Thursday, October 31, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“The past is always tense, the future perfect.” 

Zadie Smith

Such a clever play on words by Ms. Smith!

We can probably all find our way into it by acknowledging that we have at least heard of the past tense and the future perfect tense.

We may not know the exact definitions of them, but we can recognise they exist.

So she cleverly uses them in other ways,  and yes its fun to be clever, but then you ask yourself does it work?

We all know the world and our experiences are extremely complex, so no one size shall fit all, but definitely for some, the new meanings which appear probably hold true.  For some of us the past is tense - a place of regret, or sadness or trauma.

For many of us, the future is perfect - because hopes and dreams and desires are yet to be tarnished, disappeared or lost.

I think it can work and it just generally made me smile that you can play with words this way.

This book is titled "We have bee-n warned" a very simple play on words, about how much we need bees.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Pockets are political

Having been away, we had missed much of the marvellous activity around the Kyoto Hanga printmaking exhibition at Caloundra Regional Gallery.

Luckily, we were able to visit it on Saturday before we headed further south and I am so thrilled that we did.  It is a truly exceptional printmaking exhibition and we are so honoured to have it showing locally.

My print "Pockets are Political" is part of the show and I have blogged about it previously here.

As part of the activity around the exhibition there were several artists' talks.  Of course, being away meant I couldn't attend and talk about my piece, but my good friend and printmaker extraordinaire Tory Richards undertook to speak on my behalf.

She let me know that my words had been well received and had indeed made many more people think about pockets - which can only be a good thing in my books.

So in honour of having visited the show finally and seen my wee piece hanging in amongst such stunning work, here are the words Tory spoke on my behalf, and of course, my print.


I reignited my enjoyment of dressmaking and sewing in 2016. I had learned as a child but began afresh with ideas for drafting patterns and modifying clothes and basically enjoying creating my own clothes.

Early on it became clear to me that the clothes I wanted to make or modify all had to have pockets.  The absolute glee with which I showed people my pockets and the thrill I felt when I had created a useful garment were beyond my understanding.  Why on earth should I be so delighted by the application of a pocket to a frock?

It made me giddy and dizzy and every time I wore a dress I had made I would show people “it has pockets!!”

It dawned on me slowly that too many of my clothes lacked functional pockets. Pockets were entirely absent, ridiculously sewn closed, or too small to carry essentials like my mobile phone.

“Ridiculous!!” I thought and so I tried to understand why we don’t have pockets. And I discovered that pockets are political and pockets are a feminist issue.

For too long, women’s clothing has been seen as decorative, not participative.  It is made to be looked at, not to be used. It is for women to be admired, not for women to be able or active.

It’s about Form not Function.

Men have functional pockets. Women have handbags. But a bag is not a pocket. 

Pockets are internal and secret; a territory of your own. Bags can be stolen or lost; you have to remember to take a bag with you, and you also spend time rummaging to find things – like your keys.

Men carry the tools they need for public life in their pockets, on their person. Women’s tools are external to themselves.

And anyhow, a lot of women’s clothes are designed by companies who have a vested interest in us buying a handbag (which they also design and sell) to carry our things in rather than simply providing us with pockets. 

We often have no pockets in our clothing. Try explaining the joy of buying something that has pockets in it to a man. 

They look at you oddly and soothingly say “ahhhhhhh yeah, that’s great”. Never ever have they experienced navigating the world without pockets in their clothing. Even styled and sexy male dinner suits have pockets. 

Pockets are the perfect metaphor for privilege – they are taken for granted by those who have them; and the disparity between male and female clothing and pockets is simply another construct, like gender.

We sometimes get non pockets – sewn up pockets. Is there anything more frustrating than realising too late that your pockets are sewn closed, bound shut and their potential for functionality made frivolous and simply decorative yet again?

If we get pockets they are smaller and less functional than men’s pockets – we can barely fit a phone in them. Men’s and women’s phones are the same size. But only one gender can fit their phone in their clothing and on their person.

Front pockets in women’s jeans are on average 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower than front pockets in men’s jeans.
Men’s pockets: 100% fit iPhone X; 95% Samsung Galaxy
Women’s pockets: 40% fit iPhone X; 20% Samsung Galaxy

By restricting the space in which women can keep things safe and retain mobility of both hands, we restrict their ability to navigate public spaces safely. A security or swipe card having to be withdrawn from a closed wallet within a handbag delays access to home and safety.

Possibly most importantly, mobility and independence are hallmarks of pockets – pick up your phone, your wallet and your keys and you can go anywhere. You can move quickly and have freedom of movement as well – your hands are available for doing things! 

Pockets speak to the issue of preparedness and our ability to move through the world comfortably and securely; to be able to move around in public and be confident that you have what you need with you and can reach it easily.

Pockets are political.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Books about to fly

I have been involved in a wee book exchange this year - working with the poet John Bennett's words as part of bookartobject 5.

The works will go on show at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales in early December, so I am about to send mine out to the other participants as well as to the Gallery and the poet himself.

Once they start moving around the word and arriving I will post more about mine; but until then I did spend some lovely time preparing and packing them on Friday.

here they are - all of them wrapped and packed and sitting on the type case that houses the type I used for the text (Granby Light 8pt - that is, very tiny!!!)

The coloured thread links to the words about the birds inside; and I embossed my mark on a wee card of introduction which is tucked inside the parcel.

I do love the way the random threads line up.

I managed to find a reasonable colour-matched pen for writing my note.

I addressed them with just a touch of calligraphy.

And tomorrow I shall post them!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work”. 

Chuck Close

This is such an interesting idea from somebody who was clearly a professional artist. It was his job and he did like most workers do and by the sounds of it he showed up to work most every day.

I know it is different for me and I imagine for quite a lot of folk who would see themselves more as part-time artists.

I know for sure that the work doesn't get done unless you show up - this I totally agree with!  If I am not in the studio nothing is going to be made (things might be happening like reading, planning, photographing, paperwork, exhibition submissions and so on), but I know the work won't be made unless I show up.

In his eyes I am clearly an amateur as most of the time I do need to be inspired to make something.  I am not a production line and I am not just doing things because I can.  I need to respond to something, to take an issue or concern or worry or delight and bring forth something that represents it. My work has to mean something to me.

I am not sure that this alone makes me an amateur.

I also prioritise a range of things in my life - art is one; but so too is family, community, friends, house and garden...

Am I wrong to think there might also be a bit of male artist privilege at play here?

Women will always inspire me...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A full heart

Or my heart is full...

We have arrived home safe and sound, and are settling back into the rhythm of things, a little sleepy at times, but well on the way to 'normal'.

One of the things I keep an eye out for as I wander here or there, is hearts, and I have found them in many unexpected places and taking many forms, and this trip was no different .

On a gate in Edinburgh

And on a wall in Edinburgh...

One of the ropes for tying down fishing nets had fallen this way, and if I cropped it, there was a heart.

The door handle on the fabulous boat shed on Loch loyal looked heart-shaped to me.

A manhole cover at Sumberg Lighthouse on Shetland hid a heart.

The mosaic on a wall in Lerwick, Shetland was more planned.

On a wall inside St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney there were a couple.

This is one of my favourites - a rock on the walk to Armadale broch.

Our door stones at the cottage - I collect rocks and pebbles and stones that appear heart-shaped to me; and the group is growing.

 A leaf heart in Singapore.

And now we are home and my heart is full. Another door stone heart and peace.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Reading transforms the human brain, which transforms the mind, which transforms the life of every reader". 

Dr Maryanne Wolf and Dr Mirit Barzillai

There is a part of me that is interested by transformations from one thing to another.  For example, I recall how thrilled I was when I understand the notion that data when interpreted becomes information which when considered and applied becomes knowledge...

And so it appears to be for reading as well - that reading can impact the brain; which them impacts the mind which then impacts a life.  I wouldn't dare suggest I understand what the mind really is, but there is clearly something that makes it different to a brain. It is more than the brain, it is somehow very personal and it brings together extra elements.

To know that reading isn't just a process of data in data out; that it can and does affect an individual's view point and thoughts and perceptions is wonderful, and to realise how that can change lives - well yes!

Reading a landscape.

This image from Crask, looking over the amazing blanket bog of Sutherland, just seemed to say that this becomes that, then the next layer emerges, and you see beyond and then...


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The coasters...

I mentioned before that art-wise, this trip has been a fair bit about preparation - making  things and testing things and setting in motion some ideas for artworks, without getting stuck in and actually producing much.

On the other hand, I had done a small bit of preparation before I left Australia, thinking it would be good to have a sewing project on hand whilst I was here; and because of function, I decided to make a set of six coasters by hand.

It was an organic process - I had my squares cut and trimmed, and I had my threads, but beyond that not much was known or planned.

I have enjoyed the practice of randomly stitching within a structure and with purpose; and have been focussed this week on getting them finished before we head back.

The last of the internals almost finished.

Six coasters with their patterns stitched.

The first of the borders which joins tops and bottoms.

A completed first border.

A second border underway...

A couple of two-border ones done; with a bit of fraying begun.

Ta-da. Six completed coasters.

So, there are 6 new coasters to leave at the cottage, and to be used when we next return.  Of course, as I look a them I can already see how I could add something more to them and it feels like I might have another wee project waiting for me on our next visit!

Even as I type, three of the coasters have a glass of red wine on them, so they are being used already. Good news.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A fun find!

When Barry I headed to Shetland a few weeks ago, we crossed to Orkney via ferry before flying onwards.  As we wandered the streets of Stromness on a Sunday afternoon, we saw a wee sewing machine in the window of a charity shop.

Of course, it wasn't open so we smiled and thought no more of it.

Until we returned and had an hour or two to wander before the ferry brought us back to the mainland...

The sewing machine was no longer in the window, but Barry asked me to humour him by going in to ask about it.

As fortune would have it, it was out the back, with a sign saying - needs repair.

For £5 Barry figured we couldn't go wrong, so we exchanged a fiver for a wee Singer Featherweight!

It came back to the cottage with us and we tried a few things to get it going.

I found a manual on the web; so printed it out and we set to thinking about.  We watched a few YouTubes as you do - not that there are many for this funny little model.

Barry worked out how to pull it apart and set to oiling things, tightening the stitch length lever; getting the thread to wind onto bobbin.  So we were making progress.

It had come with all the kit - a nice box with bobbins and feet and screwdrivers.

The tiny foot pedal which is either off or on - none of this gradual increasing pressure to ramp up the speed or decrease it.

This is how you control the speed - it is either off, slow or fast. Simples.

The detachable cotton reel holder feeds from the back...

But still, it made wretched screeching noises when one actually tried to sew.

Barry yarned to a guy and ordered a new bobbin case.  I spoke to the nearest sewing machine repairer who is 31/2 hours drive away and we contemplated the value of a long round trip and repair costs for a £5 machine...

We persevered and read the manual one more time and adjusted the stitch tension as a last resort and bingo! that made a difference.

The underside showing some terrible looping and lack of tension.

We fiddled with it a bit more and think we have actually got the wee machine up and running again!

Happy dance all-round.

So, now we have it set and sorted and ready to go I might be able to sew on it the next time we visit.

For scale - here it is next to a small apple and a kettle!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Capital wants us to believe we are what we sell. But we are what we give away."

Jorge Reichmann

I think I like this one because it focuses on the notion of giving things away.

Over time I have come to realise that the character trait I admire most in people is generosity. Generosity of spirit enables so much; it shares so much, it is so open and honest.  It is just a marvellous thing to come across and I have found it in so many of my friends.

It is the exact opposite of meanness and competitiveness.

Generosity of spirit manifests in every aspect of a person's being,and they bring it as an approach to nearly everything they do.

He suggests that the true spirit of a person is found in what they give away. For me, it may not actually be the 'what' but more perhaps in the action - simply that they give.

They may give time, they may give humour, they may give money when its needed, they may give baking, they may give labour, they may give what they can.  But it is there in the fact that they give.

You know them...folks with hearts that give.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Peace persisting

A few weeks on from International Day of Peace, it is nice to know that some of the peace weather-grams and doves are still holding dreams of peace.

The winds have been pretty strong at times so I have been amazed to wake and see them flying still; however they took a battering on the weekend and only one or two still fly...

The tradition of remnant string continues - perhaps there will be years of string on the barbed wire, like there is on the tree in Maleny...

We did manage to rescue most of them however; and they are now greeting us at our front door.

And the doves and weather grams and rocks have been used by folk to leave wee gifts at our door...

Here, Karen from Coast Coffee had gifted Barry some sea glass for him to take back and use in something...