Sunday, February 19, 2017

Teaching in Toowoomba

Barry and I drove over to Toowoomba late on Friday so that we would be there bright and early to start teaching on Saturday morning.

It was a hot day, but the welcome was warm; the venue beautiful and the day full of hard work and fun. I was invited by the Artists' Book group at the Toowoomba Art Society to teach Building Narrative in Artists' Books.

As I mentioned to them several times; they really got the speed version of the ideas, as the workshop would be best taken at a slightly more digestible pace over two days. But we did it!

By the end of the day peoples' brains were full of ideas and things to try and test and a sense of satisfaction that they had achieved something; as well as opened their minds to a bunch of new possibilities.

Twelve people joined me and they all got a folder with their name on it to collect their handouts in.

I was on my feet all day, talking and talking, showing, demonstrating, checking and the like and I rarely got to take any photos; for which I apologise.

We talked a lot about what narrative was in terms of story telling: beginnings, middles and ends; as well how it uses and refers to the past, the present and the future.

I went through how concertina books and scrolls tend to enable you to see the whole idea laid out once they are opened; whereas a codex hides the past and the future, and only offers a glimpse of the whole at any point in time.

We touched on a number of ways of engaging the reader, encouraging them to interact with the book and to continue to read through to discover what happens.  

I think one of the hardest parts for folk was the imposition of pages in a codex - working out the sequence of images and text you want to use; then woking out where they all are in relation to each there and how they will be seen when you open and read the book BEFORE you put the book together.

LOTS and LOTS of thinking and planning!

Betty went to town with her photos and made a book about life's journeys, with lots of twists and turns.

The starting point for Lorna - some of her own words. She went on to use circles and the transparencies in a multitude of intriguing ways.

Hilary made a gorgeous envelope with this template, and her book was full of beautiful artwork and connections.

Stephanie and Jean went on walks with nature; here are some of Stephanie's inclusions.

Debbie explored all of the ways you could make it interesting, as did Claudia and Ute.  So in a way, they made sample books for narrative books; and all of them had ideas of where to next; as if the process of making the templates, had triggered and sparked ideas which was great.

Noelle also tried lots of things and went away with book ideas bubbling along.

Nadine really got into her content and made a book that she could use with her Year 11 art students.

Jo discovered so many beautiful ways of revealing and hiding things as she made her way through her book; and how materials make a difference.  As did Jenny, whose book about the dingo fence had a great ending!

Some of the finished books.

We were doing a simple binding for a single section book (after all that hard thinking and planning it would have been way too cruel to do a complex binding!), but I offered them three variations on pamphlet sewing that just make the books look a bit different, interesting and enjoyable.

 Here are two of my samples - the dot-dash; and the chain stitch sewing.

Show and Tell at the end of the day.

Everybody got stuck in and did heaps of work towards their books. Not everybody completed a narrative book; but by the end of the day, everybody had a number of new skills in their repertoire as well ideas for their next books. I'd love to see where they go next with their books..

As we had breakfast in town before the workshop began, we came across this great laneway coffee shop with some beautiful mural work - here are a couple...

This one by Kate Hallen.

This one by Leona Fietz.

 It's always a good day when you see art and share art. Thanks so much to the Toowoomba Book Artists for inviting me and working so hard; and creating such wonder...


  1. you all did a HUGE amount of work! wonderful to see the results of your students thinking.

    1. It was huge Velma! In just six hours! We worked hard but finished with a great sense of satisfaction...

  2. wow! you are a fantastic teacher Fiona!

    1. Thanks Mo - too kind. We had a good time and they did great things; together we learned a lot!

  3. I love that they all did different sizes and went for it. What a good day it must have been. I've still to agree a date for mine!

    1. They certainly went for it Lesley! It was full on and full of fun!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.