Sunday, May 30, 2021

Pottering and playing

 I have given myself permission slow down and play a bit this week.  I have realised that I was feeling very focused doing all this workshop preparation - linear, job-related, goal-oriented work.  Making oftentimes needs to be the complete opposite for me - wandering, exploring, open-ended, free.

So I picked myself up and out of  the focus and just started rolling thru the multiple half option ideas that had been lying in wait. All the questions! The what ifs? I wonder if I could? What might that look like? Would that work? How would I?

One of the starting points was that we gave presentation to the local Probus Club where we demonstrated traditional letterpress, spoke passionately about it and then got folk to have a go themselves.

I had set up this simple thank you, rotated a few times to make a lovely pattern and folk took one of these home.

We wrapped our brayers up in gloves to protect stuff as we packed up and brought things back to the studio.  I didn't get back to unfurling them until Friday (we did the demo on Wednesday) and so I had to gently pull the gloves off as things were bit tacky.

But wow look at those marks. You know what happens next.

So a few of the leftover squares got printed on

And I am sure they will be great backgrounds for something...

I was snuffling around in some drawers and found this very old paper which I had been saving for something, never knew what. Still may not know, but I did straight away head to the pebbles to see how they looked on those waves.

And I really did like what they did.

And to finish we were up in dad's orchid house and heard a noise above us - this fab magpie on the shade cloth.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back. 

Jim Fiebig

I understand that Jim Fiebig was a business man, and a gemstone lover; I am yet to determine his connection to Braille, low vision or blindness, yet I think he says something rather wonderful about words and reading using Braille.

Many of us are tactile, we love the process of holding and touching cloth and paper with our hands.  It is one of the ways we experience things, by reaching out to touch them

I had never stopped to think about reading Braille offering this unique and special delight - the touching of words.  Of words touching one back.  It adds another dimension entirely to the joy of reading.   

It seems to me this interaction, call and response almost is a wonderful addition to the reading process

One of the things I love about traditional letterpress is that it is about making words with your hands; the haptic nature of word making.

And in Braille we learn the haptic nature of reading.

Hand stitched peace from the book 'The Nurses'

Tuesday, May 25, 2021


 A while ago now I was approached by Amanda Earl (Canadian visual poet) to see if I would be willing to participate and be listed in an anthology she was preparing and editing around Women making visual poetry.

She was focussing on 36 women from 21 countries but had come across so many wonderful women that she wanted to try and include them all somehow.  Of course I was momentarily disappointed that I wasn't one of the 36! But keen nonetheless to participate in some way and keep the work of recognising women's work alive.

Amanda had seen my work A Subversive Stitch and loved it; and I took part in a Q&A interview type thing and this extended interview, along with several others, is available for download here.

In the interview I wrote about Women's Words - the hand stitched stories from the women at McAuley House in Melbourne. Stories from women who were leaving shelter after being accommodated safely.

On return home last week the Post Office Box presented me with my own copy of Judith - Women Making Visual Poetry. Oh my goodness, I think this book will become a classic companion and a treasure trove to dip into often. To learn, and to be inspired.

The foreword is by Johanna Drucker and there are detailed interviews and lots of photographs with the featured women.

Towards the end of the book there are even more essays.

I love reading about process and context for the art that I make and these thoughtful approaches and investigations are well worth spending time with.

As I flicked through the book, a couple of spreads sang to me, but on flicking back so many more did too!

Kate Siklsosi

Ines Seidel

Amnda Earl.

Erica Baum

And here is the lengthy list of 1181 women making visual poetry that Amanda sourced from around the world - a lifetime of googling awaits!!!

I know this book will take a long time to digest, but I am looking forward to slowly absorbing its magic.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The week that was...

 We had a great visit to Melbourne - a fabulous few days of being inspired at the Communities in Control Conference; as well as spending time together with dear friends and eating together and wandering the streets. Some places and some times fill you up, and time spent at the conference, as ever, renewed my spirit.

Our Pop Up Poster shop went well and we chatted social justice and women's issues with many a participant.  A few commissions came our way as well, and more Go Girl tea towels are about to hit the press!!!

One of my favourite wall signs near where we stayed. How I love artists and street art.

Home on Wednesday, to find that the ikebana arrangement I made at the workshop last Saturday was holding strong. Our good friend Tory had arranged for the wife of the Japanese Consulate in Brisbane, Hiromi Tanaka, to do an Ikebana demonstration (she is a Master) and for us all to then try our hands. As you can see a gorgeous gathering, and we all learned a lot.  It made us look at flowers and negative space so very differently. Thanks to John G for the group shot.

On  Thursday I baked bread. More aligned to to the rock family than the bread family, but it tasted good.

On Thursday night we attended a vigil for victims of domestic abuse.

On Saturday I baked more bread. Much better, but more trials to come!

A cornucopia of life - varied and full this week.  Friday and Sunday were spent in the studio with bits of this and bits of that.  Not as much focus as I would have liked but time to be gentle on myself and let things settle into place. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be”. 

 Anne Lamott

This one goes out to all the women I know.  All the women for whom growing older has given the great gift of me-ness. Of knowing ourselves and who we really are, and what we really want, and how we really want to move through the world, and spend our time.

What a gift.

I cherish the ongoing unfolding of life more on my own terms than with the expectations of others in mind.

I like stepping into the shape that was waiting for me.

I like fitting into me now. 

Fitting in...

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A week...

Last week was a good week of playing and sorting and prepping. Preparing for workshops always makes me dig deep again, practise, test and trial things to make sure I know what I am doing.  I know I do, but I do love to double-check!

And so in prepping for a letter and word cutting workshop I got to play with some different pieces of paper; a few different techniques; and generally just got lost in the play and fun which was great!

Here I was testing the BFK Rives grey paper - it is a warm, khaki-like grey.  BFK Rives is such a reliable paper for cutting; yet I had never cut the grey which is a bit heavier than the white/cream.  It worked well and gave some great contrasts, so yes, we will play with it in the workshop.

I looks so different when on the grey concrete.

Another technique I was trying was this random crazy wandering lettering all joined up. Clearly I am very rusty with this; but I think once cut it will look a whole lot better!

This is a good demonstration of the back and what really happens when I cut. I am being so careful that that I don't cut through an end point, I nearly always finish short. But that is a whole lot better than ruining your work.

This piece will become a template that I trace around and then cut from behind - always soooo much better.

And Nature was wonderful too.

Monday dawn - a wee sliver of a moon...

Friday sunset - a wee sliver of a moon...

I love how something (us or the moon) had rotated slightly by the end of the week!

And these small flowers always, always delight me.

And then I laughed. We had a cracker of a storm and some fierce rain this week. I smiled to myself that our new car has a sunroof - laugh! 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

More protest posters

 We are headed off to Melbourne to attend a fabulous conference - Communities in Control. Run by an organisation (OurCommunity) we are proud to work  with, and for, at times, we love their passion for social justice and the way they enthuse the community and not for profit sector to keep going and keep making a difference in so many people's lives.

We are having a pop up shop of sorts and are taking down a HEAP of posters which we hope may find homes.

Through the week I finished off these two...

We (society) seem to have a default button where we assume men are telling the truth and women are lying when it comes to sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse.  I guess it's due to conditioning and weird internalisations of power and authority roles, yet in less than 5% of cases are women found to have made the claims of assault up. Hence my advice (in bright and healing orange) to simply believe her. 

If she has been brave enough to talk about it; you can safely assume in 95% of cases - it happened. Pretty good odds.

Late last year I watched with awe and wonder as Kamala Harris trod that tightrope of being a black woman in a position of authority, debating with a senior white male, and being assertive. What a tricky thing that debate was and I admire her so much for how she managed to smile enough, be polite enough, stand up for herself enough but not be aggressive.  All of that balancing act, that she must have been processing at lightning speed under lights. Very calmly saying "Mr Vice President, I'm speaking" was a great way to be heard - both to stop the flow from the other side; but also it allowed her to be heard because folk weren't distracted and calling her a rude or aggressive or angry woman. What a woman.

Anyhow here is my poster about that.

And here is the bright and vibrant inking time.

 After having played awhile with just which P was the right P?

I liked the contrast with the serifs in the final.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thursday Thoughts...

“The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one’s own most intimate sensitivity”. 

Anne Truitt

The art life does oftentimes draw you into places which are tricky and hard; yet for whatever reason you simply need to explore.  Sometimes for me the making of art simply comes from the need to respond in some way to some sadness, or some awful situation.

When I ask myself in response to some difficult issues - what can I do? One answer is make art.

Unlike Ms Truitt I am not consistently or constantly working along the seam of my inner sensitivity in an ongoing unrelenting way.  I dip in and out of difficulty; and relieve myself with lightness every now and again.

For some artists I imagine it is true that they are constantly seeking to investigate and understand something for or about themselves, and their artistic expression is their work.

When I flipped this notion and thought what is your artistic life was about working steadfastly along the nerve of one's own most intimate happiness and joy how good would that be???

For me, women's work is never done...this bag was spotted at the march4justice in Brisbane. A quote from Margaret Whitlam, the wife of a former Prime Minister. Love it1

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Prep, prep and more prep

 I have a few teaching engagements lined up in the next wee while; and as ever, the preparation take time.

I so often think making an art life is never just about the art - in fact so much time is taken up cataloguing, tracking down supplies, and in this case preparing heaps of pages!

This is a day long workshop making heaps of books, and because the group are enthusiastic newcomers, rather than do a difficult stitching or binding we have opted for a bunch of small books that they could safely venture into and make for themselves afterwards.

I like folk to get as much out of a workshop as they can and to this end, rather than spend a long time cutting pages and covers from large sheets of paper on the day; I have done all the cutting for them. Cutting takes time!

Here I have set out 20 paper bags and placed 5 covers on each bags (100 covers).

Each bag will have a few different colours.

A sample bag of sorts.

And then I added in the 20 pages each (20 x 20 = 400)

And because I do love a stack of edges...

And in this case a stack of openings too!

For another set of books I have cut Bristol Board. Each person needs 24 pages; so 20 x 24 = 480 pages.

Some better cut than others...but these are sample books for them to keep and refer to so I hope they can cope!

I have a couple of other book page preparations to go, along with instructions and handouts, but we are on track!

And yesterday morning early, there was this tiny morning moon...