Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all." 

Abraham Lincoln

As ever, I replace a man with a person.

These words are so true about books (and also about art I think).  With books I think there are very few new angles, very few completely new ideas, very few utterly original explorations or understandings. Except perhaps for published PhD theses.

Original thoughts are often built on existing thoughts. They take some of the previous thoughts and add to them, or look at them from a different perspective. As people study novels and narrative, they have clearly defined thing like the narrative arc, the seven main archetypes of stories and the like.

To be kind to ourselves, I think we often come to an idea which we think is all ours, from a place of not knowing. Not realising that folk have considered this sort of thing before; have studied it, written on it and so on. We have simply been unaware, and now we are aware.

I used to think some senior managers were really really smart, until I became one and realised that they were simply in meetings and in places where these things got talked about so that's how they knew.

Not only can books remind us that our brilliant thoughts aren't necessarily original; they can also expose us to new thoughts we hadn't even thought about!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Playing with notions of home

 As ever, our trip to the cottage has made me stop and consider the notion of home. I have pondered this before, but travelling so far to a place so remote and so different, and yet feeling so at home, at times confounds me.

Home and Place.

I have returned with lots of thoughts and drifting words to try and express this experience; trying to gain some understanding. For the time being they remain a little bit misty, a little bit unformed. Occasionally some sunlight pours through, and I have odd moments of clarity.

So I am listening to each and every moment, no matter how small, and where I can I am using it to help me make sense of it.

As I was unpacking stuff and putting it away, I looked at the rusty pages I had brought back with me.

I enjoyed their wild, intense, yet incomplete marks. From the old hot plate coil.

A series of rusty nails.

A grid of wires from a cray pot.

And some random rusty metal washer marks. 

I turned the two washer/metal mark postcards over and picked up a scalpel. I started by cutting random squares and rectangles from behind - not knowing which parts of the marks would appear on the piece - random, no rulers, just go.

I followed this up by cutting random triangles in the same way.

Playing with notions of home...

They are quirky. They look nothing like where we live in Maleny. They look nothing like the cottage in Scotland, but universally, this form appears to Western minds at least, to signify home.

I love that I know of so many folk working with this form at the moment. All over the world, in paper, in fabric and in 3D. It is something. It is so recognisable. It is understood. And yet, the investigations are all unique. They are all attempting to discover and share some particular aspect of home and our relationship to it.

Where it goes to next is possibly anybody's guess - but the instinctive and intuitive slicing of paper without regard for precision, accuracy or placement was  good to do. That zone of doing without thinking, let my mind wander and drift across the idea of home a lot as I worked.

Using paper prepared with old materials in Scotland, back here, connected my two places. I love how the other rusted papers appear so wild and fierce - like the landscape there can be when the wind howls.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Studio time with stones

 I  have managed to spend a few days in the studio this week - first up needing to unpack, sort, store and inventory things on return from Scotland. Secondly to try and get the mustiness out of it and undertake the odd search and desetroy mission to discover where any mould had started to grow given the amazing amount of water we've had. And thirdly to simply soak in making which has been grand.

A couple of quick statistics on the rain.

We have been back in Maleny for a week. During the week we have had 577mm of rain. That is 57cm, over half a metre of water. In 7 days. Our monthly average is 114mm, so we have managed 5 x the monthly average in just a week. No wonder we feel wet and damp. Today tho - the sun shone!

I had brought three cove stones back with me (maybe between 4 and 6 cm long), with thoughts of lettering in my head. Stones and pebbles and rocks are such a deep part of our home in Scotland; pebble beaches, rocks every time we dig, stones for carving...

They are lovely stones, and I wanted to trial some Letraset on them. But I had to work out why they needed words on them...what was the purpose of adding words? 

I thought about how I feel about the stones, and how I love having one in my pocket to roll around between my fingers. I thought about their quiet and calm presence on a desk. I thought about how much I love just looking at them. What would I say?

It came to me, that the stones act as memory keepers and reminders. They can settle and calm you. Strangely enough they feel supportive and caring. Friendly even.

I jotted down my thoughts and went to work.

I chose the darkest one first, figuring I could hide errors in it more safely than with the creamy one.

I moved onto the cream one and it had flecks of dazzling quartz in it I think, which may have made it harder to adhere to. I love how each stone has its own nature as well, and will work with you, or be a bit more independent.

And the final stone was the mid-light grey one.

I haven't quite got the name for this work yet, what they are or mean as a collective, but I know they feel right.

I deliberately chose to work on the underneath side (as I considered it) so that the stone could sit beside you, and your private thoughts would be there, but not on display for the wider world to see. 

The strength and support of the stone alongside you was just there when you needed it.
Of course you could show the words; or you could carry the stone in your pocket. You could rub the words like a worry stone, or you could bury it in the garden, or amongst plenty of other stones.

Quiet, companionable, caring stones.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” 

Margaret Atwood

Water is very much on my mind again as we experience another deluge. 12 inches in 24 hours seems like more than enough, and still it continues.

In a way, it was helpful to be reminded in this quote of some of the nicer qualities of water. For many of us now it is a dreaded thing, the relentless nature of it, the power of it, and the impossibility of turning it back once it has begun to rampage.

So I take heart as I think about it quietly drip drip dripping away at a stone.

I take heart to think of it as flowing and not resisting.

I take heart to think of it as patient.

I take heart to think of it as a caress.

And I take heart as I consider how that can relate to me.

A much nicer view of water than the creek that has risen and is threatening once again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A few favourites...

We are still sorting and sifting and settling here; altho I have attended three community events in two days so we must be sort of on track.

I thought I would just do a quick run past some of my favourite moments from our trip.  It won't be an exhaustive gallery, but these are some of the highlights that popped up as I glanced through my photos...

In no particular order.

From the bedroom, out through a misted window, this wee lamb was nestled with its mum. The lambs were absolutely a highlight for me this time - SO MANY!

The sky and the light stop me in my tracks often. This time around I looked more closely at the colours, as a palette I might use on return. I also looked at lines and found them everywhere.

Sunset around 9.30pm one night, out the bedroom window. The long evenings and twilight were wonderful. And there are some tiny fence line marks on the horizon. Lines.

Another evening sky out the bedroom window. The sky. 

Early morning on the way to the cove. Looking across the headland, so gentle and peaceful. Loving those lines.

The cottage with mum and the newborn lamb, the morning after its arrival.

One of my wee lochans from my poem/words. I love these wee lochans so much. And the sky.

The other wee lochan that shimmers as we drive by. With geese and the sea beyond. And gorse. The air was scented with its fabulous coconut scent.

We turned left and went down a single track road and came upon this. So many stories to be told, or made up.

An evening wander and more lines in the sky.


Did I mention the lambs???

This slowly crumbling cottage...

I may yet do more memory lane posts, but these are just a few of our special moments.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Small batches...

I have come to the notion that time at the cottage is a time of small making.

And perhaps as they say, from little things big things grow. I hope some things do grow from the small making I managed whilst away.

Having enjoyed our cove wanders and the marvellous rusty bits and pieces that we gleaned along the way, I suddenly remembered that I could use some of the pieces to rust-stain paper. I rushed into doing it with some very strong tea, and realised half way through I had probably forgotten how I used to do it, but went ahead anyway.

I tried a few different papers.

And quite a few different rusty bits.

And by the time I got to these postcards, I remembered I sometimes wet down the paper before dripping tea all over it, so gave that a try as well. Better late than never.

I knew I wouldn't be packing all that gorgeous rustiness to bring back, and I think that a few pieces of paper, made with their marks, is a nice way to bring there to here . A bit like taking the rubbings of the cottage's stone walls.

Along a very similar vein,  there was no way I could pack some of my very large stones with their double joined up markings, so I chose to do some abstractions of the lines in my notebook, to think about using in some other ways at some other time.

Small moments of making.

We arrived back in Maleny very early this morning and got to bed about 1.30am.  The day has been spent quietly pottering this way and that, unpacking, sorting, washing, writing lists of things to remember to do, and generally taking it gently.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

“If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it.” 

Charles Bukowski

This appears to be a rather extreme description of how we need to do the stuff we need to do. I do understand the link between something burning my soul; and then being reduced to ashes, yet perhaps it could have linked ‘shines brightly within you’ with ‘stand in the spotlight with it’ or some such.

My sense is that he is really trying to get to that experience of having a burning passion for making or creating and that if you experiences this; then you should really submit to it, go with it, and work with it until you have nothing much left to give.

Follow it wherever it leads, use it to fuel your creating; be driven by it. If you feel really strongly or passionately about an issue; then throw yourself into it, give it your all and as they say in sport; leave nothing on the field/court or in the pool.

I am often inspired to make in response an issue or a set of circumstances that need a voice; that need to be amplified that need to be heard.  I share the feeling that when that happens, I should follow through and give it my heart and my hours. I can't just do a superficial thing and be done with it; I invest in it. I spend time getting my message and my making right.

I may not be reduced to ashes; but I have given it my all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Words and wasps

 I was happy to be asked by a neighbour here if I could do some calligraphy for her in the front of a photo album that was being gifted to a special relative.

As ever, I wanted to check what sort of calligraphy might be preferred, especially as I don’t have any of my calligraphy tools with me! That meant that I would have to prepare the writing in pencil, and ‘colour it in’ so to speak.

The quick pencil sketches I did to show different styles - no lines, no rubbing out, really just indicative notions.

Testing out spacing and page alignment

Playing around with the letter ‘a’ and wondering whether or not to close off the bowl of the ‘e’ or draw a line and leave it open a small bit.

Centred and positioned on the page, I transferred my writing using lead pencil - very high tech! Because I had no broad edge nibs with me, I couldn’t write directly on the page with ink, hence the draw, transfer and colour in process.

And then to choose the colouring in pen.

And then to hand it over!

You can imagine I have now added broad edge nibs and pens to my packing list for next time.

The beauty of the natural world was well and truly on display with these fragile, beautifully formed paper wasp homes. They were hanging in our outside shed when we arrived, happily empty, but towards the end of our stay I cut them down to try and examine them better, and conserve/preserve them.

Looking through to see the build up of layers

Looking deep inside to see the amazing structures.

The glory of it all…