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!


  1. Oh! Thank you so much! It's lovely to see my show through someone else's eyes :) <3<3<3

    1. So happy we could be there - and loved loved loved it!

  2. Sorry I can't get to Canberra to "see" it.Because reading is NOT the same as seeing.Because seeing is feeling.
    If you see what I mean!

    1. I am with you Di - this show really added the extra dimensions to the experience of the works. Reading and feeling and feeling and reading...

  3. fantastic -- how terrific that you got to see the show! I wanted to drop in - but was thwarted yet again (this time not by kids sports)

    1. That was a tough call by the other folk Ronnie - would have been great to have things synchronise...hopefully you will get to see the works in some other venues; other events...go well.

  4. this looks like an exhibition that i would have loved. thank you for walking me through.

    1. Yes Velma, I think you would have appreciated it and enjoyed the time it took to enjoy it...go well.


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