Sunday, December 17, 2017


In the last week I was able to deliver five artists' books to the State Library of Queensland for them to include in their collection.

The collection - the Australian Library of Art - is one of the best in Australia and it is such an honour to be amongst the many fine book artists who are part of it.

The Library purchased four books and I donated one.

The four they purchased were:

Silence - the final book in the Pas de Deux collaboration by Susan Bowers and myself.

Silence Helps No One - a book about family violence.

The Nurses - honouring the stories of Australian nurses in World War I.

Lost for Words - a book about grief and loss.

Because I think there is reciprocity in life and that positive exchange is part of the making of a good life, I wanted to give the Library a book of mine as well. I really wanted them to know how much I value their support and appreciate that they have purchased several books of mine over the years.

I could have packed them up and posted them all off; but I chose to catch the train down to the big smoke and hand deliver them.  The Library is a gorgeous building in a beautiful cultural precinct by the Brisbane River; it has a fabulous book shop; and a great coffee shop and it is always a joy to visit for so many reasons.

I took along my recent small book What? Why? What? What?  and showed Christene Drewe the Librarian and offered it to her for the collection.

Her response was priceless "Oh you have made my day! This feels like Christmas! " At which point I knew I had made the right decision.

In a letter to acknowledge receipt of the book Christene wrote:

"...the book is a lovely example of the design ethic 'less is more' addressing the social issue of domestic violence. The text encourages reflection through reading, while the images are a discreet accompanying comment on the seriousness of the issue. The book will be added to the artists' book collection in the Australian Library of Art where it will complement your earlier work addressing the issue of domestic violence".

So that was a lovely way to finish off the year artistically speaking.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“Build gaps in your life. Pauses. Proper pauses.” 

Thom Yorke

Oftentimes I get to this time of the year feeling absolutely wrecked. Strained, harried, hassled and despairing.  For whatever reason, in the past, this is the time of year when things start piling up.

Thing I had said 'Yes' to do back in April or May, when December seemed so far away, crowd in together to make an awfully stressful time.

I have tried to become more conscious of my general willingness to say "Yes" instead of "No" or "Not this time" or "Not this year" or "Not now, maybe later".  I have observed how my year fills and condenses.

This year, I resolved to have my last commitment in October.  I taught on 8 October and that was it for the year. No further commitments that take loads of preparation time or follow up time or doing and delivering time.  In essence, I built in a pause.

And it feels so good.

Of course I am still doing things, still spending time with folk and doing and making for and with others; but nothing is big; nothing is onerous; and nothing is overwhelming.  I hope I can continue to pace my life a bit better; to find time for pauses; and to make time for pauses.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Living an art life

You know you live with an artist when...

You are sitting down together writing list at the kitchen bench and you go "Quick, can you take photo of the pen shadows???"

As it was last week.  Barry and I sitting together writing a list, in the kitchen, under the 5-light kitchen bench light.

The photos are a bit blurry as we tried to get closer and closer, but you can see what stopped us and made us smile.

And the best bit - Barry saw that the gap in my palm had become a shining heart...

I love that we can be busily focused on stuff, and then completely distracted by moments of shadows and light and art!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

More small moments

I wrote last week about having small tasks set aside in my mind, for those small moments one can grab in between all the business of life.

These little pieces were another set of ideas I had been carrying wth me for a bit - they appear on numerous lists; but up until now had never actually happened.

I wanted to try a few different approaches and checked online for image and ideas, and then sat down and started to do some whimsical watercolour flower sketches...

I had a lot of fun, and the time flew.

I have some flower quotes I would like like to letterpress onto cards, so was trying to develop some imagery to accompany the words.  These have offered me a good jumping of point to try and develop some designs I think.

I was also trying to work out, if I made cards should I do each watercolour by hand, or should I create a plate of some sort which I could print and then hand colour?

So many thoughts to ponder... but the time spent playing was so good for my soul.

I also wanted to print another quote and chose the image of the dandelion to try and create support for the words.

And to other small moments in the studio and life.  Barry's work is selling well at Maleny Additions at the moment (and at Entangle in Dayboro!) and he needed a new supply of swing tags to accompany the pieces he will deliver to the shop in the morning.

And in another small moment, I attached the Christmas ornaments to the Christmas tree. Late afternoon sunlight catching the words...

Life is full of small moments. Small, precious, moments.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“Our society values alert problem solving consciousness and it devalues all other states of consciousness. Any kind of consciousness that is not related to the production or consumption of material goods is stigmatized in our society today.” 

Graham Hancock

I went looking for quotes about art (today's theme for pondering) and came across this. Its a less than direct thought about art - yet art fits perfectly within it I think.

More and more it seems to me that the mantra "if you can't measure it, it doesn't count" has taken hold; and gets far more attention than it deserves. I also think "if you can't sell it, it has no value" is also too horrendous for words.

This notion of defining, problem solving, accounting for everything, being evidence-based is all well and good in its place.  As a former policy adviser, I liked these things, they mattered when they were used appropriately.  But as a policy adviser I also loved those notions which appeared as bright sparks from nowhere; when somebody made an unimaginable leap and turned us around so we could see a new way.

These moments of inspiration and leaping are a lot like art for  me.

I often reflect on the many ways a piece of art can evolve and come into being. So often for me it starts as a nudge; a hint; a moment of recognition or understanding that then creates a whole movement. Much like music I suppose; where at tentative little introduction can lead to you being swept away in a orchestral movement you didn't know was coming.

None of which are necessary logical or conscious problem solving things. Nor are they material goods for sale and recompense.

Arts sits at the heart of things that are not alert or conscious thinking and problem solving; and at the heart of non-production and non-consumable material goods. A shift towards valuing art would be a grand thing...altho it can be hard to imagine at times.

Part of "I Lost My Words" - which came about from a small idea and became so many things I didn't know it could be...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Postcards and Peace...

I have had a few little thoughts running around in my head, and found some small moments to try them out over the weekend.

Sometimes you need to have these small ideas and thoughts set aside so that when you get small moments - you know you have something you can do!  Rather than think I don't have enough time to do the big things I want to, I love having a list of little moment tasks/jobs/ideas to try and to do.

So it was with these postcard templates.

The idea of having some postcard templates ready to go has been with me for a while, but never really got prioritised. Then on Saturday it did!

I tried two options - using a few ornaments here and there and a lovely font. This is Gallia 18pt - isn't it gorgeous? And yes, I realise that the spacing - or is it kerning - would be better had I paid more attention.  My proofing is not good - I just get excited and want to print, so there is a lesson for me to slow down in that part and prepare perfectly.

I ended up making 64 of these and here they are on the stairs in the studio.

And one by itself.

A variation using Garamond 24pt.

Another 64 of these lying around studio surfaces drying!

So I have plenty of postcards to ponder next year.

And of course I still had some ink on the plate.  I am trying to find the right balance between not wasting ink; and not wasting paper.  I often feel the need to print madly to use up the ink, but in doing so I sometimes waste paper instead, as I am doing it without much planning or thought.

So this time I had a wee plan - something I thought I needed to do, and only cut enough paper to do it, and then cleaned up.

Not much ink wasted and not much paper wasted. Good outcome.

I was trying to work out how to decorate our very spare Christmas tree this year.  I don't like too much tizz (now there's a news break!) and tend to avoid overtly Christmas-like colours and decorations, tending to focus more on peace...

And so I printed a favourite phrase on small pieces of paper which had previously held proofs of my prints for the Under Construction works from 2015.

I can see some brown string joining them, and together they will hang on our tree...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Resolution - Revolution

I really enjoyed reading and thinking about all the comments and suggestions regarding where to next with these words.

Each option made me think, and out of nowhere, but clearly out of somewhere, came the notion of embossing a symbol - something about the round embossing on the last one in the previous post, something about the raised paper around the words, something about women, something like...the female symbol!

I remembered I had used the symbol to emboss one of our collaborative books and just had to find it. Easier said than done sometimes, but after a short search I found the plate I had used, and checked it for size.

To me, it fitted perfectly. It surrounded the words and bled off the page which I really really liked.

As ever, I fiddled a bit with placement and tried to work out if I liked the embossed look or the de-bossed look. And accidentally did a really gentle emboss as well, so compared the three.

I split the difference, but in favour of the emboss, and did 40 embossed and ten de-bossed, but not as deeply as the middle one above.

The pile of de-bossed cards.

The pile of embossed cards.

 A sideways look at the stack of embossed cards.

A sense of the embossed cards.

And I went over a couple of the coloured ones as well - just because.

I love it when the resolution appears, and especially for this one - in support of a quiet revolution. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges

If I ever turned my mind to what Paradise would look like, I am pretty sure I would come up with something like this. It would have to have books.

I would probably also require something like good coffee, good wine and maybe cheese. Some of the lovely indulgent things I enjoy in my life. It would be good if it also had good friends, nice weather and endless opportunities for art.

But really, the books would almost matter most.

Books have been a constant in my life. More so than wine or coffee or art or even cheese.  I am rarely not within arms reach of something to read and always, always turn to words and book for solace and comfort. For understanding and for pure pleasure.

I regularly say I have nowhere near enough time to read all the books that I want to. Imagine Paradise, which might last forever, and finally having time to read all those books you desire!

A little piece of Paradise in a pub in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Persisting with purple

I have been trying to work out exactly what I want to add to the cards I printed over the weekend.

They looked so nice with the late afternoon sun drifting across them.

So I went off and played with some of the many rejects...trying a bit of this and a bit of that.  I tried out cleaning my ink roller and seeing if it made any interesting patterns.

Kind of, sort of, still not sure.

So then I went to town with an embossing plate - just to see what it looked like if I embossed quite strong marks across it. A bit too powerful for me.

I topped and tailed a page with some old silver plate embossing plates, which kind of gave the words a popped out flat panel to show themselves upon.

I rolled a thin copper sheet the length of the page. It had a gentle criss cross pattern.

As a last resort I used a circular embossing (sideways just because) on a page where I had rolled the purple which is all really a bit too much all up! But I tried to close my eyes and filter out the purple and work out if a circular embossing, oriented correctly, at the bottom of a long thing page, could work...and in my mind's eye I think it might. But I am really going to have to try it on one of the ones I printed properly.

I do think the words look lovely on their own as well. 

Sigh. I am forever challenged by my preference for not much at all; and the need to make the work interesting for others. Clearly lots of work still to do...