Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him.” 

Graham Greene

I have never been an author, nor really much of writer, in particular where characters are concerned yet I can completely understand what appears to be a whimsical, fantastical thought.

That characters one has created, from one's own imagination can suddenly appear to take over and do things and say things that you hadn't prepared for. Magic!

I imagine that as a novelist, this could at times be rather handy but perhaps also a tad difficult too. Not knowing quite where a book is going because those characters are leading you could be a bit worrisome.

I think it is kind of delightful that authors can feel as if the book takes off on its own; a bit like the adventure that readers go on with an author as well - we shall just follow where they lead...

Wandering this way and that... Agnes Waters 2015.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Changing the world...

I was hoping to find some simple words about staying positive and continuing to work towards peace and equality. You know how you sometimes feel like you need a personal boost or a bit of a lift?

I recalled we had seen these words on a poster in an exhibition in Stockholm last year and thought to myself they were strong and positive and deserved an outing.

So I went to my stash of paper offcuts, all trimmed to business card size and grabbed a handful of them (well...a 75 piece handful!) and got printing.

I recalled I hadn't seen an attribution at the exhibition; so Barry suggested I just google the words and see if they were attributed to an individual.  I was thrilled when I discovered they were by Angela Davis, an African American activist.

So I ensured I printed her name on the back of each card.

What I really like about the words is that they aren't about hoping or believing or thinking or wishing; they are about ACTING - taking action, doing stuff, behaving in a manner which...and I felt energised by that thought. The sense of persistence also resonated with me - you can't just do it once a year; it's about doing it   a l l   t h e   t i m e.

And then I just kept going and printed 50 drink coasters with the message as well - thinking wouldn't it be great to put your cup of coffee down by your computer on a positive message?

I get such joy out of these moments.

We were at a fabulous Conference yesterday and today - Communities in Control - and it felt right to share them with folk who work so hard to make our world a better place.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Things are firming up slowly

This would have to be the slowest book ever made by me.

It is taking ages. In part because I keep getting distracted; in part because it doesn't actually have a deadline; and in part because it is pushing me into some unfamiliar territory so I am a bit tentative and wary of it.

But still, we do make progress.

After carving sooooo many blocks of lino I thought - too busy!!!  And removed the single stones.

Looking calmer to me now; but maybe it will be too blank?

I have been testing out the size of type it is possible to use to get the words printed across a single page.  Trialling this font and that; this size and that...

And then testing on a few different papers and pages.

I will have to choose the final to work into sometime; but am enjoying having a few options on the go as well!  Sometimes I feel like I need to push a few pieces forward in case I stuff up. It seems to happen more often when I am not feeling that confident.

The next step is organise the words and print the type.  Oh and work out where on each page the words will go. And if I need to add more than words?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.” 

Paulo Coelho

Thinking about life today; this one comes at an interesting time. It feels as if I am in a season of changing. In lots of ways I am assessing and considering the things that give me joy; the things I feel resentful about doing and the things that I want to continue to do; and the new things I want to explore.

When you truly want to do something new - give it focus, energy and time - I think you have to really consider the things you might leave behind in order to do it.

I have not been particularly good at stopping doing things, whilst I merrily accumulate new things I love.  Perhaps with age comes wisdom and you realise that to be fully present and involved, then you need to let go.

I think this is what Coelho is getting at here; that some doors simply no longer lead you anywhere and the time is right to close them. Little by little this year, I have closed doors and left some things behind me.

It feels right.

Doors and memories. Me, 15 years ago in southern Italy. I still love black cardigans!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tidying and printing peace

The tidying continues and most of the cupboards and floors and storage things have been dealt with - now it is back to sorting type and sorting out all the papers I have all over the place. Notes for teaching; ideas and inspiration; articles to read and the list goes on.

It just about did my head in to realise how little structure I have around the general printed paperwork in the studio. How did I get this out of control?

Still I will just make a huge pile and then sort and file - Plan A.

In the meantime I started to sort this type.

I had previously attempted to sort it - but it is tiny (12pt or 4.2mm high) and it was tumbling down all over the place which made it very very time consuming to find all the letters and pop them in their rightful place in a new box. This is where I left off last time.

I have got this far...and was feeling bit chipper that I was nearing the end of the alphabet, when I
realised is till had all the numbers and all the characters to do. Sigh. Patience.

But in between times I had ink on the press from another job and as ever, didn't want to waste it.  When I was tidying up I had found an old sheet of paper I had rusted with rusty bits and tea. Rather than ruthlessly ejecting it from my life, I had cut it in half, and popped it in my "offcuts" drawer.

It turned out be just right for my ink using up project and I printed a bunch of these cards.

I like the interplay between the soft tea rustiness colours and the grey ink; and the occasional mark that adds to it all.

And then...

I was given these orchids as part of much bigger bunch 8 weeks ago and here they are still shining brightly for me.

The bunch gets smaller each week as I trim off the dead heads and shorten their stems; but how wonderful to still have them here!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Curls and cleaning...

It has been a time of small tasks - some larger than others, but not a lot of making.

It feels like that nesting time almost - tidying up, putting away and the preparing of new things.

I am midst a major clean up of the studio.  It is more than tidying, more than cleaning - it feels like a massive re-thinking and re-organising and clean all together. I wonder what the word for that is?

So it was, as I hacked back the jungle in my studio with an imaginary machete,  that I found myself with a few tangles of this string.  Somebody had given it to me a while ago - part of their father's bookbinding kit.  I didn't know where to start but I began to untangle it as best I could.




I was cutting it into lengths to use when tying up my blocks of type so that they can be used again. I now have lovely stash!

When I began, it reminded me a lot of a nest; and this one at the front door continues to delight me in different lights.

But back at this studio I was on my hands and knees scrubbing tiles, pulling things out, throwing things out and overall creating a nice light, clean space to work in again.

Can you believe that one of the tasks was wiping down some of the timber trays I store my lead type in with clove oil to remove bits of mould? I think that probably shows what a damp summer we had (and what happens when it is damp and you go away for 6 weeks...).

Still all the drawers now smell delicious so it isn't all bad!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” 

Ray Bradbury

This is probably a really nice way to think about a life and a lifetime - that somewhere, sometime we touched something and it changed. Not so much that it changed into something that's like you; but that it changed into something that was intrinsically linked to you somehow.

I think it is ever so true about making art.

I love that something can begin as nothing - a blank page; a ball of wool; a metal offcut; a chunk of timber; a piece of lino; a stack of blank pages; a slab of clay; a length of fabric - and then become something in your hands.

After you have brought to that blankness some of you: your essence; your will; your skill; your creativity; your wishes; your dreams; your protests; your engage with it and it is transformed into something else completely.

Something that is of you.

Alchemy and magic...

Even when you pick up some stones and some pebbles, you can create something.
A holiday cairn, Hokitika, New Zealand, 2012.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Its funny how one moment leads to another moment and before you know it you have been whisked off an archeological dig though your photographs...

I walked out the front door this morning and looked down at this heart. This heart in Autumn...

We had bought it on a recent trip to Townsville and wondered where we might hang it (it came with a ribbon). We decided we would start by just placing it against the wall outside our front door - I liked the idea of seeing the heart each time I left the house.

And my mind turned to hearts and how much I enjoy discovering them along the way...altho I don't really use them in my artwork at all.

This fabulous one was on Waiheke Island. The sculptures are in a private home setting and we could view the back; and not the front. But I really liked the back!

This stone heart is in a wall along the Castle in Krakow, Poland.

This one IhtinkI have shown before, but isn't it gorgeous/ On a corner of a wall in Warsaw, Poland.

Part of a headstone at a cemetery on the far north of Scotland

A Headstone at Bettyhill, Scotland.

I love that hearts can be wrought in gates - functional items made beautiful. Castletown, Scotland

And in walls in Singapore...

And just as beautiful sculpture - Noguchi in New York.

 A little whirl around the world with hearts. I like that there are hearts everywhere.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Small things

It's often the little things..

I walked out the front door the other morning and there was this...

The nest that greeted us on return two months ago, waiting quietly, holding its place through the wind, the rain, the sun, the mist.  And the sunlight carving across the chair sculpture.

In a pretty busy week, I managed some time in the studio for the little things, for the wee things.

I simply managed a couple watercolour letters as a gift.

At first I turned to nature (as Gemma taught us) and tried a few colours against the violet.

And my studio glasses!

And then I went wild and swirled my way through the purples in my collection.

So now I have two to choose from!