Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year

Like most folk Barry and I have established a couple of family traditions, one of which is to send out New Year cards instead of Christmas cards, and to use the days between Christmas and New Year to fiddle, design and make them.

Barry has gone for a gorgeous iPhoneography theme (but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see them), whereas I stuck with the pebble mood that overtook me in the latter part of the year and used a photograph of my 2012 pebbles.

So with wishes for a happy, creative, peaceful and inspiring New Year...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

Don't think about making art just get it done. Let everyone else decide if its good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.

Andy Warhol

I love it!  Even tho I am a real thinker and ponderer about my art - I hope that's what I am and not a procrastinator - I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. In the end, you just have to go make art.

I am part of BookArtObject again this year and have chosen the title "A subversive stitch" to make my edition of books around.  What I expect will happen next is that I will sit and think about it, sketch a few things here and there; see some images that inspire; keep thinking; change direction and write a few more notes. This could (and probably will) take months.  But I know in my heart I then just have to go make it - I just have to get in and try and fiddle and make mistakes, and change direction and create.

I don't quite know why I get this sense of comfort from all the preceding pondering, but I do and its who I am and how I do it.  But I totally agree with Andy that it doesn't happen in your head; it happens when you do it - and just let everybody else spend their time considering it; whilst you just duck away and go make more art.

Often the best and most inspired pieces I do actually come from not thinking - from just looking and seeing and doing; playing and trying and exploring. It works both ways for me.

Off you go!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 favourites

I try to stop and reflect on the year as it passes and am often amazed if I stop and sit and look at what I/we have been able to do in a year. This has been a year of great opportunity and travel for work-work but in amongst it all we found some time to make things; some of them things that I love and care about; some of them things I am proud of; some of them things that just make me smile...

I do love a list. They get me thru each day, each week, each month and guide me though the year. They are in recycled notepads, on A4 sheets of paper; in books and on pin-boards.  They give a sense of order to my chaos and remind me if its on a list it'll get done!

I also like to organise my thoughts into lists, so I have pulled together a list of my top ten favourites of the pieces I made this year.  It's a nice reminder when you feel wrecked and exhausted to look back and see the beauty in things you created.

I can't put them in an actual order of priority or preference as that's like choosing your favourite child kind of thing, so they are in alphabetical order instead.

1. Absences - a book that speaks of my great-grandfather's death in Flanders Fields...the poppies, the bloodlines, the huge hole he left behind.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Absences
2. Cartogrpahy I - a piece about journeys, maps, hidden texts and stories. I just love the warmth, the hidden stories, and the way the pages said turn me around and put me like this - I don't want to be a book! I also love that it now lives at my best friend's house so I still get to see it!

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Cartography I
3. Commission for the nuns - 5 large pieces with beautiful words and shadow-play. The simplicity and elegance of these works appeals to me.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Compassion commission
4. Folded Heart Book - I was thrilled to discover how to fold these books and have started to work on an alphabet...

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Folded Heart Book
5. Fragments of a journey - lots of little pieces, embossed with marks of journey-making. No one else seemed to get them; I just loved them!

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Fragments of a journey
6. Learning my Lines - old worn books, leather and metal strapping, so warm and friendly. I was overjoyed when this piece was finished and it worked.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Learning my Lines
7. No Return - another book about Flanders Fields and journeys there with no return. It was a real case of this book led me and I just showed up and followed what it said to do next...

©2011 Fiona Dempster - No Return
8. Paper Wrestling - my first ever Edition!

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Paper Wrestling (BookArtObject Edition 2)
9. Pebble Scrabble - my studio has exploded with 'pebble scrabble' and there are pebbles everywhere. I even created and wrote a proper scrabble set of pebbles. What fun to play with it!

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Pebble Scrabble
10. Possibilities - I loved the words, I loved the book this came from and I loved playing with encaustic and watching a piece emerge.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Possibilities
Thanks for putting up with my personal review and reflection on the year of art. I really enjoyed stopping and reflecting and smiling and remembering...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace and Joy

As we stop and take a breath, I wanted to say thanks for the year of friendship and support in this interwebby world where we read and share and write and show. It's a privilege to have made the connections I have made and I value and appreciate all those who share this journey with me.

I wish all my blogging friends and colleagues across the globe a peaceful, gentle, joyous time at Christmas and many wishes for happiness and creativity in the year ahead.

Wherever you may be, and however you may spend the time - may you travel safe, enjoy the moments and celebrate life.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person — perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.

Carl Sagan

I read this and thought - I have nothing to say; it says it all.

But I'll probably say a little bit about how it transports you to a page; in a book; with black squiggles; which mean something; and which lead you to hear a voice in your head; helping you understand those squiggles; maybe a voice that comes from hundreds of years ago; and it works. It makes sense, and hundreds of others over time and across the world, have shared your joy, your ah ha moments and your frustration or revolutionary angst. Proof that humans can work magic.

Ancora Imparo by Fiona Dempster, photography by Noela Mills

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a little bit of fiddling fun

The world is just too crazy at the moment for me to even contemplate real or proper pieces, but I did manage to get into the studio momentarily and make a bunch of book marks for my book group members.

We had our end of year lunch today, chatted about the book we had been reading and I was able to give everybody an embossed star bookmark.

They looked really nice all grouped together and are just  a small token to say thanks for the fun and for putting up with me being absent so often this year...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I've finished alaw for 2011

This is pretty much the same post as I did over at a letter a week 2012, so feel free to return to whatever you were doing before if you have read that one already!

I had planned to include my letters in some form of pop-up book and had even tried a few options and play-books. Of course as soon as I picked up my completed letters to see how they would go - I realised they were not going to look beautiful and/or shine in that format - in fact they would look silly and bent and wobbly.

So...the next idea happened along as I sat in my studio thinking about something else. Luckily this one pulled together right and off I went.

It's a kind of stacking, playing, fiddling, building, sculptural kind of book.  It's a favourite format of mine because it lends itself to so much interaction; so many variations in form; and it offers a little bit of something for everybody.

I used sturdy black mat-board which I cut into 10cm x 10cm squares, and then I glued the letters onto the black - a strong contrast I thought.  I chose to bind it with rainbow coloured threads as well which I think adds a bit of fun.

I had to unpick my first go because I had placed them alphabetically in 5 rows, reading left to right. I started stitching and realised that the binding actually works more like a snake - row 1 left to right; row 2 right to left; row 3 left to right; row 4 right to left and row 5 left to right again.

I like this option better - the letters flow as the binding does; and it also means that the rainbow stitching lines up in sequence as well.  It's the little things that make me happy...

So my folded letters have become a way out folded book and all is well with the world. I am always thrilled when I hit a deadline and am super-happy to have completed my second alphabet for the year before the end of the year. Phewwww!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

“Songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air.”

Tom Waits

Today's Thursday Thought is supposed to be about life. Following my sequence that goes art, life, books, art, life, books we find ourselves thinking about life today. What I thought I would be writing about was something like - SLOW DOWN NOW!  But I couldn't find a piece that resonated with just how I really felt ; nonetheless, this one caught my eye and played with me a bit.

Truly, what a fabulous thing to think of - that songs are really just very interesting things to do with the air! Like books are just very interesting things to do with paper. Like love is a very interesting thing to do with your brain. Like a splendid meal is just a very interesting thing to do with heat....

It's a bit about air being the basis of songs that are sung I guess and that being creative with how you use and express and expel air creates the song. It reminds us of just what can be achieved when we bring our experience, talent and skill, and add it a simple thing. Like air. 

It kind of ignores the very interesting thing that people did with their brains when they put words together with music - but the expression of a song is a very interesting thing to do with air; in fact one of the most interesting I guess.

On a less than literal level however, I think it shows a degree of flexibility in thinking about things that we do. It makes me break things down into their component parts; and it also acts as a gentle reminder whenever I might get carried away with whatever clever thing I think I might have done; to remember that  in the end it's all pretty simple, and to keep it simple.

Here's to simplicity...

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Alyangula heart leaf

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Art Object - next edition

Sara from DoubleElephant blog fame who also organises the Book Art Object 'project/event/challenge' has set up the next Edition and it's general approach and rules over at the Book Art Object blog. She has also sent out a request for newcomers - so if you are interested in joining up for this year, read on and then pop on over to BAO where you can read more about it and register on-line.

There are a hundred titles and each person who registers will work on a title, making an edition of around 12-15 books to share firstly with the group they are in (there is an allocation process), and secondly with the author of the book-titles,  with a few spare to share around for exhibitions and collections (and selling if you so desire).

Individuals post to the blog with updates, and share the process of their books' development.

I really enjoyed my first foray into edition making and have received some wonderful books as part of the group I was in this year - working with Claire Beynon's poem "Paper Wrestling".

If you are a book artist with a bit of a desire to make an edition, work with a set theme, and share your books with others it's a wonderful project to get involved in. Participants pay their own costs for the making of their edition, and for sending their books off to other participants and to Sara for collating and sending to the author and exhibitions etc.

You then end up getting books in return from the other folk and your collection grows. See books from the first three editions here.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - Paper Wrestling for BAO Edition2

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's starting to feel...

a lot like Christmas!  Well kind of, sort of.  Anyhow the tree is up which is something and the presents are generally bought and wrapped which is a fine thing.

I decided to go with an old book-page and silver theme this year. My friends know that it is one of the big things each year - what's the colour theme?!?! The older I get the more minimalist I seem to get and at this rate, one day soon it may come to pass that there are NO decorations on our tree! I shall endeavour however, to avoid that particular sadness.

So I played with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone to take these shots - somehow the mood it evokes worked for me with the simple tree and its even simpler decorations...

I present...Christmas 2012 in the Dempster-Smith household!

Folded paper hearts from an old book of Irish melodies.

And gifts wrapped in the pages of the old book, some in hand-made envelopes from the book pages, and each person's name scribed into a piece of aluminium shim.  I also made an aluminium shim heart for the top of the tree as well - just a little bit of bling!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

I cannot afford a Constable, or a Picasso, or a Leonardo, but to profess a love of painting and not to have anything original is as peculiar as a booklover with nothing on her shelves. I do not know why the crowds and crowds of visitors to public galleries do not go out and support new work. Are we talking love-affair or peep-show?

Jeanette Winterson
ART OBJECTS Essays on ecstasy and effrontery 1995

Jeanette Winterson is such an insightful writer. She can be pithy and acerbic and I think generally catches the notions of things so well, expressing them 'just so'.

I have now gone out to purchase this collection of essays as I think they will add to my thinking on art.

Two things caught me with this quote and kept me in...firstly the comparison between loving art and reading; and secondly the peep-show comment!

It really struck me how odd it would be to know a reader and lover of books who didn't have books in her home. Winterson's ability to then translate this notion to art and suggest it's hard to be a lover of art and not have some original work around the place sort of tracked my journey into this arty-life.

I have only really come to spend time with art in the last 5 years, since we left the busy-ness of high pressure jobs and decided to work for ourselves on our mountain top. One thing we really wanted to achieve by that move was the chance to focus more on our art-side, our creative side and our personal expression of art.

Simultaneously we have gone about the purchasing of original art as our spare time is spent looking at art, appreciating it, visiting galleries and talking and conversing with artists.  I didn't own much original art at all until perhaps 8 years ago - and so this thought made me reflect on my journey into seeing art and loving it, and making it. Art is a much bigger part of my life now than it ever has had the chance to be; and I think of myself more and more as an artist; rather than as a something else.

The peep-show comment!  What a funny way to bring us to think of ourselves in a less than positive light. I think she was having a dig at all of us who wander galleries and observe and talk about the high-falutin' arty stuff; but don't buy emerging artists, don't have around us some pieces by friends that we have swapped; or pieces we bought as prints because we just fell in love with them; or pieces we have saved and splurged on for a special occasion. I think I will carry the idea of a love affair or a peep-show with me for all time!

This is a photo of one side of our entrance, just as you come in the front door. The left hand niche has a grouping of Kim Schoenberger's works (a local artist and friend); the central niche has a tile by Mel Robson and wee vases by Shannon Garson (another local artist); and the right hand niche has a carved wood panel by Robyn Gordon (aka Art Propelled) from South Africa, and some raku -fired horse-hairburnt place-card holders by Mieke van Sambeek (another local artist). It's never really that dark, but it looked dramatic!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A couple of nice opportunities

I was thrilled to hear back from Gallery East last week, letting me know that my book "Learning my Lines" had been accepted for showing in their exhibition called "Between the Sheets - 2012 Artists' Books Exhibition".

The gallery is in Fremantle (the other side of the country, near Perth) and it looks lovely (from the inter-web view I have managed). The exhibition will be shared with the Midland Junction Arts Centre just north of Perth as well, and I'm not yet sure where my wee book will be.

I am fond of this book and hope it enjoys its trip across the Nullabor and its interactions with the folk who wander past it. If there are any friends or arty-book people out there who might be in or around Fremantle or  Midland between 13 January and 5 February 2012 please let me know if you get to go along - it's too far for me to make this trip this time.

I also recently packaged up another book - this time my book "Absences" is headed to Kyneton in Victoria where it will be displayed as part of Stockroom's exhibition called "You are here - a group exhibition exploring location, mapping and the artist's role in the world". The exhibition runs from 10 December 2011 to 8 January 2012, and again, if any friends or arty-book people are in the area I'd love to hear how it looks and how the show goes!

On another note, but also speaking of opportunities... it looks as if we'll be doing a A Letter a Week again in 2012. Most of the current folk are hoping to continue, but we would also welcome any newcomers who might be interested in participating. We have sculptors, calligraphers, textile artists, ceramicists, graphic designers and other folk who just love if you'd like to join in the challenge for 2012 - please contact me and I will get in touch to let you know the details...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Give-away winner(s)

Thank you to everybody who shared their thoughts on blogging and why they enjoy either reading blogs or writing blogs - that sense of connectedness across the world is a fine thing!

One of the nice things I think about a give-away is that it encourages folk who don't always comment to leave a comment, and then you can follow up with them and their blogs and see what they get up to. I've had some very nice visits this week checking out fellow bloggers all over the globe.

But down to the main business...

I was thinking to myself, that seeing as how it's nearly Christmas, and I didn't get around to doing a 300th post give-away, and I noticed this week I had reached 100 followers, and well what are give-aways for if not giving away... I would change the rules and give-away all the gifts.

So I entered all the people who like Bush Glyphs the most in one draw, all of those who liked Stormy Rainbows in another, and then all those who like the pebbles into another and Barry did the honours and drew out 3 names.

Bush Glyphs will be heading to Vicki in Iceland... an Aussie living in the freezingness.

Stormy Rainbows is going not quite so far, but over to Annie in England.

And the pebbles will make a shorter trip "across the ditch" to Louise in New Zealand!

So... if Vicki, Annie and Louise would like to get in touch and let me know their mailing addresses, I shall endeavour to pop these pieces in the post to you all this week, and hope they arrive in time for a kind of Christmas-type present!

Fascinating isn't it that all three are leaving the country - the perfect example of blogging connections across the miles...

Oh and for those who aren't already subscribed, I have just set up a subscribe to our occasional newsletter button on the right hand side of my blog. We only send the occasional newsletter; its just another way of keeping in touch...

Friday, December 2, 2011

COMA exhibition - 12 days of Christmas

We delivered our works and our words to Ken this week and helped hang the exhibition at Maple 3 cafe here in Maleny on Monday.  Tomorrow we all head into town for a cuppa and a bit of a catch-up chin wag really. It runs from 28 November to 28 December and all pieces are priced at $120.

In the end I went for a most minimalist piece. Gosh, I could hear the noise of you all falling off your chairs from here! Laugh!

I had played around with different arrangements for the rings, but they all felt uncomfortable and I just couldn't get the balance and the feel of them right. I finally asked myself what they would look like in a line - and I felt better immediately.

So I have painted the canvas a lovely dove grey colour (the photographs do not do it justice) and then attached the rings. I ran 5 lines of a crimpled metal thread around the canvas as well to give a bit of a change in direction for the piece.

Its certainly not all that Christmassy; but I figured its pretty much me.

PS - Two more days for the give-away!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.
Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.

Emily Dickinson

I wasn't planning on this one - I had a much funnier one I thought I remembered, and then this one just smiled at me and said - oh yes, choose me please!

What a lovely, lovely thought and so beautiful expressed.  I am in awe of people who can use words so beautifully, elegantly and evocatively. It is a true delight to be in the presence of real wordsmiths who can stitch together the most wonderful expressions and leave you with words rolling around your tongue just for the pure joy of saying them over and over again.

I have several friends with just such a skill and I really enjoying reading their notes or emails or letters or blog posts and engaging with exploring language and challenging myself to use more accurate or expressive words - rather than opting for the safe and easy.

I sat here and imagined Emily Dickinson sitting quietly and gazing at a word she had written, her eyes opening wide as it started to shimmer and shine; what an wonderful experience. Did it dance and move as well I wonder?

Not only do words have the power to shine, but they are powerful tools as well, sometimes reverberating across the world and down the generations...

©2008 Fiona Dempster - Quest
The words themselves don't shine - more the golden panels they are written on - but it's kind of the same. This is another of my made-up calligraphic scripts; where the number and style of pen strokes is the same for each letter as we do in a Roman alphabet, just mixed up a bit.

PS - don't miss the chance to go into the give-away draw! Drawn Sunday night Australian time...