Sunday, December 30, 2007

Using hair

For a few years now I've been fascinated by artworks that are made of or incorporate real hair. I remember the first time I saw a contemporary artwork made of hair. It was in 2005 in Melbourne and it was Helen Pynor's Shadowbreath (see above) I was quite bewitched by the work and found it hard to leave the gallery. The incredible human presence captivated me.
Ever since I have wanted to include hair in my own work. For the past year I've been collecting the clippings that fall to the floor every time I have my own haircut. Unfortunately, I wear my hair short, so there isn't a lot to collect and the pieces are only short. I wasn't really sure what I was going to use the hair for, I just knew that I would use it eventually.

A few weeks ago my mother had her long white hair which she wears in a French roll cut off. She is in her 80s now and for some time has been finding that brushing and washing her hair made her back ache. She always receives compliments for her hair and I think it was a tough decision for her to make, but in the end practicality won the day. When she told me she had finally done it, my first question was "what did you do with the hair?" Fortunately, her hairdresser (who visits her at home) had bundled it all up in newspaper before popping it into the bin. My mother was only too happy to rescue it and put it aside for me. She finds a lot of my work pretty mystifying, but she seems thrilled at the idea that she, in the form of her hair, will be making a powerful contribution to my work, and will "live on", as she says.

Access to some lovely long hair has set my mind spinning with ideas and I am trying to capture them in my diary lest they disappear into the black cavern that occupies the space formerly known as my memory. It seems to me that these works will form a more cohesive group with the ones I have already completed for my masters, than the book I mentioned here. So...despite the start I have made on it, that book is to be relegated to "future projects" for now.

It seems like an unfortunate disruption to the flow of my work, but I haven't had the luxury of a "flow" for a while...progress seems to be coming in fits and starts. I would have had to take a break from it for a while anyway, because I have to put together at least one more edition of "Like Weather" to send off to Mackay for the Libris Awards. I also have to prepare for an exhibition in Melbourne in February. I'll be showing an installation I exhibited here in Brisbane in 06 at the National Ceramics Conference. It's called "Wraith" and some of you may have seen the photos of the original over in my photostream on Flickr. There is also a little mention of it in the profile here. There will obviously be more as the date approaches.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Epiphany

It is approaching two years since I started blogging, initially in fits and starts, but I think I can say I am a dedicated blogger now. I wanted to share with you something that I have realised through the blogging community - and that is, I am part of a group of people called artists.

In the past, I have had a tendency to think that only someone with a recognisable name could call themselves an artist. I think this idea developed in two ways. When I was growing up, it seemed that everyone my mother spoke about was "tops in their field". Occasionally she would refer to "the also rans", but obviously with derision. It seemed to me that if you weren't "tops in your field" then you just didn't rate a mention. You didn't exist.

So subconsciously, I felt that to be adequate, I had to be the best. I had to be known. But through the blog-o-sphere, I have realized that there is a huge pool of very talented people out there, whose lives revolve around art. They make art, they think about art, they show their work, they sell it, some even make their enitre living from art. They appear on Flickr, on Etsy, they have a blog and/or a website, some have work in local stores or galleries, some even send their work internationally. All these people are part of the community of artists. And some of these people connect with my work, and feel sufficiently moved to write and tell me so. And this is how I know that I am one of them.

For this I say a heartfelt thank-you to anyone who has left a comment for me, and especially to my regular visitors. I send you my love and warmest wishes across the land and sea. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yay! An Award!

Many, many thanks go to cusp over at L'Ombre de mon Ombre for this much appreciated award. I can't say how much this means to me... It seems to me that the generosity and goodwill generated by the internet is one of the most positive things happening around the globe at this point in history. And I'm really honoured and excited to be a part of it. Warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has visited my blog this year.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Some new toys, but otherwise not much progress

Yes, that's right, that's my new wacom intuos3 - a graphics tablet. And it is a BIG ONE! (A4 size - the active part in the centre). In case you don't know what these are for, it's like a cross between a mouse and an draw with the pen on the right and your little marks will appear magically on your screen. I've been wanting one for about 18 months, but fully expected it to be a 6 x 8 in, until I had a wonderful windfall a couple of weeks ago. (I own a very few shares in Coles Myer which I inherited from my great-aunt. Coles was taken over a few weeks ago and hey presto, as well as shares in the new company, $$$s appeared in my bank account....don't worry, I've told Centrelink.)
Anyway, this little beauty arrived yesterday and I am still working it out. I've got the software uploaded etc, but the pen operates very differently from a mouse and I'm not finding the adjustment is automatic. I suspect the proprioception in my arms (that's the position sense) has been affected by CFS, but hopefully with time I will get the hang of it. I'm not prepared to give you a demo just yet, but when I produce something I'm happy with you'll be the first to know.
The other piece of equipment/tool/toy I've bought myself (well Christmas is coming up!) is a Print Gocco. I don't know if you are familiar with this, but it is basically a unit that allows you to make your own (smallish) screens for screen printing. They're made in Japan and there are inks for paper, fabric and clay (he!he!). I've been wanting one of these for about 5 years, ever since a friend lent me hers to play with. They aren't cheap, so I've always hesitated, especially when I heard they may cease production. Then I heard there is an Australian supplier and at least out here, there's no problem with continuing supply, so I bit the bullet. So far I've only opened the box and looked at all the bits, but hopefully I'll get a chance to give it a whirl soon. If you'd like to see a little of what you can do with a gocco, check out Shu-Ju Wang's artists books.
Otherwise the week has been slow. It kicked off with a migraine, interrupting my plans for a get-together with feffakookan, and it really stayed in the slow lane. Also, I've had some news about my masters that has left me rather up in the air. Since I first enrolled, the course has been upgraded and an extra subject added. This means I now have to enrol in both semesters in 2008, but I don't know what I actually have to do work-wise....or how I'll do it from Brisbane. I'm waiting for the course coordinator to get back to me...

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Above: Works by Anita McIntyre, Vicki Reynolds, Marisse Maas, Kirra Jamison, Robert Boynes, Anne-Laure Djaballah, Mary Sutherland, Nancy Selvin, Susan Joy Share.

I have started thinking about a book or perhaps series of books based on cycles in nature. The sort of things I am thinking of including are the lunar phases, day and night, seasons, insect lifecycles and the stages of a woman's life (woman, mother, crone). The structure I plan to use is the flutter book. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is basically a concertina book, with the covers pulled right back, so the book sits in a circle. Below is the model I made at a workshop I attended last year - of course it can have as many pages as you want.

I want the work to express ideas about nature and time, the way it is cyclical and how we, as humans, are a part of that. I've been looking through images of work that I've collected for ways to express that aesthetically, and the collage at the top of the post shows some works I've pulled out to help me visualize where I want to go. To me, these works speak of time passing and past.

In a way, this is a progression from a triptych of photos (below) I did during the first year of my masters. As a work, they were at a very experimental stage and not at all resolved, but they were the first work I did in Melbourne that excited me with their potential. They referred to ideas of the primordial soup, and I was playing with light as an expressive tool.

I seem to be in a peculiar head space at the moment...quite stressy, quite sleepy but having trouble getting to sleep and sleeping fitfully when I finally do drop off. At the same time I'm having quite a lot of creative ideas, and works I've had in the back of my mind all year long are starting to come together (in my head at least).

Today is the first day of summer here and while the temperatures have been very mild (27-28 deg C) the humidity is often between 50-80%. This really saps me of energy far more than the dry heat I experienced when living in Melbourne. The last two days I finally relented and turned on the air conditioning. It seems unjustified when the temps are so low, but then I realised that I had perspiration on my upper lip and forehead just sitting at the desk. CFS has damaged the hypothalamus, the area in the brain which controls temperature regulation among other things, so my ability to tolerate humidity is far below the norm. I do feel better and more able to work with the A/C on. I might really indulge myself and try sleeping with it on too.

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