Sunday, May 20, 2018

Curls and cleaning...

It has been a time of small tasks - some larger than others, but not a lot of making.

It feels like that nesting time almost - tidying up, putting away and the preparing of new things.

I am midst a major clean up of the studio.  It is more than tidying, more than cleaning - it feels like a massive re-thinking and re-organising and clean all together. I wonder what the word for that is?

So it was, as I hacked back the jungle in my studio with an imaginary machete,  that I found myself with a few tangles of this string.  Somebody had given it to me a while ago - part of their father's bookbinding kit.  I didn't know where to start but I began to untangle it as best I could.




I was cutting it into lengths to use when tying up my blocks of type so that they can be used again. I now have lovely stash!

When I began, it reminded me a lot of a nest; and this one at the front door continues to delight me in different lights.

But back at this studio I was on my hands and knees scrubbing tiles, pulling things out, throwing things out and overall creating a nice light, clean space to work in again.

Can you believe that one of the tasks was wiping down some of the timber trays I store my lead type in with clove oil to remove bits of mould? I think that probably shows what a damp summer we had (and what happens when it is damp and you go away for 6 weeks...).

Still all the drawers now smell delicious so it isn't all bad!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” 

Ray Bradbury

This is probably a really nice way to think about a life and a lifetime - that somewhere, sometime we touched something and it changed. Not so much that it changed into something that's like you; but that it changed into something that was intrinsically linked to you somehow.

I think it is ever so true about making art.

I love that something can begin as nothing - a blank page; a ball of wool; a metal offcut; a chunk of timber; a piece of lino; a stack of blank pages; a slab of clay; a length of fabric - and then become something in your hands.

After you have brought to that blankness some of you: your essence; your will; your skill; your creativity; your wishes; your dreams; your protests; your engage with it and it is transformed into something else completely.

Something that is of you.

Alchemy and magic...

Even when you pick up some stones and some pebbles, you can create something.
A holiday cairn, Hokitika, New Zealand, 2012.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Its funny how one moment leads to another moment and before you know it you have been whisked off an archeological dig though your photographs...

I walked out the front door this morning and looked down at this heart. This heart in Autumn...

We had bought it on a recent trip to Townsville and wondered where we might hang it (it came with a ribbon). We decided we would start by just placing it against the wall outside our front door - I liked the idea of seeing the heart each time I left the house.

And my mind turned to hearts and how much I enjoy discovering them along the way...altho I don't really use them in my artwork at all.

This fabulous one was on Waiheke Island. The sculptures are in a private home setting and we could view the back; and not the front. But I really liked the back!

This stone heart is in a wall along the Castle in Krakow, Poland.

This one IhtinkI have shown before, but isn't it gorgeous/ On a corner of a wall in Warsaw, Poland.

Part of a headstone at a cemetery on the far north of Scotland

A Headstone at Bettyhill, Scotland.

I love that hearts can be wrought in gates - functional items made beautiful. Castletown, Scotland

And in walls in Singapore...

And just as beautiful sculpture - Noguchi in New York.

 A little whirl around the world with hearts. I like that there are hearts everywhere.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Small things

It's often the little things..

I walked out the front door the other morning and there was this...

The nest that greeted us on return two months ago, waiting quietly, holding its place through the wind, the rain, the sun, the mist.  And the sunlight carving across the chair sculpture.

In a pretty busy week, I managed some time in the studio for the little things, for the wee things.

I simply managed a couple watercolour letters as a gift.

At first I turned to nature (as Gemma taught us) and tried a few colours against the violet.

And my studio glasses!

And then I went wild and swirled my way through the purples in my collection.

So now I have two to choose from!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“But all in all, books contain more truth than other people’s memories of themselves, which are constantly revised to suit their current image of themselves.”

Ciaran Carson

It is the last part of this quote that connected with me.  I am not sure that the words are trying to say that books hold the truth (plenty of stuff has been written and printed that is wrong and/or repulsive); rather I think they might be saying that books are more steadfast and more consistent in that their words don't change over time.

Which I guess is in contrast to all of us, who do change over time.

I listen to podcasts a lot and one of the things I have been struck by in one of them is this notion that we can sometimes think or assume that we have always been as open minded, considerate, supportive of difference and the like as we are now.  When in fact, if we are honest and reflect back, I am sure there are times where we were less than supportive of difference, said things that hurt unintentionally and made jokes about stuff that is wrong; simply because we didn't know or understand things as we do now.

So I think the quote is trying to say that our memories and images of ourselves in the past, can be a bit out of focus as we may have revised them by thinking that we have always been this way...

It's an interesting thought to ponder...and probably a long way from Books which is where I began, but there you go!

I know for me, I am a whole lot better at understanding things LGBTQI now as an adult than I did as  a teenager and young adult. I am sure there are times I was hurtful which horrifies me in hindsight. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Slow work

I seem to have been pottering around with this project for quite some time now...

On today's To Do List I had written PRINT!!! with the plan of heading to the studio,  picking up these lino cuts and printing some pages I had prepared earlier. 

Ha! Life has a funny way of dealing reality to you when you've simply been fantasising a bit.

I realised that I really needed to work out the sequence of the prints and the order of printing. The pages might be ready but I needed to know what was to be printed on the back of one page; the front of the other; which single images went where; which double spread images started the book  and finished the book...

Out came the tracing paper from my photos. Lining it up in the way I think the story would be told - looking at how the outline images and the solid images work together; how the double spreads might lead you through...

And then some of the 'plates' came out to give a more solid sense of the imagery as the pages unfolded.

Then I added in a few of the random proofs I had done previously to see if the print version helped me make decisions or discover the need to change anything.

At which point I realised I really needed to check which imagery matched the words and popped the draft words underneath what I think will be the double page spreads.

It was all getting messier and more confusing by the minute, so I decided to proof them all again on the same paper for easy comparison. A thing I probably should have done well before now; but I am always keen to use up scraps of paper rather than start in and proof on pristine paper. But without consistency in the paper it is hard to compare. Sigh.

And so I did.

And then I went around and worked out which plates needed more lino taken off and where, and began the task of cleaning up the plates to produce a better print.

And now I have a bunch of the plates tidied up and ready to print (maybe!). So perhaps on another day's To Do List I can say PRINT!!! and actually mean it...but probably not until the weekend.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Peace emerges...

I mentioned here and here and here about some work from a few years ago that had begun to fall apart in a gentle way. The tape just wouldn't hold. Yet some tape did. So I was struggling with what to do with the ones that had come adrift.

I began to design what I chose to call book-ets. They are more substantial than a booklet; not quite as solid as a book I felt, so book-ets they became.

I made a prototype, because I wasn't really sure if my ideas would work.

Here I was testing where the holes would be and in which direction the thread loop should go - vertical or horizontal.

Testing some fabulous tape to see if it would hold the threads down.

And thinking - there could be something in this, it feels like it might work out.

And so, the final book-ets. The light wasn't great when I photographed them, but here goes.

Closed and held.

First side cover open.

Second opening.

Third opening.

The first page turned.

The next,

And the next,

and the next.

The final page with my mark.

Fully open.

A lovely stack.

And here they are.

The words are different in each.

1. Let peace be a daily conversation
2. We dream of peace and peace dreams of us
3. Peace is fragile, tend it gently and daily
4. Dwell with peace in your spirit and your mind
5. Every new breath allows peace to be born anew

In some of them you can see the marks that show their previous life - where tape had been and had fallen away; or where I removed it to create the set of five. I am OK with that; it is part of their story and part of the story of peace needing to be born anew...

I feel a sense of deep satisfaction in their coming into being; and the way in which they now inhabit the world.  I worked hard to find an elegant solution and I think I achieved it.

Into my shop soon I hope...