Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“Because it is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions inside the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us from the way a crow flies over and the way a man walks and the look of a street and from what we did one day a dozen years ago. 
Words that will express something of the deep complexity that makes us precisely the way we are, from the momentary effect of the barometer to the force that created men distinct from trees. Something of the inaudible music that moves us along in our bodies from moment to moment like water in a river. 
Something of the spirit of the snowflake in the water of the river. Something of the duplicity and the relativity and the merely fleeting quality of all this. 
Something of the almighty importance of it and something of the utter meaninglessness. 
And when words can manage something of this, and manage it in a moment, of time, and in that same moment, make out of it all the vital signature of a human being – not of an atom, or of a geometrical diagram, or of a heap of lenses – but a human being, we call it poetry".

Ted Hughes

Thinking about books, I read this and all that is says so beautifully about words and I decided it fitted well enough to be my thought for pondering.

I think Ted Hughes has expressed so beautifully what a magical piece of writing (poetry true, but also prose I think) can do - what it takes account of; what it merges and meshes and what it produces. It's a miracle in this world I think that we are fortunate to have those that produce this kind of alchemy - that gives rise to the fullest expression of emotion and observation and lets us know we are not alone.

I have spent a lot of time with John O'Donohue's words these past few weeks - he was special. A man who could understand the deepest of emotions and express them in such achingly beautiful and meaningful ways. He meets you where you are and lets you simply be there.

"Something of the inaudible music that moves us along in our bodies from moment to moment like water in a river". 

As we finish 2015 and begin 2016 - I wish you a year of joy, of peace, of togetherness and of creative and magic moments. See you there!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“A tiny bud of a smile on your lips nourishes awareness and calms you. It returns you to the peace you had lost. A smile is the most basic kind of peace work.” 

 Thich Nhat Hanh

I have skimmed over this thought before; but it has come to hold more meaning of late.  I know for myself that if I am feeling down or cranky or even angry - if I can physically form my face into a smile that something changes.  Something changes within me and I automatically feel different. Not cured for sure, but better.

No doubt there is some chemistry stuff involved; no doubt some psychology stuff involved; and probably a tad of just who knows what involved, but I have found that in a small way, it shifts something in me.

Maybe it can also shift something in somebody else.

I think Thich Nhat Hanh is right that it returns you to the peace you had lost - those words capture beautifully for me, the fleeting re-calibration that occurs.

It is Christmas time and I wish my friends across the interweb, the world and nearby, a time of togetherness, of sharing and of peace.

Our family will be gathering but without our centre - my mum died ten days ago and we are bereft.  I try a tiny smile every now and again.

Our Christmas tree decoration this year - Barry's metal peace doves...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“I feel that art has something to do with achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm…” 

Saul Bellow

Art and stillness. I often turn to stillness in my making and my enjoyment of art. I'm not one of those people that needs my senses stimulated or over-stimulated by art; I often turn to art for quietness and stillness. For contemplation.

My making is also often meditative, taking time. There aren't many big, flamboyant body gestures with me - I am just sitting quietly, small movements, going slowly.

It would be special I think, if I could create art that felt like a prayer for folk; or the eye of the storm as we wait within it.

The end of the search for rainbows and colours has finished for the year. Jennifer and Julie kindly allowed us to choose our own colour for this month, so I chose white, and peace for stillness. Hop on over to their blogs to see what other colours folk chose...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy campers

I had the good fortune through the week of taking off for a couple of art-filled days with friends.

It is such a busy time of year, and everybody I know is running this way and that, wondering how on earth can we fit another thing in?  In a serendipitous moment a few months ago, one of us mentioned this lovely place to visit and afterwards the others thought, we should try to do that.

Months out we pencilled one night away into our diaries, hoping it would hold in amongst the madness that explodes onto the diary pages about now.

And it did.

So we packed our bags with a bit of food, plenty of water and of art supplies and not much by way of changes of clothes which was great. All very low-key and comfortable.

We spent time in a beautiful landscape, surrounded by history and stories and from generations past.

It was special.

We all sat quietly by ourselves and did what we do. Some photographed, some drew, some sketched, some painted, some rubbed, some wrote.

In amongst the hurly burly they were stolen moments of quiet, and solitude.

Such lovely reminders...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“My diaries are letters from my former self to my future self. My poems are replies to those letters.” 

Vera Pavlova, from “Heaven is Not Verbose: A Notebook,” 

As my thoughts on Thursday turn to books, I liked this quote even tho it is slightly tangential to books per se.  But diaries are books and poems too are often found in books, so here we go!

Isn't this just the most remarkable way of thinking about the role of words in a person's life?  I have never been a very good diary or journal-keeper; I seem to have done it in fits and spurts but never consistently.

But what a delight to think that the words of the past are written to the future you - for the future you to stop, read and reflect upon them.  And then, for a poet, to think that their present words are replies to those thoughts - are responses to the lessons learned, the problems never solved, the issues considered and pondered upon. Just so delightful.

No doubt this doesn't hold true for everybody; but one of the things I like most about it is that she has captured the essence of how she sees her work and her experiences and tells a beautiful, simple story of them that lets us understand and know how she goes about her work.

Almost the perfect artist statement I think!

My most recent attempt at capturing a diary/journal type document - my daily doings book. I collected all my daily to-do lists for a year and bound them into a book. It's true, that as I look back over them I reflect on who I was and what I was doing at the time - altho not quite writing notes to my future self.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Studio sharing time

At the Open Studio on the weekend, I had set up my small Adana letterpress so that people could have a little play, print a card and take it home.

I did all the preparation before they got there - I figured it would take too long for me to fiddle and faddle getting all the type and spacers and furniture together whilst folks were watching and waiting. And maybe I just had a little bit of performance anxiety given I am so totally new to the whole game.

So as they say in tv cooking shows - here's one I prepared earlier!  The chase with the type all locked in nicely.

I used that beautiful Gothic typeface that no one knows the name of, and which incidentally I managed to finish cleaning and putting in it correct case over the weekend so I am now on to my third last case of dirty old type to clean. But I digress.

I grabbed some scraps of paper and got them to the right size and people all had a play and printed themselves a sweet little card.

Loving that texture.

I chose red because of the whole Christmas time, as well as the words.  They seemed to go together well with the typeface, and it was lovely getting folk to create a little bit of peace on earth whilst they were with us.

I enjoyed the different light play as I tried to photograph some of them afterwards.

I didn't get to photograph any of the action - but here are the only three I had left after we finished.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Open Studio time

Well, here we are on Sunday afternoon, tired and happy. A good combination!

We had a wonderful weekend with the Studio open for drinks and nibbles on Friday evening, and then all day again on Saturday.

The week leading up to an Open Studio is often full of cleaning - more so than ever for me this year as the studio space was like an archaeological dig - layers and layers and layers of stuff that I had placed one on top of the other as I went along getting all the work done for the exhibition at Noosa. It felt all consuming, and I rarely had time to catch my breath and clean up totally - it always seemed to be just putting away enough stuff to clear a space for me to do the next thing.

So last week was the week - the moment of truth and more.

I must confess that I actually relish the Open Studio time as it gives us a real chance to get stuck in, clean, sort and organise and then enjoy people's company and sharing our work.

So, one of the funniest things was we ended up water-blasting (or gurneying as I call it) the concrete carport and outside areas, and then couldn't stop and went and cleaned the top of the concrete water tank that supplies the shed-studio. I am not sure it had ever been done before; we certainly haven't done it in the 10 years we've been here...

We were almost finished when I couldn't help myself and let loose with some writing...

Amazing how effective the cleaning is - the before and after are stark. In fact you almost need your sunglasses to gaze upon that tank-top these days; it's sooooo dazzling!

Here is where we got to setting up the downstairs areas with our work...

Barry's jewellery was all 20% off and looked sumptuous.

He made lots of sales which was great.

I had some books and some prints..

Only one of these prints is still here.

This image shows how I simply moved everything off my working desks onto this desk for the duration - pens, scissors, pencils, glues, papers, candles...the lot!

Friday night was a hoot - lots of folk and lots of fun and the odd little bit of buying frenzy and people seemed to enjoy getting together and having a glass of wine or bubbles to celebrate the end of the year.

Saturday was more settled - but lots of folk still visited and many of them stayed for a few hours so we were busy chatting and demonstrating and sharing the block with people all day.

Today, the shed-studio looks like this.

Slightly transformed, but by no means complete - the next little while will be all about resettling into the space.

And this was an accidental shot as I was tidying up beforehand - but I just loved the light on the threads...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.” 

 Thomas Merton

It's kind of funny to choose this quote at this time of year - it has been hot and pretty dry for a while; the odd storm has gone by, but we wait for the summer rains. Perhaps when the summer rains come I will need to be reminded of the beauty of them - sometimes they overstay their visit!

Still I have always loved the words of Thomas Merton and can understand this homage to the rain; to the gentle conversation it creates. When the rains come I often lie in bed and feel they truly tell me I am home - this place on the mountain with a metal roof. The sound of a rain on a metal reef is very comforting.

It often reminds me of a heartbeat, the regularity, the thrum, the rhythm - whatever it is, it feels like I am home when I hear it, and that all is well with the world.

I shall try to remember if the rain sets in over summer - that as long as it talks, I am going to listen.

Looking across to the shed/studio during a downpour. Must have been a late winter one as the frangipanis are still bare. I do like their coral-like form over winter...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

White wall tyres

My music memories are well and truly in the 80s and hence the title of this post - remember Billy Joel anyone? Smile.

The past few days have been well and truly spent in preparations  for the Open Studio on Friday evening and Saturday - lots of cleaning, tidying, washing, removing of cobwebs etc etc so the studio shed should veritably sparkle!  Hence not a real art-focus blog post today.

Nonetheless I think these are beautifully artistic images.  A few weeks back Barry and I had to go to a warehouse to collect some new furniture for our guest area.  Whilst waiting, waiting, waiting at the loading dock these marks caught my eye.

They are literally the tyre marks from all the big trucks that reverse into the dock to collect items to transport them hither and yon.

I loved what they did to the white wall!  So a different type of white wall tyre thing going on, but a pretty gorgeous one I thought.

They almost look like wonderful watercolour paintings don't they?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Open Studio and Pas de Deux closing

Next weekend will be a big weekend - Barry and I are opening our studio 601mvr on Friday night and Saturday; and on Sunday Pas de Deux, Susan Bowers and my beautiful exhibition at Noosa Regional Gallery, will close.

They both feel momentous in a  way.

On Friday night (4 December) from 5pm - 7pm the studio will be open, and we will have wine and nibbles to share and celebrate. To celebrate art, to celebrate the closing of the year, and to share and celebrate life with friends.

We will be open again on Saturday (5 December) from 10am - 4pm.

We hope it will be a fun time - and also give folk an opportunity or two to buy some gifts for themselves or others.

Barry has been busy making jewellery (20% off!), bowls and ladles and I have been helping him with packaging - making lots of small page pouches for his earrings to be packed in when they are sold.

I have also been doing the labels for the ladles...

I have been making some small journals of my own, some watercolour-cover ones as well as these small timber covered ones; that are actually more like group cards.   You know when you go to buy people a really nice big card so that everyone attending can sign - or as as a reminder of everybody who was at an event?  This one has "congratulations" all along the bottom.

I will also have some smaller versions of my nurture books on sale - called "Nesting" they are smaller, and less detailed but still with the main elements of nests, feathers and calligraphy.

The closing of Pas de Deux on Sunday is also a moment of note. It has been a wonderful, wonderful opportunity. I have learned so much and we have both had remarkable feedback. Many people have been two or three times; taking people to see it, wanting to share it.  It has felt very much like a coming of age or graduation for me - to see my work hanging in such beautiful space, being enjoyed and admired. Very moving.

As it says here, you have until 6 December 2015 to see it! Thanks to all who have attended, told others about it, told me how it makes them feel and written their thoughts in the book. What a precious precious memory.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.” 
Emile Zola

I'm pondering art this week and this quote is a nice one which reminds us that our art is really a combination of things.

I like that there is a gift involved - whatever that may be, the talent each individual has been gifted is unique. Artists need these talents and gifts to create; but just the gift often isn't enough. The gift needs us to work; to practice, to learn; to perfect.  The gift needs the skill developed over time and under different circumstances.

he gift is of no value if it isn't used. If time isn't spent with it, using it and developing it.

I think there may be a very few folk , very very few, for whom the gift doesn't need work - for whom it just appears and delivers.

I think the working, the refining, and the challenging are all necessary and valuable, and I think that possibly if we do these things over time, then the gift can deliver work for us quite effortlessly. But we know we have done the work that makes that seem possible.

Evidence of the work that lies behind the finished, etched product...and of course, before that there are the years of calligraphy practice and learning...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Beyond bombs and burning...

I posted my three books for the Al-Mutanabbi St project off to the UK today.

Here is what I said about them:

This book reminds us that even when books are burned, the ideas and thoughts within them survive. They are absorbed into people’s minds; they are shared between friends; and they become even more powerful. In this book, burned pages are held within light timber covers, which can be read as a sacred object or as a book. 

The quotes used are: 
Every burned book enlightens the world (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 
The paper burns but the words fly away (Akiba Ben Joseph) 
Books cannot be killed by fire (Franklin D Roosevelt)

I had thought I would do a concertina book; but couldn't find an elegant or meaningful solution. Then I thought I might wrap the pages and bind them somehow, but I couldn't find a good way to do that either. I started to see in my mind's eye the bifold doors of an icon - the back panel with two side panels, and thought that might work with my three pages.

And so it was.

Standing, the first glimpses.

Fully open, standing.

Fully open, lying flat like a book.

We bought the beautiful small hinges in Prague last year - with the notion of using them on books well and truly in my mind. This then led to the trick about how to attach them to covered grey board covers, and so I turned to wood. But not wood that might cause customs problems in differing countries where they travel; rather balsa wood which is light, clean and crosses borders well. It is also  bit delicate, and will bear the marks of being handled.

The pages in more detail.

The three books together.

I have made an edition of 5 and I will keep one book for myself and the other will be available for sale at some point. I wish them safe travels.