Sunday, September 29, 2013

Printmaking preparations

Like most folk I expect, I would love the work to simply magically appear, without too much fuss and bother and without hours and hours of preparation. my little world it rarely does.  With calligraphy I spend hours preparing, drawing lines, testing nib sizes, writing and measuring and then actually doing. Printmaking is proving to have similar pre-prodution preparation qualities!

Our Maleny Printmakers group is holding their second exhibition in about a month's time.  This time there will be 13 of us participating and we are all producing ten prints.  Each print measures 13.5cm (h) x 11.5cm (w) and fits snuggly in a CD case.  There will be 130 of these beauties hung across a wall and I am sure the whole effect will be stunning!

Many of us are doing editions, so I am working on trying to produce 100 prints; editions of 10 for each of mine. Quite the wee challenge.

Still, I have begun and that's the most important thing.

Last week I spent some time with Susan playing around - she was more industrious and focused I think; I was way back in the zone of trying to work out what paper and what sizes...

We decided to make a sample stack of our tissue papers so we know what they are next time we want to order them.

I cut out a variety of coloured papers to see what size prints might look good on the size paper we are all working with. Clearly some work better than others! I settled on six and have so far only used two.

This is what the table and my feet looked like on Friday afternoon; paper paper every where!

Stacks of preparations - words for one and waxed teabags for chine colle for another...

and a stack of the ones that John West rejected, so to speak.  

It's Sunday afternoon as I type and I'm pleased to say that I have actually completed three prints, in an edition of ten each. Big happy for Sunday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. William Styron

A good book can do that to you - for a couple of reasons I think. On a practical level, it can leave you exhausted because you stay up way too late reading it, unable to put it down, totally absorbed by where it is taking you, and mesmerisingly needing to just keep turning the pages, to read to the end of this chapter, and then beyond...

That happens often enough in this household and we are both familiar with that feeling of getting up at normal time after reading way too late - but still, it doesn't last long does it????

Secondly it seems to me that a really good book leaves you exhausted because you get totally involved in it and completely invested in the outcome - with concern for the characters, or intense interest in determining how one earth this can be unravelled, or simply because you are being carried along by a great narrative and the amazing events in a person's life, or fascinating insights into discoveries or journeys.

Any time you get totally immersed in something or somebody, can be tiring and exhausting and for me a good book is no exception. It can take a lot of emotional energy to stay with a good book!

Which leaves me wondering how to illustrate this point, and after much pondering, I simply came up with an early morning shot of the mist rising from the valley. We wake to this sort of light most mornings even if we've stayed up late. As we head closer to summer the sun rises earlier (about 4.50am in December) so we really really need to not be reading still at midnight!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An exciting exhibition coming up!

As many of you know I am the co-ordinator of the wee international collaboration "A Letter a Week". It has been running since 2010 and has become a place for fun and connection, gentle exploration, creativity, thoughtfulness and some beautiful beautiful work.

I had always thought it would be grand if at some point we could gather some of the works together to have an exhibition, and so I explored a few options and put out feelers, made applications and so on.

Earlier this year my efforts were rewarded with the offer of a 6 week exhibition at the Butter Factory Arts Centre in Cooroy, in the hinterland outside of Noosa. This is a Regional Gallery and it hosts high quality and innovative shows, so I was thrilled. It seems the perfect setting for our quirky and collaborative efforts.

Since February I have been quietly and slowly building the exhibition up from the first three years' efforts. I couldn't include everybody and every piece; some folk no longer had the pieces I wanted; I had to try and get a balance between books and wall pieces; and as broad a range of works as possible to keep folk who attend the show interested.

It is well and truly getting to the exciting point of the game. I have received all the works; have photographed them for the catalogue; am abut to package and label them all and then in a short time deliver them for installation.

We have 29 artists from 6 countries involved, showing 63 pieces.

I am so looking forward to giving these works a beautiful setting and hopefully a great show.

Here are the details of the exhibition:

Title: A Letter a Week: Artistic Travels Through the Alphabet
Runs from: Thursday 10 October to Saturday 16 November 2013
Official opening: Saturday 12 October 2013 at 10.00am
Guided Tour and Floor Talk by me: Friday 25 October 2013 at 10.00am

and some snippets of some of the works on display:

Anna, Susan, Valerie and Christine

Jo, Elaine, Noela

Barry, Deb, Ken, Fiona

Lyndell, Lisa, Gemma

It would be great if anybody in the area could come along and see the show - quite a few local artists will be at the opening and the floor talk; and some inter-staters are also making the trip for the opening which is fabulous!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

International Day of Peace 2013

We have had a wonderful International Day of Peace here in Maleny.

Barry and I started by hanging our different sets of flags outside our house and then spent a morning with children making peace leaves for a peace tree at the Library. It is school holidays here and the children will keep adding to the tree all week.

Here are some of the flags flying at our house today:

Fabric flags, screenprinted with a golden origami peace crane image.  The flags are flown in the traditional order, with Blue for the sky; White for the clouds; Red for fire; Green for water and Yellow for the earth.

My weathergrams have been added to and there are plenty flying high and getting blown by the breeze, and sometimes buffeted to the ground.  Then they get carried away by the wind; sharing their message of peace.

These are new favourites! A while ago we did a printmaking workshop where we used "baby wipes" to clean the paints off the plates.  They looked so gorgeous at the end of the day we saved them from the rubbish and brought them home to dry.  Then we screenprinted them as well and now they are hanging proudly and looking absolutely beautiful!

And finally for hand-made paper flags with origami peace cranes embedded within. These are slightly more vulnerable to the elements so we have hung them at the front of the house, under the verandah. They make a warm welcome to our home...

Matthew at Maleny Newsagent also printed a couple of posters for us to place at the top of our block so that people driving or walking by would know what the flags were all about.

Barry has also been busy with his flags and his peace tree - pop over and see what he got up to as well!

I have done a similar post to this over at Flags for Peace; but it is worth visiting just to see what others have managed to achieve this year...

We gonged our peace bell this morning and again at midday - this evening as the sun sets, we will gong again for peace.  Every little bit we do, in whatever small ways we can, we can help to amplify and share the message of peace in the world.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“Joy comes 
Not to the sound of beaten drums 
But swift on silent wings 
She comes in little things 
A laugh or look maybe 
Or else perhaps a tree
Or scarlet poppy flower
Flaming in a drowsy hour. 
Who can foretell or know 
When Joy will come—or go?” 

 W H Auden

It's the little things and it's the little moments that make a life; and where joy can be found, waiting patiently if we care to stop to spend the time to glance in its direction.

I have a favourite motto to "celebrate the moments' - life is unsure, it is uncertain, events intervene, health issues arise, and demands take us from those we love and the things we need to do.  So sometimes we won't be able to do what we want to do to mark a special occasion; we might not be able to be with somebody at an important time. Instead, we try to celebrate the moments that we are together; to stop and reflect and take stock that life and the everyday is worth celebrating.

Use your best china; drink out of fine wine glasses and sleep in if you want I say!

I stopped this afternoon before heading off to help Barry pick coffee, and spent a few stolen minutes just watching a superb fairy wren dart this way and that. They are the most beautiful of creatures and so quick; fragile and delightful, and not often seen on our block. Joy was there just waiting for me to have a look...

Photo courtesy of Colour and the Human Being

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heron Island Blues

Well we are back from a week without technology - no mobiles, intermittent and occasional internet and so books were us. And snorkelling.

We visited Heron Island - a tiny dot of an island (800m x 300m) off the coast of Gladstone in QLD.  It was a great break and my lasting memory of this coral cay is the blue, the many blues, the gorgeous blues...

Schools of fish around the jetty, swirling and curling...

A noddy tern, the rusty wreck and the coral showing at low tide...

The rusty wreck when the tide was higher...

The gantry...

The view from our room...

 The layered blues across the reef...

We snorkelled alongside this guy. We had seven sightings of sharks on our last morning as we snorkelled around, luckily they are the non-scary, non-hungry for humans variety. But still, the heart does a little leap when they glide into your line of sight.

We made a couple of cairns whilst there... this one of pumice stone and shells disappeared quite swiftly with the waves and the wind.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you’ve made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between.” 

Robert Motherwell

Oh my - your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between. What a moment.

We have both been fortunate this last little while to sell some pieces. Some on-line, some in galleries faraway; some at our Open Studio and some at our recent exhibition.  In these latter two cases, we were present when pieces spoke straight to a person's heart and they had to make the purchase there and then, with not another thought, not a moment's reasoning, not a long, slow deliberation in which they convinced themselves that this was probably what they were thinking they might have been looking for after all...

No these were lightning moments, when bolts of recognition leapt between the piece and the person and the piece had found its home.

I know I have felt like that with work - where it has spoken straight to my heart and I have known immediately that it was right, and that we had somehow found each other.

And of course those moments happen without purchase as well. When people engage longingly with your piece; have an internal conversation with it, reach out to it, it reaches back. And yet for whatever reason they can't be together. This happens in public galleries too where somebody else already owns it and it it is not available for sale, and those moments are still magical.

This is one of those pieces for me - a portion of Rosalie Gascoigne's Feathered Fence. I saw it in Melbourne several years ago - it took my breath away. I knew where she had made this piece - Lake George near Canberra - and I knew the fences; the feel of the fences and the birds...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

QLD Literary Awards

Over the past few months, Barry and I have been beavering away on a commission, creating the 11 awards given to the category winners in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards.

The ceremony was held at the State Library in Brisbane last Wednesday night, and we were thrilled to attend and share the joy of reading and writing with others; and to see our awards on display and being handed to the winners.

We designed them together and they took the form of books.

Each book was made of recycled metal covers (front and back), encased in perspex and an internal page of paper again encased in perspex.

Barry found, cut, beat and polished the EPNS metal used for the covers. Each book was unique, and Barry hand-beat a different pattern onto each cover to make them individual.  We had the QLA logo etched onto the metal front covers, and my calligraphy was also etched onto the back cover.

Inside, on one page I embossed pages with marks that matched Barry's hammering marks, then printed the award, de-bossed similar marks and wrote the winner's name by hand on another page. These pages went back to back inside the perspex casing.

Barry and I drilled all the holes thru the three layers of perspex that made up each page or cover; and then hand-rivted the page or cover together.  After all that, I hand-stitched them with a modified single page binding in fabulous orange, the signature colour of the Awards.

They were really well received - and were happy to see them go to new homes. Here we are at the party afterwards - Barry, me, my sister-in-law Lorraine and my brother Al. Phew!

We are off and out of touch now for a week or so things will be quieter here; altho Thursday Thoughts will still pop up!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head. 

Paul Auster (The Brooklyn Follies)

This quote resonates with me for two reasons right now; firstly Barry and I attended the Queensland Literary Awards last night, and secondly, we are about to head away for a week to a place with no tv, no mobile phone coverage and very little internet connection. So books it shall be!

At the State Library last night, I was so aware of how important books are to people; how important story telling is; how books, thoughts and words shape our culture; and how we are formed and shaped by what we have read.  Those in attendance were passionate about books, writing and reading and their heartfelt pleasure in books has carried over into my day today. I am still being nursed along by the notion of books and all they can be for people.

And as we try to get ready for our week without technology, books once again become my stimulant of choice, my consolation and my comfort.  We have laughed innumerable times in the past weeks as we have put aside books to take with us to read. We are away for 6 nights I think and this is how the stack is looking at the moment. At last count there are14 books there, which seems even to me, a trifle over-done and possibly the equivalent of one suitcase of packing; but it's a starting point and just knowing they are there comforts me enormously. Some are prize-winners; some are crime fiction; some are non-ficition and some are trashy novels we will leave behind. A great combination; a book for any mood it seems!

We are also both downloading a few books to our iPads and downloading podcast so we can also listen to things whilst we are away.

Oh the comfort that is to be found is a stash of books!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

International Day of Peace

Once our exhibition had opened, and our Commission had been completed, we also both put our heads down to make inroads with out Flags for Peace. International Day of Peace is looming on 21 September, and we will be celebrating again by hanging weathergrams in our tree; as well as peace flags (very loose interpretation of flags) outside our house and inside our studio.

This is where I have gotten to with my hand-made paper with peace cranes embedded in it. I stitched them onto a soft grey bias-binding - 5m in length.

I love the frayed edges of the hand made paper...

They will hang inside the studio; but for the afternoon, I strung them outside along with some that Jennifer sent us last year (top) and Barry's new metal ones for this year (bottom). They are hanging below one of our decks in case you are wondering what the railway line is doing at the top of the photo.

I have also begun work on the weathergrams and they will hopefully start hanging in the tree later this week.  Whilst waiting for a lift at the top of our drive  the other day I snapped these shots of the remnants from last year...

Still so beautiful I think.

We are also mounting a peace-filled display at the Maleny Library for the two weeks either side of IDoP; as well as running a peace-leaf making workshop with children at the Library on IDoP, whilst Barry is busy pulling together all those autumn-coloured leaves for his international peace tree here at home.

If you would like to join in please visit our joint blog and/or simply make and hang some flags on September 21; or help Barry pull together his leaves for the tree - here is what he is asking for. And you can see some of the ones he has made and received to date here and here.

Say yes to Peace.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

This and That

We had a fabulous night on Friday night at the opening of our exhibition "Paths to Peace and Stillness" at Rosebed St Gallery.  There were lots of folk, lots of friendly faces and lots of people  interested in talking about our work. Very nicely there was a wealth of red dots by the end of the evening as well, and we are grateful for all that support.

Me and my mum! Photo courtesy of Christine Elcoate - with many thanks.

A couple of my red dots. Thank you Edith Ann and Carol; and Michael.

We got out and about early on Saturday and finished off the Commission. Phew.  Sunday morning we got up early to clean and polish and wipe and pack. All packed and ready to go which is all very excitement! Hopefully all can be revealed soon.

I also bought my copy of Lark's 500 Handmade Books Vol 2 last week, and was so happy to see my two books in there. I was also thrilled to see that Julie Chen had mentioned A Subversive Stitch in the introduction,

"Other artists investigate specific aspects of the book, including the physical properties of their materials....while Fiona Dempster's A Subversive Stitch (page 214), with its tangled mass of red thread and sutured sentences, plays with ideas of binding, oppression and free speech."

Those words then led to this little blurb and slideshow in the Huffington Post I think!

So it feels like lots of good news all around...bubbles perhaps tonight!