Christine Lethlean: Perfectly Imperfect

“There is no right or wrong. There is no unpicking. You do not unpick one stitch in my class, only if you accidentally stitch your work onto your jumper! Because where do you go if you unpick?”

Christine Lethlean
Art imitates life. Well, what about craft? We all know that life ain’t perfect! So, what can a stunningly vibrant textile collage of embossed floral cut-outs overlaid with hand-embroidery teach us about being kinder to ourselves? Let’s ask Christine Lethlean – Clunes-based textile artist and teacher extraordinaire. For Christine of @margieandbert, a beautiful life means not perfection but rather imperfection, curiosity, and just that right touch of sweetness. She sees beauty in making mistakes, taking risks, and telling stories. And it shows in her work – or rather her play.

Layers of Life

“Mum taught us the little touches of aesthetics which I will never let go of. And when I think of all the scraps of fabric (she kept) I immediately go back there and thank her for keeping the old tablecloths and curtains. It’s now an essential part of my work.”
Christine’s work is all about play. Her social media bursts with images of fabric leave delicately embroidered on vintage cloth, reimagined with fresh eyes and fresh threads. Every post is accompanied by a quote, a true insight into her thoughtfulness to find an authentic way to live well with purpose.

She plays with both imagination and tradition, from the wildflowers with which her mother graced her childhood in their rural Western-Australian home to Bengali quilt work and Japanese sashiko stitching techniques, to memories of the resourcefulness of her parents Margie and Albert (who provide the namesake for her social media, how sweet!).

We often think of scraps as imperfect leftovers that belong in the trash. But having grown up in a loving, yet challenging home in which they often had to scrape by to make ends meet, she recognizes the gift of scraps. Quite literally, she now sews scraps together to weave stories.

Zoomed out, we marvel at the big picture – a colourful composition of a gorgeous bouquet of wildflowers, a curious bunny caught in a moment, or an entire forest of winter Oak trees. Zoomed in though, we pick up on the vulnerability of the sweet, hand-made details of patches, stitches, and fibres that build the entire magnificent story. Her craft imitates life.
Layered Scraps Stiched Together by Christine Lethlean

Craft and Community

“In my artistic practice, I’m willing to give anything a go. But that’s who I am, I’m a positive person. I like to ask; how do you bring people to your table? I believe I can teach anyone to do what I do!”
Lucky for us, she is just as passionate about sharing the craft! She hosts workshops, retreats, and exhibitions in Clune that invite and excite her community to come to learn new hand-skills and stitch their own stories. Her passion for nurturing her students through their learning experience is no surprise! With a background in nursing, Christine is naturally warm, open-minded, and open-hearted. The softness, vibrancy, and fun of her textile art reflect her life philosophy and her spirited personality. Her workshops have her students inspired, curious, and feeling good. And we are just in stitches!
Embroidery and Stitching by Christine Lethlean
“Doing something with your hands, there’s a genuine meditation in that!”

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