Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“The object is not to make art but to be in the wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” 

 Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Ahhh...that state where the making of art is inevitable.  It's a magic place to be.

I imagine quite a few people have worked this out - that it isn't actually always just about showing up doing something, anything, to get artwork happening.  I know a lot of folk who spend time trying to create the space for art appear - to do the quiet meditation that will settle their minds and their thoughts; to play music that will encourage freedom and expression.

I don't often actively do anything - but I guess I have a few habits. I find that if I actually GO to the studio there is far more chance of me being creative artistically than if I don't.  I also turn the radio on and listen to the ABC just to have a quiet conversation in the background.  Sometimes I will flick thru books and see if I respond to anything; sometimes I will just tidy up and find things I had forgotten about as I am putting other things away, and a new path emerges.

It takes all sorts of things to create that space or state I think. Sometimes, and I don't know how, (but if I did I'd bottle it) you just show up and the creative art making is just spilling out of you, you are almost falling over yourself as you get this together and make that happen and follow that path...that wonderful wonderful state of artistic creativity is just powering along. You know, when you are in the zone?

One of the things that can sometimes help me along is to go for a walk, with a camera and see what I see and what happens next.  The other morning as part of our daily walk I started out looking for violet and ended up getting almost the entire rainbow, there was so much colour... and then my mind turned to something about rainbow flowers and I wondered if a book might happen and then it just all went for a lovely meander into the state where anything is possible.

And then I woke up. (not really!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another NZ postcard...

Barry and I are continuing to have a ball as we drive around the South Island of NZ, so here is another postcard. On the advice of a friend, whilst we were in Dunedin we went to visit Tunnel Beach. For some reason we thought it was kind of like drive up to the beach walk a hundred metres, walk through this tunnel some bloke dug through the rock to get to the beach. Laugh. It was an hour down and back, down some of the steepest slippery slopes I’ve ever met but boy was it worth it. We finally made it down and saw how the man had cut a tunnel through the cliff so he could access the beach. Amazing. 

And then we accidentally came across this guy – a young male New Zealand Sea Lion having a nap. Glad we didn’t wake him!

 We headed west from Dunedin via the Catlins – wild and rugged country right at the bottom of the island, with not many people or places in it. We hit the jackpot when we arrived in Papatowai and discovered the Lost Gypsy Gallery – a kind of gallery/bus/theatre made of found objects and filled with self-winding automata by Blair Somerville. I’ll let you look it up to see how amazing it really is; but here are some images of our brief visit there. They also made awesome coffee in the coffee caravan next door.

Then we headed along to Te Anau, and stopped by the Lake. The sun is high in the sky until late evening, so with fish and chips besides us and a glass of cold NZ sauvignon blanc, all was well with the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Of rust and rocks

Barry and I have headed off for a few weeks to New Zealand.  We spent some lovely days in Auckland and then hopped down to the South Island where we are pottering around and generally having a great time.

Our first real stop was Oamaru - a beautiful town that in amongst its various claims to fame, also calls itself the Steampunk Capital of NZ. We had the best fun touring Steampunk HQ - mostly because we wandered out in to their back yard where they had loads of junk and pieces in different stages of progress.  Barry has posted on many of the wonders as well - it was a rust-lovers heaven...

We drove further south to the Moeraki Boulders. Susan had introduced me to them and recently made a book inspired by them, and I was keen to see them for myself.

Again they were wonderful. I spent the whole time thinking about worlds, atlases, maps, exploding worlds...they were incredibly powerful in their own way. We had lunch overlooking the ocean and have now headed down Dunedin way...

Wi-fi internet is fickle in places, so most of my travel posts will be like postcards I think!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“Printer’s ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.”

Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

"... a book can keep exploding for centuries". What a great line.  It makes me think about how words written down centuries ago still remain true or act as a warning or as a guide for us so many years later. That the power of words and books to change the course of history remains, even long after they are written.

In some ways it is an alternative take on 'the pen is mightier than the sword' I suppose - but the links to books, burning and gunpowder are great. Somehow the inclusion of a timeframe in these words adds something for me as well - that sense the words and books remain and can continue to impact many years on; even tho gunpowder can destroy so swiftly.

As often happens when I ponder art and books I am touched by how similar the two worlds are - for writers and artists; for books and artworks.  I think fabulous art can echo down the ages as well and remain a powerful protest or celebration, long after whatever war was on has finished.

A bit like this page below - after the words were printed, then destroyed by burning, beauty remains...

©2012 Fiona Dempster - burnt page, beauty remains...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Play time in the studio

Muna left on Sunday and we spent a busy time on Saturday trying to fill every spare minute. We had a couple of half hour gaps in the schedule and so we headed to the studio to see if we could make another book.

In stages we came up with this book, and its cover, given what we could find quickly.

Muna stitched a protective cover from tracing paper - it is never easy to handle the tracing paper in a sewing machine, but it all worked well.

We had bought the cover paper together last weekend at the Markets here in town. It is a nice tangible reminder of her time here and the places we visited.

A hybrid binding one would say... I had several folios of paper punched with holes that I had removed from another journal and we decided to use them as they were cut and ready to go. Then we decided we wanted a hard cover and the hybridness really began as I didn't think we could learn and stitch a coptic binding in half an hour!  So we fiddled and faddled and amended and created an interesting version of a hard cover onto a pamphlet binding.

The final product was beautiful and will definitely be treasured...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dreamboats for COMA

Once more our intrepid and fearless leader Ken has organised a show for COMA artists - this time at the TreeFrog Gallery. The show runs from 22 November to 03 December.

Our life has been one big rush in the past few weeks and I am only just managing to keep up with my work commitments, my community and volunteering commitments and hosting Muna. I have had not much time to do any new art for the show and I was worried if I rushed something it just wouldn't be good enough.

Ken has kindly allowed us to enter works - old or new - so long as they haven't been shown in a COMA exhibition previously.

I thought this grouping of my Dreamboats looked like a substantial piece, and as the gallery is filled wth timber I hope they will look at home.

Depending on how things go, I might send along a couple of other wall pieces - warm, rusty ones...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and realise they were the big things” 

The Vow

From what I can gather this line comes from a movie...but one I haven't seen. Still, it is one of those age-old, time-worn, truisms I guess.

I expect that at the end of my life, there will be many small moments that seem to be the things that made my life happy and/or worthwhile. Sure, there may be big ones, but it seems to me that a life well-lived is actually one that pays attention to the moments, the small and beautiful things; that doesn't necessarily assume that the big achievement moments are the things that actually matter.

It seems that many of us are seeking to slow down, live and be closer to nature and or the general rhythms of things; to walk more lightly on the earth and to simplify things. I think that being able to pay attention to what is happening around you, what you see and who you are with creates more and more of these 'little things' that really add up and will be seen as the 'big things'.

Attending a good funeral simply reinforces this idea for me - where people speak about all the personal and little things the person did. Oftentimes the big and more public achievements are there; but many of the things that people remember are those small moments of kindness of happiness.

Continuing with and completing the rainbow search with Jennifer and Julie, our Jacarandas are hitting their stride up here in the mountains, and making just the most beautiful show of violet. Just stopping to look up at them makes me smile and lifts my spirit, and is just one of those little things in my life that I take the time to enjoy...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Soft and Rusty

I was looking around the studio today as I was tidying up and the soft rusty shapes and papers that I have been making caught my eye.

I love the gentle colours and the looseness of the shapes, and the warmth the rust adds.

Each piece also brings with it its own serendipity - never really knowing what might happen.  I think it's the alchemy in it that I like.

As a calligrapher type person, this series of rusty nails is just begging for lines of writing somehow. It is a long thin piece.

One of my favourite rusty bits is some old chain I have around - some thick, some thin, some long, some short. I like how not all of the chain touches the paper, the marks are more ghostly somehow.

More of the rusty nails, but not as regimented this time.  Somebody saw this piece, it is also long and thin, and said "it's a tumbling poem". And I agree!  I can see more words tumbling down...

I have Alice Fox to thank for sharing the combination of rusty objects, water and tea. I have enjoyed my experimenting with making these marks and I hope I can use them and make them something beautiful, yet something Fiona.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembering and Peace

Today in Australia we mark Remembrance Day.  At 11am on the 11th of November in 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front, and the Great War, the First World War was over.  Each year on this day and at this time, across Australia people stop for a minute's silence to remember all those who gave their lives in war and conflicts.

This morning we attended the small service held at Erowal, our aged person's home here in Maleny.  We had with us Muna, a young Indonesian woman who is staying with us for ten days as part of a cultural exchange for young leaders.

The short service was moving and special and we laid red poppies on the memorial.

And this afternoon we worked together in the studio, Muna creating a beautiful book and me getting thru some long overdue tidying up.  The rain and wind stopped for long enough this afternoon for us to visit the Peace Tree and see how well some of the weathergrams have gone; and how some have begun to fray and tear.  I am in quiet awe and amazement that these messages of peace have been out there in the weather (and some pretty tough weather) since mid-Spetember and continue to share the hope for peace.

I love how the tree has filled out and the leaves are full and green.  Most of the time the leaves seem to protect the weathergrams, but sometimes the wind just blows too hard...

I still love the fragments tho...

And to help me get the photo - Muna holds "Help Peace" - perfect.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” 

Robert Henri 

I think at one time I thought I'd be 'an artist'. That when we moved to the mountain I would become a person who spent their days making and creating art and who made a living from it.

I can now recognise my own naiveté in those early thoughts, and my understanding of what it takes to be an artist who makes a living from it has definitely grown, and my admiration for those who do it has also grown.

As I have pondered this thought over the years, I have come to the understanding that what we have achieved by moving here and doing what we do, is that we live an artistic life. This means for me that I have art in my life in more ways and for larger chunks of time than was ever possible to even dream about let alone achieve when I worked in a big stressful job.

And I have come to the understanding and realisation that this is quite different from making my living as an artist. I now know I can't do that. I would starve. I just don't have it in me to try to hock and hawk and strategise completely about sales of my art, and on top of that, my work attracts such a small market. My art income is always supplementary to what I earn to live, and so in a way, the joy of creating remains.

I can't quantify how much living an artistic life adds to my life, my experience, my well-being, my pleasure and my joy. It means that we think about art, talk about art, visit galleries, contribute to exhibitions and have art-minded friends who we chat to over coffee. Living an artistic life is full of joy and happiness and pleasure, satisfaction and wonder.  I think continuing to live a life like this will be the best thing I can do. I am also grateful that I have the opportunity - I don't take it for granted for a moment.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - marks and traces...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The give-away winner

Thank you all for so many wonderful and evocative comments about why you love books.  I have just been re-reading them and love the words that appear throughout. You love books for their potential, for their smell, for the feel of them, for letting them take you away across the world or further into your imagination, and never needing a passport.

You love the actual process of turning pages, the possibility of books and what they contain, the wonder of the handmade book and the way text looks and how fonts add another beautiful dimension to them.

So once again, thank you for sharing - for me it's been another wonderful blogging book-loving connection to have made.

But back to the main game.

I wrote everybody's name onto some bright red cardboard I had nearby me - feeling very cheerful about celebrating books I must say - and popped them all in our Tibetan singing bowl and Barry did the honours (with his eyes closed).

And the winner of the 555 give-away is...

So Ronnie, I'll pop them in the post to you as soon as I can and before we know it they'll be winging their way to 'the Creek' !

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Letter a begins

I have been feeling a bit badly that I have fallen so far behind this year with my letters.  Fortunately I got a few hours the other afternoon when I was feeling well enough to go over to the studio and have a fiddle.

Sometimes when you have been sick and are still recovering, it is hard to find the energy or the enthusiasm to create a piece of magic; and that's where I love A Letter a Week. Even when I am feeling poorly, under the weather, or not particularly inspired, it is something I can begin and do.

It's only one letter. I only have to write one letter on a 7cm x 7cm piece of paper.  The size of that task is not so daunting that I can't begin.

I worked out how far behind I was (like 4 months or 16 letters) and thought I'd see how far I could go.

I'm proud to say that I am now on track!  I have completed the 16 letters and one more just for good measure.  I am working on some of the paper I recently marbled, and am using a metallic copper ink.  I have decided to make an exemplar book, using modern Versals.

Every second page is lighter and I hope that looks OK in the finished product. Altho they are not nearly as pink as these photos appear!  They are just a softer version of blue-green of the first one.

PS - don't forget to leave a comment on this post, if you want to go into the draw for the give away!!