Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“But I know that I would never have seen a single university library if I had not grown up living a hundred yards from that library in Willesden Green. Local libraries are gateways - not only to other libraries but to other lives”. 

Zadie Smith

In times of economic rationalism and austerity and whatever other argument is at play to reduce access for all, to access only for those who can pay; public libraries are at great risk, yet their value is immeasurable.

I mean that. You literally can't put a figure on the value of a public library. You can try to quantify the benefits, argue this or that, but thinking about Zadie Smith's words, there is no accounting scheme anywhere in the world that could quantify the benefit to the economy for starters, but also to an individual (Zadie) and the myriads of people all over the world who have read her books, of her having access to that local public library. No accounting package could handle all of that.

The positives of libraries aren't always immediate or contained within their local area.  But their impact is definitely local and quantitatively you could analyse heaps of positive stories - from mums and bubs reading sessions, to school holiday activities; to exposure for artists; to safe havens for folk to sit quietly and read the newspaper; to the mobile library services; to providing spaces for groups to meet, to seniors learning how to use the latest technology; to free access to the internet; to just plain reading and getting educated!

Perhaps because a gateway is open, and things flow back and forth through it time and again, and what goes in one and and pops out the other end or recirculates is just too hard to measure or keep track of. But we know it as a truth. Libraries matter.

Edinburgh Public Library - for the Love of Books x

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It's only a pocket, Fiona!

So sayeth Barry as I sit and fiddle and keep adding elements and details to a pair of pockets!

I am in a phase of renovating all of my clothes so that they have pockets.  I am getting seriously het up about pockets and the lack thereof in women's clothing at the moment and seriously excited every time I make clothes with pockets in them. I go about telling everybody "it's got pockets!!!".

I have decided I don't actually NEED to make any more clothes right now, hence my clothes renovation phase.

I have a pair of wild wonderful fisherman's pants as they are called, which I love wearing, but - no pockets.

Here they are draped over the back of the couch. I love all that crazy fabric detail on the right leg.

So I decided to add a pocket onto the left leg.

But then I couldn't decide which style of pocket to go for; so I decided to make two and then choose.
The first has grey linen underneath white cotton lawn. The trousers are unhemmed with fraying bits here and there, so I am keeping the style loose and frayed.

I sat quietly for quite some time, very meditatively pulling threads in the lawn. It is very fine and very fiddly but it was a delightful pastime.

You can see I became quite besotted with it.

The second one has the grey linen and white lawn again, but this time with strips of the lawn stitched down the middle, reflecting a design element on the pants. I am thinking I might add in some of the 'string' from the pants to bring the two side together more.

I really do love a frayed edge.

So here is where I got to. With a bit of help from Barry I decided on a single pocket, but blending the two styles a bit.

And here it is on the pants.  Just the right size and place for keys and a phone.

And a happy by product is this beautiful ball of thread.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A mock-up of sorts

It is always a slow process for me designing a book, especially when I am trying to achieve all sorts of things in a single book.

This one I was hoping to make from a single sheet of paper.

It is a book about here and there - my love for my home here in Maleny; and my love for our home in the Highlands in Scotland. The single sheet of paper thing felt right - I am one person with a heart in two places.

Like many before me, I tried out one of Hedi Kyle's folds  from her most recent book Art of the Fold, co-authored with her daughter Ulla Warchol.  The Franklin Fold it is called.

I liked it because it is from one piece of paper, and seems to be able to tell two stories and bring them together in the centre.

I had made a plain paper mock-up a little while ago. And decided it would be nice to tuck the Title in the front cover fold. A little bit different.

I then wanted to add words and numbers and images, so I set about pulling the book apart and trying to work out the layout of pages and the direction of images and words.

 May I say it took quite a few goes to work out how to easily return the book to book format!

I labelled F for front and B for back and numbered both sides separately. Maleny on one side, Armadale on the other.

 As mentioned it took a few goes to get the rhythm back!

Trying to work out where I would  need to print in order to get a design on the front and back covers.

Good result!

And inside the cover - testing how the design would run.

And then looking at postcodes - imagining them in bold wood type on the back.

Standing it up to see how it 'reads'.

Alongside all the unfolding and marking and refolding I need to make copious notes for checking I had included everything - words, images, numbers...

And because it is a book of two; I need to make sure I have a matching pair so to speak. My brain was hurting by the end!

I also want to make sure of the overall integrity of the book, so am checking that the colours mean something; that some imagery is individual; some shared. Checking techniques and where they might be applied. Remembering that embossing must come last!

Trying to work out which typefaces I can use for names and lat/long etc. Calculations, calculations, calculations.

Next step is to test and trial if I can possibly print the marks and images and words I want in the direction I need; and in what order and sequence! Shall cross all my appendages and take copious notes!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception.” 


Always and ever, it comes back to kindness.

Small acts of kindness, selfless acts of kindness, huge acts of generosity and kindness - each and every one makes the world better. Each one makes our daily lives brighter;  our families happier; our friendships stronger; our communities safer and our world a better place.

Its that simple really isn't it?

Take the time to be kind.  If you can, why wouldn't you?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Work on show

A lovely start to the week when I heard from the Director of the Gallery at the University of the Sunshine Coast, that one of my works was to be exhibited in a Women's Work exhibition.

Taking work by women from their collection, the gallery has pulled together a magnificent and stunning show; showcasing women from all over and their varied styles and works.

This is one of the lead pieces...

Kinyu by Nora Wompi

This piece will also be on show...

Two Countries by Lilla Watson

Details about the exhibition:
My piece is called "Learning my Lines" and was acquired by the University in 2017. You can read all about it in this blog post and the real story behind it way back here.

 I can't wait to attend the opening!  It is somehow even sweeter that I didn't know that this was happening; it feels like the loveliest of gifts has landed in my lap.

As it has always been with this book.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Not much time...but tools!

We basically gave up on this week creatively!

Undertaking a laundry renovation with jackhammers and dusts and fumes meant that we spent several days as escapees - leaving the house until the work was done.

Family birthday celebrations were had with lots of cooking and baking (creative!) and then the changeover of our broadband and internet to the new NBN caused a day of lost time as we fiddled and faddled with the telco.

So I managed to grab just one hour on Sunday afternoon.  I almost didn't bother, but thought that was a bad attitude.

I knew I wouldn't get much done, so pondered what was most useful and in the end I decided to start preparations on the aluminium plates I hope to etch.

As ever, there is lots of slow preparation needed, before one etches.  Today I trimmed the edges, and filed them and found where all my drypoint tools were. Huge effort!

Still they are two small tasks I won't need to do during the week.

Far more interesting than the filed plates are of course the squiggly off cuts.

A plate after trimming and filing.

Some of my tiny wee files.

And then the drypoint tools - it was actually a lot of fun to rediscover these and think about how best to use them all.

They are all mighty pointy

And I loved the curled handles on a couple.

And just to cheer me up I include a picture of me and a huge rabbit artwork taken a couple of weeks ago (before broken toe) in a skirt made from a dress that no longer worked.

And here is the broken toe X-ray. Sigh, I did a really good job on it!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“Art is the highest form of hope”. 

Gerhard Richter

In recent times I have held tight to hope. I have come to understand the value, the importance and the utter necessity of that small word.

It is a word that can seem small and even a wee bit dismissive - we often say about work and deadlines and implementation of policy that "hope is not a strategy".  Meaning of course that hoping that it will get done is not a way to get it done.

But in most other realms of my life - the broader social and community world - I find that retaining hope is vital.  It isn't actually about how to get something done; it is more about enabling me to feel as if I can  still do a little bit of something to make a difference; and that by doing so, things will get a little bit better in some small way. It is about knowing that others will also find their ways to make things better and to overcome.

It feels as if hope is foundational to action.

This quote really does express that beautiful aspirational nature of hope.  And of art. That somehow art is a realisation of our hope for the world; that we can create and make beauty and that we can lift spirits.

Photo credit: Barry Smith, Artwork: Mo Orkiszewksi
I dream of a world where love is the answer is the perfect expression of this quote...

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

I Dream of a World...

Barry and I are back from a whirlwind trip to Sydney where we attended the opening of Mo Orkiszewski's gathering from around the world "I dream of a world where love is the answer".

Here we are joining hands around the world...

The installation was wonderful; and all the details shone. We ended up spending a lot of time just staring and checking and looking- the longer we looked, the more we saw...

My appreciation for the talisfolk in particular just grew and grew the more time I spent with them. They were so so beautiful.

Of course, I wandered around hoping for a glimpse of my wee pennant. See here for its story. In amongst the vibrant beauty of so many others, it was hanging quietly, surreptitiously with its quiet message of love.

 The world seems smaller and closer somehow when I realised I was hanging next to Jude Martin who was such an inspiration for so many; and Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord; and one pennant away from Liz Ackert; and one pennant away from Louise Watson.  All three folk I have 'met' through the wonders of the interweb...

An especially captivating element of the show was the line of correspondence around the wall. Many participants had written notes to Mo about their work and their hopes for love mending our beautiful broken world, and these were placed along the walls and around corners. So many visitors were fascinated by them.


 I loved the notion and it felt like finding an old friend when I saw this piece amongst them.

 Mo looked gorgeous and talked and shared with everyone. And everyone talked to everyone...

The details of the gloves and their star cut outs and embroideries called me back time and time again.

Unknowingly to me, Barry took a series of photos of me reading the words of Rod's song that Liz had embroidered on her pennant. I was clearly gazing intently!

And in what seems quite fitting, as we walked (hobbled) along the street outside the gallery, I came across this graffiti heart on a rusty covering. 


So many hearts and congratulations to Mo for the most magnificent of gatherings - so much love from around the world poured into these works...

Update: To see all of the beautiful pennants and talisfolk, and learn more of the stories and hearts behind them, click here to view the astonishingly beautiful digital catalogue.