Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“For a while there I read mostly poetry, which seemed to ratify or at least dignify my outsized feelings”.

Nam Le

Reflecting back on his teenage years here, it feels to me like a lovely description of what to do with outsized feelings!  I even think its nice that he calls them outsized, rather than oversized feelings - it adds that sense of things just not fitting when you are younger and don't quite know what to do with them.

Anyhow, it is also a lovely way of saying how poetry can just fit.  Oftentimes I think poetry is a place where you can find what you need, when you need it and sometimes without even knowing that you needed it.

Poetry is so vast and so various, and yet mostly it's available and easy to get into.  You can flick through a book of poems and find out fairly quickly if they are for you or not.

Sometimes there will only be one or two which grab you - but my goodness do they grab.  They speak right to you, personally, and they help makes sense of your world.

And just for that moment you can sit with them and feel heard.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Reviving a commission

Several years ago I was asked to print a small wall piece as a farewell gift for the Chairperson of a Board.  A week or so ago I was asked to do another one - along the same lines, for another farewell.

I went back and tried to find photographs and other details of the work I had done but there didn't seem to be a lot around.

Eventually I found a proof which was a big help.

And so I set about replicating it. And it was slightly trickier than I had thought it might be; and I was grateful I had kept some pretty good notes.

So I went and found all the type - the different typefaces and the sizes, as well as quite a few spaces.

I measured the width of each line on the proof and worked out what I was aiming at - but it took several goes to get the spacing right.

My first carbon paper proof against the older work, and I realised that I must have left the metal furniture out between the lines of type in the original, as the text there was tighter.

At this point I wished I had taken a photo of the locked up chase previously so I would know for sure.

Note to self...

Here is the photo this time with the interlinear metal furniture.

Did I prefer the loose or the tight look? I inked it up and compared.

And went with the tighter look.

Here is the photo with the the interlinear metal furniture removed! Just in case there is a next time.

May I say those plastic tweezers are so helpful when lifting small bits of metal away from small type and trying desperately not to have the whole block tip over and scatter!

Inking was fun.  After proofing with black I thought it would be nice to go with one of the greens that form part of the organisation's logo.

I had done some calligraphic work for them previously with the green and it  had been well received.
And so to colour-mixing. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Because it is only the larger typeface that gets inked in colour I tried to make sure the ink didn't bleed onto the lines above and below.

Sticky taped paper barely works in case you ever need to know.

However, this non stick painter's tape is a dream to work with and goes on and off easily and doesn't move once in place. Another note to self.

Inked up and no bleed...

Testing the colour mix to the logo and deciding that it works fine.

And then ta da as they say in the classics.  A couple of prints that worked. One to the framers and two just to send in case they want to use them again as gifts in the future.

In case you are wondering.  The organisation (McAuley Community Services) provides services to homeless women.  They have four guiding principles: compassion, justice, community and hospitality.

Working with the CEO, we determined that the first three lines - family violence, women and homelessness are experienced, then their interaction with McAuley (justice) enables them to afterwards experience safety, home, wellbeing and a sense of feeling brave.

You may recall the work I did for their new building around the meditation and reflection room, and the life fragments...

It is always an honour to work with this organisation.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Slow days

I was a little bit weary and worn this week with not a lot of energy on a couple of days, so very sensibly opted for some quiet down time.

On Friday afternoon I was good for very little else than to sit and wind thread.

Whilst in Scotland I had bought some new 'dolly pegs' to wind the threads that I was dyeing over there onto.  I had taken some of my vintage pegs with me, but clearly got so carried away that I needed more pegs!

On return I thought I really did prefer the vintage older peg look, so went hunting and found some online.  I added them to my collection here and thought one day I will transfer those threads.

A little voice in my head was going 'yeah, as if you'll ever have spare time for that!'

Hooray for not feeling great.

There was something lovely about the line of pegs on the coffee table.

Looking this way and that.

And close up and low.

Here are the Scottish threads that needed transferring - quite a few in the end. The new pegs just don't have the same feel at all.

And here they all are on their new old pegs (pile of old new pegs to the side).

Fortunately I still have a good selection of old vintage pegs to work with - so more dyeing can happen!

The flowers that are featuring are our NSW Christmas bush.  It is blooming here at the moment and is such a beautiful cut flower.  I have it in vases all over the house and on window sills and ...

As the sun sets and streams through the windows it highlights it beautifully.

A really low red glowing smoky sunset gave me this against a timber post.

And also whilst I wasn't feeling too flash, I managed to finish this colourful and happy jig saw that I had been playing with in the studio.  I found it a nice way to empty my head before I began working and then when I wasn't feeling crash hot, I could just mindlessly add pieces to it and feel as if I achieved something!

It has been put away and a new project has begun in that space so all good.

Fear not, I am bright as a button now, just had a slow and quiet few days.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” 

 Barbara Kingsolver

I think this one is interesting...

The more read it, the more deeply I delve into it.  To think that the least one can do is work out what one hopes for.  I feel a bit like, here I am, at the age I am, and I'm not sure I have spent too much time thinking about what I hope for.

Or perhaps I have and it's just that the word 'hope' jumps out at me as being a different verb to one I use a lot.

I do however love the way she describes the most that one can do (with whatever that hope or other word is) is live inside it, live under the roof, be really really close to it.

It seems to be an invitation to really live your life, to not wonder what if, or when, or maybe if then, but to live it.

I guess where I ended up is taking some time to really think about what I hope for, and to try and make sure I have it alongside me as I go...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

General randomness

I have a few jobs on at the moment none of which are at an interesting stage so nothing much to show really.

However, the landscape remains intriguing given the fires and there are odd studio moments of wonder.

And to begin...

I wrote a note to self on a piece of paper at the studio, one that was on a metal spiral notebook, and tore it off.  I held it in my hand near my phone to carry some stuff back to the house and looked down at my phone's camera (which was open) and thought - interesting!

The perforated circular holes in the note left by tearing off the spiral, were acting as a kind of filter creating an interesting image and sense of what was what.

And so of course, I walked back to the house intrigued by how the world looked through the perforations...

Stopping to snap here and there...


And so to the fires. Our nearby one is out which is great, and it is the smoke haze from fires 200km away that is the main issue now.

At first we wondered if this was another storm front pushing through, but then realised it was the pillar of smoke from the fires near Toowoomba (200km away)

It kept coming and by morning we woke in a white-out.  We thought it might have been a fog-mist whiteout, but no, it was a total smoke whiteout.

Strangely of course, we are getting magnificent sunsets as a result...which all seems so wrong somehow.

It is a terrible start to summer - in NSW over a million hectares have been burnt, nearly 500 homes lost and 6 people have died.  In QLD the numbers are smaller, but the news is now saying the fires will not go out, they will just keep burning.  It is so awful that the areas affected now are already deep in drought.  Nearby Stanthorpe was supposed to run out of water for the town in December; and there is just no water around to put fires out. A deadly and devastating combination.

I hope against hope that those in positions of power pay attention to the changes in our climate and take steps to mitigate and respond.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

bookartobject5 - overwintering 5

I have been part of bookartobject5 based around the the poems, journals and videos of poet John Bennett.

We were given his words and images and left to our own devices to create an artists' books that would be shown in an exhibition at the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery over summer. We were in two groups and were to make enough to share with our group members as well as one for the poet and one for the exhibition.

I read through all the work and worked thru the imagery and there was just this small fragment that kept pulling me back.

A portion of a poem called overwintering 5, these were the words:

Ruddy Turnstones close on wind's compass bearing
beside circular depressions fashioned by stingrays,
the wind whistles the distance they own,
the sea is having its say in the next field.

I chose these words because the imagery was strong for me – the compass, the stingray memories in the sand, the wind whispering…

I also looked up Ruddy Turnstones and really liked the look them and how they go about their feeding by...turning over stones of course!

I really wanted to work across a range of processes to produce this book, and in the end I did. I created a collagraph plate to emboss the wrap-around cover which reflects the pebbles and stones that get ‘turned over’, and I created a solar plate etching to hint at the stingray’s marks in the sand. The words are hand set and hand printed in a tiny 8pt typeface, and the fragment of the poem is set on round pages, suggesting the compass points, which are also de-bossed by hand.

Sometimes I like to take words and be inspired by them to create something abstracted from them; at other times I like to re-produce and honour the words in a more specific interpretative way, and I chose this latter approach here. In the end, it is a small fragment of a book, with a fragment of words, yet somehow it is whole.

It is only 10cm x 10cm.  The cover wrap around is made of 160gsm paper.  The book is light as a bird.

The cover

the title page

I staged the words down the round pages, and if you look closely you can see the de-bossed compass points...

the colophon to finish

 some breathing space (there is also some at the start of the book but I don't have a photo!)

and the back cover.

A sweet wee thing.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings". 

Agnes Martin

I imagine this is most certainly true for Agnes Martin's work.  Whatever she is representing it is subtle. It is not shouty, it does not appear angry, its isn't loud or obvious.

Oftentimes the closest one gets to understanding what some of her work may represent is the clues in the titles.

On a Clear Day, Praise, With My Back to the World, Faraway Love, I Love the Whole World...

Perhaps as well, what art can be is a way of making physical/concrete/visible, many of the things that are simply felt.  For some these feelings may be subtle, for others, not.

Detail of a tapestry in St Magnus' Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.  A beautiful thing.

And the explanatory panel - the tapestry gives form to feelings...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Of pegs and threads and garden moments

So, it is go gently and quietly time - keeping an eye on the weather as the wind roars back and the temperatures soar.  No new fires below, but watchful eyes keep looking and checking.

I seem to be back to little bits of normal, which seems to be made up mostly of pottering.

I had ordered a bunch of old wooden pegs and they began to arrive last week.

Over on my Instagram page I wondered "what should the collective noun for old wooden pegs be...? and I got some fun answers.  I think my favourite so far is a pinch of pegs!

But the pegs then brought me back to winding threads again. A friend had been pickling beetroots and couldn't bear to toss the fabulous juice out and asked if I might want to use it - so of course I did.

Here are the threads straight out of the pot - all a bit dazzling and eye-popping.

But after rinsing and drying they have arrived back to the beautiful subtle tones of the other threads, and look quite at home on their pegs.

We have been observing lot of road work out the front and so yesterday afternoon went out around dusk to check out what was happening and lots of road had been cut up and removed and was to be replaced.

But it was the moment of walking along our path and looking up to see the moonrise, then turning my head to see the sunset at the same moment from the exact same place that made me stop with wonder.

Those moments, so unexpected, and yet so appreciated.  Moments of beauty and wonder and reminders of the way the world turns, the comforting assurance of days and nights and seasons.

We wandered past the avocado tree which is full. So full. I have never seen so much fruit beginning on it.  I think it must be the dry season we have had...

And to finish with a wish for safety for folk facing fires and for folk fighting fires.