Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself". 

Doris Lessing

As I thought about this one, I checked back to see that Ms Lessing was speaking of literature. Without that word it is simply about reading and I have to say it is possible to read a lot of rubbish and trash and conspiracy and not learn to think for yourself at all.

I guess she is also careful to refer to keeping at least a part of yourself immune to indoctrination and she doesn't say that you will, but that you can, learn to think for yourself.

So with all of that in mind, as ever, I became caught up pondering who or what defines literature. I feel at times it is a social and class divider - if you have to ask, then clearly you don't understand literature. Could just be a chip on my shoulder.

I think fiction can encourage empathy and understanding. I think non-fiction can give brilliant insights in to lived events and existences. I think literature can teach moral lessons and behaviour.  

In the end it does come down to not simply that you read, but what you read, and one should try to read the best writing that one can.

Some of the worst of indoctrination - documents from Auschwitz.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Little bits of peace

So in amongst the heart-sickness of Roe v Wade, I was printing about peace. 

I finished the work and then decided to use up some ink and print white on white, overlaying the beautiful reminder:

We dream of peace, and peace dreams of us.

We are not alone in seeking peace; in fact peace is waiting for us to reach out to meet it. It wants to be with us as well.

This thought makes me feel less lonely about the continuing need to find peaceful resolutions, to join together in peace, to be able to live in harmony. (all sounds a little bit hippy dippy I know...).

So I continued to print it on scraps of paper, and make them into bookmarks, some worked better than others.

Keep on dreaming... and keep the dream alive.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Fragile Gains - still very fragile

Over the weekend we learned that the Supreme Court of the US had overturned the Roe v Wade decision. I was despairing and enraged. The consequences of this decision for so many women, in so many ways - it is not just about abortion - are immense. The surveilling of women's bodies and lives and decisions and choices is unconscionable. I wept silent tears, and felt heart-sick once more, for women and this world.

For the past few months I have been re-working my Fragile Gains work from 2014-2015, this time exploring it with the fragility of eggshells.

I started out with colour, and pondered how they should stand. I had originally been playing with words about eggs; but then it became clear that the fragility was once again, about women's rights and gains. 

And how sad I was when I realised just how relevant this one still was.

 So today, I completed the set of seven fragile gains. I am yet to finalise how they will be fully presented, but they will be teetering. As are we all.

And by the end of today I was playing with the notion of individual ones, in a wee box...

It is so hard to work out what the next steps can possibly be; but solidarity, protest and persisting will surely be at the heart of it.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

“When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh 

I found this quote on page 42 of my quote-collecting document which is now sitting at 108 pages, so I must have had it there for a while.  Now seems as good a time as any to sit down with it and ponder life.

The first sentence is something that I feel many of us understand and try to do - we oftentimes find the patience, the emotional IQ, the community-mindedness, the family-focussedness to keep things calm and smooth and orderly in their way (except of course if the other person's proposition is abominable).

I must admit however I haven't often though of that process as being about bringing my mind of compassion to the situation; more I feel as if I bring my ability to put up with things, to the situation. So that is a much nicer way to think about it.

The second sentence was a bit more of a challenge as I really sat with it - that sense of understanding that like many religions suggest, we should love people despite their unpleasantness. Tricky, especially with people in politics for example or in power, whom I despise.  I clearly have a long way to go on this part.

I can relate to the second part with say children, where I am very happy to say I love the child, but I don't like the behaviour (same goes for some adults I guess). Love not being contingent on the other person being loveable is a big thing to try and do...

This is one of our rainbow of kindness posters and it is a reminder to me to act in a more positive way than I might feel; but the quotes seems to ask me to feel the way I should feel, not just act it...

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Notions of home...

I have oftentimes mentioned I am investigating in my head, and in my heart, and through my hands, what the feeling of home is about; how is it possible to feel home in different places?

I wonder what was it about? this endeavour to find our Scottish cottage?

I have written some more words...

Just north of desire 
And to the east of questioning, 

At the intersection of delight and doubt, 
The contours of persistence beckon. 

From the terrain of good fortune 
And beyond the point of hesitancy, 

As the coordinates of practicality call, 
Way markers steer towards audacity. 

A nudge south of absurdity 
And a fraction to the west of daring, 

Lay lines of logic, 
Meet the highwater mark of happiness. 

The topography of the heart is reached. 
Alongside the quiet knowing, 
That softly says, 
This too is home, 
We have landed where we ought to be. 

After Maya Stein

Like much of my poetic prose, this is what I have to say - for now. It may change again.

I have chosen to work with the final stanza, but it is not yet finding its own home in an elegant way, but  - like the poem suggests - delight, doubt and persistence are often the way I find my way through. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

More Validation

Well some things are actually getting completed in studio time - and others are getting nudged along nicely.

Today I pretty much completed my Validation boxed pieces.

Last week I worked out how to sew that pesky Polyester thread by sitting under a table, and this week I trimmed the thread and fastened it in place.

I started by removing the matte sticky tape I had used to hold the fabric in place as I stitched through that very open-weave fabric.

Getting the larger lengths off was pretty OK using small scissors and gently tugging, but I got rather tentative when I was around the stitching position, and left these little squares of tape there.

Here's the pile of tape appearing on my desk mat as I pulled it off all three.

And so I began to delicately, with surgeon-like precision, remove these tiny scraps of tape without pulling the thread out or accidentally cutting it off! It is pretty flexible and ends up in all the unexpected places.

Scissors and scalpels were both used, and I worked through a magnifying lamp as well. 

To be sure, to be sure, I then used a drop of Fray Stoppa (a product I have to stop things fraying when I sew, but which I have never used until now).  I figured I might as well try it here and applied a drop around the stitch to try and hold it in place. Toothpicks were the main applicator.

I left that to dry and harden, and then removed the white protective backing, to see if it really did work to have the piece just suspended in space like I had hoped.

I think it works.  I now have to clean the Perspex and think about pricing, but the main puzzles have been solved and I like where the work has landed.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"I paint flowers so they will not die". 

Frida Kahlo

I think I love the simplicity and honesty of these words. With so little, she tells a complex story around the creative drive, the role of art as a memory keeper, the importance of capturing fleeting moments and sharing them.

I love flowers, but I don't paint; yet these words make me think about so many creative experiences where you want to keep something alive - a moment in time; a feeling, the sense of beauty and wonder; the need for protest, the child-like wonder, the awe and wonder of time spent in nature....

Sometimes art and creativity capture things for posterity - as part of the social, cultural and environmental record - so we know what we have lost; or what we still have to fight for. 

Frida says it all so well, and so simply.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A Flying Visit

 Last week Barry and I took off again! From having been nowhere for years, we have flown to Scotland and back, Melbourne and back and now Mackay and back in just under three months. All feels a bit odd.

We headed to Mackay to view the Libris Awards - The Australian Artists' Book prize.

We knew we hadn't won but we did want to see our books and view the others in the show and get a lovely fill me up of artists books.


On arrival, we found this!

Part of me thought it was hilarious that we had travelled that far, and my book wasn't there. Part of me was astounded. Part of me hoped it was nearby somewhere.

And it was. The Council had purchased it to add to its Artists' Book Collection, and it was out the back having an archival box made for it. We went out the back to view the box making and then were able to have it taken back out into the show so that I could see it in situ. Phew. 

I am thrilled that the book has a new home in a collection where people will be able to view it and discuss the issues I was trying to respond to with it. The Gallery runs a "speed date the collection" event once month I think, where items from the collection are brought out and you can spend time with one, then move on to the next and so on, each time talking with somebody who knows about the object and can explain things. A brilliant idea I thought.

Barry's book was under glass, but they had changed the spread a few times so a different page was able to be viewed.

A flying visit like this one didn't really honour the the city, but we really liked the art deco and art nouveau buildings and lettering that we saw. And the big blue sky!

And the burning sky on the flight home.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

New perspectives

 I have been thinking about my three hanging works of old gauze bandages and letraset. Like their book-based counterparts (still underway) they are about validating our feelings around this time - from the ongoing pandemic, through lockdowns, to opening up again, through terrible natural disasters, to dealing with the soaring cost of living, to worrying about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to fearing the worst with Roe v Wade in the US and all the rest of it.

Barry helped me drill holes in the vertical part of the hanging lid and I then sat down to sew them. How hard could it be?

Sitting at the table it was very hard! Using misbehaving thread, trying to work out how long the stitch needed to be so that they would hang evenly, trying to even make a stitch that would hold on the open weave gauze, trying to get my unwieldy needles and fingers to get behind the slightly angled lid bit and so on.

More and more often, I find that if I am awake at night and return to sleep isn't coming easily, I start to work my through my creative dilemmas; the things that are blocking my progression and so on. This either leads me back into sleep; or resolves a problem, so I shall keep using it as a technique for a while yet I think. 

So, luckily, the other night I thought of a way to make it easier to sew: sew from underneath the lid as if I was in the box!

What follows is a photographic story of what it looked like.

Before I began, this piece sitting on a book cover which harmonises so well.

Underway - with tape on the back to temporarily stabilise.

My ingenious solution - blu tac the lid to underneath my desk so I could have easier access to the holes, the needle and thread moved better, and the height and position of the piece was easier to work out.

The view from where I worked.

Looking down.

So much easier to deal with the fly away thread.

I experimented with cotton, fine nylon thread - double thickness and single thickness.

I loved looking at my work differently and seeing it from a new angle.

I stitched and unpicked several times trying to get the height right and the levels within the boxes pleasing; as well as determine what looked best thread wise. 

A few more steps and then I think I am there!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"More of your brain is involved when reading than it is when you watch television... because you are supplying just about everything... you're a creator". 

 Margaret Atwood

I have not read all of Ms Atwood's books by any means, but her intelligence and insight when she speaks about reading, books, democracy and the importance of them all is unparalleled in my view.  

I have oftentimes thought about the conundrum of reading versus watching and what is happening in them both. In particular, I read book a few years ago that was devastating in its abuse, self-harm, despair and self destruction.  The writing was such that I was utterly absorbed by it and felt bereft when I finished it - the people had mattered to me a lot.

One of the reasons I think the abuse felt worse was for the reasons Ms Atwood suggests - rather than observing the images of something, I had to create the scenes in my mind. I was actively participating in bringing the scenes to life - a participant creator of sorts - and somehow that made me feel complicit.

Some sort of comparison can be made between watching being observational and only skimming across the surface; and reading being participatory and coming from deep within. 

I think this is such a good way to describe what reading can do - you create a visual image; you make up the sound of the voices; you imagine the setting and the clothes if they are not described in detail; you determine what a person looks like...

I had never really thought about the act of reading as being creative, but she is so right.

Leakey's Bookshop in Invenress - so much creativity awaits!