Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“The end of art is peace.” 

Seamus Heaney

Towards the end of a difficult week in world matters and in some folks' lives, it was hard to choose a quote about art, but this one is salve for my soul...

I know that not all art produces peace as sometimes its goal is to disrupt, to stir, to agitate, to say out loud awful truths that cannot otherwise be spoken, to shame and to shock us into action.

But a lot of the art that attracts me, that I enjoy, and that I seek out is peaceful. Is quiet. Stirs something within me. Settles me. Allows me to believe in beauty and wonder and hope for the future.

And perhaps even at the end of that disruptive art and challenging art lies peace. If as a result of its message, action is taken to redress social wrongs, then perhaps it too can lead to peace over time.

I would love to think that art is a way toward peace. That at the end of art lies peace.

As I think about my own work; much of it seeks to remind of us quiet and solitude and peace; and yet some also wants to draw attention to social issues. My hope for that work is that we can resolve those issues and create a better world.

I doubt world peace will appear out of  a single artists' book I make, but it helps to think that collectively we are making art that carries peace and hope within it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Type Type Type

In between all the other bits and pieces that keep you busy with your life, I have been exploring my connection to type and letterpress.

Towards the end of last year I became the very excited owner of an 1890 Lightning Jobber press.  What a great beginning that was, and I was able to play with the ad-hoc wood type I had collected and some small pieces of lead type I had gathered.

I promised myself to try and build up my world of type and after visiting Caren (Ampersand Duck) in Canberra  I knew I had to purchase some type.  I have spent the past few months investigating where and how to buy type and am now in the midst of orders - waiting for some type to be cast and sent to me. More excitement!

In the interim, I found a few bits and pieces on the internet - very tiny 10pt Gill and a larger 36 pt Gill  Italic Caps. And so it begins.

Working in Melbourne a month or so ago, we had an afternoon off and went for a wander in Fitzroy and came across Used Pty Ltd and what was in the window, but this 1890s type case drawer. It made the perfect birthday gift, and last week was delivered to the studio here on the mountain. I love how it matches the era of the Press - altho the Press was made in New York and the Drawers in Bombay, India.

So clearly, now the only option is to fill those type cases!

I love the two display cases on top as well - a bit like lower case and upper case.

Slowly, gradually I am building up  my knowledge and understanding, and my equipment.

I also recently took receipt of two great Typeface compendiums which will let me flick through and compare different typefaces and their sizes and help me when I next need to order some.

Its a wonderful beginning and I just need some type and some time to focus and see what I can produce.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Today is ANZAC Day - a day when we stop and remember all those  who have fought and died in wars.  It is a sad and sombre day for most of us.  It is a quiet day for us, full of reflection and introspection.

Barry and Susan and Helen and I all have artists' books based on World War I in exhibitions at both the Caloundra Regional Gallery and Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland at the moment.

Through the week, we were sent a short video that was made from a series of vox-pop interviews at the opening of the Caloundra Exhibition. It appears on ABC Open, and captures us talking about the thoughts behind our books...

If you've ever wondered what we sound like when we talk, and not just when we write - this is how it goes...

You can find the video here

Here are some images from my books at the Redland Art Gallery in Cleveland as well. We attended an Artists' talk yesterday that Helen Malone gave on the books in the Personal Histories exhibition that were focused on World War 1. It was a beautiful session with Helen giving thoughtful insights into her reading of our our books, and showing us all things we didn't know were there...very special.

No Return...

The Nurses...


And here are my wee books in the main exhibition - A Life of Words...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“…she made her home in between the pages of books.” 

 Maggie Stiefvater

The word home is such an important and evocative one.  It asks us all sorts of questions, to which the answers no doubt change over the course of our life.  Where is home? Where do you call home? Where do you feel most at home? What makes a place home?  So many ways of pondering and thinking about the notion of home.

When I think about where I feel most at home or what suggests the sense of home to me, there are a few answers; but one of them is most definitely books.  With me, beside me, in my hand and reading them.

Books offer a real sense of security and contentment, they are fulfilling and friendly and allow me to be myself. All good aspects of home.

Today is UNESCO World Book Day so it's great that Thursday Thoughts turned to books this week! It is three years today since Susan and I began our collaborative books, and we met again today to talk books, prepare for our exhibition and reflect on the magic that the project has been.

We will be exhibiting our collaborative books and other individual works at Noosa Regional Gallery in October - November this year. More details will be available soon!

The pages within my collaborative book in this pair, always feel like home - it talks about conversations I have with people I love and care about.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Playing around

This is one of those posts where you realise how besotted I can become with some pieces and imagery of them.  Often they aren't great masterpiece-type pieces; and that is definitley the case with this one.

I had a strip of paper left over from something else.

I thought I'd like to use Barry's metal letter stamps to stamp into it, over and over and over again, repeating the phrase in my head - too many poppies too many deaths.

And once again paint my poppies on the other side, with a view to displaying it somehow.

I ended up coiling it, tying it with string and then pulling up a couple of the inner coils...

And I liked it from this angle, and from that!

Looking inside...

Looking elegant and all white.

Lying down

And from the side...

Besotted I was, with a little bit of whimsy...

I only had the iPhone with me in the studio so am probably not doing the poor thing justice; but it is a delightful piece in its own wee way.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Under Construction

In more ways than one.

I have been pondering some artworks around nests again; thinking about the fragments which birds collect and gather and then use to weave their beautiful homes.  How to represent that and how to keep it all together.

So these thoughts are very much 'under construction' which is also the working title I have given the works in my head.

I hope agains hope that I can somehow pull it together into a coherent story; but for now I am just moving things around on the tables, making this go with that and seeing if something jumps out at me.

I have lots of thoughts, lots of prints and somehow need to make it all coalesce into something lovely.

Looking at different colour schemes, different materials and textures. Thinking about wall works and book works.

Inadvertent images from printing torn tissue paper - the gaps where the words bled through and the scratchy marks. I like them, but can I use them? And even the scrap brown paper I was using to protect the press suddenly looks beautiful and interesting as well!

Do things look better upside down?

Some very soft backgrounds instead.

All possibilities and all wonderful fun, but it's down to the serious business of making it work now!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

"Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” 


The thought that there is some sort of balance within life is always a comforting thought for me.  This idea can be represented in so many different ways - the turning of the seasons; the fact that night will follow day; and I am sure there are oh so many more.

But I like this one about trees too. Partly because I am always in awe of the root system a tree has; and I love the proportions of it all, how what we see above the surface is so perfectly balanced and counterweighted by what lies below. It's just the loveliest notion.  And when I think to apply it to life, it helps. It helps to be reminded that for the tough times, there may be equally good times; and that for the joy, that there will be some sadness.

I like my life when things are in balance. When life feels a like a strongly rooted tree, reaching into the shiny sky and welcoming the day.

It's that time again when Jennifer and Julie are searching for the rainbow, and this month we're up to green. Pop on over to see what other greens folk have discovered and join in the fun.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The red centre II

We had travelled to central Australia so that I could see Uluru - and yet it took me some days to really make my way towards it.  We were really fortunate that our room had a view, so I could look out at any point in the day and watch what was happening.

We did some sunset and sunrise viewings, but it wasn't until day three that we actually drove all the way there to visit and walk around it.

This was in part because it it is so majestic. So imposing. Even from miles away you could feel its presence and its energy. To be truthful I was fairly in awe of it and needed to be ready to visit.

I had no idea I would feel like that.

One of the reasons folk visit the centre is to watch the fabulous change of light on Uluru and Kata Tjuta. There are special viewing places set aside for visitors to gather to watch the sun work its magic on the rock face.

This was our first sunset.

You get a slight sense of scale from the first picture to the second. If you look closely at the bottom left of Uluru in the first picture you can make out a few boulders. I have zoooooomed in on them in the second and you can see how big they are, and Uluru is, compared to fully grown trees!

And our first sunrise.

The sun was burning up the sky here - the grasses seem alight.

My special present was a helicopter ride, a chance to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta from the air.
Isn't this the most beautiful calligraphic line?

Circling around...

 Sunset from where we had dinner under the stars.

And then as I mentioned, on day three we went for a walk - it is about 10.5km around the base of Uluru and it was fairly warm even in the morning (about 33 degrees) but it was magic.

I found this heart in the rock.

The amazing formation, with Kata Tjuta to the right - 60km away.

Along the way, Barry took this, almost my favourite photo of me ever!

This was the most precious waterhole.

Turn your head upwards at the waterhole and this is the view. Stunning!

What most amazed me was the fact that having been somewhat wary of the powerful energy of Uluru, feeling as if it were warrior-like in the landscape, strong and immoveable, when we walked around it my sense of it was utterly transformed.  The energy shifted to show what a place of care and nurturing it had been for millennia; how often it had sheltered people, and provided for them. I was immensely moved.

Another sunset - this time with moonrise.

and a little while later...

 Sunrise on our last morning.

And we turned to watch the beautiful glow on Kata Tjuta.