An owl a day keeps artist busy

23:37, Feb 19 2013
Sue Garlick
FOR THE BIRDS: Sue Garlick with owls from her exhibition if Parliament, at Lustre Gallery.

Nelson primary school teacher and artist Sue Garlick has gone to ambitious lengths to keep her creativity alive.

Garlick hand-crafted fabric owls every day last year, using different fabrics depending on her mood.

The fruits of her labour, a parliament of 366 owls - as last year was a leap year, will be on show in Nelson from tomorrow.

Parliament is Garlick's first exhibition in Nelson after moving here from Auckland two years ago.

It's also Lustre Gallery's first installation since Auckland woman Angelene Thompson took over from Peter Elsbury last year.

Garlick graduated from the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland with a major in print-making more than a decade ago, and re-trained as a teacher in 2003.


She now works fulltime as a teacher at Victory Primary School, and says the owl project was a way of ensuring she still had a creative outlet.

"Teaching tends to take up a lot of your creative energy. I wanted to make sure I set some time aside each day."

Each owl took about half an hour, and if she didn't get around to making one, she'd have to make up for lost ground the next day.

"I would have a little kit in my bag, so I could make them during break times or meetings at school," she says.

"The last couple of months were a bit of a drag, but I wanted to finish it."

Garlick says she enjoys making functional objects, like bags, and re-using old fabrics.

"I love collecting things too, and I think it [the owl project] has sort of grown out of that," she says.

"They all follow the same pattern. The dates on the bottom are like their edition number."

The owls changed "from day to day, and month to month", and were made using various fabrics, including silk, wool, and off-cuts from a dress she made for her daughter.

"I went through a gingham phase, so I went and bought all the colours of gingham I could find."

Garlick's favourite owl is one she made using fabric her goddaughter chose while she was staying.

The owls will be strung up at Lustre Gallery, and will be for sale individually or in groups, but "I might have to keep that one".