Tuesday, February 28, 2012

True to type

Not the most original post heading I'm sure for any letterpress junkie or typography lover, but there you go!

Whilst we were in New York we visited the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market and had a great morning - sunny, crisp, and clear wandering around the different stalls trying to work out if we could fit stuff in our luggage to bring home or whether the timber or wood might need to be declared etc.

In the end, I stopped and spent more than half an hour going thru a rubble of old metal type, trying to find random bibs and bobs to add to my collection of random timber type.

If I could understand the siren call of letters or text, alphabets, scripts, or words I would be a wise woman. All I know is that I respond whenever they whisper "I am here, look closer". I love them.

I find type incredibly seductive and there is something about the way in which it reads backwards so you have to figure things out in order to make it print properly that I love. I love holding type and I love imagining what it might have been used for in the past. All in all, a minor love affair.

I managed to gather together a set of numbers and 5 "Fs".  No idea on earth what I will do with them; I expect I will just display them and enjoy gazing at them. Sigh. Anybody would think it was Valentine's Day!

Here they are as I unwrapped them...

And then a flipped photo of the Fs....

And a photo of the jumble of wooden type we found in Paris a few years ago...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Letter a Week 2012 - February

I have found a bit of time to keep on making my little letters.  I love the pin prick outlines and love the gentleness of them. They feel like snowflakes falling or something when I hold them in my hand.

So here are February's four - E, F, G and H. I like the contrast against the black; but won't be using black in the finished piece.

Here is where I have gotten to so far - the first eight letters sitting on a table in the shed.

A couple of close-ups of them nestled together - I like them close up to each other for some reason.

And an update on the backing sheet that is turning out to be so interesting!

Some stunning work is being created over at A Letter a Week - I continue to be inspired and amazed by people's ingenuity and creativity. In my spare time I have been preparing an exhibition application for the works - fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

Of all man’s instruments, the most wondrous, no doubt, is the book. The other instruments are extensions of his body. The microscope, the telescope, are extensions of his sight; the telephone is the extension of his voice; then we have the plow and the sword, extensions of the arm. But the book is something else altogether: the book is an extension of memory and imagination.

Jorge Luis Borges

Sometimes I like a quote that says me to simply and sweetly what it is trying to say. Sometimes I like a quote that I read a few times over just to make sure that I get the intent. I read this one a few times.

Even though the physical book is an extension of the arms and hand in the making, the concept that drives the content is an extension of the mind - which is not a physical thing you can look at. You can look at a brain for sure - but it is involved in so many aspects it drives everything the eyes, the arms and so on.  The mind is more than a brain I think.

I think he is trying to get the view across in a way that each mind is also unique and therefore the knowledge, memory and imagination that is brought to bear upon a book is also incredibly unique.  If I look through a telescope and you look through a telescope, broadly speaking we may seem the same or very similar things.  Whereas if I fire up my imagination and you fire up yours, then the results would be vastly different. And books are formed by many of these independent imaginings, memories and learnings.


©2009 Artemis - poem by Robyn Nugent, book by Fiona Dempster

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weathering timber

On the weekend we popped into town for a coffee with friends Ken and Noela. The chosen venue was not open on the day; so we wandered up the street to the bakery - always a fabulous fall-back position!  As we went along, we passed David Linton Furniture and Timber Works, and because it was early, and the gallery hadn't opened yet I took the opportunity to go and have a look at, and photograph, 'the log' with nobody else about.

Back in 2009 David asked if I would do some writing on this amazing piece of timber he had salvaged. In my innocence (or at least with my open-mind) I said yes I'd have a go.  The story about the process can be found here, here and here, but I was interested on the weekend to see how it was holding up after all this time, and all the weather (rain) we have had the past two summers.

I liked what I saw.  The golden hue of the the freshly oiled timber had totally faded to grey; and the writing still held strong and proud. It looked lovely against the grey and I think in my heart of hearts I like it better this way; soft and worn, humble and gentle.

A contrast to its original glory...

The quote is by Marianne Williamson - Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Days of burning

It has been a real week of burning pages.  I haven't had much time or brain space for anything else and I have just plodded along. Whenever I got an hour or so I went out onto the breezeway deck and burnt more words out of more pages.

It really is a beautiful and meditative practice.

I started to put the pages together with used teabags and some encaustic wax. Or not. I fiddled and I faddled and I started over. It was that kind of week. Perhaps the head cold had something to do with my lack of coherence.

We have had such beautiful days - always a gentle breeze, mostly warm, and some gentle rain. Even in the rain it was warm, and the breezeway is dry. A beautiful place to sit and be outside with nature whilst I pottered along.

Rain on the breezeway deck; home grown potato on table behind shell!
Almost there; I hope to have these pieces sorted soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you any where.

Zen proverb

Simple, sweet, true.

Worry has to be one of the most fruitless exercises we put ourselves through on a regular basis. Sometimes I just get so far ahead of myself that I forget that what I need to do is to stop and sit and work out what bit of all those things I can do now, to make the great big pile of stuff smaller, and make sure I have less to worry about.

The good news is I am getting better at not worrying - I have somehow come to understand that the worry doesn't actually achieve anything. The worry doesn't get the thing done. The worry doesn't make the problem go away. The worry doesn't make me feel any better about things. But I still drift there occasionally I must admit (just ask Barry!).

I figure now that I need to either do something that will have an impact on the issue; or I have to accept that I can't control it or do something about it and let it go. At the least I have to let go of the worrying thing that eats up my insides.

I loved this proverb for its simplicity.  A rocking chair gives you something to do (rock, which feels nice and as if you are doing something) but it doesn't get you anywhere (the action of worrying doesn't achieve anything, even it kind of makes you feel as if you are doing something).

Perhaps worry is a sign that you should pay attention to something.

Here is Tom's rocker - over-run with pumpkin vines and comfrey, keeping my Sentinels company over near the shed. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tools of the trade

Life is getting back to normal - busy is the term I think - and I have lost my voice.  Yesterday it was all sexy-husky; today I am channelling Minnie Mouse. I never realised how much effort it took to squeak out virtually nothing!

But I have been able to sit and do a bit of burning; and smiled when I looked at my tools of trade...

I keep the candle burning so that I can re-ignite the incense sticks when they lose their heat. It sits on a special piece of rock my friend Boris gave me (purple and green!)

An old book from our local library. The librarians know I like to mess with old books so keep them aside as they are culling their collections. I search the pages looking for the right words...

Our fabulous Redheds matches (totally suitable for a red head I think!)

Japanese incense sticks. For some reason I only like Japanese incense so always buy a few packets if I see it. I also like clean, clear, crisp scents - green tea is a favourite.

Torn out pages and a card to note the words, a pencil to mark whereabouts on the page the word is so I don't burn right through it! Knowing me, that is a sensible precaution.

And the word emerges from the burnt page. Not finished yet, but well underway.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back to business

We are home safe and sound after a fabulous trip - sitting here sweltering in t-shirts and shorts and trying to remember how cold we felt in New York.

We have had a couple of catch-up days, settle-in days and sort yourself out days, along with a very busy Saturday. Barry headed off to Baroon Pocket Dam for the annual Bunya Dreaming Festival (here is my last year's post), whilst Noela and I headed off to Cooroy for a workshop with Glen Skien of silent parrot press.

We were doing collage, printmaking and book making - a good combination.  I was keen to try and incorporate some collage into my work - I rarely do - and I deliberately decided I would be as free and thought-free as I could be in the pages I developed. It helped that Glen spoke about letting there be no pre-conceived narrative, no page 1, 2, 3 developed in order or sequence; instead let the narrative emerge from the images you create.

Quite the permission to let go that a sequence gal needs!

I had armed myself with lots of options and materials for the day and as Glen said it was interesting to observe which materials we discarded and which we chose to work with - it was quite an instinctive way of working.  I had also decided that I would try to inlcude some very free, gestural, non-legible text which I would try to do using a brush marker.  So a few little tests for myself, and lots to explore.

Marks on a blank page. Words, text, letters still form the basis of my work I discover!

The left-over cutout letters from my pieces for the nuns emerged and were used in collage and printing.

Some of the printed pages. I also wanted to work with the warmth of brown paper for some reason, perhaps it felt less precious and gave me permission to play.

A couple of the pages folded into sections, ready to play around with and choose their sequence.

The day flew by as we observed his wonderful books and prints; and then got into the making ourselves. I was absorbed by the process and surprised at how I limited my materials right from the start. Choices and discards.

Glen also taught us a new binding - the silent parrot press journal binding. A quick and simple, yet sturdy stitch that holds both small and oversized books firm.

Given that the book we were making had only pages, no cover, I also wanted to make a quick soft cover that could slip over the book.  I used some photos from the trip, printed onto brown paper and glued onto the Fabriano Rosapina paper I had used for printing.  My first attempt was wonderful; then in a moment of madness I cut off the ends which meant that there were no bits to fold in and around the book!  So I taped it back together as a prototype reminder and made another cover today.

A couple of the page spreads. We were only printing using a roller - there wasn't a press - hence the softer, more muted and less crisp imagery.

Some of the details on the pages - hidden words, letters and swirls; and some lovely hints of gestural writing.

All in all a really fun day, a few challenges explored and a great way to ease myself back into making, after so much observing. Thanks Noela for organising for me to go!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.

Claude Monet

What a fabulous place to find yourself in.  Sometimes creativity feels like a long and lonely road, emptiness, tumbleweeds. Nothing to inspire. Nothing to be explored. Nothing working.

At other times it feels just like this - like you can't get it all down or all out of your head. How to express that sense, that image, that idea, that thought? A quick jotting of notes hoping that captures it; a list of things to do and make; and hours spent in the zone making and creating.

It is truly wonderful to experience those times when our minds are completely open to the possibilities and we are filled with excitement about all the things we want to do or the actual thing it is that we want to express. Those hyper-times when everything seems possible. When time flies and we come up for air after a few hours and don't really feel the need to eat or drink - we just want to keep going.

As Monet says, its probably a little bit of madness, but it is a wonderful thing.

Detail of Monet's waterlilies in the L'Orangerie gallery, Paris.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Moments from the Met

Last week Barry and I spent almost a full day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw maybe half of what was there - another trip another time I think...

It would have to be one of the best art museums in the world - bringing together concepts of gallery and museum so brilliantly.  There is something for everybody for sure and the pure range of artworks on view is stunning.  Here are a few fleeting glimpses of some of the things I loved and enjoyed, in no particular order...

Giacometti's Cat
Anselm Kiefer
Ellsworth Kelly, Spectrum V
Judit Reigl, Outburst (fragment)
Fiona in Anish Kappor, Untitled
El Anatsui, Dusasa II (fragment)
Klimt, (fragment)
Official signature of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, circa 1555
Fragment of cloth with inscription , 9th century
And my last little touristy shot - Sunday was a beautiful day to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; and we did. Those arches look like they belong in a cathedral...much majesty and beauty.