Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thursday Thoughts...

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” 

 Robert F. Kennedy

It is sometimes so hard not to be discouraged. I think here, RFK is trying to let us all know that our small acts, our individual conversations, the small things we each do, can help shape a future. 

Even tho the loud and large world may seem to be saying the opposite of what we hope for.

Our country is undertaking an ugly conversation about the simple notion of a Voice To Parliament for our Indigenous people. For so many reasons I am voting YES and it feels as if I am just one tiny voice amongst the ugliness. 

I dearly hope that we can bend the arc of history; however, I am uncertain, and fearful, that we will not prove to be up to the task of being the best we can be. 

One small voice tho, can be amplified by sharing, so the YES buttons have been made and shared around and are being worn by many folk in many places. I hope we can write a positive history of our generation.

Buttons made by B and me, using imagery from Aboriginal artwork that we own, 2023.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fire and Flowers

 On our last visit, I created the first in a series called Charred. What started with some burnt fence posts became a lovely, balanced and elegant sculpture. Barry and I joined forces to create Charred II which I am not sure I ever blogged about! In fact looking back I never even photographed it! Must have been just before we left early last visit.

Charred II

And a photo a friend took to show me the sweet peas, but there it is in front!

Following the creation of The Fishers post as part of Barry's exhibition and our work with the students, there was a small (23cm x 23cm) cube left over. Which immediately said to us both it needed burning.

On Saturday we had a good day for burning - not raining, not too windy, and not too hot; kind of like a Goldilocks day. So we went ahead and have created the base for our next sculpture in the series Charred III.

I am looking forward to adding in all the bits of interest to make this another lovely piece for our garden.

And then, as ever, to flowers (with the addition of feathers and fruit). I have loved the summer brightness of so many flowers in the garden and how they have cheered each room I add them to. In the kitchen, with my favourite bird the chaffinch at the window.

And our fabulous crop of apples out the back - culinary ones some have been stewing them for our breakfast and they are delicious.

As we farewell the last of the bright colours, I turn to and enjoy the muted tones of the dried grasses and weeds.

And just keep arranging and re-arranging them...

And playing with effects.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Peace Plus Ink

 Thursday was International Day of Peace and like we do each year, we hung our peace weathergrams and our peace doves and watched them move and sway in the breeze (wind!). They catch people's eyes as they walk the road and we chat about peace every now and again. Which is a good thing.

So here are some photos of the installation in Scotland this year.

The fence always bears the marks of previous weather grams, and I like to leave the strings in place as reminder of peace throughout the year.

Here are some of the previous years' ones that have fallen and been rescued, to maybe fly again another day...

We popped some of the rescued weather grams and doves on one of our trees which is now big enough to carry them, and it felt wonderful. We had our peace tree in Maleny at the top of the drive at our old house; we now have the peace magnolia at our new house and here at the cottage it looks like we have the peace plum! Tradition continues.

Our crocosmia montbrecia are flowering away and provide a stunning backdrop to the cottage. I have cut quite a few and brought them inside where they really brighten the kitchen and the lounge. As the petals fade and drop I wondered about the colour. It is such a vibrant orange when they are in bloom, would it retain that as a dye in some form?

The sun hasn't been around much for me to think about solar dyeing, so instead I thought about trying to make ink of sorts...

I steeped the flowers in alcohol for a few days., and they released the most fabulous orange!

In the end, a fairly pale yellow maybe? appeared. I dipped a few papers in it and am waiting to see how much the colour fades or changes nature. I would love it to last and be able to use it, but we shall see.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Thursday Thoughts…

 “I stand for peace against war!”

Pablo Picasso

Today is International Day of Peace. Sometimes it is hard to keep hoping and believing that peace is possible as we watch so many places and structures, fragment and turn to war.

It seems to me as one small person in a world of billions that I won’t change the world, but perhaps I can help create a peaceful place around me, with peace amongst us, and between us, with peace ripples reaching out across the globe.

Like Picasso, I will always stand for peace against war, and I will always hope that we can make it happen, peace by piece…

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The beauty of the place...

 Barry and I have been in Orkney for a couple of days R& R after our busy times with his exhibition, so this post is simply a few of the views and the beauty around our cottage in Armadale. 

Every day, the light and the sky draw our eyes upwards and outwards. 

And in this case of the fence lines on our precipitous coastline.

The summer garden lingered quite a while as the temperatures were mild if not flat out hot, so we have gathered many a small posie and been cheered by them inside.

The sky was darker than this; but the contrast is still wonderful with the orange of our montrbrecias.

Sunshine after rain across the bay.

Early sunshine.


Lovely layers of clouds and light and sky.

The fishing net poles looking dramatic.

Out the back window, just before bed one night.

Early morning walk, straw bales lined up with the green and the gold and the grey.

It is a wonderful place to wander and see so many moments of beauty.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

A Tale of Two Workshops

 Thursday and Friday were workshop days here.

On Thursday, Barry and I ran an aluminium plate etching workshop with two classes of high school students Farr Bay High in Bettyhill.

It was a great day and the students achieved a lot and made some amazing pieces. The plan is the works will be attached to a post that Barry has underway, and will then find a place as a piece of public art nearby telling the story of the fisherfolk.

I mostly worked outside in the poly tunnel doing the actual etching in a well-ventilated area, whilst Barry remained in the classroom doing all the drawing, transferring and cleaning.

As ever, the process intrigues with its weird chemical reactions and residues...

Here are some details of a couple of etched plates...

Then of Friday afternoon I once again had the great pleasure of attending natural wool-dyeing course with the wonderful folk from Gongcrafts.  The goal was to dye a rainbow and we did pretty well.

Working with the seed pods of the Broom bush, (yellow) real cochineal beetles which needed crushing (red) we dip-dyed two ends, and then overdyed with the third dip of indigo (blue) in the middle, to create the secondary colours orange, green and purple. Such fun and such varied and wonderful results.

A fun couple of days - creative in so many ways. There were differences between the two - the hard metal and the soft wool; but also similarities - dipping into a solution and alchemy and magic taking place.

So lovely to be actively engaged within the local community making and creating.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Thursday Thoughts...

“The printed word is the playing field of the human imagination. And books are the instruments of play.” 

James Robertson

Some people have such an interesting way of thinking about things.

I really like the idea of our human imaginations having a playing field - a place where they roam and engage and explore and ask questions. To consider the printed word that playing field is interesting. Why not music, or visual art or dance or engineering or gardening...?

Perhaps the printed word is more widespread and a shared experience (mostly)? Perhaps because it is a key way in which learning and knowledge have been passed down ? Yet both those things are not necessarily the fruits of the imagination...

From a novelist's perspective oh yes indeed, the printed word is definitely the place where their imagination plays.

I also think about the use of 'instruments' of play. Playing instruments has a strong association with orchestral and other music I think, and yetI can't think of another word that might better describe what books are in this example - tools of play seems even odder!

So yes to the idea that the human imagination has a place to roam and play, and yes to the printed word and books being a key element of our imaginative play; but perhaps not the totality of it.

Robert Kusmirowski, Krakow, 2017.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Calligraphic layering

 I am having fun working within the constraints of my tiny wee studio here.

I have been working with photographs and papers and layering and experimenting and exploring.

I am enjoying the lettering experiments. First in my journal I did a few tests/samples. Just handwriting, not neat, not tidy, just jotting words down.

Checking out how they handle water and ink, and overwriting.

Some areas and approaches were more successful than others. I am glad I kept a good record as there were only two pens that I decided I wanted to keep working with.

I don't have much good paper with me, but my eyes lit on some cheap and cheerful black paper and I wondered what if?

So I wrote in lead pencil, which I knew would show up on the black.

And then I wrote in black ink on the black, which is actually very hard to photograph, but it is there I promise.

And over the top with water and ink I went. And over writing. LOVING where this is going!

This one made me laugh so hard. I popped a wash of ink over the lead pencil and it utterly and completely disappeared. I sat looking at it for a while feeling pretty silly, but I eventually went back to it and started to make scratch marks into the layer of ink.

Much happier!

So constraints and mistakes are me right now.