Thursday, February 27, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. (Roy Ascott’s phrase.) That solves a lot of problems: we don’t have to argue whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre’s bricks or Andrew Serranos’s piss or Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ are art, because we say, ‘Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.’ … what makes a work of art ‘good’ for you is not something that is already ‘inside’ it, but something that happens inside you — so the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind of experience that you call art.” 

Brian Eno 

OK I accidentally seem to have gone way philosophical by choosing this one, but bear with me!

I oftentimes enjoy somebody who takes a bit of pressure off a difficult or tricky subject.  By suggesting that you stop thinking about art as a something, but rather think about art as an action and a response you get all kind of wonderful things into the box called art.

Each and every one of us responds to an art object in wildly different ways.  Sometimes I am stopped in my tracks, my breath taken away by something, whilst those around me murmur, look at their phone, and waffle on by.

In that sort of moment, its clearly not the thing itself - it is in fact the reaction inside me, which creates the experience I call art. It seems to me this kind of approach can incorporate things like coming across a series of sticks in the ground;  the sun streaming in on dying roses; a white page delicately pierced; peeling painted walls; monks chanting and oh so many more moments of art.

He also summarises it aptly with his closing words "the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind fo experience that you call art."

Here's to making moments like that for others as well...

Time for Change 2015.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


I was recently privileged to attend a worksop with Ruth Hadlow, called Poetics of Place.

It landed in my inbox when I was in Scotland last and it utterly drew me in with it synchronicity - I have been yearning to investigate and understand how these two places call me; how I feel like they are both home; and their beauty speaks to me so eloquently, even tho they are so vastly different...

Its not possible to describe the magic of the days I attended; but I did want to share one notion which has stayed with me since and which has become part of my weekly practice.

Ruth referred to the notion of Bibliomancy. One definition of which is

"divination by means of a book, especially the Bible, opened at random to some verse or passage, which is then interpreted".

Now, that's not how I do it however.  I define my own bibliomancy as simply reading things at random, and finding interesting things, and sometimes connections.

Here I am on Wednesday last week. I have some varying and different books in my bag - What Days Are For by Robert Dessaix, re+home+ing by Irene Briant and My Katherine Mansfield Project by Kirsty Dunn for starters.  These are diverse, off to- the-side-idea books and I have loved dipping into them and finding a bit of this and a bit of that which I like or which resonates.

Each week I select one, dip into it, find myself entranced or drifting away and make some notes. No real rules - read a bit, think a bit, put it away and get another one, or keep going and going deeper.

The cover of Kirsty Gunn's book made me catch my breath. It says it all about how I am feeling about home here and there.

But really, what I do is sit and make my way slowly through a cup coffee and jot down notes and quotes and thoughts and make connections.

I have read some academic papers and I am keeping list of words I'd like to truly understand and get the proper definition of along the side.

Every now and again I realise the connections between the vastly different readings...

Each week I write in a different coloured pen so I can more easily find things when I reflect back.

In Irene's book, she ponders having moved to a new home.  Some of her pages are exquisite and I have sat and thought long and hard about the question she poses "How long does it take to feel at home?"

Initially she describes quite prosaic things like being able to find the light switch in the dark, but then she turns to eloquent and poetic indicators that run more deeply. Like When you feel the sun is coming through the right windows; when you feel that all you have gained equals all you have lost.

These are poignant and perfect descriptors of feeling at home.

I have been feeling tired/exhausted by all the moving shenanigans and so have given myself permission the past two weeks to simply read the fabulous print magazine out of the UK Pressing Matters.  I am a couple of issues behind in my reading, so that felt right - a chance to indulge in nice pictures and nice stories about printmaking. I did so without thinking I would analyse, contrast, compare or the other things I do more deeply with other readings.

But in the end I got lots out of it - ideas, connections, opportunities...

I figure I would go to the barricades to safeguard this one hour a week!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Moving right along

It's Sunday afternoon and it's fair to say I am whacked.

We have had a pretty huge week, as we have been moving the studio.  We have taken up a lease on building in town and over the course of the week we have packed up a fair bit, moved an awful lot, built plenty of new furniture and start unpacking and putting away.

Both the old and the new studio spaces look a mess; but there is some sense of order emerging from them both. Phew.

Planning out the new...

Packing up and clearing out the old...

The Lightning Jobber is a ridiculously heavy bit of gear; it took three men with a special piano moving trolley to safely steer it out the door and up into the back of the truck.

The type cabinets went in first.  The job required each case to be taken out, the cabinet moved into the truck, each case replaced, transported, then each case removed, the cabinet removed, and then each case replaced.  A heavy job when they are full of lead type.  The movers soon learnt the difference between 10pt and 72pt weight-wise!

The cabinets are not really sturdy enough to bear being tilted and moved with all that weight in them, hence the many handlings. We slept well that night.

Gradually replacing the cases.

The Adanas came over as well and here they sit, reminding me of little birds with their mouths open waiting to be fed!

They were soon on the six filing cabinets on wheels. Including the baby one.

The weight of the Jobber left these tyre marks as they turned to position it.

And then we had all the presses in situ - The Lightning Jobber, an etching press, 6 Adanas, 2 proofing presses and a book press.

It's beginning to look a lot like a print studio!

Once we are all set and tidy I'll take you for a wander around the joint...

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“but writing down the words 
alters what I want to remember 
that which had no words 
was a living breathing image so now I have two versions of the same
today I can superimpose them
but tomorrow when I’m gone
only the words are left
signs evoking something
that no eye sees any more” 

 Remco Campert, from “Memo” (translated by Donald Gardner)

words. and more words.
 I have held this quote for so many it; wondered what it meant; at different times thought it is beyond me; too beautiful...but today I read it slowly and could see it revealing itself to me before my very eyes. Perhaps I had more time or I really wanted to read it, not rush it. Who knows.

Pondering books, I am pondering writing and words here and I think this expresses rather magically the action of describing something in words and what it is, can be, and what remains.

The mere fact that we use language, structure, symbols and meanings to describe something that is simply seen or felt; that is itself voiceless and unspeaking, creates parallel experiences of the thing. Two versions. Momentarily, fleetingly.

I loved the imagery of superimposition - like sliding sheets of tracing paper or glass over something then moving one away, leaving the discrete elements no longer creating unified whole.

And what remains are the words - the image or sensation cannot be felt or seen again, so the portrayal is what we are left with.

Which isn't the thing itself. But it’s something…

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Layering of letters

Every now and again a random thought pops into my head and I start to explore an idea with absolutely no idea of where it might go.

And so it is with this one.  I wondered if you somehow could divide letters up into their different components (or strokes as a calligrapher might say), and use tracing paper to produce the whole letter in layers.  Don't ask me why.

So a I printed a largish alphabet off the computer and started with A.  (I also ended with A  given time limitations, but I know there are 25 possibilities remaining!)

Stage 1. Colour in the left hand diagonal, halfway.

Turn the page, colour in lower half of left diagonal.

Head to the right diagonal and do the same, upper and lower halves of the diagonal.

About now I am enjoying what's happening on the left hand side of the page as well...

And finally the cross bar.

Sewed up quickly with red thread.

 The back.

The front.

The finished wee book-et.

A clearly has a few strokes, some of which I divided just to really layer it, so I ended up with 5 layers.  I could imagine O ending up with 4, C maybe two, U could get 4 if you tried, M could have 4 , 6 or 8...

None of which has helped clarify what I might do with it or use it for...but that might just niggle away at the back of my brain and appear randomly another time!

I am not sure what it achieves to dissect a letter like this, but part of me remains intrigued...

Sunday, February 16, 2020


These are busy days and it seems like I begin a task, only to make it just so far, and no further.  For now. I do know that time will open up again soon.

I have been wanting to make a few more grief cards - and I thought of some words the other day that seemed to express something of that time, for those of us with friends and folk we love and care about who are bereaved.

So I sat down at a corner of a cluttered desk and pulled out some type.  I had originally wanted to use larger wood type but realised it wasn't going to fit one of the standard card sizes I use. so I went smaller.

In keeping with my other grief cards, it's all lower case, no capitals. Somehow I find lower case gentler.

Here we go - sometime. It is looking pretty tight, but does make it the width of the card, with a breath to spare either side.

 But then I realised its really sometimes I want to say, so I tried to squeeze it in.

And I'd say it just fits. Of course registration and alignment could get tricky, but for now, we're in!

The next set of words, I wanted to use a lower case lead type, and I tried to fully justify it.

You can see what happens when I spontaneously just want to test out some type and don't take the, I don't know, let's say, 45 seconds, it would take to grab a tray and a chase some quoins to lock it up?
Sigh, I do sometimes regret my own impetuosity.

I then wondered if it would look better if the words ran down centred and vertically. I got my answer - I don't think so!

This is how it is precariously sitting on my desk right now - I added in the word just  which I think adds the emphasis I want, but I'm still not sure. I am yet to even proof it with carbon paper because that would require me to tidy it up and lock it up!

So the words are still evolving and so of course shall the card.  I usually illustrate each one, but I haven't had a brilliant lightbulb moment about what could support the words yet, so we shall wait and see.

Stolen moments, edging closer. Any thoughts or suggestions seriously welcomed!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Her life – that was the only chance she had – the short season between two silences.” 

 Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out 

The document in which I collect my possible quotes for Thursday Thoughts runs to well over 100 pages now.  I change the colour of the quote once I have used it so I don't repeat myself (unless of course I have accidentally included he same quote twice, but so far I don't think I have).

So the process of selection is simply one of scrolling through until I find a black set of words that apply to the day's theme of art, life or books.  Sometimes I start at the beginning of the document;  other times I whizz to a mid point then start there; sometimes I do it in reverse and see what appears.

To date, I have no knowledge or understanding of what a certain quote draws me in, and so it is with this one.

I love Virginia Woolf: her search for independence and meaning; her economic language and its succinctness; the areas of life she explores...

We are surrounded by mist once more today and perhaps that evoked the sense that this one felt like a cry that is absorbed by the muffled mist, a cry for her own life to be lived, for her to have the chance to simply be her in all of her individuality and uniqueness.

I also think the description of a life as a short season is so poetic; and then to place that season within two silences is so utterly poignant.

For me it somehow makes it even more important to find ways to live your life and not simply have it pass you by; silence came before and silence shall follow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

There's been a murrrrrrrrder!

OK in case you are worried there hasn't really been; but it certainly looked a bit that way when I opened one of the cupboards in the studio this week.

As exhibit A in the 'it's been a hellish hot summer in Australia' category, I present one melted silicone Adana roller (or maybe two, I am yet to pull it out and fully investigate).

Brilliant isn't it?

Who even knew that your rollers could liquify like this?

The rollers are usual about an inch in diameter, and here is what's left of the core - about 1/2 inch max!

I'll get in and sort it out shortly, but for now, I am enjoying just the fabulously gooey melted look of it all.  A contemporary art installation perhaps?

And as I was tidying and dissing the type from my Mabel's Scrub piece, I glanced across and saw some remnants of aluminium shim that I was about to toss, and thought 'I wonder what if...????'

And here is the answer.  I like this very much and feel as if there are possibilities plus!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Gentle Journeys

Work makes and re-makes itself sometimes, and in recent days I was approached by a friend in the US who checked if I would be OK if she added some typewriter written words to some wee pieces I had sent her several years ago.

I said yes immediately and thought what a great addition the words would make.  Plus she was doing it on her purple typewriter; with purple ribbon.  How could anybody say no?!?!?

So that work got re-made and it got me thinking of re-making some of the works themselves.

In amongst the busy-ness of life I just grabbed some quiet studio moments and sat and played with the old embossing plates I found.  I had made the work so long ago I could barely remember what I did; but I knew that I hand embossed.

The original formal pieces were called Gentle Journeys I and II.

I still find them very calming.  However the notion of the squares is what had gotten me and I had made several small ones and wrapped them in Japanese paper and sent them out into the world.

I couldn't find the 'X' so I cut another one; but the line and the circle were still around.

I headed off, using up strips of Fabriano Rosapina that were 8cm wide, creating patterns at will and at random.

It was so stilling, and calming.  Just sitting there with paper, a hand embossing tool and some plates; making it up as I went along.

And then trimming some luscious Japanese paper and making a wrap for them.  It's a little bit of magic as you unwrap what lies within.

Ridiculously simple, but oh so satisfying...

More gentle journeys.