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.


  1. A difficult subject for your Sept. show but from what I have seen Fiona, from reading posts and your website (new to your blog) your art take on hard issues with quietly, powerful, balanced, creativity. As you turn your planning into process for this show, it will be enlightening and certainly moving to see your progress. Calling attention to the issue of family violence can often be raw, and at times, uncomfortably sensational. Yet in asking questions, answering and depicting them in thoughtful modes of expression, one opens the door to conversation and considered solutions.

    1. Thanks Marti - that is so beautifully thought and put. Apologies for my poor sentence there. It is indeed a difficult subject; yet one that I am drawn to trying to draw attention to in subtle and gentle ways. If I can do so in the ways that you suggest - quietly, powerfully, balanced and creatively I will have done well. It will merge and unfold over the next wee while...go well.

  2. Quite an undertaking for your show! I like how Marti responded to your post... yes, what she said. (she, I hope!) And, congratulations on selling that lovely piece. Its beautiful.

    1. Yes Valerianna; I will be pushing hard to design and complete it all; yet it has a rhythm and a pace that is gathering...go well. Thanks too for the congrats - it is a lovely piece!

  3. This is a tough subject to take on Fiona, one that some people would turn away from and bury their heads in the sand about. I suppose that response comes under the heading 'what can I do about it?' and a lot of people would answer 'ignore it and pretend it does not happen'.
    Your planning notes tell me what I already know and that is that you will work on this subject deeply and with intuition and sensitivity. I look forward to seeing which techniques you choose to work with as the pieces evolve. Good luck with it and well done on selling that piece. I love the fact it is staying local and you will always know where it will be.

    1. Thanks Lesley - it was quite the insight into my slow ways of working wasn''t it? All those notes, all that reading! I sometimes wish I could just spontaneously produce something of depth; but for me depth comes from this process of delving and investigating...It will be an intriguing unfolding over the next wee while, and hopefully something worthwhile will come of it all; there's the thing! Go well.


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