Sunday, November 29, 2020

Wild/Flower Women III

 Barry and I took a trip to Gympie during the week to see the Exhibition Wild/Flower Women III. There is a long and lovely history of women artists and writers walking this country near Cooloola and recording the flora and wildflowers.

Here, I have captured some of the works which captivated me.

This enormous piece Impermanence (5m x.1.1m) by Joolie Gibbs held my gaze for a long time.

Some details follow.  It was the scale, the intimacy, the wash, the absences, the layering...there is so much held within this work.  The inks were also made from native flora, (bunya, mangrove, eucalyptus bark), and the whole thing was so beautifully integrated.

I have never worked this large and I imagine there is huge skill needed to keep track of the whole and how it is working, whilst offering so much detail...

It was awesome, in the true sense of the word.

A beautiful piano scroll draped alongside vial of ochre  by Melissa Stananrs come go walk and care for country.

A vinyl wall work banksia aemula  piece by Ulrik Sturm.

Found rusted tins... Grasstree Spikes by Barb Hart.

Referencing Xannthorroea I imagine  

Two tea cup, saucer and plate sets by Judy Barrass - handmade paper and print. I adored these with their Australian wildflowers and had to work really hard to NOT pick them up and feel them!

And as you wander to the toilets if you look down here is this whimsical transfer along the skirting boards. I imagine that Ulrike has been playing!

And across the road from the gallery, a graffiti heart.

It was a great day trip and the work was wonderful. It filled me up and lifted me. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“And then an epiphany. The thing taking shape in that everydayness. And you, recognising the point when the work comes together, gelling as if by magic, seeing the light glimmer in the opening at the end in the near distance where there is another beginning". 

Moya Costello

Sometimes I wish to be a writer. A person who can capture and express the moments, the magic, the interaction and the essence of things. These words by Ms Costello do this so well.

They somehow capture that mercurial moment of creation; as if the work is being unveiled before you, even as you make it.  That from another realm it appears now in the everydayness. And yet, you can see a way away, the next moment where it coalesces again, only to re-form.

Oh those moments!

It is marvellous at times to step outside yourself and observe.  To observe the way the work evolves and gets made. The  decisions that are made without making them. The lightning bolts that suddenly guide the next steps.  It is one of my greatest joys that I get to participate in this alchemy.

Sometimes you make the work. Sometimes the work makes itself. Sometimes the work makes you.

The beginning of something special... I would have loved a sunburnt country

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


 It's funny how things come around, come into focus.

My dad is currently involved with articles around hope and asked us for any words or images we may have had that might help the newsletter. And so we looked about the studio and found a few.

I loaned him my copy of Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark  and will trickle some of her hope quotes from the book here.

“I believe in hope as an act of defiance, or rather as the foundation for an ongoing series of acts of defiance, those acts necessary to bring about some of what we hope for while we live by principle in the meantime. There is no alternative, except surrender. And surrender not only abandons the future, it abandons the soul.” RS

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” RS

“Hope just means another world might be possible, not promise, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.” RS

“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. ”  RS

“To hope is to gamble. It's to bet on your futures, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.” RS

Through our new office window I look for this light each night. It has appealed to me ever since we moved here and it has taken a while for me to work out the understory and the appeal.  I think it's like a lighthouse.  It feels as if it stands there shining for those who need to see it.

I love its constancy and its beacon-like nature. The calmness of it, withstanding whatever weather, shining.

My own small version of hope in the dark.

“Your opponents would love you to believe that it's hopeless, that you have no power, that there's no reason to act, that you can't win. Hope is a gift you don't have to surrender, a power you don't have to throw away.” RS

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Great Open Studio and bits

 Its Sunday night and we are both a bit tired still, but we had a huge day yesterday and it was just amazing.  We had lots of folk visit and there was lots of generous support from locals and visitors.

The morning was busy and I think we sat down for a cuppa and a bite to eat about 2pm after starting at 10am.  With help from friends and family we managed to show people around, helped them print, sold some things and  wrapped and packed things for them to take away.

I have not a single shot of the day but here are some of the preparations:

I made plenty of paper pouches for Barry's jewellery and my pebbles.

We tied thread to all these gift tags - I do love the fuzzy fuzzy-ness of them.

Barry made some beautiful book pendants

We displayed his buffalo horn and riveted silver plate earrings 

Barry prepared several sets of sand servers - which sold really well!

And he made some beautiful small book sculptures.

There was of course much more on show but I have no record of it at all!

During the week I also had the pleasure of teaching a letterpress workshop - we had a good time and folk got to make some stuff they liked. Testing and exploring how text could play into their work was great to watch.

No photos again of the day or the results - but hey, here's some more preparation. Laugh!

Each person has their own set up ready to go.

And I stuck some of my Rules of Engagements regarding workshops up on the side of a bookcase as reminders.

And finally flowers.

This tiny wee leptospermum flower continues to delight me and I popped three tiny sprigs in a tiny wee vase behind the kitchen sink so I can see them when we wash up.

With huge thanks to all who visited and supported us - thank you!

May I say, an early night will be had here...

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

With a library you are free. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one – but no one at all – can tell you what to read and when and how 

Doris Lessing

Ahhhhh.... democratic institutions.  How we need them be strong and independent, now more than ever before it feels! 

I like how in this quote Ms Lessing speaks so strongly in support of that sense of independent thought and self-directed reading; and links it to libraries.

Perhaps this is in part about libraries being the neutral holders of great swathes of knowledge and information. Most public libraries do not have agendas to push or certain ideas to promote; they offer nearly all of it up to help us understand, challenge, promote and delight in.

Public libraries - beacons of freedom and democracy!

5 years ago... friend Sue and Claire and I setting up an exhibition in our fabulous Maleny Library.  They are such great sharing spaces as well!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Reflecting and re-learning

It is twelve months since I travelled to Hobart and spent a week doing the Poetics of Place course with Ruth Hadlow. It was a profound experience and I had some very deep learnings, and it was here that I was introduced to the idea of bibliomancy.

Every Tuesday morning I have set aside an hour to do my version of bibliomancy - the notion of gathering art-related books, dipping into them and gathering notions; making connections; meandering into unknown territory; devouring my dictionary as I learn new words; and soaking in new ideas with no agenda.

Last week I headed off and realised I had left my notebook out of my biblio bag; so decided instead to go back through the notebooks I had written during the course, and it was quite the revelation.

Re-reading my notes, a year down the track - a year of horrendous bushfires, a devastating pandemic, selling our home of 14 years and relocating -  it occurred to me that despite the deep connection I had made with many of the ideas explored; I had not been able to implement or use them  much this year.

2020 has been that kind of year.

Re-reading my notes I found insights I had missed earlier; and was able to capture some of the key notes to self I had jotted down.  I found them like a tonic - a bit of a kick up the bum so to speak - to shift my thinking and remember what it means to engage with process.

One of the things I learned about myself during the course was that I moved quickly in my head; I synthesised heaps of information and came to a conclusion or outcome readily.  My challenge is to slow down and look around, push something further before getting to my answer.

So I headed to the studio on the weekend and set a couple of quick reminders - my letterpresses notes to self. I quickly locked up chases, didn't muck about with registration, the prints landed where they would.

Stop following a single train of thought to its conclusion.  Stop and look sideways; introduce new ideas; test other things...

Accept an idea, then ask and...take it further, don't go ah ha I've got it; add some complexity, challenge it from different directions.

This is me. Stop. Slow down. Scan the environment. Look for options to turn left or right; or turn around!

Remember that both intuition and analysis have their own place. Just remember to use them in the right places and sequence and amount!

This is a reminder to me about how to progress and explore an idea. It doesn't say - intuit, work, complete.

And this is the challenge for me - my brain seems to be wired to gather ideas and bring them together quickly; to trying make sense of disparate bits of information.  I like tying things off and understanding them. As I am wont to say - every strength, when overplayed, becomes a weakness.

And so I have a bundle of reminders to keep about me; and hopefully help guide me into making and creating in 2021.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Muddling along and an Open Studio

 Mostly muddling, but that's OK.

Firstly, thank so much to everyone who watched the video about us and for your kind words.  I think it is a beautifully shot little gem of a film and we really do feel fortunate to have been part of it.  It seems to capture our passion for the history of letterpress and what it has done nicely.  Thank you!

Muddling along this week has seen me teaching for 1/2 a day which was great - one on one in the studio with beautiful results.

I am also progressing the work that I am using the rusted papers for, and it is coming along. In fits and spurts, but moving forward which is entirely the aim for now.

I was thinking about fence lines that run all the way to the horizon...

I wasn't sure how best to illustrate the idea and returned to stitching twigs onto paper. I laid them out, pierced some holes and then practised how to make it look like a five-wire fence. I like the 3-D nature of the stitches because they come from on top of the twig - the scarcest of shadows sometimes appear below.

Barry suggested the looping over the top - and I was able to make it work.

Tools of the trade.

Having sorted out how that would work, I finished some more grief cards. These ones were also hard to illustrate, but I have done watercolour wave-lines and embossed the phases of the moon. All very subtle, so subtle you can barely see the embossing! This is a reject because the paper crinkled under pressure, sigh.

And then to the Open Studio event next Saturday!  Just in time for folk to purchase a few gifts for the season, we are flinging open the doors of the studio and showcasing letterpress printing and giving 10% off all items, and a few other special sales.

Barry has printed bundles of festive drink coasters and gift tags; and I wrapped them. Literally a tag team!

His salad servers are also looking gorgeous...

So this will be a week of preparations and teaching and then Saturday will be a big day we hope.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Woo hoo!

 We are fortunate to have been part of the Sunshine Coast Council's Fabric, slow fashion, artful living program.  The Council arranged for five videos to be shot by Sam Hagen of Each of the videos showcases artists with a slow approach to their making.

We love this film by Sam, and with gratitude to the Sunshine Coast Council.

I have failed to work out how to embed a video, so instead here is the link...

Hope you also enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a (wo)man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  

Robert F. Kennedy

One for the times perchance? Whilst we witness moments of change and hope in some places; in others we remain face to face with deception, cruelty, arrogance and meanness.  It can be hard to maintain hope, but I love the imagery within this quote of tiny ripples crossing each other from a million different centres of energy... 

And that is why we do it.  We know we don't change the world by a stroke of our pen or a sentence we construct; we get to change the world by contributing small bits to larger things. We get to change the world within our realm; within our purview; it is within our circles of friends and family and community that we get the chance to make the world a little bit better.

And then these little gatherings of hope and positivity connect and link up and who knows where it could end?

But it takes lots of persistence, lots of small acts, lots of writing, phoning and encouraging; lots of small kindnesses. 

Click here for a wee video I took on our beach in Scotland last year, with the ripples going in all directions...

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Black, white and bold

I am thinking a lot about here and there - about our new 'cottage' here; and our old cottage in Scotland.  It will be a while before we can visit again, but my heart still wants to be there!

I decided to try and do some solar plates using some photos from our last visit. To begin with, I had to try and organise a few into gatherings, so that I could print them on the transparencies.

It all felt a bit like an experiment, but they seemed to work.  When I put them down together they transparencies curled, and the lights bounced off them and they were rather lovely.

Of course I chose the first day of downpours in a week or so to begin; so what I need to do now is wait for a sunny day to see if I can expose the plates.

And then there is the dose of bold and bright - I wandered past the Co-op in town on Saturday and this great bunch of flowers was outside waiting to be collected!