Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

It is possible to live in peace. 

Mahatma Gandhi 

We've rotated around to the life Thursday Thought and I was wondering about life and lives and worlds and my world, and I came across this quote.  It felt so hopeful.

Many times I wish I had the answers to how to stop conflict; how to encourage understanding between nations, religions and sections of the community. I can feel overwhelmed at times by our inadequacies and our belligerence, and our apparent unwillingness to listen to and respect others.

But then I come across a quote like this which make me believe all over again.  Peace starts in small ways, within me, in my relationships with others, with the messages I send out to the world, with the words I use, and the work I make.

I also think I need to believe that peace IS possible. It clearly is because at different points in history, those who argue now were once companionable; those who fought previously have been reconciled.  I think maybe I am just hoping for all the on-again and off-again relationships could coincide at one point in time and we could all be on-again together! Wouldn't that just be amazing…

Some coloured peace prints...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New studio working space

I mentioned that in amongst all of the madness and chaos we have been 'renovating' the shed studio and re-claiming working space and creating a gallery space.  It was a lot of heavy and dusty work at times, but the results are oh so worth it!

Here's a tour of the working areas, not completely sorted, but close enough is good enough for right now. Some of you will remember that we used to live in the shed, before we built the house, and it has a lovely feel to it.

As you walk through the door you see this...

Turn to your right and our kitchen has become the printing area; with the press and inking up spaces and rollers hanging..

Turn left and the paper drawer has been reorganised so it contains much paper and an old proofing press sits upon some old storage units from the house brought on over for a new lease of life.

I have grouped my tables into two pods rather than one huge area - will see if this works for me.  I am clearly mid-printing here...

The other two tables looks almost pristine for the time being. The back one is set higher for cutting paper (thank you Susan) and is working a dream. On the front one I am leaving out projects that I have to do, to remind me when I go over…I need quite a few clues and cues!

And we got some storage/display units too. Not filled yet but I am thinking I need some boxes/baskets to slip into the cubes.

Though I do love how they offer little nooks for storing and displaying bibs and bobs.

I moved my standing calligraphy table over to the window and moved a couple of filing cabinets nearby.

Looking back from the calligraphy table.

I forgot to mention that halfway across the floor are the stairs that go up to the mezzanine where we used to sleep. I am gradually moving my books over and have kept the filing drawers under the stairs. We now have a gallery space upstairs and I'll show you that another day.

And re-arranging storage continues…

It feels light and airy now and as if there is a chance I can keep it organised.  We shall see of course, but I love the way the space is working. It feels so much better to have all the display and sales of work together upstairs and not mixed in with my mess!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A busy few days...

Sitting here at the end of a fabulous weekend of the Maleny Celebration of Books - that lovely sensation of still feeling on a high despite being a wee bit exhausted!

The weekend was a huge success and there were so many wonderful bits.  I was so enjoying myself I took barely any photos; but I did get some down at the Library yesterday morning. And before that at Cooke Park, where at 7.30am we set up the Book Swap Tree.

In this first shot Barry is holding a branch in his hand that fell off - very heavy balloons perhaps?

The gang getting the tree together...

The Book Swap Bush was down at the Library for the kids and the Treasure Hunt really went off!  We had about twenty five children in two teams racing around the Park discovering clues, running back to look them up in the books and discovering the gold at the end.

My bookmaking workshop with children was also full and busy. We always laugh - despite a booking system, there were no bookings but of course the room filled with children and it all went berserk! Thank you Barry for being the back-up bookmaker! We did a simple alphabet book.  I love how you teach kids how to make a book, which is magical and wonderful on its own; then they get to fill it, to tell their story and I watch in wonder where that next bit takes them.

I also really enjoyed the Queensland Writers' Performance, but the Big Book Group was exceptional.  I hosted a group of 8 in one of the local coffee shops and we discussed the book in great detail and with really interesting insights; then we all re-grouped (about 60 or so of us) and participated in a facilitated discussion with an ethicist who talked about many of the issues raised in the book "The Dinner".  Just brilliant.

Last night the Maleny Film Society hosted a movie which was based on a book - Henry James' "What Maisie Knew" which was remarkable. Today we spent a couple of hours at a Forum listening to three talented creative non-fiction writers talk about truth in non-fiction writing and how you manage it (in a way).

Truly delightful and spell-binding.

On Friday morning (and before racing back for the haiku workshop in the afternoon), a number of friends trooped up to Cooroy to listen to my artist's talk at the A Letter A Week exhibition. We had a delightful time and I was thrilled to share my passion for these works and how the humble alphabet can be such an amazing thing.

Kim Schoenberger took some photos of the talk, and as I said to Barry when I saw them - I clearly get very animated! Thanks Kim for letting me use them here.

And so here we are, settling into Sunday night, very tired but very happy. Another great effort by a bunch of people who loves books and reading and writing and want to share that passion. Thank you team!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

Art is not a thing: It is a way. 

 Elbert Hubbard

As I came across this quote today it made me stop and think, well is it really? if so, how?

It seems to me that the notion does hold true as I discover the many ways in which art guides my life, what I do, where I go and so on.  I know that when we travel, our visits are based around visiting art related things. We do art-tourism. We don't do food-tourism or theatre-tourism, or garden-tourism or hot-rod tourism; we plan out trips around arty things and they are usually first on the list for visiting when we get there.

If we are going somewhere without art-tourism; then we pack art things to do, art books to look at, and take photographs that rarely feature a person or a building but rather an interesting element...

I guess art influences how we think about our garden and our furnishings - adding little touches here and there, making sure that things appear balanced or surprise you.

It also seems I spend a lot of time looking at arty things, reading arty things, making arty things, doodling arty things or day dreaming arty things.  Its not just a thing, it is a way for me.  It shapes a lot of my day - how I spend my time and where I choose to go and what I do.

Of course, a lot of my day is also guided by life and its necessities; but for me, art is always there as a thing to turn to when there is free time.

It's not the only way for me - family, friends, gardening, baking, reading, community, sipping coffee or wine are all wonderful elements of my life, but art somehow underpins them…

Art-making on a deserted beach in New Zealand last year.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Celebrating Books!

We are celebrating books again this weekend in Maleny and as part of the Celebration we try to do a display of sorts at the Library. The Library is open over the weekend  and is hosting several activities - lots for children - and so it's a great opportunity to show more book-arty things.

Six of our fabulous local children's authors have put a display in the foyer cabinets which shows their storyboards, props and draft illustrations for their books. It looks great (but I don't have a photo yet sorry).

This year I got the wall.  So Plan A was to write out lots of quotes on torn out book pages. I planned to glue lots of old book pages to three large panels of mat board and then write some quotes about how fabulous books are over the top. Way back here in April, I even had the plan and was quite happy it would work. I worked out the size of the panels, pulled out all the pages, worked out the layout and the quotes...

Then a week or so ago it all went to custard when it became clear I couldn't purchase mat board in the sizes that I needed, and if we did a whole bunch of weird maybe this and maybe that options to get the right size I was still going to be out of pocket by nearly $200 which just seemed mad for a two week display in the Library... and the panels could still have fallen apart and I could have stuffed up the writing which would than have meant $200 down the drain.

Plan B, Plan B, does anybody have a Plan B?

In quiet panic mode I looked around the studio and wondered what one earth I could do to take up all that space.  I saw that I had a few folded books lying around and wondered what it would be like if I folded madly and then hung more books?

Barry figured it would work so I then sat and folded during every daylight hour it seemed... a slight exaggeration, but the pressure was on! I went into town and bought metres of coloured ribbon as well, worked out how we could hang them, discovered the Library didn't have enough hanging wire and hooks so raced to our framing shop and bought some more and yesterday we hung the installation.

Big breath out.

First we had to put all the hanging hooks in place and curl up all the extra wire. The books sat on the floor.

I kind of liked them in this random dangling formation...

But I do think they probably look better in this slightly more formal arrangement.

The different coloured ribbons seemed to feel like a celebration and I love how they looked in the end...

All in all, you just do what you have to do to celebrate books!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The beat goes on...

The rhythm of printmaking that is... I am finding it interesting to observe the rhythms and repetitions of the printmaking process; discovering ways in which to simplify and streamline things, to make myself more efficient as I go along.

I spent today playing and fiddling again. In typical fashion, even tho we have to produce 10 prints each I find myself busy making more than 10 just because I keep wanting to explore, and I expect I may regret that decision when the time comes to choose.

One of the ways in which I have managed to streamline things is that I spent many hours and even days  though the week re-working and re-arranging the studio. Our friend Jeff moved his stuff from the top floor of our shed, so we have now created a gallery space up there and it looks grand. Which leaves me with the downstairs for a work area, and may I say I am revelling in that!  Barry helped me build furniture (love a flat pack) and together we heaved and moved furniture upstairs, downstairs, across to the house, from the house to the studio...and we now both have new improved work areas.

Amazing how when you clean up and clear out you find the dedicated spaces for cutting your paper, soaking your paper, blotting your paper, inking up, wiping down, drying...without any bother at all.

I'll do a studio tour and show you the new layout soon.

We spent a lovely today together today printing - Barry did the most amazing etching editions; whilst I prepared more plates, and did some double colour lino cuts, and a test-run or two on peace.

Some new plates and the left-over ink from Barry's print run...

And some proofs as I played.

I have resolved my dilemma of whether to do colour or black and white for my silhouette flowers by deciding to do 5 of each!  So here are the back colours printed - yellow for daffodils, red for poppies and blue for cornflowers.

As you can see I have left pink sticky notes to myself on all the new storage to remind me  what I have put in there! Hopefully I'll get accustomed to all the new hiding places soon.

And the silhouettes printed onto colour...

And as I said, I road-tested Payne's grey. I am intrigued by how sombre this looks; and yet somehow it seems to suit things as well. Peace isn't all flowers in the hair and happiness is it? It can be hard-won.  No idea if I'll use this yet, but it will be there to choose form.

And on another note...the Maleny Celebration of Books is on next weekend and tomorrow I set up a display in the Library, along with some great local children's authors.  So in line with the notion of celebrating books - here's a party in a box waiting to head on over!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home – they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space. There is warmth there too – a hearth. I sit down with a book and I am warm. I know that from the chilly nights on the doorstep.” 

Jeanette Winterson, from “Why be Happy When You Can be Normal”

This book is a remarkable memoir and as ever, written with honesty and passion.  Gritty is a good word, and she isn't joking about those chilly nights on the doorstep when she was locked outside.

The title is also a direct quote from her mother - and it was an honest query, when normal and average and just like everybody else was how it should be - no standing out from the crowd, no being different or drawing attention to yourself. Luckily for us, this difficult childhood produced the great writer...

But back to books... I think kindred book spirits find this sense of home in books; a feeling of being home, of wherever you are being a good place to be if you have a book with you that settles the space into a friendly, caring  and nurturing place.

I am convinced in my own weird way that having books, holding a book, reading anything changes my biochemistry and drops my blood pressure and sets me on the road to relaxation. For me it one of the best stress-reducing therapies ever.

Of course, some books are disturbing or challenging and you don't relax; but generally speaking having a book by me sets a totally different scene for me.

Which brings me to home and what it feels like and looks like...

I was working in the office this afternoon and ducked back into the dining room to grab something and the light! The western sun was sinking and streaming onto the dining table, illuminating our flowers in all their glory and decay...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Printing, printing, printing

My head is all over the shop, but I am still managing to get some arty things done as well as the bibs and bobs that are called 'life'.  Last Thursday as part of our efforts to support each other and prepare for the Maleny Printmakers exhibition, Susan and I went to Steph's studio where we focused on lino cutting and printing.

It was quite challenging to see if we could get something happening; working out how thoughts and ideas translated into images, and then how those images could be expressed through lino.

There were moments of success and moments of "darn, after all that effort..."

Still it was great as ever to sit and work together, chat, ask each other questions as we went along and keep an eye on what each other was doing and how.

It confirmed for me that printmaking can be sociable! I'm not sure there is any way I could sit doing calligraphy and chat in the same way that we do as we print.

So I wanted to try some poppies. they are almost my favourite flower and they are blooming at the moment in our garden. I love bringing them inside and smiling at them as they do their wiggly stem dance up from the vase.

One of the best learnings for me from the day was - rub your lino cut with a graphite pencil to see where you might still need to chop and cut! So simple and so brilliant!  Maybe everybody already knew this but as a novice/faux printmaker I didn't and I am most chuffed that I now know. And in the end I loved the rubbings tremendously - totally fell in love with them.

So next, a proof print (may I say, I do sooooo many proof prints!) giving me the odd clue about where I might need to go back into the lino and chop some more.

One of my ideas for the poppies was that I wanted to print the silhouette onto a red square or background of some sort.  So I inked up some red ink and a square to see how that would go...a bit rough in places but enough to give me a sense of the the thing.

And the poppies over-printed onto the red.

The question now is - poppies on red or just poppies on white? I have cornflowers and daffodils to do as well...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Letter a Week opens!

Saturday was a great day at Cooroy Butter Factory - quite a lot of folk gathered to celebrate the opening of A Letter a Week - Artistic Travels Through the Alphabet.

The exhibition has been a while in the making and our house looked very much like a Post Office over the past few months with parcels arriving and piling up. We delivered them all to Cooroy on Tuesday, and it wasn't until I walked through the door on Saturday morning and saw the exhibition in place for the first time that I really realised that we'd done it!

It was quite surreal in a way, to have lots of friends around smiling and happy to see their work together with artists from interstate and overseas. Best of all I think was seeing the works in the flesh - we have all watched their development on the blogs over the course of the past three years; but to actually see them and in some instances hold them, is an experience beyond belief.

Here area a few of the ALaW artists still there at the end - we missed Helen Irving in the shot which was sad. Elaine on the far right had travelled from Sydney with her husband Nick just to see it! L to R: Barry, Jo,Kim, moi, Christine and Elaine

Many of the works are hung; and many are displayed on plinths and a selection is available for handling and holding with gloves.  It was amazing to observe how intently people engaged with the books they could hold; how much they marvelled and how much they turned to others (often strangers) and spoke about how beautiful they were.  I was thrilled that so many people said they wanted to come back and that it would take them hours to fully explore the works.

That gives me hope for my Artist Talk on Friday 25th October.  I will be talking about the project, what I love about it and as many of the pieces as I can. I feel like the works are part of my family in a way and love to share and promote them!

If you are nearby it really is a beautiful exhibition for lovers of letters; but I think most folk will find something to enjoy. I have tried to grab a shot (not a professional one at all) of each of the overseas and interstate artist's work - at least one piece - so that they know they are here!  I think in the mad rush of it all I didn't get them all, but I will on later visits! I will be sending all the individual artists proper photos later on and also hope to make a Blurb book catalogue in the new year...fingers crossed.

I must thank all the artists for the patience and forbearance as I continued to email them and ask multiple questions and request extra information; but the end result has really been worth it. Patricia Stahl from Maleny Library also spoke beautifully about community, books, words, letters and collaboration which captured the essence of the blog and all it does.

Sue from South Africa

Laurence from France (and a snippet of Lyndell)

Linda from Sydney

 Lisa from Italy

 Lyndell from Canberra

Annik from France

Gemma from Tasmania

Julie and Anna from the US

Barry's Birds in Flight and Ken who is in France

 Marie-Helen's from France

Jeanette from Armidale and Jenny from Sydney - you are hanging on the left...

Valerie from Sydney

Terrie from the US

Deb from Adelaide

Eithna from Ireland, Meg from Sydney, and Jane from the US your work is here I promise!

And local artists - Susan, Noela, Mieke, Christine, Kim, Jo, Barry, Helen (and Eileen you're an honorary local today), you have seen or will see your work there at some point! And I know I saw mine somewhere...