Whitsunday Creative Arts Festival: 1st to 7th July 2017
Learn to Create Fantastic Learn to Create Fantastic
Embroidery and Textiles
From The Best

Introducing Our Tutors


Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Alysn has been working as a textile artist for over 20 years. Her creative expression is shown through exhibitions in galleries, publishing books and teaching. She primarily creates work which is imbued with personal references and are rarely representational, but whatever their form she is looking for an emotive response from the viewer.

 Alysn enjoys teaching and is fascinated with the many and varied media available to contemporary textile artists and enjoys passing on her ideas, experiments and discoveries to all creatively minded people. Because of this, she offers a breadth of teaching and mentoring experience in the field of mixed media, fibre art, textiles and embroidery. She has Authored several books and written many articles for major magazines.

 Alysn has also worked on many Commissions and won several awards, such as:

                 Winner National Embroidery Championship for Wearable Art (1998)

                 Second Place National Embroidery Championship (1998)                             

                  Winner National Embroidery Championship for Wearable Art (1997)

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Alison Cole

Alison has been embroidering for over 30 years, but has always been around embroidery from a very young age. As a child her mother was a professional seamstress and she has fond memories of sorting her mother’s threads into colourways.

Alison's studies in embroidery lead to an Intermediate Certificate through the Embroiderers’ Guild in Melbourne and she has completed numerous other courses including Train the Trainer Adult Education Course and Art for the Stitch – a design and colour course for embroidery artists.

Besides writing two books on Goldwork Embroidery (All that Glitters and The Midas Touch) she has also been the recipient of a local Embroiderers’ Guild Branch Scholarship and the prestigious Ethel Oates Scholarship, of which she used part to research the history of metal thread embroidery.

Over the years Alison’s has won many awards and prizes for her needlework. She has researched and taught in many countries to the stage where she is a true expert in her field. She has been teaching for Koala Conventions for over thirteen years, and is very valued member of our regular team of Tutors. Her goldwork designs are stunning and our students always enjoy their classes with Alison.

Lesley Turpin-Delport

All the way from South Africa, Lesley has taught at our events many times, she has a fine arts degree and graduate diploma in teaching and has been an enthusiastic tutor, lecturer, author & designer of art and needle craft since the 1970’s. During her career she has travelled to many countries to exhibit and teach, and had numerous books published.

As a designer Lesley has a big focus on using many different textures and techniques in her designs, encouraging her students and giving them the confidence to incorporate their own ideas into their work. There is never a dull moment in Lesley’s workshops.

Nikki Delport-Wepener

Nikki has attended numerous courses in embroidery & needlework (The Royal School, Embroiders Guild and City and Guilds) and has qualified in different styles of embroidery throughout career as well as having Lesley as her mentor. Her latest specialty is creating embroidery art forms in the third dimension using traditional stitches and a wide variety of mixed media techniques.

Nikki has delivered accredited embroidery courses and classes in the UK, as well as teaching and lecturing worldwide in freestyle embroidery with Lesley. Nikki currently resides and teaches embroidery at private clubs for the Hong Kong Textile society and the YWCA in Hong Kong.

Bella Lane

 Bella Lane is a Peruvian specialist hand embroiderer, a stitch artist, design creator, and international tutor in needlework. She was born in the Amazon rainforest in Iquitos, Peru and moved to England in 2001. She is also very committed to humanitarian work and volunteers to support many international charitable organisations whenever possible.

In 2006 Bella was awarded a full time three year Apprenticeship with the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. Since graduating from the Royal School of Needlework in 2009 Bella has worked for companies in the UK, and many international clients. She also works with prominent fashion and textile studios in London such as Zandra Rhodes - De La Cuona - Hand & Lock - Watts & Co - My Slippers - Tapisserie - Cleverley, and Ted Baker Ltd.

From her own small studio in Battersea, Bella works as a freelance embroiderer, taking on private and corporate commissions as well as designing embroidery projects and work for her upcoming exhibitions and events. Bella shares her expertise with individuals and groups in London and beyond, with the continuing aim of promoting and fostering the art of hand embroidery at all levels. Inspired by her students, Bella recently joined the Embroiderers' Guild. Also she is the creator and founder of "London's Embroidery Club", and is additionally the founder of a textile enterprise based in the jungle of Iquitos Peru called "Manos Amazónicas"

Bets Maas

Born in South Africa, Bets has been living in Australia for over 28 years. She is best known in embroidery circles for barbola. Like stumpwork, barbola uses detached embroidered pieces to decorate a stitched background. Instead of wire the detached segments are stiffened and moulded - giving a finer and more natural look to the finished artwork. Where once old-fashioned starch was used to stiffen the detached elements, Bets has brought the craft into the 21st century by replacing it with new products like Helmar Fabric and Draping Liquid and Craft Smart Fabric Stiffener which both work like a dream.

Her name has become virtually synonymous with barbola embroidery - a unique embroidery technique related to stumpwork. Bets is now continually coming up with fresh designs by tracing them from live plant material or other inspiration from nature. Over the years she has created many exquisite pieces - mostly flowers. Her favourite pieces are the Frangipani and the Sweet Pea project that she will be teaching in 2008. Always up for a new challenge she is now creating Jewellery; brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Ndebele beading which has an African connotation features in many of her jewellery projects. Bets is a mad supporter of the Wallabies, but welcomes all New Zealand students into her class!

Catherine Howell

Catherine Howell’s style of embroidery is showcased by her upbringing in the picturesque English Cotswold countryside. Having come from a family of artists Catherine spent her childhood drawing and painting small creatures imagined from life deep within the hedgerows inspired by country outings. 

Further inspiration came when she graduated from Gloucestershire College of Art with a First Class Honours degree in Fashion and Textiles. She was tutored by luminaries such as Kaffe Fassett, this instilling her strong sense of colour to her adventurous design work. She then spent several years as a fashion designer and pattern maker both in London and Melbourne.

When her two children were small, Catherine created elaborate Wedding dresses, many of them intricately beaded and embroidered. This opened her into the world of embroidery design and tutoring. Having spent over 15 years in this field, she has built up a strong reputation for her own style of 3- dimensional work, often with one of her signature style drawings as a background. She is regularly featured in embroidery magazines and had a piece of embroidery published in “The Heart of the Matter” embroidery book, which raised valuable funds for the Heart Foundation. Catherine has travelled with the Shows as Featured Artist in Residence for the Expertise Craft and Quilt fairs travelling all around Australia and New Zealand.

Delma Moore

For twelve years Delma as been the inspiration behind Blackberry Lane, a mail order business specializing in Brazilian Embroidery.

After purchasing the business ten years ago it has grown to an extensive mail order service offering all things B.E. Delma has introduced over 50 of her own unique designs and earlier this year published her first book – “Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery - A Step by Step Guide”. Orders for her designs come from all over the world and her designs are distributed in the US.

She teaches regular workshops at local stitching groups, craft shops and Guild groups throughout Australia.

Jane Nicholas (OAM)

Jane Nicholas has been researching and working in the field of embroidery for over twenty years. Specialising in stumpwork and goldwork embroidery, she has written seven books and has contributed widely to journals and magazines on the subject.

In 1999 Jane was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to further her studies in stumpwork in the United Kingdom and in 2005 was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to hand embroidery as an artist, teacher, and author.
She teaches widely for Embroiderers’ Guilds and businesses in Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, and continues to research and develop new techniques - particularly in stumpwork. She is recognised internationally as being at the forefront of modern designers interpreting this form of raised embroidery. Jane’s interests include old textiles, oriental porcelain, insect specimens, and film, music and books. Jane and her husband John live in Bowral, NSW and have three grown-up children.

Moy Mackay

Graduating from the Glasgow School of Art in 1990 with a BA (Hons), Moy Mackay, born in Edinburgh in 1966, is a Scot born and bred who continues to work and live in her native land today. Moy’s rich vibrant works of art have attracted a steadily increasing fan base over the years following numerous exhibitions throughout the UK and also in the US .

From her home in the Scottish Borders she fuels her passion for colour and texture with an unceasing inspiration drawn from her surroundings in the beautiful Tweed Valley, using merino fleece fibres in the same way that a painter uses brushstrokes. The result is a “felt painting” of extraordinary warmth and texture. It is a fascinating, absorbing process which requires a fine balance between spontaneity and control and the wide spectrum of colours offers endless possibilities to create images of startling vibrancy and depth. It is impossible to look at one of Moy’s painting and not see the pure delight that she takes in her unique craft.

The exquisite, dreamlike scenes give us a glimpse into her very personal view of the land she loves and have been described as “…art with a complex process, created with integrity and a bone-deep affinity with it’s subject. The result is sensory bliss”


Cathy Sotiriou

 Textiles have been a great part of Cathy's life in one form or another. In childhood she created dolls clothes and started to explore hand embroidery. Even through her university days, where she studied science (pathology), she continued with her passion for textiles and later studied at Mackay TAFE from which she graduated with honours.
Her love of exquisite lace, machine and hand embroidery led her to the romantic world of Heirloom. In 1996 she started to create extravagant heirloom christening gowns which take hundreds of hours to complete, under the label Wiggly Giggly™.
  She does have a creative side that she likes to explore using all the knowledge she has, she does not plan her projects, and likes the journey of not knowing what the piece/article/garment will look like until the end. Everything she have ever sewn/stitched has started with a blank piece of fabric and absolutely no idea of where the path will go. Her motto is ‘to try everything at least once’. She sees her creations as art, others paint, she stitches!

She teaches hand embroidery classes specializing in Brazilian, Casalquidi, Silk ribbon and Felting to embellish with embroidery, her passion is textured pieces even her christening gowns are textured. She also teaches Heirloom sewing, textile art, sewing for beginners and has also written articles for ‘Dressmaking & Stitches Australia’ magazine for nine years.


Margaret Lee

 Margaret Lee learnt and practised Chinese embroidery from a young age in the traditional Chinese way.  She later studied Traditional Japanese Embroidery and gained international teacher accreditation from the Japanese Embroidery Centre, (the international arm of Kurenai Kai Ltd, Japan) in Traditional Japanese Embroidery and Japanese Bead Embroidery. Atlanta

Based in Adelaide and with teaching assignments both in Australia and internationally, Margaret enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge in these traditional art forms with her students and guide them in their embroidery journey. She has taught for Koala Conventions for many years and has many students who are gradually progressing through the stages of Japanes Embroidery Kurenai Kai with her. She also regularly teaches Chinese Embroidery and Japanese Beading at our events. Margaret is a true expert in her field.

Robyn Alexander

Robyn Alexander is a regular Tutor at and Sponsor of Koala Conventions events. An embroiderer of many years, Robyn appreciates the style and flair that unusual embroidery threads can add to your work. Her love of colour, texture, hand stitching & felting is reflected in her range of textile products and designs.  
    Robyn is the creator and owner of Coloustreams who produce a fabulous range of hand dyed silk embroidery threads, ribbons, fabrics, kits, embellishments & felting fibres. Her Colourstreams business is a valued sponsor of Koalas events, and our students always enjoy their classes with Robyn, as she loves to share her passion for her art.
Whatever the reasons for your creativity might be - to tell the stories of your heart with your hands, to pass embroidery arts and journals along through the generations, or just as a special gift for a friend - our purpose is to help your imagination take flight.
Colourstreams motto is to  "let the colour do the work" !

 Annie Huntley

Annie Huntley

Annie Huntley has a lifelong involvement in textiles which began with completion of a Degree in Fashion at Emily McPherson College, Melbourne, Australia. She then worked as a pattern maker at Crestknit an Australian fashion garment manufacturer. She progressed into a business of her own - operating a Knitwit franchise in Heidelberg, Melbourne, which quickly became one of the best performing stores as she developed her skills in workshop tutoring, creative design and personal retailing.

Subsequently, Anne and family moved to Queensland when she took an Advanced Creative Needlework Certificate at Tweed TAFE - at the same time lecturing in the Fashion Department. Her interest in, and love for fabrics had moved from hobby to business to the academic world!

In recent years, Anne has refined and applied her knowledge and passion for textural embroidery in a private tutorial format and also conducting sessions for many Embroiderers Guilds throughout Australia and of course Koala Conventions!

Her business 'Room For Threads' at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast, Queensland, has become a mecca for embroiderers as a source of specialized threads and embroidery - through personal shopping, mail order, or via the Internet. Anne is one of those passionate embroidery artists who works hard to keep the wonderful world of needle art vibrant! 
 Cathy Moon

Cathy Moon

Cathy Moon is an Australian Shibori Artist who originally studied textile and design teaching at Newcastle CAE. Her love of fabric design enticed her to enrol in a Fabric Printing and Design Course at New England TAFE in Armidale NSW. She became fascinated by the shibori process. After attending workshops by well-known shibori artists, Marg Barnett, Patricia Black, Phil Hali, Anna Lisa Hedstrom, Jean Cacicedo and the founder and director of the World Shibori Network, Yoshiko Wada, she emerged ready to develop her  own shibori designs.

Cathy now produces one of a kind art clothing and art pieces influenced by the huge variety of rich and intense colours that are so much a part of the Australian landscape. She endeavours to reflect the combination of these colours, together with her interpretation of shibori techniques within her work.

Cathy has won awards for her designs and she is active member of several textile and Shibori associations.  She mostly works with natural fibres, particularly silk and cotton enjoying experimenting with all shibori but particularly the stitching techniques including Kumo, Mokume and Karamatsu.

 Jennifer Bennett

Jenny has been teaching embroidery and trading under her business name 'Jennifer Bee Embroidery' for over 16 years. Her daughter born after 3 sons was the inspiration for this venture and she started with smocking classes at the local Adult education centre. There are only so many dresses a girl can wear, so Jenny started making them to order, and was then invited back to the same Adult education centre to pass on her knowledge of smocking she had gained.

Jenny has successfully completed a Tutor training course and has worked with many other talented tutors, gaining valuable information and techniques which she has then used in developing her own style of embroidery.

Her website www.jenniferbee.com is testament to the many types of embroidery she has mastered. Always interested in Art from a young age, she has the vision to picture a piece of embroidery completed and passes this knowledge on to her students in any one of the many classes she teaches weekly from her shop. She also works with the intellectually impaired in a weekly class and has children from as young as 7 coming to classes at after school sessions.


Hazel Blomkamp

Hazel Blomkamp from South Africa has dabbled with all the needlecrafts since childhood. When her children were babies she developed a passion for embroidery to break the tedium of life with toddlers, using it as her evening reward for having got through the day with her sanity intact! Her children are now young adults, but she still embroiders in front of the television every night.

She has been designing for the past 20 years. Preferring to design projects which appear to be traditional, she pushes the boundaries by introducing other forms of needlecraft into traditional techniques, exploring further in everything that she does. As well as constantly designing new works, she has written two books (Crewel Twists and Crewel Intentions) and she also runs a busy fine needlecraft website business. Her books and most of her kits are also available on Australian Needle Arts at www.australianneedlearts.com.au

Hazel also teaches at her home studio, in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, and travels throughout South Africa and often to Australia teaching embroidery and fine beadwork. She is a regular contributor to South African and Australian embroidery magazines and is a columnist for South African Stitches Magazine.

Hazel is a total character, her crewel work is beautiful and her students love her classes at our events.
 Di van Niekerk

Di van Niekerk

Di was born in Pretoria, South Africa and was artistic from a very early age. Her mother Joan van den Berg was also a successful artist. After training as a nurse and midwife, as a sensible ‘back up’ to a career as an artist, Di began her textile career in patchwork (sewing together small pieces of fabric into a larger design ) Using this method she then went on to create quilts, soft furnishings and even clothing.

In 1988 She started her business, Handicraft Designs incorporating a successful on line business. She also taught patchwork, appliqué, candlewicking, painting on silk, and quilting from her studio. Around this time Di began writing books on Quilting and Candlewicking.

Di later incorporated silk ribbon embroidery into her appliqué and quilting & soft furnishing designs. This has lead to the fabulous prints she now embellishes with silk ribbon embroidery and produces her own range of hand painted silk and organza ribbons. She is regularly invited to teach at needlecraft conventions around the world, including Koala Conventions! Over the years she has writing ten books and her latest books and many of her patterns are available on our Australian Needle Arts website.

 Katia Mokeyeva

Katia Mokeyeva

Katia Mokeyeva lives and runs her design studio 'Feuer und Wasser' in San Francisco, California. She actually graduated from the Moscow State University of Arts and Industry. Her exploration of various artistic methods and mediums led to a development of a more specific direction that sparked love in the realm of textile and fibre art.

     As an extension to her education, she completed the junior and senior years at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, focusing on fashion design and textile. Partaking in a short summer study abroad program in London's Central St. Martins College of Arts and Design gave her a new spectrum of inspiration as a clothing designer. The possibility to create one-of a kind items from scratch with the use of artisan textile led her to the particular technique of nuno felting.

    Nuno felting involves the felting of wool fibres with the inclusion of various fabrics like cotton or silk, with looser or tighter weaves being a medium for texture outcomes. These weaves not only create the resulting texture, but also complexity and shape depending on combinations and techniques employed in the process.

 Kay Stanis

Kay Stanis

Kay Stanis is an internationally known fiber artist, designer, Master Craftsman, and Graduate Certified Teacher of the Embroiderers' Guild of America, Inc. (EGA) and Kurenai Kai Traditional Japanese Embroidery. Her embroideries have received numerous awards and have been shown on the covers of Kurenai, Inspirations, NeedleArts, and NeedlePointers. She exhibits her needlework widely and is a juried member of the Fiber Forum group and is the recent recipient of EGA's Diana Grossman Memorial Award for Excellence in Needlework. She has recently won a Judge's Choice award

 She has studied internationally: in Paris at the L'Ecole de Broiderie D'Art, at The Royal School of Needlework in England, and she was invited to Japan to study with Master Saito at Kurenai Kai. Her travels are always interlaced with textile exhibits and workshops with internationally known teachers in the US and abroad the most recent being Australia and China.

She teaches and lectures on silk and metal embroidery in the US and abroad and has written and is presently teaching three correspondence courses for EGA. Today her responsibilities for EGA include: Chairman of the Master Craftsman in Silk and Metal, chairman of the Certified Teacher Graduate Program. She is also Treasurer of Fiber Forum, EGA's exhibition group.

 Karen Torrisi

Karen Torrisi

Karen Torrisi has been embroidering professionally since 1994. She formally trained in Fashion in Sydney, then specialised in the study of Beading, Tambour Beading & Embroidery in Australia with the late beading author Maisie Jarratt.
    While working in London she received the Queens Trust Grant for Young Achievers to study Haute Couture Beading and Embroidery at the Ecole D’ Broderie d’art Lesage in Paris in1999. Karen was also the First Prize Winner in the Open Category of the
prestigious UK Hand & Lock Embroidery Prize of 2011.  
Her creations are internationally known and include the following:
Fashion Commissions:
The dress Olivia Newton John wore at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Singer Delta Goodram’s dress at the 2004 Aria awards & 2005 World Music Awards.
Film Costume commissions:
Moulin Rouge, Dark City, Peter Pan, Star Wars II Attack of the Clones,
Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith & Superman 2006.
Stage show commissions:
Sunset Boulevard, Chicago, Show Boat, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, The Lion King and The Producers, Spamelot, Wicked, Mary Poppins & Love Never Dies.
    Karen now lives in London and has been involved in beading fashion collections for selected designers. Her upcoming projects include managing online marketing for the London Embroidery School, creating a Haute couture beading & embroidery sample collection and writing a new series of books on beading techniques.

Susan Porter

I first discovered Stumpwork when a girlfriend of mine, invited me to go to a class with her at Jennifer Bee's embroidery store in Sale Victoria. I went along thinking, Stumpwork ! What the hell is this! How can that be embroidery? Why would you have a stump in your needlework? After that first class, even though the project wasn't finished, I was hooked! I loved the way there was no consideration of scale to the elements we were working and how life like you could make the project. I still have this project hanging on the wall in my studio.
             I started designing my own pieces straight away, it was like a lightbulb moment! and worked  my designs as gifts for family and friends. When I moved back to my home town of Grafton in 1998, I approached the local embroidery store about teaching Stumpwork classes and the rest my friends is history.
             I have been teaching and tutoring workshops ever since. I hold regular classes here in Grafton and Maclean each week and also travel and teach embroidery guilds and private groups across the country. My classes are friendly, fun and interactive. I encourage discussion of various techniques and styles. No question is ever a "dumb question" chances are if you are thinking of that question, someone else is also thinking that. I love all needlework but my special love is Stumpwork.
My passion for needlework continues to inspire me to create beautiful designs suitable for all levels of stitchers. I have met the most wonderful ladies and made lifetime friends during my needlework journey.
 Wendy Bailye

Wendy Bailye

Wendy Bailye has been felt making for nearly 20 years and runs a vibrant felt art studio from her home in the Samford Valley, close to Brisbane. Her classes very much revolve around individual creativity being brought about by the felting process. Wendy has taught her skills at many events in Australia and overseas and felt has proven to be an enduring medium that has gained in popularity immensely over time. When Wendy first began making felt there were only two books available that were inspiring –now we are inundated with wonderful new titles every year!

Wendy has won many awards and enjoys working with a very eclectic mix of wool fibers, fabrics, silks, threads and recycled materials to produce  rich  artworks. Each piece tells a story. The making of handmade wool felt is an ancient technique that has developed into a very advanced contemporary art form including the use of a wide variety of modern materials in the process. Felt making is indeed a process of transformation. Wendy is always refining her skills by collaborating with many other talented artists and students who so generously share their wealth of knowledge with her.

Felting provides Wendy with a creative outlet that is both unique and full of challenge. It is always the process that inspires her and fires her imagination; the finished product is often far from her thoughts. By playing so much is learnt!
 Jan Pilgrim

Jan Pilgrim

 Jan's love of embroidery has always been part of her life since childhood days in Mt Colah, NSW. Jan's mother always made the children's clothes and did embroidery and patchwork later on in her life. Prior to moving to Grafton, Jan produced domestic pottery and taught students in her home studio. She continued this in Grafton, however, as the children grew her passion returned to embroidery.

Jan commenced this new chapter in embroidery exploring Stumpwork; starting with smaller projects, she became known as the 'Frangipani Lady' and even boasts a tattoo to match! From this, Jan developed her own Stumpwork style and designs moving into Australian Flora and Landscapes. Many of her designs have been published in several magazines.

Jan specialises in surface stitchery embroidery, gold and metal threadwork, stumpwork, beading and felting.  She enjoys combining these techniques across her embroidery designs and Australian flora features predominately in her work. She is also an Accredited Guild Tutor with The Embroiderers' Guild NSW Inc. and enjoys travelling to teach nationally.

Christine Thompson

 Christine Thompson first learnt to sew at the age of 30 when it became necessary after paying someone to hem her trousers. This started a quest to learn as much as she could in the sewing field. When the school of fashion was closing down at Katoomba TAFE, she  decided to enrol in Millinery as this was the last subject being taught at the school. This was the best decisions in her career!

She is now an award winning milliner with over 20 years experience in Opera, Theatre, Film and Musicals. Her credits include "Carmen", "The Magic Flute", "Madame Butterfly", "My Fair Lady", "Phantom of the Opera", "Love Never Dies", "Dr Zhivago", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Moulin Rouge", "King Kong", "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and "The King and I".

In 1995 she signed on to work as a milliner's assistant to Connie Kerr at the Australian Opera Company, which later became Opera Australia. In the year 2000 she was seconded to Fox Studio's to work on the film "Moulin Rouge", where she was responsible for making Nicole Kidman's black velvet top hat.

On her return to the Opera Company, Connie Kerr retired (at the grand age of 80), Christine then became the head milliner and remained in this position for a further 10 years before leaving to start her own business. She now runs a successful business in the Blue Mountains; Christine's Millinery, working as a freelance theatrical milliner and producing original, one of a kind head pieces for formal occasions, smart casual wear, bridal parties, and the racing carnival. Teaching millinery forms another part of her business and we are very lucky to have her teaching for us at Koala Conventions.

© Please note: all images on this website are subject to the copyright of the individual artists, no reproduction is allowed without their permission