Thursday, February 20, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“but writing down the words 
alters what I want to remember 
that which had no words 
was a living breathing image so now I have two versions of the same
today I can superimpose them
but tomorrow when I’m gone
only the words are left
signs evoking something
that no eye sees any more” 

 Remco Campert, from “Memo” (translated by Donald Gardner)

words. and more words.
 I have held this quote for so many it; wondered what it meant; at different times thought it is beyond me; too beautiful...but today I read it slowly and could see it revealing itself to me before my very eyes. Perhaps I had more time or I really wanted to read it, not rush it. Who knows.

Pondering books, I am pondering writing and words here and I think this expresses rather magically the action of describing something in words and what it is, can be, and what remains.

The mere fact that we use language, structure, symbols and meanings to describe something that is simply seen or felt; that is itself voiceless and unspeaking, creates parallel experiences of the thing. Two versions. Momentarily, fleetingly.

I loved the imagery of superimposition - like sliding sheets of tracing paper or glass over something then moving one away, leaving the discrete elements no longer creating unified whole.

And what remains are the words - the image or sensation cannot be felt or seen again, so the portrayal is what we are left with.

Which isn't the thing itself. But it’s something…

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Layering of letters

Every now and again a random thought pops into my head and I start to explore an idea with absolutely no idea of where it might go.

And so it is with this one.  I wondered if you somehow could divide letters up into their different components (or strokes as a calligrapher might say), and use tracing paper to produce the whole letter in layers.  Don't ask me why.

So a I printed a largish alphabet off the computer and started with A.  (I also ended with A  given time limitations, but I know there are 25 possibilities remaining!)

Stage 1. Colour in the left hand diagonal, halfway.

Turn the page, colour in lower half of left diagonal.

Head to the right diagonal and do the same, upper and lower halves of the diagonal.

About now I am enjoying what's happening on the left hand side of the page as well...

And finally the cross bar.

Sewed up quickly with red thread.

 The back.

The front.

The finished wee book-et.

A clearly has a few strokes, some of which I divided just to really layer it, so I ended up with 5 layers.  I could imagine O ending up with 4, C maybe two, U could get 4 if you tried, M could have 4 , 6 or 8...

None of which has helped clarify what I might do with it or use it for...but that might just niggle away at the back of my brain and appear randomly another time!

I am not sure what it achieves to dissect a letter like this, but part of me remains intrigued...

Sunday, February 16, 2020


These are busy days and it seems like I begin a task, only to make it just so far, and no further.  For now. I do know that time will open up again soon.

I have been wanting to make a few more grief cards - and I thought of some words the other day that seemed to express something of that time, for those of us with friends and folk we love and care about who are bereaved.

So I sat down at a corner of a cluttered desk and pulled out some type.  I had originally wanted to use larger wood type but realised it wasn't going to fit one of the standard card sizes I use. so I went smaller.

In keeping with my other grief cards, it's all lower case, no capitals. Somehow I find lower case gentler.

Here we go - sometime. It is looking pretty tight, but does make it the width of the card, with a breath to spare either side.

 But then I realised its really sometimes I want to say, so I tried to squeeze it in.

And I'd say it just fits. Of course registration and alignment could get tricky, but for now, we're in!

The next set of words, I wanted to use a lower case lead type, and I tried to fully justify it.

You can see what happens when I spontaneously just want to test out some type and don't take the, I don't know, let's say, 45 seconds, it would take to grab a tray and a chase some quoins to lock it up?
Sigh, I do sometimes regret my own impetuosity.

I then wondered if it would look better if the words ran down centred and vertically. I got my answer - I don't think so!

This is how it is precariously sitting on my desk right now - I added in the word just  which I think adds the emphasis I want, but I'm still not sure. I am yet to even proof it with carbon paper because that would require me to tidy it up and lock it up!

So the words are still evolving and so of course shall the card.  I usually illustrate each one, but I haven't had a brilliant lightbulb moment about what could support the words yet, so we shall wait and see.

Stolen moments, edging closer. Any thoughts or suggestions seriously welcomed!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Her life – that was the only chance she had – the short season between two silences.” 

 Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out 

The document in which I collect my possible quotes for Thursday Thoughts runs to well over 100 pages now.  I change the colour of the quote once I have used it so I don't repeat myself (unless of course I have accidentally included he same quote twice, but so far I don't think I have).

So the process of selection is simply one of scrolling through until I find a black set of words that apply to the day's theme of art, life or books.  Sometimes I start at the beginning of the document;  other times I whizz to a mid point then start there; sometimes I do it in reverse and see what appears.

To date, I have no knowledge or understanding of what a certain quote draws me in, and so it is with this one.

I love Virginia Woolf: her search for independence and meaning; her economic language and its succinctness; the areas of life she explores...

We are surrounded by mist once more today and perhaps that evoked the sense that this one felt like a cry that is absorbed by the muffled mist, a cry for her own life to be lived, for her to have the chance to simply be her in all of her individuality and uniqueness.

I also think the description of a life as a short season is so poetic; and then to place that season within two silences is so utterly poignant.

For me it somehow makes it even more important to find ways to live your life and not simply have it pass you by; silence came before and silence shall follow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

There's been a murrrrrrrrder!

OK in case you are worried there hasn't really been; but it certainly looked a bit that way when I opened one of the cupboards in the studio this week.

As exhibit A in the 'it's been a hellish hot summer in Australia' category, I present one melted silicone Adana roller (or maybe two, I am yet to pull it out and fully investigate).

Brilliant isn't it?

Who even knew that your rollers could liquify like this?

The rollers are usual about an inch in diameter, and here is what's left of the core - about 1/2 inch max!

I'll get in and sort it out shortly, but for now, I am enjoying just the fabulously gooey melted look of it all.  A contemporary art installation perhaps?

And as I was tidying and dissing the type from my Mabel's Scrub piece, I glanced across and saw some remnants of aluminium shim that I was about to toss, and thought 'I wonder what if...????'

And here is the answer.  I like this very much and feel as if there are possibilities plus!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Gentle Journeys

Work makes and re-makes itself sometimes, and in recent days I was approached by a friend in the US who checked if I would be OK if she added some typewriter written words to some wee pieces I had sent her several years ago.

I said yes immediately and thought what a great addition the words would make.  Plus she was doing it on her purple typewriter; with purple ribbon.  How could anybody say no?!?!?

So that work got re-made and it got me thinking of re-making some of the works themselves.

In amongst the busy-ness of life I just grabbed some quiet studio moments and sat and played with the old embossing plates I found.  I had made the work so long ago I could barely remember what I did; but I knew that I hand embossed.

The original formal pieces were called Gentle Journeys I and II.

I still find them very calming.  However the notion of the squares is what had gotten me and I had made several small ones and wrapped them in Japanese paper and sent them out into the world.

I couldn't find the 'X' so I cut another one; but the line and the circle were still around.

I headed off, using up strips of Fabriano Rosapina that were 8cm wide, creating patterns at will and at random.

It was so stilling, and calming.  Just sitting there with paper, a hand embossing tool and some plates; making it up as I went along.

And then trimming some luscious Japanese paper and making a wrap for them.  It's a little bit of magic as you unwrap what lies within.

Ridiculously simple, but oh so satisfying...

More gentle journeys.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

"Every artist should have a cheap line. It keeps art ordinary" 

John Baldessari

I read this one a long time ago and is sat deeply in mind - occasionally I would lift it up again and look at it, consider it, and ponder how to apply it to my work.

I actually think is an interesting notion because for somebody like me, whose work has a very very niche market, it could make my work far more accessible.

Accessible I guess in terms of depth, and in terms of availability.  I continue to ponder!

However it's the second sentence that makes me think more about it - that it keeps art ordinary.  I like the idea that art could/should be a regular part of life; that it should appear in people's lives as readily and easily as furniture.  That folk should be able to wander their garden and see beautiful pieces of art that make them smile; that art should be present in streets and shopping centres; that art should be within their homes and houses and seen each morning.  Nothings says ordinarily like art in a bathroom or toilet.

But in referencing back to the first sentence; I think it means that art should arrive in the mail - an art card or illustration on an envelope; that art should be able to be purchased and worn; or carried on a bag; or used to tie your hair up...

And maybe by doing so, you aren't cheapening your own art, just making it available for more folk to enjoy.

Available here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Hagstones and others...

Life has been quiet in the studio.  We have had some blazing days and yet today we remain shrouded in mist with rain dripping from the sky.  It's a nice change, the soft grey colours are quiet and gentle, and a couple of times today we have remarked it feels like Scotland.

Recently I read an article called In the Eye of the Hagstone. It is from a  journal called Elementum which I get delivered to the cottage - beautiful writing about nature with gorgeous illustrations. The article is not about our neck of the woods, but it does describe hagstones which I only learned about on our last visit.

There seems to be one beach near us - Sandside at Reay - on which it is possible to find hagstones.

Ragstones are stones that have a hole run right through hem, and they have all sorts of histories and myths around them.

Barry and I often wander beaches looking for beautiful stones, and I was amazed when he found a stone with a hole right thru it!  Some link to hagstones appeared in one of my feeds and I was hooked.  And of course, went back to the beach to look for more but came away empty handed.

My Dad arrived for a visit and on one of our forays we stopped at Sandside again and went looking once more.  I was absolutely chuffed when he found one as well!! Amazing.  And then just as we left, I found one too, so that made three and we each had one.

It felt very special and the three stones stay at the cottage.


At the cottage I also collect door stones - a wee gathering of stones to welcome your at our door.  On one side I have the heart stones,

and on the other side I have the 'the world is a circle" stones.

I love the circles on these stones and how they remind me of being linked and connected, no matter where I am.

And one of my favourite beaches in the Highlands - Ardmair just north of Ullapool.  Such beautiful, beautiful stones.

It's a grey day here and it feels like home.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Dewey Dewey Dewey

We have had a pretty darn busy week this week, but I got a lovely surprise in the post when I received this great book on the Abridged Dewey Classification system from Liz Ackert in Texas.  Liz is a former librarian who put me on to thinking about using numbers as codes of classification and I am thrilled to have this book in the studio.  I have dug, and delved, and dipped into it, and fallen down many a rabbit hole as I investigate what numbers can mean; and I have been thinking about what they can become.

As a small gesture of beginning, I have printed some of my card sets and wrapped them in fine Habu threads.

The first five I selected are these.

My investigations made me think about how to ascribe peace within the Dewy system, and this is as close as I got - conflict resolution.  Part of me was a tad interested that peace in and of itself didn't seem to have its own classification...bu I will keep looking.

Of course, feminism gets a card; and I am pretty confident that this is its number.

I went looking for support for LGBTIQ rights, and landed here.

I came up with this as my representation of family violence/domestic abuse and I think its pretty close.

And here is where my support for asylum seekers and refugees was found.

As ever, I adore the edges with their deckles and threads.

 It is a small start but I think I can include these Dewey numbers in different parts of my work and am sure I will spend a lot of time digging into my new book!

Part of the reason we have been busy is that as part of our annual cull and clean up around the block; we held a garage sale on Saturday.  We had chosen to send all our proceeds to bush fire relief in Cobargo and were thrilled when we cracked the $1000 mark. We will be seeing our donation through to Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund, with thanks to Ronnie Ayliffe who has worked tirelessly to let the world know of the devastation so many have experienced and continue to face as the fires still burn.

If you are interested in funding direct to the community as they work to recover over the next weeks, months and years, here is a link to their GoFundMe page where you can also find their bank account details for direct bank transfers.