Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking back on 2017

It is definitely that time of the year - a time to ponder, reflect and look back as well as forward.

As is now tradition here on the blog, I have looked back at what I have made over the year and selected my top ten as they say; or the work that spoke most to me once it was done.

It always, but always, surprises me when I sit down and go back through the archive of the year; to see just what has been done and achieved. It is sort of sad in a way how much I forget, but perhaps it isn't about forgetting that I've done them; more perhaps that I forgot they all happened in the space of this year!

So from 2017, listed alphabetically and no t in any way ranked 1-10, we have:

1. Heart of the Hinterland

We installed the final leg of this artwork in our local IGA earlier this year.  I was responsible for the words and for the design and layout of the words - quite the learning experience - but so lovely to see the artwork with its story whenever we visit...

2. Imagine Peace

Weathergrams have been an annual event on International Day of Peace for quite  a while now and I usually let them drift off when they have been blown, or rained, away.  But this year I repaired some - it felt necessary somehow to continue to work towards peace, to repair give peace another chance.

3. Kindness, Care and Hope

I started the year a bit worried about where the world changes would lead us all.  I am still not convinced that we are showing our best selves on a large scale; but I sent these small packs of words out into the world as reminders to kindred spirits. It was a lovely give-away and they make me smile. Kindest, Care and Hope remain.

4. Life Fragments

 I loved doing this work - working with the words of women who used McAuley House, a shelter for homeless women in Melbourne. Hand stitching their words onto four panels was a beautiful way to honour them and spend time; and to see them hanging in the new building is marvellous.

5. Nevertheless she persisted...

We start to get a little bit feminist and political here, but boy do we still need it!  It has been quite the year for women, and I love this feminist catch cry!

6. Postcard Prints

I am reminded of the benefits of just playing and exploring; trying new things, testing new ideas and techniques; doing things I would  never normally do.  I have been part of a delightful postcard print exchange (unsung heroes all) this year and have loved being pushed to use techniques I would normally shy away from - mono printing, collagraphs and drypoint for example. It was a seasonal exchange and so we have summer, autumn, winter spring.

7. Self-Portrait as a Reflection

This was a truly beautiful commission which challenged and stretched me with my letterpress and calligraphy. A beautiful poem by a young local poet who died too young - aged 23.

8. What about? Why Doesn't? What Can? What Does? - Letterpress

I prepared a large body of work for the Sydney Contemporary in September.  I worked on eight wall panels about family violence; and made four letterpress representations; and four calligraphic representations.  They were siblings in my mind. They were similar and quite different - the same image, both awkward to read, yet both sympathetic. It is tough work, and not for everybody, but it was important for me to make it , to say it and to share it.

9. What about? Why Doesn't? What Can? What Does? - Calligraphy

10. What? Why? What? What?

As part of the work for Sydney I made an edition of this small book. The book incorporates all four images (hand-coloured aluminium etchings). with four panels of tiny calligraphy and a letterpress title page. It is a detailed book and took lots of hard work, but I was so pleased with the way all of the elements came together and held.

As I reviewed the work, I first thought how different everything was; what diversity there was.  Then I looked closer and thought the themes appear broadly consistent in some ways - mostly women and peace/hope; and the palette. Always the palette. Quiet, muted, sympathetic.  So even tho I was doing varied work for different purposes; the themes and palette were pretty consistent.

So thank you for going a'wandering down memory lane with me. And thank you as always for visiting this blog, for letting me know your thoughts and for sharing art and peace and kindness care and hope...

With hope for more of all the good things in the next year...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” 

Maya Angelou 

I imagine there are quite a few variations of this notion, but for me, this is a wonderful one. Ms Angelou speaks simply and eloquently, describing things in a way you recognise, creating a familiar  understanding; and then gets you with those last few words. Gulp!

" them so well that people can't take their eyes off you".

I find this part really powerful, and really challenging.  Is that the outcome I really hope for?  Would I be afraid if that happened?  Would I feel like shining or like hiding? Wow.

It pulls me up to consider what it means for me to make my art.  I understand the first part about not doing it for the money (so few artists do or can...) but do I want my work to be so good; so wonderful that people simply can't stop gazing? Hmmm.

Those words are left slightly ambiguous I feel (and no doubt deliberately so) about what happens when that gaze hits you' - does the work sell? do you become famous? or do people simply know to watch out for the next thing you do?

I know I don't have answers, but I think I owe it to myself to consider what I hope for as I make my art, and this quote will no doubt come into play as I review the year and look ahead to 2018...

Sturtevant Raysee High Voltage Painting 1969, seen at Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2017.

Can't take my eyes off you...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Peaceful garden sculpture

As part of our annual clean up around the place, both Barry and I are looking at our studios this time around.  Hmmmm.  My sewing room has been sorted, cleaned and tidied; my artists book collection has been cleaned and displayed properly.  My shed studio is still very much a work in progress...

Barry has been diligently sorting through the studio space under the house (two garages where cars are never parked). In so doing he has come across a couple of beautiful old typewriters we had picked up at garage sales because they were beautiful and because we might use them.

One of them he thinks might be able to be saved.

He started work on another and found it couldn't be resurrected, so I asked if we could use it in the garden somewhere. It is still so lovely to look at.

It now has pride of place outside the shed studio.

We stomped around the yard trying to find a block of wood for it to perch upon and found one.

I really wanted to have some paper in it...and came up with this piece (which is clearly not typed, but which is beautiful in presence and in message). I kind of like that you can imagine what an extraordinary typewriter it must have been if it had been able to type like this! Mystery and magic.

And so, it sits.
And like other things on our block, will weather. Will go through time in the elements and become a different thing.

And the other morning as I was checking on it, I turned around. It was quite early and the sun was rising and I looked through this little garland of peace back towards the house, and it was beautiful.

This time of year yearns for peace. For ourselves in amongst it; for our families; and for our world.
I find little bits here and there as I wander our garden.
I am grateful.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Peace, gentle peace...

I wrote last week about trying to repair some of the peace weathergrams.  It is kind of against weathergram policy - they are supposed to be weathered and to let the elements do to them what they will. So mostly, I honour that notion.  

For some reason with these ones I just wanted to repair them and replace them and let them fly again.  I wanted to give peace another chance.

So I got some tough brown paper from Barry and attached them to it, added some more string and some reinforcement and let them go.

I love how the tree is now so full of summer leaf goodness! Usually when I first hang the weathergrams in September, the tree is bare, and only begins to bud in the few weeks afterwards.

Now they nestle and are protected, sheltered in a way, by the leaves.

I hung a few alongside some of Barry's peace doves that are still flying.

Here and there.

These are all hung fairly low so that we can see them as we walk by or as we drive down the driveway. Gentle, swaying-in-the-breeze reminders...

As Christmas arrives and we turn towards family, friends, community, rituals, and gentle remembering, I wish for peace.

Peace within, peace between us and peace between nations.

To all my blogging friends who share so much and support each other so much, thank you for another year of magic.

Wherever you may be, and however you may spend the time, may your Christmas be bright and beautiful, may you be safe, and may you find and celebrate moments of peace.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

"A book is a dream that you hold in your hand". 

Neil Gaiman

I like the idea that books can be dreams. As I thought about it it seemed to hold quite true for novels and fiction, but I wondered a bit about non-fiction.

I decided yes, it can hold true for non-fiction as well.  I thought about how reading a biography you are still imagining the place, the person, the reactions of people. You are creating a whole panorama in your head even tho the words are written as apparent fact.  You still get to design and decorate the set in/on which it takes place. Kind of sort of dream-like.

I think it does hold best for fiction however, and I like the drifty nature a dream suggests.   It is so magical that words written by somebody and read by somebody else can take on a life of their own. A dream is so evocative - the way that a novel can consume you, take you in and make the real world disappear. I often come up of r air after a solid read and wonder how long I've been away...

Not a book, but I dream of peace...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Planning ahead, and repairing peace

I am beginning to find myself teaching a bit more. Being invited to teach at some large events; and to teach some boutique courses for small groups.

It's all very interesting and I love that I get to share my passion for books, for words, for lettering and letterpress.

Looking way ahead to 2019, I have my first workshop in the US planned.  My friend Jennifer Coyne Qudeen taught at Encaustic Castle in Lexington Kentucky earlier this year; and my name popped up in conversation...

I have been invited to teach in February 2019 along with Holly Fouts.  The idea is that Patricia brings together two like-minded, mode-ed or methodologied tutors who teach 3.5 days each, back to back.

So far, the plan is Marks and Folios: A multiplicity of Book Arts techniques

Which gives us lots of options...

If you want to register your interest you can click here and get access to early bird information.

I am also in negotiations for a 5 day Quietly and Gently workshop in July 2019 here in Australia; and have already booked in a weekend teaching in June 2018.  I know there is another one lurking around October 2018 as well!

It intrigues me to know I have commitments so far out.

Back in the here and how however, I am studying, cleaning and sorting the studio at the moment, again in those small moments. Since International Day of Peace back in September, I have rescued some of the weather grams that have fallen into the driveway and been blown across the block.  We had torrential weather for nearly a month, so their departure from the tree is to be expected!

They have been drying out in the shed and I am beginning some repair work in the hope of hanging them back in the tree in time for Christmas, imagining peace on earth...

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.