Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maleny Celebration of Books

Even tho I've been talking about International Day of Peace and Open Studios for a while now, there is another fabulous event looming that I am involved in that I wanted to share with folk as well.

On the last weekend in October (26, 27 & 28), we are holding the Maleny Celebration of Books, and here is the link to the website.  A group of people have joined forces to celebrate the fact that our town is home to many authors, poets and editors; that we have lots of gorgeous and delightful and inviting book shops; that we have a great Library; that we have one of the highest rate of Library membership in Australia; that we have many talented and fabulous book artists (I say that with a wink and a nod); and that basically there are heaps of people who just love books in this town.

The program is exciting - ranging from our high school students reading their own work (or having it read by drama students) to a great big book club with hopefully a hundred or so people gathering in coffee shops around town to discuss a book and then getting together for a really big chin wag, to a treasure hunt with book-based clues for children, a panel discussion with eminent writers, a display of artists books in the Library, a book-swap tree in one of our local parks, a fabulous book-based film at night hosted by the Maleny Film Society, author signings on the main street and a book-making workshop for children by yours truly. And much more.

It will be a huge buzz and I am thrilled to be working with such a supportive and energetic crew.

If you are out and about the Hinterland in October - this would be a great weekend to drop by for a visit.

On a completely different note, we have just finished a fabulous family weekend with Al (my brother) and Lorraine's wedding.  Friday we tootled to Brisbane for  the Chinese Tea Ceremony at Lorraine's parent's home; yesterday we had gorgeous weather for the wedding and today we finished off with a big breakfast gathering and then said all our farewells.  It was such a fun and love-filled wedding.

A few wedding reminders - petals, cake and a happy couple!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.” 

Gregory Maguire

I think artists are often the folk who go checking out the shadows - the way they fall, or move, or play across a surface.  For sure we are also attracted to the light and the reflections and the rainbows, but often in the shadows different stories are told.

I love the shapes shadows make - how they change in size as the sun moves across the sky; the way they add something to the surface upon which they land; how they almost paint another picture for us.

They offer a solid shape, often somewhat distorted, that reflects the truth of the original object; but often with a twist; or an angle that makes the deciphering a bit of a challenge.

And then there is the shadow. The place that is almost in the darkness or the shade, where other stories are most definitely told and where interesting possibilities emerge that would not otherwise occur in full exposure to light.

I think shadows make you work harder to understand what they are saying - the original object is often easy to interpret.  Shadow suggest and hint; they obscure or cover up; they just make life that bit more interesting!

This image was taken at Miyajima in Japan - it's the shadows made by gohei (Japanese temple paper prayers) playing across the floorboards...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I have always enjoyed monoprinting and especially creating 'ghost' images using feathers and string.

The fine detail of the feathers in these prints and the sense of lightness and floating are things I love about them.

A number of  the prints have been sold, I have given away one or two, and have recently scanned some of the images and used them as a background for a wee book called Flight.

It's a sweet little thing, feels good in the hand and also continues that sense of lightness I think.

I photographed it today outside on the driveway.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Open Studio mayhem!

Somehow it is Sunday again, and we have spent the last two days talking and sharing and showing all about our art.  As ever, it has been energising and fun - we have met some great people; talked about arty stuff till we are blue in the face and just had a general good feeling vibe going on. That sounds incredibly hippy-like, but it rings true - the feeling around the studio visits has been grand.

Over the past two days we have had about 100 people thru - a steady flow and not too many times when it got out of control.  I always feels sad that I might not get to say good bye to somebody properly (Carol!) and also that some folk don't get the chance to ask all of their questions or follow thru on something - but you just do what you can do in good spirit.

A week or so ago I took some photos of the studio in advance of opening - quite orderly and organised and with different pieces set up to show what I do...

We moved the press into the kitchen area to make more room.

One working area and a display area - you can still see the cutting mats here.

A desk, all tidy and ready to burn pages.

Here are some shots I took after we had finished tonight - mayhem and chaos abound!

The kitchen bench has been overrun with these suminagashi marbling attempts and tray of water...

The cutting mats have all but disappeared under the weight of paper and experiments and projects on the go...

The desk and burning pages now have folded books and journals and paper and pebbles and...

As many of you know the studio I now use is our 'shed' where we used to live.  We lived here for about 18 months whilst we built our house and it has a lovely feel to it.  After we moved into the house, the shed became home to a few different folk who need a place to stay and I have always loved the energy of it.  It is a great place to work.

In between the Open Studio weekends, we have also celebrated International Day of Peace (Friday 21 September) and the weather-grams in the peace tree have been added to.  We had quite a storm and a few fell to the ground, but I have re-hung them. Only the ones I find of course - those that get whisked away to other places simply spread their peace messages further.

Here you can see the storm has passed by and is heading towards Brisbane.

A peace flag that was knocked off by the storm.

Peace flags wrapped around the branches by the wind and rain, and the strings for others which became detached...

And my indoor flags flying happily in the studio. That upstairs bit is where we used to sleep; but its now a storage area for our 'friend's life in boxes' until he returns to these shores...

I like the idea of the peace flag weather-grams weathering in the weather; they hold on and share their message quietly; but then they disappear back into the earth.  It will be interesting to mark when the last one leaves the tree...

But now to dinner and a  quiet glass of red and off to bed early me thinks!

PS - Our studios ARE NOT open next weekend (29 & 30 September) - my brother is getting married and we are off to party! We will be open again on 6 & 7 October - so please drop by if you are around and about.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“Here’s to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy.” 

Charlaine Harris

I love the idea that books can take you away, let you escape and make you feel as if you have travelled to places you have never been.

In some instances the vacation is geographical - you travel to lands afar in a book and learn about different cultures and terrain, food and music. Some times the vacation is cerebral - you goof off entirely and leave your hard thinking at home and head off to some flaky holiday space with a light and fancy free book.

And sometimes the vacation can just be for a few minutes, a time out from the world around you, an escape into anonymity.

I think it's good that she says "the cheapest vacation", rather than as good as a vacation, because they are different things and I always think a holiday/vacation is pretty special and the total experience cannot be replicated by a book.

Books are good, but not THAT good!

In support of Jennifer's ongoing search for Roy. G. Biv (aka the rainbow) here is my blue contribution. These are strands of origami peace cranes folded which are laid throughout the Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan.  One of those places I am fortunate to have travelled to, and didn't just get to read about in a book...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Peace in the breeze...

During the Open Studios on the weekend, we gave away peace book marks but also asked folk to write messages of peace on the weather-grams I had made, and to hang them in the trees on the way out.

Quite a few people contributed and we now have weather-grams in the first tree, in the avocado tree and I found another couple in a third tree this morning!

Peace is drifting in the breeze on our mountain top, and also managed to make it thru the gentle rain we had yesterday and overnight.

I took some photos this morning in the mist - it adds a lovely dimension to them I think.

Here is one of the ones I found in the other tree this morning...

 And here is peace in amongst the avocados - love the fresh new flowers and and the dangling avo.

We have peace in other languages...

Fresh buds of peace...

And the wisps left behind after peace has drifted off somewhere...

I love the installation they are creating, the way others are adding their messages and how gentle the message is.  Thank you Mary Jane for the Flags for Peace project, it is a gift to many.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Peace and Open Studios

I am sitting here a little bit tired and weary - today was a busy day with the Open Studios.  Yesterday was generally relaxed and quiet - only ever two or three people at a time and often times just ourselves.

Today was steady and then went a wee bit ballistic towards the end with about 15 folk inside and others outside. It was a real hoot with lots of enthusiastic folk asking questions and seeming to enjoy the studio space and the work. We also made steady sales which has been wonderful as well.

Barry tends to work the outside - he meets and greets and often shows people around the block a bit and also demonstrates beating and folding metal.

Inside I show folk all of the displays - Barry's jewellery and bowls and leaves; as well as my books and prints. I talk a lot about paper and books and calligraphy and do the odd demonstration, and also manage all the recording of numbers and the sales. In fact, quite a few people are fascinated watching me burn words out of pages!

Given that International Day of Peace is coming up this Friday 21 September, as a gift to folk I was handing out bookmarks made from some of my calligraphic overwriting of "peace is every step".

It was just nice to remind folk and share a little bit and I love how the book marks look placed all together...

Quite a few people have added to the peace tree as well, writing on the brown paper bags and hanging them in the tree as they departed. It was dark when we finished today, so I'll have to photograph them tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” 

 Dalai Lama

I try to remember the notion that we often get to choose how we react or respond to a situation.  Oftentimes I forget, but when I can lift myself up and out, I am aware that how I choose to react does make a difference.

I like the simple reasoning of this quote - choosing optimism simply because it feels better. If one ever needed a more complex explanation I'm sure it exists; but this is a pretty powerful incentive I figure. Why choose pessimism when it generally makes you feel so bad?

Choosing optimism seems to me to be a bit like playing Pollyanna in a way - trying to find the up side, trying to be positive and trying to find the good in things.  I think sometimes its also about being able to take the long view - how things might play out down the track, even tho they appear a bit difficult in the immediate future.

I can imagine the Dalai Lama playing that game - finding the positive and seeing things in a good light.

This image is from a sculpture near the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York; no attribution available.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Collaboration Book 3

It's been ages since Susan and I have seen each other  - so it was lovely to spend the day together today catching up, talking, designing and exploring our next collaboration.

A while back Susan had the inspired idea to make a book of envelopes.  My brain was way off track and it took ages for me to grasp how we could do it and then the ah ha moment hit me and I was totally into it!

At our meeting/discussion a month or so ago we decided that we would choose rectangle and square envelopes and we gave ourselves some maximum dimensions. We decided that we would use an earthy palette (no black or white). We decided we would make two of each envelope style so that we each had one. That way we would both start with the exact same base materials and we could take it from there.

Thru the week, we both weakened a wee bit and decided to include black and white as options!  Once we started talking and displaying and sharing the papers we had both collected, our strength returned and we rejected the black and white notion (altho we held onto it for a future something or other; they were too divine).

So here are the rejects...

As we held the various papers and turned them this way and that, we talked about the size and the nature of the envelope each would make. The collaboration was very much in the making - the choosing and the deciding on the structure of the book.  We decided on 11 envelopes and over the course of the day added in another two, because we liked them so much! Flexibility is one of the keys to collaboration I think.

Here is the palette of papers we decided to work with - some of Susan's and some of mine...

With some lovely close-ups...

And the basic template or shape of our envelopes cut.

We agreed which envelopes we would stitch and which we would glue/tape, and we basically prepared them all so that we can take them away and work into them and onto them.

Here I am beginning to think about what I might use for stitching...

Susan had brought a couple of brown craft paper envelopes with her on the first day to show me what had got her started; so we are including one of each of them in the set.

We each have plenty of thinking and work to do - making work to go into each envelope; working out what story we are wanting to tell and how it all holds together.  I expect it will be a fascinating outcome! We have also given ourselves a longer lead time for finishing them as there are probably now 13 little art pieces we need to include.

Here is where we got to today - a stash of hand-made (mostly) envelopes, waiting to tell a story.

So yet again, the process and approach take a different direction with this book. The collaboration is all at the beginning in jointly developing the size, structure and materials for the envelopes.  We will each take the same set and make them our own; no swapping or returning, simply setting the scene in a collaborative manner; and then letting each other take off.

It feels like we have begun a lovely adventure!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Artists' Books of peace

I've mentioned before how fortunate we are to have a fabulous, exciting, exuberant and interesting local Library here in Maleny.  Once again they are supporting the arts and the community with a small exhibition of artists' books about peace.

Ken, Noela, Barry and I each prepared artists' books based on the theme of peace, and we are displaying them in the Library foyer cabinet for a few weeks, before and after International Day of Peace (21 September 2012).

The more we can do around this time to highlight peace, talk about peace and encourage folk to think about what they can do and how we can create more peace is a good thing I think. As we say, the more peace the better!

Please forgive the quality of the photos - Barry and I only had our phones with us; but we figure better some pictures than none.

This is the cabinet at the front door with the full display.

Going from top to bottom, this is Noela's book, and here are her words:

Peace book

My book represents the notion that life has become so complex with dark layers of ‘stuff’ forever present.

The high tide mark in the ink indicates that enough is enough. It’s time to look beyond the distractions, however enticing, and to rise above the craziness to a peaceful, quiet, empty space where we can be replenished and renewed.

The mountains on the front cover are a serendipitous addition that appeared as the ink was settling – a wonderful metaphor for me because I truly need mountains in my life to achieve a peaceful state of mind.

Next is my book and my words...

Languages of Peace

This book is filled with love and hopes for peace.  I have written the word for peace in 25 languages, and embossed peace doves on every page. 

I chose a language for each letter of the alphabet (although I found no language that starts with the letter “O”) and wrote the word for peace in that language using my own heartbeat script.  I have chosen the softest and clearest of blues and white to suggest peace.

It is wonderful to discover that so many languages have words for peace, that the notion and idea of peace transcends cultures, and that peace is an aspiration shared by people across the globe.

This book reminds me that we all know of peace, and that many of us seek it. 

Continuing on, here is Barry's book and his words...

Sacred Peace Texts

This artist book aims to make links between the hope and prayers for peace on the International Day of Peace on 21 September 2012 and the peace and stillness of ancient temples – places of peace. The book is in the form of a sacred temple scroll.

The book has four metal pages each stamped with a different hopes or prayers:


The words are adaptations from public peace quotes.

In the main Sacred Peace Texts is made from recycled and found materials. The main body of the scroll was a small brass pump; the decorative ends came from old brass lights; and the pages are brass off cuts.  

And finally we come to Ken's two pieces and his words..

He opened a box…
Peace begins with a smile

These sculptures use a combination of recycled timber, rusted metal and hand-made paper. All materials have had a previous life, have been discarded, rescued and then re-worked on a theme to create a piece of recycled history.

Inspiration for He opened a box … comes from the complexity and the drabness of war and Peace begins with a smile …( words of Mother Teresa ) … reflect the joy and happiness of peace.  

My sculptures reflect an on-going fascination with life, death and rebirth and an interest in the traces of past existences. Starting with a pile of un-related materials and slowly working them into an artwork that can be read like a book. The idea of evolution frequently runs through my work as I explore the craft of assemblage.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Peace flags are happening

I have hung the first of my peace flag weather-grams in a tree at the top of our driveway.  It is interesting that a few people have already commented on them and enjoyed hearing the story of International Day of Peace and the way people all over the world are making and hanging peace flags.

I made a very brief video of them flying over here at the Flags for Peace 2012 blog, but below are just some photos of them hanging, late one afternoon.  They seem rather lovely  to me.

I have chopped up more brown paper bags, have written out a long list of verbs and will be adding to them over the next little while.

I also hope to have people who visit the Open Studios (which start next weekend - eek) write their own verb for peace and hang them in the tree as well.