too many folk visit simply because when I'm home I am working and time is precious.
My other studio is some 30 metres away from the "Shed", it's also in the garden. It's called the "Summer House" because it is my formal studio where I house my library, my drawing desk and special things. I have a blue velvet settee where the theory was that I could relax and read!!!! But that has never happened.
RWSS: Is anyone else in your family creative?
PAM: I have many artists in our extended family (64 noted artists to be exact - all Aunts and Uncles). My Mother is an Artist and embroiderer. Dad was a composer, musician and made his own guitars. Son Jamie is an award winning cinematographer, so I think it's in the genes. Four of our children are chefs.
RWSS: The photographs on your website and blog are wonderful. Did you ever consider pursuing photography as another career?
PAM: I've not studied photography, I guess it's the way you compose things and the way you look at images, light, color, shade. However, I am and have been a keen photographer for the past 40 years. I also make small documentaries.
PAM: About 20 years ago at one of the first classes I ever attended, the visiting American tutor walked past me, flicked the fabric I had on my table with her arrogant pointer finger and said" You will never become a quilter, you have no color sense".
I've never forgotten her words. I gave the lunch lecture at Houston last year, said Teacher was there and came up and congratulated me when I received a standing ovation, (it's the first and probably only one in my life). She has no idea what what she said to me in the past, but it made me try to make my students feel the importance of their efforts and feel welcome in my class.
RWSS: Worst advice you've ever received?
PAM: Hand quilting was the only way to quilt !!!!
Wash your fabric prior to quilting!!!!
Drop the feed dogs, place your hands on the fabric as though you're having a manicure, have a drink of wine and go like heck!!!!
Oh, to be honest, I threw out almost all that I was taught and re-invented the rules.
RWSS: How have computers and technology impacted your work?
PAM: I have 5 computers; 3 macs and 2 pc's. Each has it's own purpose. I use 5 different size printers and I need them all. I have 2 video camera and 2 fancy nancy cameras....and lots of lenses. I'm an Apple lover - I have my iPod and iPhone synched to all my Apple computers. I put in a date on one and a cyber fairy races them to all the others, how lucky am I.
RWSS: I'd be lost without......
PAM: My cameras and computers. I need to journal and document each day.
RWSS: What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
PAM: I used to be pathetically shy. Having a large multi racial family made me tough I can assure you. 10 of our children were born to other parents overseas, 2 of our sons are aboriginal and we have 3 biological children. They all live withing 5 minutes of our house, we can't get rid of them !!!! I lie, Jinda lives 20 minutes away. Anyway, they all live within fridge distance. Life was hectic and an absolute riot. We laughed a lot. We fostered 150 children in crisis, so I got used to visiting police stations and standing up for (and to) social workers, do gooders and parents who lived life differently to us through drugs and alcohol. I'm very protective. Shyness has disappeared.
RWSS: Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
PAM: Maya Angelou and Oprah, they're my kind of individuals. I'd like to chat about life, about joys and tragedy and how the creative spirit heals all.
RWSS: Favorite quote?
PAM: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel". Maya Angelou
RWSS: Your portrait technique is quite amazing. Do you have a favorite subject matter that inspires your work?
PAM: My favorite is what I'm working on at the time. Today it's the Bayeaux, tomorrow it will be the Texture quilt and then the Alphabet. I like realism, I'm a representative artist...I like a lot of detail in my quilts and I have a number of styles but they all have elements of illustration either physically drawn on fabric or machine illustrated.
RWSS: Are you still working on the Bayeaux Tapestry? Can you tell us a bit more about that project?
PAM: But of course. I'd like to think I'm half way through, but I'm not too sure. The quilt is a re-creation of the Bayeaux Tapestry. It is 230 feet long by 30 inches wide. That means 230 feet of hand drawn patterns, once I start I don't want to stop. I allot a certain amount of time each day (6 hours) to work on it when I'm home. If I miss a time, I make it up by working on it longer the next day. I work on other projects either side of the 6 hours.
I love it....every inch of it.....it's my Mount Everest.
It's machine appliqued and quilted. The satin stitch is 1/6th inch and the quilting is 1/16th inch apart. Every image is illustrated on the applique with pigment ink. As I write this it's 1:00am in the morning, if my Mum wasn't visiting I would be out there working now.....but she rousts on me. It's a passion like no other.
I've taken 2 years to research to prepare for making it, the studio is set up just for the Bayeaux and that is another reason for not having others visit now. No one will see until it's completed....I will only show the first 9 feet.
RWSS: Do your quilts always start with a planned course of action or do you prefer to work more spontaneously?
PAM: No, they are only planned in my head, I see every image as a quilt....it's not hard for me, I see color combination in my mind instantly....as I said before "it's in the genes". I was a fashion designer for a long time..I designed from the fabric I was shown so it's not difficult for me.
RWSS: Best machine for free motion quilting?
PAM: Janome 6600. It has a convertible free motion foot set.
RWSS: What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
PAM: Everything, it's an honor that most students think my work is worth learning. I'm still amazed. I have made the most wonderful friends in class and my students are all handpicked I'm sure. This year I've taught in 8 different countries and six languages. What a privilege.
RWSS: What popular new trend baffles you?
PAM: None, nothing baffles me. Somethings I just don't like and don't do them.
RWSS: Best part of your day?
PAM: Years of looking after a family has trained me to look forward to the silence and the beauty of early morning and peace of late nights. I'm generally in the shed by 5:00am and don't often come in until midnight...but then again, I do have a siesta at lunch time like the French and the Mexicans. How civilized.
RWSS: What would you consider your greatest strength?
PAM: I'm a Pollyanna. It annoys the heck out of people that I always see good in everything. My business partner was the opposite. It was an interesting combination...I was glass half full, hers was always empty. But the combination worked and we became pretty darn good at our job.
RWSS: Any words of wisdom?
PAM: I'm just taking what I do best - and giving to what I love most.
We were delighted that Pam could fit our interview into her hectic schedule. She can currently be found teaching her Impressionist Portrait workshop online at LQuilt . To learn more about this artist, please visit her website or blog. We encourage everyone to visit the MOBILE ME GALLERY on Pam's blog to view some of the wonderful photography firsthand.
All photos used in this interview are courtesy of Pam Holland.