Sunday, April 30, 2017

Believing in peace...

On 25 April, Australians mark ANZAC Day - the day that our first soldiers landed at Gallipoli, Turkey in the First World War, marking our entrance to the conflict. It was a disaster and like so many of those WWI campaigns, it lasted and lasted and very little was gained.

It is a sombre day - the Dawn service in Maleny at 4.28am, marches in towns and cities across the country and time often spent in the studio pondering war and peace.

This year I had no real plan, but wanted to sit there and ponder peace.

I played with a self-inking stamp I had bought a while ago, and just over-stamped on light cotton muslin.

And then I tried it on a postcard-sized piece of paper.

And liked the pattern they created together.

And then I got out some watercolour pencils and drew poppies, onto stems I had de-bossed.

And the three of them sat together.

But they sparked me into making some postcards, using gouache this time instead of watercolour pencils. Before dotting my poppies.

And after.

It has been a while since I have given myself permission to just sit and think about something for no real purpose; and to pull a bit o f this and a bit of that together and see what happens.

And for anybody wondering how the scraps of fabric came together - here is the finished product, a great little bag with lots of raw and selvedge edges.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

"Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance". 

Carl Sandburg

The older I get, the more I love poetry. It seems to me that poetry is good at getting to the essence of things; of saying much, with little.

A poet friend said to me recently that poem should be like a Tardis - that it should be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside; and I loved that. I really think that is what poems do and are.

But what delightful imagery Carl Sandberg creates - an echo asking a shadow to dance. Perhaps this goes to the succinctness of poems - that they are not full-bodied, dense tomes; more that they are small sprites flitting across pages? Perhaps the sparseness of poems compared to a novel suggests an echo, and a shadow...

However poems are described, I think they are such gentle companions.

A book of poems a friend recently gifted me, by Indigenous woman Ali Cobby Eckermann; they are remarkable.

I listen to a podcast called Book Riot and one of the presenters, Rebecca has taken to reading  poetry for 10 minutes a day; as she prepares dinner or some such. So I have left this book on the kitchen bench and am finding a few moments each day to read poetry; which is a lovely addition to my days.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Using up my scraps

Our sewing teacher, mentor, supervisor, guru, wise woman is away for a few weeks so a few of us are trying to stick to the schedule and catch up each week to sew.

Last week we only managed to talk fabric, look at patterns and think about how best to measure and cut clothes that fit; but this week we are hoping to try to make a bag. Just a little project to keep us going till our class is back in the swing again.

I recently bought this book on Boro (The Boro Aesthetic by Jody Alexander) and was delighted to find inside a pattern for a quick little bag.

I have started accumulating a lot of fabric scraps, yet because they are so delicious I can't bear to throw them away - sounds a lot like me and paper.  So I thought the wee bag might be a good way to make use of some of them.

First up I laid a bunch of off cuts on the floor. We are asked to start with a 30cm x 120cm (12 inch x 36 inch) piece of fabric, so I decided to try and build my length of fabric up from bibs and bobs. Looked like I would have enough.

The pattern changed a bit as I went along - here is a progress shot; with the top half stitched and bottom half being planned.

I decided I really wanted it to look like a scrap bag so just sewed the fabric onto each other and let things fray, and kept as many beautiful selvedges as I could.

The bottom half bits in readiness.

Ah, the best part, the close ups of those edges.

and of some of those joins...

And then the finished piece of fabric.

Looks a bit different to the original plan; but it was a lovely organic process; putting something in, stitching it; responding with another piece and so on. Quite fun.

And now to see if I can turn it into a wee bag when we meet onThursday!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Planning, planning, planning

My world of making is currently full of commissions I can't yet show - I re-printed a piece this week and sent the image off for comment and will hopefully hear back soon. If I get the OK, then that is grand; and I will head to the framers!

I also began another commissioned work - more stitching than printing; but that too is hiding away in the studio, not yet ready for public viewing either! Sigh.

However, my other important job at the moment is making work work a big show in September.  I am well and truly head down and into the planning of the pieces.

It is a group show within a rather large and prestigious event, and has very limited wall space. I am hoping to do four works with accompanying books.  The trick of course is how to make works that can be editioned and therefore sold in multiples (I am being hopeful here, apparently a LOT of people pass through this event and it is is possible I might sell) without overburdening myself with binding and stitching and also spending a fortune on framing.

Like others before me, I spend a lot of time thinking about the space available, the size of the works, the number of works, the shape of the works...

Because the show is in Sydney, I need to also think about transporting the works by plane; and so I think I am tending more towards the square format which I might be able to pack in  large suitcase...

And that's all before I have even worked out WHAT I am going to make work about. I told the show it would be women's work but that was as much limitation as I gave myself. Interestingly I have come back to the family violence theme.

I read this book earlier in the year and it was so sensible, so practical and so full of data and information that it had a real impact on me. My mind turned to some of the chapter headings and how well she had crystallised some of the big questions about family violence.

I decided to choose four themes, four questions and make work about the question.

I chose
What about men? Every time you mention family violence as an issue; somebody brings up what about male victims, who are real, but whose numbers are so small in comparison.
Why doesn't she just leave? I have lost count of the number of times I have tried to explain this to folk.
What can I do? The question I always struggle with - how not to be bystander; how to help and support women.
What's gender got to do with it? As I begin to think through the systematic drivers of family violence; I find gender inequity at the heart of it.

And so I read, and think and try to find the symbols, the language, the words to express something artistically.

Simultaneously I am trying to get the shape of the work in my mind's eye by contemplating the techniques I might use. I don't know yet if it's all letterpress; or etching plus embroidery; or embossing or...what about the typewriter?

And after all my reading I start to think my way through the symbols and the imagery - just what will form the heart of each work; what might be repeated; what might link the four works...

You can see I have gone nowhere near putting type layouts down; sketches for etching plates, words to be written, chosen colours, selected paper or anything substantial or meaty that might indicate a real artwork might emerge. It's all still in my head, trying to take shape, take form.  

I find if I haven't got the thinking done before I start playing, I can just get messy and incoherent and of all the things I want my work to be in the world it's coherent!

I clearly have lots of decisions still to make but I am feeling quietly OK with where I have gotten to so far.

The next big challenge comes in the design and layout of the works; and exploring how the imagery would translate into a book.  And making sure the book is simple enough to be made as an edition; but also unique and perfectly fitted to its purpose. 

I don't think anybody ever told me that making art was really all about problem-solving; but for me it certainly is and it's a part of the making that I really enjoy.

And on a separate note entirely; and at the opposite end of the planning-sales spectrum; I was at a function at Maleny Additions (a fabulous homewares, clothes and books shop in Maleny) on Friday night and a few of my works were on show. This lovely piece Under Construction V sold!

It is going to the loveliest home and I am so chuffed! I met the new owner for the first time on the night, and it was all such a delight.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“We think peace is something that has to be found and established by us, but it is already here. We just drown it out. We listen to the sound and not the silence. Peace is the silence behind the sound.” 

Linda Proud

I was looking for a quote about silence today - I have been thinking about it a lot of late, and spending time with it. And here I go, finding a quote about both peace and silence, so what could I do but ponder upon it?

I think the notion that peace lies within the silence behind the sound is probably fundamental to our search for it. I find myself most peaceful when there is not a lot of sound; and when I try to think about can you be peaceful in a cacophonous soundscape, I imagine only if your head and mind are quiet and silent.

There may be other ways of defining a sense of peace, but this notion that it is linked to silence interests me, along with the idea of listening for the silence, not simply the sound.

This quote is mine and it still holds true. I sold one of these collaborative prints at the Open Studio over the weekend - printing and embossing by Susan; words and calligraphy by me. Photography by Anastasia Karyofillidis

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Creating with fabric?

There isn't much I can report on art wise today as the Open Studio preparations took most of the free art-time; and the other work I am working on is commissions which are being sent back and forth and being changed around so the whole process will make a good blog post once we're at the end of it all; but in the interim, there really isn't much to show for it!

With the Open Studio , Garage Sale and visitors all done, I am beginning some work for a rather large event in September and I want it to be really good. I am spending my typical time reading, thinking, plotting, planning and trying to find ways to make wall works and book works combine and make sense. It's a fascinating process for me and one I am enjoying - I only hope the work that comes out the other end is OK. But down to how I have managed to spend a bit of creative time this year.

In what feels like my absolute indulgence, I am spending three hours a week at sewing (and then finding time to finish things off at home, but that hasn't happened for a while). Those three hours are simply just mine - no pressure, no commissions, no exhibitions, just fun time to explore and create and make. Bliss.

As we approach winter - altho the weather is still gorgeous here - I need to turn my mind to warmer clothes as I have been busy mainly with summery dresses and tops...

I love the pocket that goes with this dress (above)...

I love this pocket as well (unironed...) using buttons I received for Christmas (thanks Tory)

This reversible fabric is gorgeous.

And here it is being worn at Caren's opening.

This is the reversible fabric but in the lighter tone and you can hardly tell it is reversible...

I drafted this pattern from another top and love the gentle cowl neck.

Happy Days!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Open Studio Sunday...

We find ourselves at the end of two full and fulfilling days.

Open Studio time always causes us to stop, think about what we are showing or demonstrating, clean up around the studio, prepare pricing and display our work. It is quite an effort; but always worth it.

We have caught up with old friends, met new folk, talked about art, and gardens and sculpture and paper and feminism. We have talked with children about why art costs so much; and we have demonstrated letterpress and metal stamping. we have shared gifts and kindness and sold our work. What a full and fulfilling time it has been.

Some still lives from the studio - did not get to take a single action shot all weekend!

The Library of Lost Words and some Rainbow Daily Words...

Imagine Peace and Message Bottles.


Under Construction book detail.


Quiet corner with the sun streaming in.

Another quiet, little bit sunny corner with another Under Construction book.

Barry's earrings - not many of these left!

Message Bottles up close.

The Easter weather was spectacular. My Dad supplied us with coffees; my brother, sister-in-law and niece provided us with lunches and Dad cooked dinner last night. It was a huge family effort in the end and a really enjoyable time.

With thanks to all who came and visited and purchased art...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’” 

 Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

I just love that final sentence "...a wee voice telling you "I'd like my crayons back, please".

It's like we have this quiet yearning to return to where we know our heart really lies; to return to things that makes us feel good; that give us joy.

I am certainly not one of those who was artistic at school; who did art, who drew in an art journal.  I was sporty and nerdy and diligent at the basics - maths, English, languages and science. So in a way, I feel I am maybe one of the returning tribe - who felt that tug, the pull to make something beautiful and who listened to the quiet voice inside inviting me to return to my crayons...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Caren in Canberra

We had a great few days in Canberra last week - catching up with friends, going to see art, walking in nature and having a few more serious meetings.

We planned the trip around Caren Florance (aka Ampersand Duck)'s  PhD exhibition called "Reading Spaces"

The venue was beautiful, by the lake with glass walls looking out to the water. It was so fabulous to see the culmination of her explorations and collaborations. It was magical.  I have followed the progress and stories behind many of the pieces that formed the basis of the exhibition, but nothing can ever prepare you for the works in real life.

Caren had done a marvellous job of the set-up with lot of places of quiet contemplation and reading: reading at tables (including the kitchen table); reading along walls; also reading in comfortable lounge chairs.

Caren collaborated with several poets through the course of her explorations and their works are all unique and stunning.  I honestly couldn't have chosen a favourite - they were all sumptuous and absorbing.

I was left almost speechless by the end; my head was full of the beauty; the cleverness; the joint work; the pure expertise and skill of her letterpress and printing and the many elements that came together beautifully to make it such a success.

I can hardly do it justice through my fragments, but here I try.

Tracer - with poet Owen Bullock.

Melinda Smith and Caren worked in a number of ways with signs in the Old Parliament House building and the Museum of Australian Democracy. This muddled up play on words poem of signs in Parliament House made me smile.

And the book 1962, in collaboration with poet Melinda Smith, was an amazing feat - astonishing and mind-blowing and I could hardly take any photos I was so absorbed.

There were some words by Caren...

And a moment of quiet down time, poking holes in pages...

Caren worked with 'stream of consciousness' poems from Angela Gardner as they worked together in her studio, typeset them and folded the paper to make it an adventure to unfurl. She then sent a second version to Angela and asked her to do something with them. They were presented side by side and it was a fascinating insight into collaboration. Here is one of my favourite pages where Angela has worked into the poem and you have the front side and the reverse side (so much nicer than backside don't you think?).

Two of Angela Gardner's poems; torn and hung and swinging with the gentlest of rotations, creating a multiplicity of poems that could be read in a myriad of ways. It was mesmerising.

And thanks to Barry for the photograph here I am with Caren - excited!