Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From the collection - Tide Marks

As mentioned, it is a time of travel, so I don't have much new work to show and share just yet.  So it's back to the collection and another beautiful book.

This one is called Tide Marks #3 and is by Alice Fox.

As a fan of rust and soft and gentle marks, I was slightly bewitched when I saw this book online and am forever grateful I managed to get myself organised and purchase it.

For me,  it is so often about the words, and I love that she has included words in these soft and drifty pages.

It has a lovely soft olive-grey book cloth cover and is a concertina style book - slowly unravelling and unfurling to show the long tide-line and its marks.

I love the columns of blurred words and the rusty and faded marks. Words that are there, but not there...

And the hand-stitching that feels like the trails of small aquatic visitors who have wandered along the wet and shiny sand as the waves retreat.

The rusty forms that almost become organic with their soft blurred edges.

And then not. A remnant, a reminder that people have passed this way as well.

There is a lovely sense of continuity with this book - it gently runs together and tells its tale and I feel calmed just looking upon it. I am walking slowly at the turn of the tide, head down, examining the minutiae and the magic that is on show at my feet, appearing and disappearing, receding and renewing...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A time for poppies

Barry and I have been on the road a bit lately and after a day or two at home have headed off again.  So my posts are a bit random and my comments few and far between for which I apologise.

Last week we were work-working in Canberra and Melbourne, then home again briefly, and now we are in Central Australia. Hopefully I will have some magnificent desert photos to share soon.

But a bit of a feature of our recent days has been poppies.  Partly because we have artists' books in another exhibition "Of War and Peace" at Caloundra Regional Gallery, and partly because we visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and partly because we are leading up to ANZAC Day here (25 April) and for Australians, it is the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli in 1915.

So I'll share some poppies from  our travels and our visits.

Firstly at Caloundra Regional Gallery, there is a poppy installation, and for a gold coin donation you can attach a ceramic poppy by Jan Roebuck to the wall and be part of this beautiful work of art.

"My" poppy...

"Barry's" poppy... at the top.

As a quick aside, here are two photos of my book "The Nurses 2" in the show, taken by Judy Barrass - thank you Judy for sharing them!

In Canberra, we paid tribute to my gr-grandfather and his brother who fought and died in WW1. It was poignant again as we had visited their graves and burial places in Belgium and France when we there in November last year.

My great-grandfather William Mason Proudfoot on the Roll of Honour.

His brother Robert George Henderson Proudfoot.

One of the walls of the Roll of Honour...

And here they are recognised on the other side of the world.

William 's name is on the Menin Gate in Ieper along with the names of 500,00 allied troops for whom there is no known grave. It struck me I was wearing the engagement ring he gave my great grandmother Isabella. They were married for 3 months before he went into barracks and then left for the war. My grandmother was born 11 months after their wedding, and William never saw his daughter; and she never knew her father.

We visited Robert's grave in northern France and left a poppy and a peace tag.

And we found poppies and peace at the "Pieces for Peace" exhibition in Ieper.

So many poppies, so many dead, and still we go to war...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn.” 

 Louis Adamic

I enjoy the process of my Thursday Thoughts - the regularity of it, the time spent scanning words to ponder, and the surprise and delight when I choose a quote I had no real intention of landing on whatsoever! This is one of those days.

I was thinking about life, but I certainly wasn't pondering thorns or honey or bees... but this was such a lovely pithy quote. And it made me nod my head.

I just loved the imagery of trying to lick honey - such beauty, such reward, such nourishment, such sweetness - off a thorn - so sharp, so pointy, so scratchy, so piercing...

Having seen the image in my head, I went straight to imagining the experience of it and the tentative way in which you would approach the task.

I'm not sure I think that life should always be approached tentatively - my fear is that you might miss moments of magic that only appear when you are bold - but I think it kind of captures the balance between reward and risk pretty well.

You know the danger is worth it, the reward will be great, but you know not to just dive right in oblivious and blind to the side bits that go with it. You know you need to take account of the piercing nature of the thorn; but it doesn't deter you; you simply find a way to achieve your goal whilst negotiating obstacles.

I could go on and on about how well I think these few words and this imagery and imaginary experience work for me on all sorts of levels, but I'll let your imagination join in instead!

And you'll need it here with a poppy, not a rose. No thorns but fabulous bees working to make honey!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From the collection - Learning Absences

I have been thinking it would be nice to share some of the beautiful artists' books I have collected over the years - both those I have swapped and those I have purchased. So I think I shall begin an occasional series of posts called "From the collection..."

I am kicking off with my most recent acquisition "Learning Absences" made by Caren Florance (Ampersand Duck), based on the poem by Rosemary Dobson, as part of BookArtObject.

This serendipitous exchange came about when we met face to face for the first time in New Zealand at the ABCNZ Conference late last year. Caren mentioned how she often references my wee book "A Subversive Stitch" when she teaches and mentioned that if I had any left, she'd love one.

On return, I hunted one down and popped it in the post and then got to choose one of her books in exchange.  I love this book and was absolutely thrilled when Caren found a spare in the edition as she looked in the nooks and crannies of her studio.

As part of BAO each participating artist made an edition of books in response to this poem.  A poem about learning how to live without someone when they die.

To the book.

Black book cloth cover with hand stitching - the lovely combination of inky black and deep indigo, matched with highlights of cobalt(?), continues throughout in different ways.

The cover page.  The pages are mono print images on Kozo light paper, with letterpress hand set in 10pt Sabon.

Sublimely elegant.

The light as air pages are folded at the fore-edge, which is sensible given their fragility.

I love how Caren responded to the words...the marks and the images.

 Of course I haven't shown the whole book here, but it is a thing of beauty.

And this is the way Caren did her colophon at the back of the book - elegant yet again.

Thank you Caren for sharing this book with me; it is a treasure and I am so proud to own it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rural Journal

I realised I hadn't actually written much or shown much of this final piece - I got swept up in packing and sending it to Cairns for the 4by4 exhibition there.

Speaking of which, here is the display of artists' book currently on show at the Cairns Regional Gallery - what a visual delight for visitors!
Credit: Michael Marzik
We were asked to consider the book as sculptural object, so the books I sent had to not need their pages turned. This piece evolved over a period of time and ended up being a combination of many things - paper, asemic writing, wax, rust, wire...

I used rusted paper for covers and rusted fabric for a wrap.

It can be displayed in lots of combinations and permutations

And can be read in many ways.

I love the honouring of the old and worn.

Matching masculine and feminine - the machinery bits and stitching.

The final decision around how to pull the pages together was answered by some rusty wire I found. It doesn't make for easy opening or resistance-free turning or folding; but it does make it feel like a story of binding things together with whatever you can find - memories of old farms and yards and the stories they tell.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

"Once I’d started my art journey I was in it with a vengeance. I needed it so badly. At last life was full of possibilities". 

Rosalie Gascoigne

This week, Thursday Thoughts turn to art again and here I am back with Rosalie.

I have been pondering this life we live, the joy it brings to have a rich and varied life - living in a place of great natural beauty; working our garden and harvesting produce; making jams and jellies and pesto and chutney from the fruits and vegetables and herbs of our block. Taking the time for family and for friends.  And for art.

I came late to art as a companion to my life - I was so many other things before I was an artist, and like Rosalie, now that I am here, I live a life of art with a passion and a force I never knew lay within.
It fills me up. It calms me. It inspires me and takes away my breath. It amuses me. It gives me joy. It just gives and gives and gives.

I pinch myself often and I recall the life I used to live and how I scraped to catch a glimpse of art in the course of a week; to the life I live now where art is at the heart of what I do and how I do it. And I am filled with gratitude.

I spoke to a young woman at an opening the other night, she studies art at school but doesn't know what she'll do. I just said it doesn't matter. Having art in your life is a wonderful thing and it helps shape your world, no matter what you do with it.

My life is a life of art now and I am pursuing it with passion!

Rosalie Gascoigne - Summer Swarm
It's time to search for the Rainbow again - this month it's yellow. Join Jennifer and Julie as they showcase yellow and share yellow from around the world...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The end of an obsession

Well, it all started a few weeks back when Susan and I visited the State Library and caught up with a bunch of book artists.  We all had lunch together, but just before we sat down we visited the magnificent book and gift shop.  And I bought a book of Japanese clothes patterns.

A friend had given me some money for my birthday last year and told me to spend it on something special; it took me a while but I knew this was it!  I was excited because I had looked at these patterns online before; but the instructions were all in Japanese which really scared me. Here it was with English instructions, and the exact price of my birthday money, so it was clearly meant to be!

This is the piece I finished today.  It has quite a funny story in that it will be the very first item in my wardrobe that is about Mother-Daughter wear.  I made my first one of these, a few weeks ago full of excitement and thrill; only to discover that it was too big for me. It looked beautiful and draped well and I didn't want to go thru all the fuss of re-sizing it, so I gave it to my mum. Who is tall and elegant and looked just great in it.

But I really wanted one for me - so I bought the same fabric, same colour and now I have my own; and this time it fits. It still needs a little bit of hand stitching to tidy a few things up.

The other piece I was finishing today was this skirt - scrimped out of some fabric I had bought to make a Japanese apron to wear in the studio - but I really have enough aprons, so I thought why not a skirt.  I am still hemming it by hand and finishing the waistband.

In between I made this soft and flowy top, and I enjoy the way it lets the air move around - important in summer here.

And of course my own first piece (after the failed tunic) was this cute top from Jennifer's rusted fabric.

I am no seamstress and have to make mistakes, unpick them, sew again, trim down seams etc etc; I am not a natural, but I have enjoyed the challenge and the time to think my way through the adjustments I need. And then laughing at myself when I have failed to consider one other thing and the waistband is now way too big for example.

I feel as if I have been just a tad obsessed for the last fortnight and now need to just stop - go cold turkey for a bit - and get on with other things...

But isn't obsession fun for a while?!?!?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Still playing with pencils

I was fortunate on Friday to have Helen Irving from the Buderim Calligraphy group drive up to spend some time with me (and with Helen V from Buderim), showing me a few more tips for pencils.  Helen does the most exquisite pencil work and has  such a gentle, light control - you can hardly imagine a person could do what she does.

We had a fun few hours with her showing me lots of extra things to do and think bout; and shared coffee, cake and lunch which was grand.

Here are my practice pieces - you can see how rough and ready they are; but it was all about testing and learning techniques, so here goes.

This bit has powdered graphite, liquid graphite, HB pencils and erasers all muddled together to test things out.

 I wondered about embossing - more powdered graphite, HB and erasers - love the polka dots!

Powdered graphite, erasers and liquid graphite

Powdered graphite and HB pencil

Liquid graphite

So you can see why they are called "roughs"!

These are from the week before - where I was testing printing fabric to see if it made a good background for a larger work; it didn't so I just chopped it up and made cards instead!

But just to delight you at the end - here are some of the pieces by Helen I am lucky to have received...
Whenever I teach at Buderim, Helen does the thank you card - how lucky am I?

The details are amazing...

 Big sigh.

 And I better go get practising I think!