Thursday, August 18, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"I can become obsessed with every mark and brushstroke on the canvas. As if every mark is a note of music and they all have to come together to be coherent, like a symphonic composition – and then it will sing the song I want to sing" 

Suzy Murphy

I am no painter but this quote feels as if it expresses everything I am trying to achieve each and every time I make a piece.

It expresses so beautifully the sense of harmony and coherence I am seeking. Every step I take in the making is considered, weighed up, tested. Each time I look at a piece as it is evolving I stop and check if it is looking as best it can; if it is suggesting the things I want it to say; if it is sharing the story I am trying to tell; is it making you feel the way I hope it will.

I simply love the idea of a piece of work being a symphonic composition, singing the song I want to sing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The making of the third piece

 I am not sure if I have blogged about this piece at all!  It started out with the poetic prose I mentioned here; but has moved so far away from the image of hand set letterpress that I can barely recall that I was even ever thinking of that! Amazing transition.

But yes, this piece is about envelopes and how they hold our thoughts and feelings. How they move between places and how they are precious and treasured.

It began way back when I thought I would take some paper to Scotland and try to do some rubbings of the cottage. Which I did. On return, I also did some rubbings of the chair made by our dear friend Ken Munsie, which has greeted people at our front door for over a decade. Markings from our two homes.

So I had loads of lovely paper to play with and went about making envelopes.

Cottage papers.

Maleny papers.


Seriously, the fun I had sewing papers together to make patchwork envelopes should be illegal.

I won't bore with you the multiplicity of trials I did to try and work out how to get writing onto the cards inside: colours, styles, legibility - so many trials! This is where I landed.

And then I started making even more beautiful bundles. Sigh.

Pulling this piece of work together has been a true labour of love - so many attempts to get the look and the feel just right. These photos show how much I have enjoyed it and it makes me smile to think this is where I got to - after many trips around the bold, the bright and the beautiful, I have landed here in my quiet, softly spoken palette. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Fragile Gains - complete

 The weekend has seen me finish my final piece for Vessel - the exhibition being held at the Old Ambo Gallery in Nambour in September.

I have absolutely loved the process and the wanderings that have taken place as I thought about these works and have tried to find responses to the theme that were me.

So Fragile Gains II is now packed and ready to be delivered.

Here is a glimpse of the what I hope will be the final presentation.

Fragile Gains II extends earlier work which examined gains made by women which I consider to be fragile: choices, feminism, education, leadership, equality, safety and liberation. 


Eggs are vessels emblematic of both vulnerability and protection; their role is to both protect and nurture. Laws, gains and progress also need to be protected and nurtured. We can never become complacent that the work is done. The work needs to keep being done.


The work is shown on a triangular bandage that has been cropped and placed over a perspex plinth. The bandage is gently gathered in places to allow the eggshells to nestle within it.  At the front, the title of the work appears in vintage white letraset.

The billowing softness of the fabric echoes nests and their fragility.

From above, and before I scattered some of the broken eggshells.

The focus of the work at the moment is the fragility of choices. The ability for women to choose who they have sex with; how they present themselves; whether or not they choose to use contraception; whether or not they can maintain a pregnancy... so many of these choices are under fire, under question and up for debate it seems. 

Any gains we have made seem to need to be fought for all over again.

But they all still seem so very fragile to me.


Eggshells, paint, PVA, ink, vintage Letraset, bandage.



40cm (l) x 40cm (w) x 8cm(h)

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"It is my contention that the process of reading is part of the process of writing, the necessary completion without which writing can hardly be said to exist." 

Margaret Atwood

As soon as I read this I imagined circles. Circles, beginning in one place, looping around to another and starting all over again. Circles that form, get added to, re-form again and on they go. Looping, feeding back...

I think that might describe the notion of reading leading to writing leading to reading leading to writing and so on.

There is also that very Zen-like question in there - if nobody reads it, was it ever really written?

In some ways, I guess if nobody (not even yourself) reads it, then perhaps it is as if it were never there.  But that might downplay the role of writing as a process to clarify thinking and thoughts; of releasing worries concerns and anxieties.  The act of writing itself can matter a lot. 

As a writer who has an audience however, I imagine that Ms Atwood finds that knowing folk are reading her words, probably does complete something in one way, and finds it also becomes an act of co-creation in another. This is a thought I could ponder for a long time...

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A beautiful new/old book

 I have been reviewing some of my earlier works and finding that sadly, due to weather here, some of the works have foxed in small parts; and for others, the combination of supposedly archival tape with fabric has not been a happy co-existence.

So I have gone about refreshing, renewing and recycling/re-using them in part.

This book is the result of a former book and I am delighted I have been able to use the loveliest parts, and to re-work some of the elements that had gone awry.

I redesigned it to have a beautiful stonehenge grey cover; a kozo fly page and a Fabriano Tiepolo pouch. They are all such beautiful papers and they work so wonderfully together.

Detail of the stitched spine - I love the little bobbles of the crochet cotton

On opening, the soft kozo fly page gives us all a moment to breathe...

The book itself incorporates printmaking, fabric, twigs and original words and calligraphy.

Some details of the loveliness within.

It feels so good to be able to give a sadness a new start, and to create something beautiful out of something that was broken.

'Gleaning' is for sale on my website - $180.00.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Calming Play

 I had one of those middle of the night thoughts about a book to make. It has a purpose - an exhibition looms - but it will bring together a few things I am trying to do at the moment - making use of things I already have in the studio (which acts as a kind of limitation to work with, and against) and my ongoing ponderings about two homes.

I went to the studio and found this work box. Full of lots of small, beautiful handmade papers and special papers that have been waiting to be used since forever. Like there is a bundle of papers I bought in Paris in  2014 still waiting...

I also wanted to use up some perspex that has been sitting in a box since we did the Queensland Literary Awards back in 2013. These were the bits left over when they cut out the centre panel to hold the metal panel. 

So I played around with some paper from the box to see what might fit. And came up with this pleasing set of options.

For the trial/test I grabbed a thick and a thinner crochet cotton. Just to see.

It's ridiculous how happy an image like this makes me - deep sigh.

So I did three lines of each cotton on the wafer thin handmade paper from New Zealand (circa 2016)

And three lines of each on some of the beautiful Parisienne paper.

And am now pondering which works best.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"This common project – to improve matters – is available to all of us, at every moment, and in a multitude of ways, and exists in the smallest kindness, the most rudimentary act of tolerance, or in the simplest generosity". 

Nick Cave.

I have mentioned Nick Cave before and reading his Red Letter Files is a must for me in each and every week.  Little moments.  This quote comes from a recent one and I like how he makes the notion of improving matters, a common project. Something we are each involved in doing, trying and participating in. As if it is the point in our universal venn diagram where we all overlap...

As he scales things down - to small kindnesses and generosities, and scales things up to all of us, at every moment and in so many ways, we are all invited in to take part. 

Int somehow make it seem possible to take steps to improve things just by doing small things.

I am often confounded by the apparent immense scale of sadness, despair, fear, anguish, and disaster that can exist outside in the world. I take time to withdraw and find ways to hold it, and then make small steps back out to help by doing the small things.

This quote makes me feel like we really are all in this together, each of us doing small things. Small acts of kindness and generosity are ours to share.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pebble Progression...

I often times wonder what it might be like to be a maker who spontaneously makes marks; who knows in an instant where they are headed and what they are doing. Who simply has an idea and gets it done and made straightaway. Who confidently places things together in exactly the way they should be.

My making is painstaking.  I consider and think about each and every decision I make, and here is the funniest sequence of photos I have taken for a long time.

I present Fiona trying to work out how a pebble should be attached to the cover of a book. It doesn't need any further words from me... 

I can let you know where I landed when the commission has been completed and collected.  It never ceases to amaze me the hours it can take to get the right decision. 

And I just have to smile, knowing I am who I am and I make the way I make...

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Fragile Gains again

 I am preparing work for the exhibition 'Vessel' to be held at the Old Ambo Gallery in Nambour in September and have two out of three works completed - the other is taking the time it takes.

There is also a bit of a shop at the exhibition - where artists can sell small items linked to the exhibition theme and/or their work.

My main Fragile Gains eggshell piece is pretty much there and I am just photographing and documenting it; but along the way I also thought to make some small pieces for the shop.

As you probably know from previous posts; this work is all about the gains women have made, that I think are very fragile including: choices, safety, education, feminism, equality, leadership and liberation. 

I spent most of Friday making the boxes by hand, having previously prepared the eggshells with their many layers.

And then it was down to getting the Letraset onto and inside them.

Each letter cut out of the sheet by hand and placed gingerly with tweezers and other tools; then held down delicately and firmly, yet gently, rubbed off. I hold my breath.

But I am very happy with how they worked out.

I look forward to having them in the shop at Nambour, but if you might be interested in having one now, please let me know and we can chat.