Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gifts for a life of giving

I am pretty sure that none of the nuns who will be receiving these artworks will in any way be reading or observing this blog, so I feel fairly safe sharing with you some of the works they will receive for their years of dedication, commitment and service to the community.

There are five nuns and the order has four guiding principles - hospitality, compassion, justice and community. The order was founded by a sister McAuley and so we decided that each of these words would be used in an individual art piece.

They are incredibly hard to photograph given their size (about 80cm wide) and the subtlety of the lighting and the folds.  So here they are kind of...before heading off to the framers.

And here are a couple of them showing the beautiful box frames.

And here are some shots of why I love them so...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Celebration, Thanks and Give-away!

A funny thing happened as I posted my most recent Thursday Thoughts - I passed 400 blog posts!  Sadly I missed the moment when I did 300, so I am a bit behind in my give-aways.

It seems timely for a give-away based on a series of blog posts to appear around Thanksgiving time. In Australia we don't celebrate or mark Thanksgiving, but because so many connections and friendships have been established through this wonderful world of blogging, I am much more aware of the day and get to think more about what it means to stop, pause and be thankful.

I am always grateful and thankful for the networks of support I have developed with people who blog and with people who comment on my blog. The feedback is a really helpful things along the way.  For many artists we live somewhat isolated lives, not able to participate fully in an art-based world because of real jobs, other jobs, other duties and roles. So we often beaver away at home, in our studios, in our spare moments and without exhaustive networks and connections and the time to promote, and publicise, don't always get to show our work in a public way to gauge and get any measure of how it is received.

Blogging has changed all of that for me as I have found kindred spirits who respond to my work, who 'get' my work, who encourage me and often overwhelm me with their kindness.  For all of that I am grateful.

So to mark my personal milestone celebration and in the spirit of giving thanks to those who support me, I have decided to offer a give-away where you get to choose which of the offerings you would like if you win. Kim S did this and I thought it was brilliant (even more brilliant because I won!!)

So firstly I am offering one of my "BushGlyph" books - single page binding, hand bound, hand embossed with fragments of photographs of my favourite scribbly bark.

Secondly I am offering a set of 7 small blank journals titled "Stormy Rainbows"  They are held in their own box, are stitched with waxed linen thread in rainbow colours and the pages are Canson Mi-Teinte - perfect for scribbling in.

And thirdly I am offering  some pebble scrabble letters - five words spelt in pebbles.

In order to go in the draw, all you need to do is leave a comment, telling me what you love most about blogging (if you are a blogger) or what you most enjoy if you are commenter not a blogger. Please also say which piece you would like to have ( Number 1, 2 or 3) if you won.

I will choose the winner next Sunday night (Australian time) and am looking forward to hearing from you all!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

…This web of time—the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries—embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most of them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and yet in others both of us exist. In this one, in which chance has favored me, you have come to my gate. In another, you, crossing the garden, have found me dead. In yet another, I say these very same words but am in error, a phantom…Time is forever dividing itself toward innumerable futures…

Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986) Garden of Forking Paths, Ficciones.

I might often joke about thinking I have slipped into a parallel universe when somebody behaves completely out of character; or something totally unexpected happens, but it nonetheless is an idea that appeals to me.

I try not to  have regrets about the past - things done, not done; things said, not said and so on. I try to learn and not repeat mistakes.  A little part of me does enjoy thinking about the paths not taken, the opportunities missed; the decisions made that may have led me down completely different paths, some of the "what if" moments.

And early in the 20th Century, there was Jorge Luis Borges also exploring the possibilities of time splitting and dividing, opening doors, clearing paths... I guess as one tries to explore and understand the concept of time, there will always be an attraction to considering it non-linear, non sequential. Rather like in so many aspects of nature, paths splitting, courses dividing and multiple options being taken.

Borges characters describe multiple futures simultaneously, as opposed to forks in the road which encourage us to take one decisive action that sets the future path.

Apparently there are whole fields of quantum physics and studies into theories like the "Many Worlds" theory (Everett) that attempt to apply scientific rigour to these sorts of thoughts.  Me I just ponder what happens in those others lives of mine, where I made different decisions, different choices...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Paper fiddling

Whilst I have not been a totally successful participant in an arty gesture a day this month, I have found that the idea has helped me think of being arty when I might not otherwise have been so.  That might not make make a lot of sense, but I did enjoy having a few paper folding things on the go as I cooked dinner last night.

In between checking on pots and pans, I would pop over to the dining table and fold a few bits.

I made lots of hearts out of old book pages - and am thinking they might become Christmas decorations for our minimalist tree perhaps...

I also made quite a few wee envelopes for cards out of the same pages.  The flower fold ones didn't quite meet in the middle, which would have been problematic for posting (rain might get inside I thought) so I used the strip from down the side of the page to create a band - which also acts as the place to write the address. A simple and elegant solution I thought!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ALAW almost done

I have completed my letters so that is an achievement in itself in amongst the total madness that has been our life the past while. I have enjoyed folding the paper and now have to think about how to present them.  I assume I'll make a book.

I think I missed a few iterations, but here's the end of it all...

The gorgeous kaleidoscopic jumble of the finished letters - now to create some order from the chaos

Whilst most of the folding worked out using the same sized square paper to start with, clearly the "U" had different ideas. How squat!  I kind of liked it and thought I'd keep it, but in the end, I went for uniformity and re-did it. See beyond a bit.

The re-jigged "U" with a slightly more elegant torso, although the dots were done sans eyeware and will require tidying!

I think I missed showing you these previous ones, in particular the lovely fold on the "Q" - if anybody knows the name of the cross-bar on a Q, I'd love to hear from you. So far I have "qua" and in French "queue", meaning tail. I just wondered if calligraphers or typographers might have a more professional name?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

COMA Christmas exhibition

Our local bunch of fine and fun art folk COMA - the Collaboration of Maleny Artists - is holding a Christmas exhibition this year. This is our tenth joint exhibition, previous exhibitions have focused on weeds, scratching the surface, between the lines and quite a few others.

This time we are all being asked to create a piece linked to the the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.
All works will be 2-D (wallpieces) and will measure 30cm x 30cm (12 x 12 inches). They will hang in a local coffee shop for a month around Christmas.

Given my less than sense of delight when it comes to drawing, and to figurative drawing no less (all those maids-a-milking, pipers-piping and drummers-drumming etc) it was a no-brainer for me to think about the 5 gold rings.

I had quite a few ideas which had me turning the canvas over and filling the hole left behind; stitching things through and onto canvas and plenty of others. As ever I went this way and that and in the end, was influenced by something I found.

I came home and found a few bibs and bobs lying around and they became the focus.  Here's a bit of the progress of my 5 gold rings...

A long way from golden, but I thought these rings had potential!

And so I got down to work - I had earplugs and goggles on and gloves, and used pliers to hold the smallest pieces as they got hot (but clearly hadn't tied my hair back!) as I got down and dirty with the polishing. A typical background scene on our block.

The contrast was just stunning and my hope that underneath the gunk lay some 'gold' was fulfilled.

5 Gold Rings underway, now to work out what to do with them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

…usually, I start from how interesting the material is…what its suggestions are, why I like it, am I remembering something?...does this remind me of anything?...and as I work it usually hardens into something, usually…

Rosalie Gascoigne

It's back to Rosalie this week...

Because she worked with reclaimed and discarded materials these questions make perfect sense to me as they connect so strongly to memory and remembering and association. Working with things that have had a former life, somehow for me, also makes me wonder about them, why I am responding to them, what do they signify for me, why do I love that rust so?  How do they make me feel, what am I thinking about as I play with them and explore their potential?

I rarely get this way with new materials, but certainly the used or worn ones send me off on this path of wondering what it's all about. I don't have many answers, but I just know I love them so, respond to them and want them in my life and art.

The little bit that kept catching me with this one tho, was the final "usually...". 

I found it heartening to read into this that things didn't always go as planned for Rosalie; that the process usually got her to a resolution, but not always. I sometimes find myself down a path and attempting something and having to stop. Drop it. Turn around and start again. So it's nice to think that I'm probably not Robinson Crusoe on that one.

I think most of us listen to our materials and the tales they have to tell...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Art and about in Perth & Adelaide

We are home. After a whirlwind 6 weeks we are finally sitting quietly on our mountain appreciating the beauty, the quiet and the nurturing of this place we call home.

Barry and I managed a walk most mornings whilst we were away and again enjoyed discovering the art in the public spaces of the places we visited. We don't often get the chance to visit galleries and museums when we are away for work as we are...working through the day. So we get a lovely feel for things as we wander the streets instead.

Some visual highlights from Perth included this fragment of a wall piece in the foyer of the building where we were working by Brian McKay. I loved the soft colours, the strong geometric designs, the scratched into surface and the forms and letters. The foyer of this building (which had about 26 floors) was also hosting a photographic competition, sponsored by the building owner, for all the people who work in the building. It had several different categories and was a great show - but also created a real sense of community within a normally business-like environment.

This is another fragment, this time a stainless steel cut-out over rusted corten steel of the top left hand corner of Western Australia by Tony Jones. I loved this look and it gave me lots of ideas.

This was part of an art piece celebrating the life of Sir Charles Court, a former Premier of WA who established a lot of ventures and centres during his term in office. I love corten steel (rusted) and I love letters, so it was nice to see words cut into the steel, by Tony Jones again.

This is one of a series of about 8 bronze and copper sculptures we found one morning when we were hunting for a place to sit and have a cup of coffee. We sat in this park (fake grass, between several buildings) and were thrilled to see these lovely pieces by Andrew Kay (2006).

I didn't take my phone with me both mornings in Adelaide so I only collected a few images, but I did enjoy this one of a stack of books, at the feet of Dame Roma Mitchell along North Terrace.

And it was the lead up to Remembrance Day and I was touched, as ever, by this display of poppies and crosses, row on row...

Hopefully I'll be back making and doing art for myself soon and can share some of that as well. Apologies to all folk who I normally 'visit' but who have been neglected as we travelled here and there.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I have spent my occasional moments at home recently working on some lovely pieces which will be going to some nuns who are retiring. I know nuns never really retire; but these women are retiring from running schools and shelters, and handing their work over to community groups. In recognition of their amazing efforts, one of the Boards is giving them some art.

I found out a fortnight ago that they were due in Melbourne on 29 November - minus a week for transporting and two weeks for framing and yep, I've been busy!

But back to the framing.

I needed to house the works in box frames and our local framer Phil, had previously hand-built the frames for me. When I popped in to the shop the week before last to let them know I would need five large frames built and that I could give them 2 weeks to do it in, I was saddened to hear that Phil was heading to hospital for a month the next day. He and Jennifer worked with me to problem solve some options - nobody knew anybody else who could build them.  We came up with the solution of purchasing 23m of moulding, cutting one of the rebates (ledges) off and gluing them together, thus making it deep enough, and only one rebate. Jennifer worked the phones and found the lengths, and arranged special delivery and freight to get them here.

That was Wednesday, we went to Perth. We came back Friday and had to ask my dad to go in to collect them as we got caught in traffic driving home from the airport.

Barry and I got out the band saw and cut the rebates off 12.5m of moulding on Friday night. Then spent Saturday gluing them together and clamping them. Sunday we were at a course all day. Monday we delivered them to the framers for them to cut up and make the box frames. Tuesday we flew to Adelaide and beyond.

I'll show you the pieces soon - here are the soon-to-be-frames!

They arrived in a box, individual lengths wrapped. Apologies for the thongs in the shot...

After the sawing - one length with rebate on, one with rebate off and rebate in hand as well!

We bought these fabulous quick-release clamps and they worked a treat.

A bit of a close up showing the two together...

I was thrilled with what we achieved in the timeframe - Phil and Jennifer helped me find a solution, Barry and I carried it out and the frames are being built. Hopefully all in good time for delivery to Melbourne.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

Life is a horizontal fall

Jean Cocteau

To fall. To stumble. To drop. To be weightless. To lose control. To lose contact with the earth.

And to think that life is a horizontal fall. That we are somehow moving along a continuum, from birth to death, some nice little pencil line, and in reality, we are stepping off the edge of a cliff each day - into the unknown.

I like the sense of perpetual movement inherent in this thought; of life being about moving forward, and also that sense of living life like an adventure, not really knowing what will happen next, but stepping into the void each and every day, and discovering what the day holds.

I admire the man for thinking of life like that and for being able to describe it so well - never in my wildest dreams would I have come up with a horizontal fall.

Fortunately for most of us; the fall is not an extensive one, not a sharp drop onto rocks. Most days we fall a little bit and step across the breach that isn't so deep or treacherous and we place our feet upon firm and solid ground once again. But still we don't know before we begin.  Some days we do fall. Big time, into voids and worlds we never knew existed and we find ourselves resident in some very tough places when we touch the earth again.

But hopefully, its mostly horizontal and we pick ourselves up and keep going.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A few artistic gestures

Here are a couple of the little things I tried to do last week - trying to so something arty every day.

Barry has begun developing and designing prototypes for a new range of jewellery for men - see here. He is having fun and I think the pieces will work well.

I have turned my head to some of the packaging possibilities - nothing too fancy; nothing too flowery kind of thing, so I fiddled around with a packaging prototype where the pendant sits within its own cardboard package with an opening highlighting the piece.

I think it might work...

We were invited to dinner at a friends' house and had a delightful time with her and her two daughters. We sent a little thank you note before we hopped on our next plane, and here is the envelope.

A little bit of personalised envelope art is always a bit of fun I think.

I have a good friend who asked if I could do a calligraphic piece for her and it is her birthday this week so I offered up a birthday gift certificate with the promise to make the piece for her after we have had some chats about colour, style, size etc.

Having Ronnie's little challenge in the back of my mind has meant that instead of just typing and printing something I have gone for the hand-written which is nice.  A little encouragement and then you realise it's not too tricky to spend the time being creative in small everyday ways...