Barbara Macey: Founding Member


Barbara <Macey

Veils © 1994

Barbara <Macey

Veils (detail) © 1994

Barbara <Macey

Mist © 2009


Biography & Background

I was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1935. As a child, I enjoyed knitting, embroidery and sewing, but it wasn’t until much later that I realised that textile works can be art. The catalyst was Op Art, an exciting new concept in the 1960s. I was interested because optical illusions had always fascinated me. By chance I found Instructions for making a log cabin block and made a small Op Art quilt. I did not know it at the time, but it was the belated beginning of my career as a textile artist.

In 1970 my husband John and I moved to Melbourne with our family. I joined the Embroiderers’ Guild, Victoria and entered my second patchwork piece in an exhibition. It was not accepted because the selectors thought it was a piece of curtain material! Later when they realised that it was pieced, I was invited to make more works for a solo exhibition which was very successful. From then on my quilts were selected for major craft exhibitions throughout Australia. Many of my quilts are in private collections, and there are 18 in 15 public collections in Australia and overseas. I look forward to making many more quilts.


My work is abstract and graphic in nature, though sometimes it’s about aspects of landscape, moods or events. My designs are simple, but the work poses many challenges both technical and aesthetic. Making the wrong decisions could produce a clumsy, laboured look. I am strongly motivated to find solutions that make the work seem effortless!

The nature of the log cabin patchwork format lends itself to the building of a personal ‘vocabulary’ that permits much greater flexibility than traditional models. From the mid-1980s I also began working in more informal styles including ‘crazy’ patchwork, though my version is technically related to log cabin patchwork. In the early days I thought that the ideas would eventually dry up, but they continue to flow. Exploring ideas in depth has led to many interesting discoveries that would otherwise not be accessible.

I enjoy using bright, clear colours. My latest work explores colour and spatial illusions which are planned with the aid of a simple computer program. If a colour combination works on the screen I know that it will work with fabric. I’m looking forward to making some large modular works in this vein in the near future.

© Barbara Macey 2013