To stitch and bitch

Mixed media galah digestive tractOkay, so what’s this? Well, thanks for asking. It’s the digestive system of the pink and grey galah rendered in felt, crochet and embroidery. It’s a work in progress, something I’m working on in a Friday afternoon stitch-and-bitch group here in Bathurst. I wouldn’t have called it that, except a friend, when I explained what I was doing, said, “Oh, a stitch and bitch.” It’s actually an experiment in using textile art to reinforce resilience in a group of women who are clients at the Busby Medical Centre. The group is run by psychologist Dr Suzanne Alder. As soon as I found out about the group I threw my hand in the air, shouting Miss! Miss! I just had to go. I got my GP to add it to my mental health care plan. I said I needed to reinforce my resilience as I recovered from major body-altering surgeries. That might be true but actually I just wanted to sit in a group and do craft and talk about stuff. That would have to be one of the very definitions of bliss, for me. Everyone in the group has hair-raising problems. I can’t mention any of them because we’re all sworn to secrecy. But I don’t mind letting you see my creation.

As some of you will know, last year I crocheted my own digestive tract, so this year I wanted to branch out. As the galah is my fave bird, with whom I identify, I thought I’d try making its digestive system. A lot to learn about, there. I’ve been learning about the crop, which is sort of a get-back-to-you-later holding pouch in the neck; then there’s the gizzard, which is a very muscular organ indeed. Inside the gizzard, there are stones (people who have chooks might know about this) that help grind up seeds and whatever it is the bird is eating. There’s a liver and a pancreas that behave more or less like our own. And then the famous cloaca, from which we get the colloquial clacker.

Manure from the cloaca fertilises the ground upon which a magnificent sunflower grows. The galah eats the sunflower seeds and the cycle of life continues. After the initial flurry of research, working on this piece has been very relaxing. I watch television while I’m doing it, although it’s more like listening to television because my eyes are on the work on my lap.

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