Clare Smith - Spiky Trees and Plants Quilts


I have always liked sharp patterns and shapes. Here are some quilts I have made showing New Zealand's strange spiky trees and plants. All the quilts are machine quilted and use hand dyed and printed fabrics.


Ti Kouka II (The cabbage tree)
a.k.a. Cordyline Australis

The cabbage tree is a New Zealand icon. It looks nothing like a cabbage, but was considered a substitute for cabbage by early European settlers.


Size 124 x 121 cm

Ti Kouka I (the cabbage tree)


Size 100 x 110 cm


Inspired by another New Zealand icon, the Nikau Palm, the only palm tree to grow this far south of the equator.


Size 86 x 94 cm

Harakeke, Ti Kouka, Toetoe

Made as a commission.


Size Each panel 80cm x 2 m


The New Zealand flax


Size 80 cm x 1.5 m


Made as a commission.


Size 138 cm x 174 cm

Tree in the City


Size 101 x 102 cm

Lancewood (Horoeka)

This tree has very thick, spiky leaves as a juvenile, but as an adult plant its leaves change completely and become softer. This happens when the tree is too tall to be destroyed by browsing moa (an extinct flightless bird larger than an ostrich).


Te Horoeka II (The Lancewood)


Size 90 cm x 1 m

Te Horoeka III

A more abstract view of the lancewood.


I came to live in New Zealand when I was 15, and one of the strangest things to get used to was grey sand. This quilt is inspired by spinnifex bowling along grey New Zealand beaches


Size 92 x 159 cm


Tussock III

Turned to a Southerly (again)

In the Antipodes our bad weather comes not from the North but from Antarctica in the South. As New Zealand is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the weather is often extreme and is always a topic of conversation. A common cry therefore is "It's turned to a Southerly (again)".

Made for the exhibiltion "Under the Southern Cross: Antipodean Art Quilts" curated by Dijanne Cevaal.


Size: 110 x 115 cm



This quilt represents the unfurling fern frond which is very much part of New Zealand landscape and art. Hand dyed and commercial fabrics, machine appliqué, machine quilting, loose threads.


Size: approx 1 metre square.

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

Photography by Helen Mitchell, Wellington, or Gilbert van Reenan, Wanaka.


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