New Norcia Inspiration

My DH and I went on a long country drive over the weekend and ended up in a very remote West Australian destination called New Norcia. New Norcia is an old yet still functioning Benedictine monastery located in the absolute middle of nowhere. The monastery IS the town.

We had a nice afternoon touring the historic buildings open to the public (there is a large section off limits as this is where the monks live and guest quarters are located) and taking lots of photographs. After a while we ended up in the one and only hotel which used to be part of the monastery at one time, to have a cold drink and some lunch. While DH went in to order, I sat on the large front portico relaxing in the cooling breeze that a perfectly situated veranda affords to travellers that even a very hot Australia day can’t penetrate.

I admired the building with its very solid and thick walls. A construction well suited to this harsh environment in keeping the heat out and the coolness in. After looking up at the exposed beams and around at the walls of thick stone on the outside and deep colored Jarrah wood on the inside, I looked down. On the veranda floor were the most beautiful pattern of tiles. Of course this being a former monastery building I’m certain it was build with function and durability in mind and ascetics as a secondary concern . But in the floors stark functionality is geometric beauty. The tiles are nothing special – just fired clay in reddish, brownish, colors. But the pattern it makes is a thing of splendour. I pulled out my camera and took a few snaps at two different tile patterns in two separate areas of the veranda. A few people sitting at their tables gave me a rather odd look. I was tempted to say ‘I’m a quilter’ to one of the women because if she were a quilter or had any understanding of textile art, she would understand. But I didn’t. Instead I just looked like a crazy American taking pictures of the floor.

I would like to create a quilt one day using these patterns and give it a name that would bring back the memory of this perfect day spent with someone I love admiring the beauty of the world around me. I bet the craftsmen who laid those tiles so many years ago had no idea the impact their work would have on the creative processes of a quilter stopping by for a cold beer before heading home.


  1. Oh, McKenna, I laughed out loud when I read this! I can't tell you the number of photos I have taken of beautiful floors! I have gotten to the point where I kind of revel in looking like a crazy person with my camera, always taking photos of tree roots and bricks and old doors and whatever else has a pattern that intrigues me. I have a feeling you and I would have a blast together, aiming our cameras at all sorts of seemingly crazy things.

    Those floors are fantastic. In fact, the whole place sounds wonderful. Thanks for giving us a mini tour in photos and words!

    xo Gigi

    P.S. Wish I could share my maple syrup with you!

  2. It is very early in the morning, and all I can think of to say is floors are amazing!! heh.

  3. Great floors, saw some similar in Prague. What artisans. Thanks for sharing!


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