Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“Children don’t read ‘genres’; they read stories. Below a certain age, they don’t distinguish between ‘true’ and ‘not true,’ because they see no reason that a white rabbit shouldn’t possess a pocket watch, that whales shouldn’t talk, or that sentient beings shouldn’t live on other planets and travel in spaceships. Science-fiction tropes aren’t read as ‘science fiction’; they’re read as fiction. And fiction is read as reality. And sometimes reality lives under the bed and has very large teeth, and it’s no use pretending otherwise.” 

 Margaret Atwood, The New Yorker, June 4 & 11, 2012

I love how Margaret Atwood gets inside the mind of a child reader - or listener - and totally gets that there is no real way to differentiate between fiction and reality at times; and that truly things with large teeth may very well live under the bed!

Sometimes thinking like a child offers so much more. We get to be open to the wonder of the world and through books, we get to ask "why not?" when other people's imaginations have taken us on a journey somewhere.

Writing for children is a very special thing - sparking their imagination, helping them see different worlds and ways of being.

I recently sat on the floor to read to a child about 2 years old, whilst her mum was busy getting an exhibition ready. She selected which book she wanted me to read - and I was set, until I realised the whole thing was written in Turkish! Eek. My Turkish is totally, non-existent, but the fun was that the illustrations were so good, together we could make up a pretty good story about what was going on.

Both our imaginations went for a wander, and it made perfect sense that a witch was flying around on a broomstick and landing in gardens looking for her hat, collecting cats and dogs and taking them for a ride on her broom.

Here is the book (in English!)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ropes and knots

When we were on Heron Island recently  I became a bit besotted with rope and knots. You know how you begin to think about something and then begin to see it everywhere? It was like that with the ropes - gradually my eyes became adjusted to them, and suddenly I saw them everywhere!

Being a maritime location and all, there are lots of ropes around - mostly for tying up boats - and I guess for other purposes as well.

There is something lovely about the way a rope lies; and the knots that folk make with them.

Ropes on the wharf...

 Ropes on concrete…

 Ropes on posts…

 Back to the wharf...

And such a lovely drape...

I'm not sure how they might influence my work or inspire my work; but I just like the look of them!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A good weekend

Barry and I sit here, weary but happy. We opened our studio over the weekend and had a delightful time. We made some sales which is wonderful, but best of all, because we had fewer people through than at some other events, we were able to spend chunks of time with people and talk more and explore more with them. We sat and drank coffee together, munched biscuits together and talked some more!

Yesterday was a steady flow and we go to each lunch around 3pm; today was slower and gentler but there were a few gaps when we were alone and so I was able to progress some work that had been sitting on my project table for several months.

Back in April, Lesley had suggested a Spring (Northern hemisphere) print exchange and seven of us joined in, made prints and sent them to each other. I was the only one from down under and I was thrilled to join in with my UK counterparts - you have to love the interweb.

I really liked all the prints I received but had been pondering what to do with them.

Today I made a start, and a finish. An unexpected finish, but a finish nonetheless which feels great given that we are heading off at the end of the week and this feels like I have tied off a loose thread.

Here are the prints scattered on my desk.

Some of the prints before I began.

Jac Balmer
Lesley Crawley
Jane Housham

Gina Ferrari

I had one idea, and then headed off on another - deciding to cut them all down to a square 18cm x 18cm and embossing a 20cm x 20cm square onto Hannehmule Bamboo paper (265gsm)

I like the way this kind of frames them.


Anna Pye

But also, I like the way the wee indentation means that they sit flush with or slightly below the surface of the paper and therefore don't really rub onto the page in front (if that makes sense).

John Bond
I had planned to bind them into book and was intermittently looking at binding options, considering a post binding a single page binding, a perfect binding…and then a little voice said "they're an unbound book". And so they are.

So I found some nice textured paper, folded it in half, created a pouch for them and tied them all up with  a bow. Love it!

So a pretty great weekend really - lots of catch ups, lots of chatting about art and a completed project! What's not to love?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

“To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.” 

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Sui Kyi is a remarkable woman - who has borne much with immense grace.

As I grow older it becomes clearer to me that here are certain human characteristics or qualities that I admire and love in people.  One of the things I love most is generosity - generosity of spirit, a willingness to share and to give, to not expect things in return, to not hold back for no good reason; to be open to giving.

Another trait I truly value is kindness - when I see kindness in others I feel so much better. When people are kind, they take time to listen, to understand somebody's needs, to try and get themselves out of the way of the conversation so that they can be present for the other person. Kindness manifests itself in so many other ways - and is often quiet and unbidden. But I think those who receive it, notice it and are grateful.

In the olden days of high-pressure and highly stressed workplaces, if somebody took the time to be kind to me in the smallest way, it would often overwhelm me. Kindness reaches out and touches people.

Detail on a sculpture, Reconcilation Place, Canberra.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Open Studio time again

It doesn't seem that long since the last time we opened the studio - but that was back in July, so I guess it is!

This is our last hurrah for the art year and we are looking forward to sharing the new gallery space upstairs in the shed.

I mentioned we had set up downstairs for work and upstairs for show and here is what the upstairs looks like a bit…not the best light and photographs but you get the idea.

As you head up the stairs you go past some of my scarves, including my new favourite rusty nails and green tea..

At the landing there is a small display of both of our work.

Turn around and look up and there is the gallery space.

Some of Barry's treasures…

A wall of shared pieces

And some of my goodies in glass cabinets.

Here's a peek at some of what I've been up to this week in preparation.

We are open Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 November 2013, from 10am - 4pm each day. Coffee and tea will be on hand as well as some biscuits to keep your energy up and we look forward to catching up with as many folks as we can.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The beginnings of a new dance

Our collaborative books have been a bit quieter this year for Susan and I - travel, illness and other things have meant there has been less time for them; and less time for us to spend together developing them. For both of us, the books are special and we always want to be able to give them our best; rather than agree to do one and rush through it and feel as if it is half-baked or less than it should be.

But the timing is right for us to begin again, and this time we decided to collaborate such that we both begin with exactly the same content, and then what we do with that content is up to us. It's a bit like the reverse of our earlier envelope book where we had exactly the same structure (the envelopes) yet the content within was unique.

We did a micro-cheat in a way, by agreeing that whatever prints we prepared for the Printmakers' exhibition would form the content. Susan chose nine of mine and I chose nine of hers and so we had made a start without having to do any additional work.

We got together last Wednesday to try and work through what we each planned to do. I was very much in the planning stage only at that point and yet only a short time after sitting down together, I felt as if I had direction and could begin.

Neither of us created our own prints with this sort of end in mind, let alone a sense of what might work harmoniously as an artists' book if we joined them together, so there is challenge for each of us in making a coherent and sensitive story out of them. Susan has chosen to work along a dream theme, whereas I had started out by trying to pair the prints up and see which ones spoke to each other, and could begin a conversation.

 So here a couple I thought might chat to each other…

I had in mind that I wanted them to peep out from behind a frame in the page kind of thing, so played about a bit with how that might look.

And then worked up the courage to cut them.  But only mine! I couldn't bring myself to chop into Susan's just yet, so headed off to lunch with only mine snipped.

After lunch I was fortified and strong enough to cut into Susan's as well.

And played around with windows a bit more.

I am still working on the conversation part - how will they talk with each other? What will I do to stop them just looking like a photo album? I have worked out there will be words, and somehow the words must link the pages, and there probably needs to be another element to tie the pages together as well altho I'm not yet sure what that will be nor what it will look like.

Still the conversation has begun and we are underway!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...

"To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have. Art work is ordinary work, but it takes courage to embrace that work, and wisdom to mediate the interplay of art and fear. Sometimes to see your work's rightful place you have to walk to the edge of the precipice and search the deep chasms. You have to see that the universe is not formless and dark throughout, but awaits simply the revealing light of your own mind. Your art does not arrive miraculously from the darkness, but is made uneventfully in the light". 

David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art & Fear

"The only voice you need is the voice you already have".

A reminder to me sometimes that I just need to stop and listen to myself, to understand that my voice, which may not be a commercial, successful or marketable voice, is the voice I need to use to make my art.  

Which is different to the voice that sits on your shoulder and gives you a hard time about things - like who do you think you are, and what do you think you are doing?

In different ways and in different places, you come across the idea that your voice or your making is precious and special because nobody else in the whole entire world is going to make what you make, in the way that you make it, with the dreams you have dreamt of it, with what you bring to it, with the spirit you imbue in it and the experiences that have wrought it. Nobody else can make your work and that is the gift you bring to the world.

And as the boys say, that can take courage - to do what you are here to do, and not what others who have gone before or who walk along side, have done or are doing.  In the end, I think I just have to make what I make and do what I do - I have to listen to the voice that is mine, that sees and interprets the world and issues and ideas in this one peculiar way. To do otherwise would not be true.

A quirky little piece from years ago that still makes me smile - called Write me a rainbow...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Exhibition action

Having been pretty busy for the last little while, it seems the action continues!

COMA is holding another one of it's member exhibitions, which Ken is co-ordinating for us from Barcelona!  Is there no end to his talents? The theme this time is 'Wake up a memory…' The show is being held at the Tree Frog Gallery, 926 Montville Rd, Maleny from 21 November 2013 to 15 January 2014.  The gallery is closed Monday and Tuesday.

Given I have been up to my ear-balls with printmaking of late, I chose to continue along with that approach and prepared a larger piece.

Called Memories of Travel,  it seems to me that memories are often faint and blurred and merge over time… This piece draws upon recent visits to Japan and brings together the sense I have of several lasting images. In Hiroshima, the memorial posts. In Tatebayashi, a skilled printmaker using multiple plates in a beautiful and ordered manner. The red chop that is used to sign work. Calligraphic marks that are beautiful, yet without direct meaning for me. They merge and create a new memory.

It was quite a challenge for me to organise and register 8 plates, but I'm pretty happy with the overall outcome.

After a few trials and my ever-constant "notes to self"..

I made a few changes, and then more notes (and some changes back!)

Until we got something.

With some lovely details.

Secondly, the wonderful Laura of 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR is hosting the Eco-Editions exhibition where my wee book "We have bee-n warned" will be on show. In case you're in the area...

Here's a link to the catalogue with lots of wonderful books. And just between you and me - we're going to be there for the Artists Reception! I'm way excited about that!