Across Australia.

An exhibition curated by Dijanne Cevaal , with the assistance of Jenny Bowker is
travelling the world. To return to the gallery pages-
click return

Initially it was proposed to show it in the Netherlands and Australia, then Jenny started
organising some Middle Eastern venues and the reception has been wonderful.
I feel so privileged to be a part of this exhibition because it feels like it is extending the
hands of friendship as well as culture to other places.

on 16th January Jenny wrote;

We have had a truly spectacular response to the Across Australia show in Libya.

Four hundred and fifty guests attended the opening of the exhibition.
They were undoubtedly the intelligentsia of Libyan society and included representatives
at the highest levels of Libyan Government, the academic world and the artists. We had
the Libyan Minister for Planning, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Deputy of
the Department of Economic Management, International Public Relations, The Deputy
Minister for Culture, the Cultural Attache for the Foreign Office, the Deputy Minister
for Tourism - in fact, all the senior government officials from Tripoli. The heads of
departments have moved away from the capital in an attempt to de-centralise the
Government, so this is as senior as you can get here.

It is hard to imagine that an art exhibition could attract such a brilliant crowd in
Australia. We also had one of the most popular television hostesses who runs a greatly
loved chat show, and interviewed me as a contributing artist on the spot. a major (The
major) fashion designer wanted to give us fabric to make quilts from Libyan textiles to
see what can be done.

The reactions - well, I am struggling to find words. Some that seemed to sum it up from
people who spoke to me were "I am open mouthed", "I am astounded", "How can people
make such brilliant things", "How can we teach our people to do this art?", "I have never
seen such beautiful work", "My heart is pumping so hard I cannot even think straight",
and "What a gift Australia has brought to Libya tonight!"

The deputy Foreign Minister even asked how they could arrange courses in this work for
artists in Libya. I said that I was sure many of the artists in the show would be delighted
to come to Libya to teach.

So thank you all, my lovely fellow artists. I am truly overwhelmed by how beautiful the
work looked. We kept as closely as possible to the order Dijanne had set up, but some
things had to be altered slightly in order to fit the work into the Dar Al Funoon. It is a
beautiful space, white with wonderful arched areas that lead you from one section of the
gallery to another and frame the work in small groups from every point of view. I have
photographs of the hang which I will put on my blog on my return to Cairo.

Bob could not come. He is helping our injured Australians in Cairo, and has probably
had less hours sleep this week than ever before in his life. He is exhausted, as is his team,
but determined that the Australians injured will get as much assistance as the Embassy
can offer. It has been tragic, and I have swung between grief and couselling, and even
giving blood as I matched one critical patient, to the elation of tonight's response.

I have had the assistance of our new Consul General in Libya, Mr Eric Cantwell.
It has been wonderful to have such a function to start his term in Libya. He opened the
exhibition tonight, and thanked our wonderful sponsors, BHP Billiton and Santos as
major sponsors, and Centamin, TNT, Egyptian Magnesium, Emirates, and others who I
am too weary to remember just now.

Mr Khalifa Mehdawi and Mr Hamza Mehdawy of the Dar al Funoon (Art House Gallery)
have been wonderful. Hamza supervised a beautiful hang of the work, and I was so
proud, and quite ridiculously homesick.

It was incredible - and a great success.
Jenny Bowker in Libya

Email I received from Jenny on 11 May, 2006
Dear Jenny,

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to express our thanks for sending us the Across
Australia exhibition.  The first exhibit was at the Golf and Equestrian Club, where the
Australian Ambassador kicked off a great showing.  The second exhibit was at the British
Club during their annual charity event, which brought so many more people in to view
the quilts.  On that day we made many contacts with ladies, who otherwise would not
know about the Abu Dhabi Quilting Guild.  It was exciting to see those same people
come to our annual show last Friday.

Please extend our thanks to Dijanne Cevaal for curating this excellent show.  While we
were terribly disappointed at missing her classes, it was great exhibiting her collection of
quilts.  One of our Australian members, Judy Ellis, was brought to tears at how well it
represented her country. That is what quilting is all about!

Thanks again for thinking of us here in Abu Dhabi!

Sandy Lenz
President, Abu Dhabi Quilting Guild

On the 12 May, 2006 Dijanne wrote
HI all

Just a quick report in, I will report longer, but spent all day yesterday traveling since 3am
and arriving at my destination via various means of transport at 9 pm ready to teach

I hope I have everyone's addresses right.

Well the opening in tel Aviv went very well and the quilts looked as if they had been ,ade
for the space. The opening was attenede by about 130 people- a lot of whom were
quilters. They complained it wasn't o longer as the exhibition had a public holiday in the
middle ( remembrance day); I then took the quilts to Ramallah- an expereince in itself-
they went in teh representative office armoured car- getting into Ramallah  was not so
bad as I was with the representative- the opening was really well attended- by university
lecturers ,  other organisations- the women and men loved the quilts and were so
grateful that someone came into their part of the world with something they said "
brought a small moment of happiness in an otherwise bleak situation"

political rant- turn off if you want to but the Palestinians have a hard time of it- if you
have west bank id you cannot get out- the americans have frozen all western funding
because they don't like the democratically elected government ( wish we could do that
to geedubblya) they have even frozen funding that came from arab states, they have
also frozen customs income so public sector people hqve not been pqid for two months-
think doctors nurses teachers waste manage,ent as well as council workers ands
police,men- the americans refuse to release the money - eu countries have asked for
humanitarian release but the americans want to vet every recipent- ie in excess of
60000 people working as doctors nurses and teachers. If you need an operation that
cannot be handles in Ramallah you can only get a day pass out- so imagine  having a
majotr operation and only having the daylight hours  to have it done in. Gaza is
co,pletely closed- they have not had flour rice or milk delivered for two months- they
are being starved. The wall is a travesty of injustice- it is not just a wall it is a wall built
around- ie completely surrounding palestinian areas so they cannot get out. During the
recent passover ( which involves 9 days of holidays in Israel) the IDF (Israeli Defence
Force) did not open the one gate for one town for 9 days- people lost all the chickens
on their chicken farms and crops because they could not get out.The wall has been
declared illegal by the international court of justice but still it continues to be built
every day- and the reason  according to israel and america is terrorism- last week a 3YO
child was shot as suspected of being a terrorist- every week at least one palestinian child
under 10 is hot for being a suspected terrorist  This is infor,mation I was given by people
other than Palestinians. The palestinians I met and the houses I went to were of people
wanting to simply get on with their lives in their country without anymore being taken
by the landgrubbing wall- to keep their olive trees intact, to educate their children.Sorry
for the rqnt but I have never seen such injustice- i have seen hunger and poverty equally
as outrageous but  there is so,ething that the international community can really do
about this one.

Sorry for the rqnt qnd spelling- i am on a french keyboard.
More on the exhibitions later

The palestinians have no passports- they cannot go anywhere- they are in a prison