Clare Smith - Detours and Diversions Quilts


These quilts are part of a series looking back at some of the places I have travelled to. As a child, we moved from England to Kenya then to New Zealand. As an adult I have travelled extensively in South East Asia, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. This ongoing series looks at some of my experiences.


Tussock I

I spent 5 years of my childhood in Kenya and since then I've always loved the look and texture of dry grasslands. In this quilt I painted and screenprinted the background then fused strips of fabric onto the surface and machine quilted it with different shades of yellow, green, brown and purple thread.


Tussock II

 Size: 133 x 52 cm

Back of Beyond

In 1989 I worked for 6 months in the Gascoine Junction area east of Carnavon in Western Australia, first as a governess to some children on a sheep station and then as a shed hand on a shearing team. When I first went there, the landscape seemed very barren but the longer I stayed the more I saw.


Masai Mara

When I was 12 we went on a family holiday to Masai Mara in Kenya. I was helping my 3 year old sister to make sandcastles down by the river when a group of locals came to tell us that a crocodile had taken a child from that very spot only the week before.



This quilt was inspired by the rock formations near my home in Wellington. We live in an earthquake prone area and the rocks are folded and shattered.


View from the Hill

This quilt is made from fabrics by Dijanne Ceval, Clare Plug and myself. It was inspired by the view from a hill in the north of Thailand, where the smoke from numerous fires had turned the scene to sepia tones.

Size: 138 x 109 cm


In a Dry Land

I was brought up in Africa, and have travelled a lot in South East Asia and Australia. I always seem to be drawn to dry grasslands rather than green places. Silk dyed with natural dyes (Eucalyptus leaves). Hand stitched.


Size: 40 x 30cm (approx)

Detours and Diversions

This set of 9 pieces represents my travels through Africa, England, Kenya, Australia and New Zealand. Silk dyed with natural dyes such as eucalyptus leaves, flax and lichen. Screenprinted with gold ink, hand stitched.


Size: Each piece 25cm x 25cm

Life is a River

This triptych represents my travels through different environments to where I am today. Silk dyed with natural dyes (Eucalyptus leaves). Hand stitched.


Student work done as part of the Diploma of Art and Craft Design, Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

Jogjakarta Homestay

In 1989, I spent 5 months travelling by myself in South East Asia. I found the constant attention (single white women are a novelty) very wearing but it was a fellow traveller that scared me the most. One night a European backpacker let all the Homestay's birds out of their cages and stuck a knife into my door.

Some of my quilts are for sale. Please email me ( for further details.

Photography by Helen Mitchell, Wellington


Return to Clare Smith's Home Page