Saturday, December 31, 2011

It’s a lovely clean slate

As memories of Christmas indulgences fade, it is time for the bit I really enjoy – the New Year.

christmas in the suburbs

I like nothing better than the feeling of standing at the top of a brand new year, with the months unfolding before me, like bright, white pages of opportunity. I love the sense of possibility and I hate to fill it up with specifics too quickly.

There’s also a chance to pause and glance back at the year that’s finishing. For some, I know it hasn’t been a particularly good year. I’ve certainly known how it feels to say “good-bye and good riddance” to some years. Luckily for me, 2011 was not one of those.

Yesterday I dug out the plan I made twelve months ago. Inspired by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity fame, last year I put together my most extensive list of goals ever.

The process Chris describes seems very business-inspired to me, and I have to confess I wasn’t entirely committed. He sets very specific, measurable goals even for his personal-life, which feels a bit too concrete and didactic for me.

However, I did find it interesting and helpful to think about all the areas he covers, including the personal. For the sake of the exercise I wrote down some ideas, which meant I had those to refer to yesterday, some twelve months later, and I have to say, it did make interesting reading. Some things I hoped to do were a bit over-optimistic, and I think if I repeat the exercise this year, I’ll know myself better.

If this sort of thing interests you, Chris’ s guide can be found here. I think you’ll find it quite an eye-opener!

Whether I go the full Excel spread sheet (yep, that’s how he does it!) or not, I will certainly be doing a review of my year in relation to my art work. I love to sit down and write out a list of works made, exhibitions, workshops or conferences attended and in recent years, I’ve been able to add works acquired to that.

It’s a great time to update the CV and celebrate the year’s successes. I often feel frustrated by what seems to be very slow progress during the course of the year, so writing up the year in this way is a pleasant surprise.


Then when it’s done, I can turn the page to a fresh new year, and think about my priorities for 2012.

Wishing you a lovely, shiny bright, fresh New Year, with lots of blank spaces to fill in just as you want!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Big Reveal: The Great Library of Alexandria

The good news is the wall bed has been installed in the studio and I am slowly getting the rest of the room back in order. This is a chance for a bit of a spring clean, so things tend to progress slowly as I sort through everything and try to part with some! When it is all organised and looking pretty I will post a photo or two.

In this post I thought it would finally be safe to post images of my latest Book Art Object edition, as I think that everyone must have received their copy by now. I have decided that the best way to show off books is in a video, and as I now have my website to keep up to date as well, I spent some time this afternoon putting one together. I don’t usually use much in the way of transitions or effects, as I don’t think they usually add much, and in fact used badly can be rather comical. However in this case I used a few and I think they help to give a bit of an impression of handling the book and turning it in your hands.



And in case you are interested in details, here is a close-up of the colophon.



I also want to let you know that over on the Book*Art*Object blog, the call has gone out for our next edition. So if you think you might be interested in joining in the fun, pop over there and take a look at the details. Making an edition of ten plus is a challenge, but we are a friendly and helpful group, and I guarantee you will learn a lot from taking part.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has visited my blog this year, and especially to those kind and encouraging folks who commented. It is such a delight to hear from you and I am always thrilled and surprised when your feedback comes through. If anyone has been thinking of commenting or sending me an email, but hesitated in the past, please know that I would love to hear from you!

I wish you all a happy, safe and loving time this festive season, and hope to see you here again soon. xxx

Sunday, December 04, 2011

BAO edition finished & other progress

I’m very happy to be able to report that this week I completed the edition of 10 books for Book*Art*Object inspired by an extract from “Art & Lies” by Jeanette Winterson.(Yes, they are curiously square in shape for books, aren’t they?)

Four are currently winging their way overseas to members of BAO in the UK and the US, so I’m holding off a full reveal here for a couple of weeks until they have arrived.

We’ve also been lucky enough to have the “Art & Lies” edition acquired by the State Library of Queensland. Helen Cole, from SLQ, saw the work exhibited at the Impact conference and that’s where the deal was done! There is also some discussion with Alicia Bailey from Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Colorado about exhibiting “Art & Lies” there! This is a very exciting possibility and if it comes off, will be my first step onto the international stage.

I realized that I haven’t posted the text by Winterson here yet. So, in case you haven’t seen it over on the BAO blog, here it is.

300BC. The Ptolemies founded the great library at Alexandria.
400,000 volumes in vertiginous glory.
The Alexandrians employed climbing boys much in the same way as the Victorians employed sweeps. Unnamed bipeds, light as dust, gripping with swollen fingers and toes, the nooks and juts of sheer-faced walls.
To begin with, the shelves had been built around wide channels that easily allowed for a ladder, but, as the library expanded, the shelves contracted, until the ladders themselves splintered under the pressure of so much knowledge. Their rungs were driven into the sides of the shelves with such ferocity that all the end-books were speared in place for nine hundred years.
What was to be done? There were scribes and scholars, philosophers and kings, travellers and potentates, none of whom could now take down a book beyond the twentieth shelf. It soon became true that the only books of any interest were to be found above shelf twenty-one.
It was noticed that the marooned rungs still formed a crazy and precarious ascent between the dizzy miles of shelves. Who could climb them? Who would dare?
Every boy-slave in Alexandria was weighed. It was not enough to have limbs like threads, the unlucky few must have brains of vapour too. Each boy had to be a medium through which much must pass and yet nothing be retained.
At the start of the experiment, when a book was required, a boy would be sent up to get it. This could take as long as two weeks, and very often, the boy would fall down dead from hunger and exhaustion.
A cleverer system seemed to be to rack the boys at various levels around the library, so that they could form a human chain, and pass down any volume within a day or so.
Accordingly, the boys built themselves eyries in among the books, and were to be seen squatting and scowling at greater and greater heights around the library.
A contemporary of Pliny the Younger writes of them thus:
[here is a chunk of latin that is never translated. JW at her most scholarly & impenetrable... but would look great in calligraphy, Ronnie!]
There is no system that has not another system concealed within it. [my emphasis] Soon the boys had tunneled behind the huge shelves and thrown up a rookery of strange apartments where beds were books and chairs were books and dinner was eaten off books and all the stuffings, linings, sealings, floorings, openings and closings, were books. Books were put to every use to which a book can be put as long as it is never read.

Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies (London: Jonathon Cape, 1994), pp. 4-6.


The other lovely news I received is that our wall bed will be installed on December 20th. You may recall this post from a couple of months ago, mentioning my plans for doing up my studio (at last!). 

Well, having a wall bed, instead of the current single, will allow me to have a lot more shelf space above the bed. Storage has been a problem in this little room ever since the air-conditioner was installed, which meant that small bookcase that sat on top of my desk had to go. Here’s where some of that stuff has been patiently waiting for a “real” home for some months.

I didn’t want to leave you with a photo of my mess, so here is the plan I’ve drawn up for the studio. I am hoping I might be able to squeeze in a small comfy chair for reading between the bookcase and the built-in, but time will tell. 

If you see any glaring problems, please do comment! Your thoughts, as always, are gratefully received.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spring is sprung or “It’s a new kitchen!”



New waterlily leaves emerging each day now. What I like about his photo is my “twining's tea” grasp of the iPhone, reflected in the water!


I mentioned that I had a busy Spring planned, and it has kind of swept me off my feet.

After a busy and stimulating time in Melbourne, we returned to finalise details of our kitchen renovation. What started with considered review of articles in Choice about cooktops and ovens, gas vs. induction, finished by dragging ourselves into a lighting chain store, pointing disinterestedly at some spotlights and paying up asap.

In between, there was tile dust, jack-hammering, cement dust, a bench top that didn’t fit in the space left for it between the upper and lower cupboards and more. Oh, did I mention the 7am starts? Might sound reasonable to most people, but it means spending the day in a jetlag-like fog for me.

The good news is the main works were all finished within two weeks, and now we have beautiful bamboo floorboards and a lovely new, fully functioning kitchen with a designer space-age extractor, all looking very swish. We still need to sort out the tiles for the splashback, and a few other details, but we can take our time with that.

So here are a few photos:


What the kitchen looked like before, except that we did have ceramic tiles on the floor, not bare cement!!IMG_0983






One of the cabinets has this rather disturbing message written on it!

(Never did work out what it meant.)




noo kitchen

Do you like the demolition-site aesthetic we’ve gone for with the splashback?

I think it’ll be a new trend.


More soon, and I promise it will be more art and book-related.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Exhibitions at Impact, Part 2

Things are rather chaotic here, with the fridge still out on the patio along with half the living room furniture. The good news is that today is the last day of early starts and tradesmen creating clouds of dust. The finishing touches to the new sustainable bamboo floor are happening as I type. The kitchen is in place and operational. There's just the mess to clear up, but first some rest.
For now, here's some more photos and links to work I saw at Impact7 in Melbourne.

Clare Humphries: Material Remains
This Melbourne artist was once an occupational therapist and her work relates to very similar interests to my own. I missed her paper, but hope to download it when the conference proceedings are available. Some info about Clare here.

Unfolding Projects: Afghan and Australian Artists' Books Collaborations
These beautiful collaborative artists books were in glass cabinets, just near the BAO display. Read & see  more here.

Melike Tascoglu: The H2O Series

These prints exploring the nature of water really spoke to me. I'm not sure if they can be read as well from a screen. Read & see more here.

 Janet Bellotto: Finding Juliet
I freely admit I am sucker for a good lenticular print. (You know, the postcards of your youth where the lady winks suggestively etc). This diptych is the largest format lenticular print that I have seen, and it is used to great effect to depict a wave crashing though this scene. I loved it!

The artist is from Toronto, living in Dubai. Her website where you can see more of her photographs, as well as video and installation work is here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Exhibitions at Impact, Part 1

One of the best aspects of Impact was having so many printmaking exhibitions right there on the university campus where the conference was being held. I saw almost everything, I think, but all of it far too quickly. I could have spent at least twice as long!

As I raced around, I took as many photos as I could to share, although all with my iPhone. I know that some people who read this blog can't make it to many exhibitions, so I've chosen my favourites for you to see.

a Polish-born artist who lives in Australia. This was the only video work at the conference, as far as I am aware. I was drawn to both its subject matter, and the fact that the style has a clear connection to digital imagery. There were numerous papers about video (I didn't attend any) but it shows that working with moving images has appeal for printmakers.

You can see a lot more about this work (including a 7 minute version) here.

Jan Hogan:
an Australian artist who I believe has recently completed her PhD. There is a little more about that work here. She also presented a paper at the conference - some details here.


The sense of layering and networking in this work is beautiful.

Dylan Martorell & Mat Valdman

These works were enchanting! The top print filled the wall, while the lower two were viewed through a device reminiscent of the old "Viewmaster" (hence the blurry photos). There's an interview with Martorell here and this is his blog.

Hapmoniym (digital printed wallpaper)

Hinteridact (digitally altered screenprint, slide, slideviewer)
Sally Smart
I am pretty sure I've mentioned Sally Smart's work here before. Like many others, I find it captivating and inspiring. To be honest, this is the first opportunity I've had to see it in a gallery, so I was quite excited. This work was part of a group show entitled "The Devil had a Daughter". I've included Sara in the shot to give you an idea of scale. Smart's website is here.

Paul Liam Harrison, Scott Hudson & Andy Rice:

500 Years and the Complaint of the Black Knight 
I'm sorry to have to admit that this poem was unknown to me before seeing this work. Now I know that The Complaint of the Black Knight is the oldest surviving dated printed Scottish book (from 1508). Written in fact by John Lydgate, it was falsely attributed to Chaucer (all this according to Wikipedia, of course!)
I walked around and around the room, and loved the rolling Scottish tones, but was able to understand "nairy a wud"! I felt compelled to make a recording to share, but of course had to cut it short when a crowd entered the room talking at the tops of their voices. If you press play, maybe you'll get a tiny taste.


I have more photos of work to share next time, as well as my thoughts about some of the papers I attended. It's 9 days till work starts in our kitchen. Tearing up the floor tiles is first on the agenda ( dust and noise - my favourites!). I may be kidding myself, but I'm thinking there will be a lot of time sitting around, not being able to leave the house when I might be able to get online and catch up on my blogging. Am I crazy?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Last moments in Melbourne

Architecture: from international style urban living to olde worlde...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hello from Melbourne!


window detailWindow at Heide Art Museum (detail)

I’ve been in Melbourne a week already and it’s great to be here.

We are spending two weeks here, the first entirely holiday, and during the second I’ll be trying to attend as much of the 4 day Impact International Printmakers Conference as I can. Although I can’t make any claim to being a printmaker, there are two streams which I hope to attend:- the one about artists books and the other on digital printmaking.


The entire collection of Book*Art*Object books from both editions so far is to be displayed on Monash campus, where the conference is being held, which will give the group and the work high visibility. As well, there are a huge number of artists book and print-related exhibitions on in Melbourne this month, all timed to coincide with the conference.

The conference starts tomorrow (Tuesday) and the hard-working Ronnie has already installed our work in its display cases at Monash campus. Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to rest up today in the hope of getting along to all the stuff I’ve circled in my conference programme!

If you’re interested in following some of the conference action online, head over to the Book*Art*Object blog. Together with Ronnie, Sara and Caren, I will be blogging from the conference, hopefully even “live” at times, as we have all armed ourselves with the appropriate apps for blogging from our mobile (cell) phones.


Friday, September 16, 2011


If there is one thing that I thought having CFS/ME had taught me, it is how to prioritise.

And in some ways it has.

Having been out of the workforce for a long time, I only recently learnt the modern approach to prioritising. You know, the old “urgent & important”, “non-urgent but important” etc paradigm.



I know, I’m probably the last person on the planet to hear about this, but now I know.

The thing is, when your energy is low, often it is only the “Important and Urgent” things that get done.

And that’s not how it’s supposed to work. The ones that theoretically fall off your “to do” list are both not important and not urgent. You manage to plant those seedlings before they die and to clean the windows before it becomes embarrassing that you haven’t!

But it is amazing how far and how long you can stretch you definition of “unimportant”. Really!

However, there is another factor that comes into play when you haven’t been in the workforce for a long time. I look around my home and I can see that I have developed a pattern of always trying to choose the most functional option (I wasn’t an occupational therapist for nothing). It feels as if I can’t allow myself to have the beautiful bookcase, if the cheaper (and uglier) one will do the job.

Silent conversation in my head

Will this fit in the space? Tick.

Is it affordable? Tick

Pause. Looks.

God, it’s ugly!

Oh well, never mind. At least it’s here right now (as opposed to some beautiful but cheap version which may or may not exist somewhere.) It’s good enough.

And often it may be. It’s true that not every item you own has to be a design classic. Lots of stuff just has to do a job.


The trouble is that I think I may have trained myself a little too well. It’s become a challenge to allow myself to choose something I like, rather than settle for the most economical option. And you can’t surround yourself with stuff you’ve “settled” for, without it having an effect on you.

The other side of that is that sometimes, with a bit of work and elbow grease, you can make something very inexpensive into a treasure. But extra work and elbow grease aren’t plentiful around this house, so that’s not usually a realistic option (think about those poor seedlings I’m trying to get planted before I head to Melbourne).


All of this of course is pertinent right now because I’m planning to do up my studio. Even though this needs to be a functional space, I do want it to be somewhere I love to go. I spend a lot of time in this room, and I want it to  draw me in. So I’m saying here, out loud, for you all to hear: I’m going to try to choose comfort and beauty. Oh, and function!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Spring plans



While bloggers on the other side of the planet have been writing about autumn ringing its changes, temperatures are slowly rising here.

It never seems as if much that is tangible changes in September in Brisbane, and yet without fail, I find myself longing for a holiday at the beach!

I rather like to remind myself that Spring is the real start of the year because it’s always so hot in January that I don’t feel very inspired. So this spring I have a few plans that will inspire me and hopefully set things up for a period of productivity.

Number 1:

That beach holiday I mentioned (albeit at St Kilda in mid-September, so there won’t be any swimming - brrrr!) followed by Impact7, the International Printmakers Conference.

I am really excited about attending the conference, because normally its not possible for me to make it to this sort of thing. Even one whole day is really too much, so travelling followed by a number of days in a row, for the price of registration, travel and accommodation – well, it just doesn’t add up. Fortunately, being in Melbourne (one of our favourite places) makes this trip an option as a holiday, so the conference fee is the only additional price to pay. As it is such a rare event, I made the decision to register for the whole four days with the expectation that I will pick and choose what I attend, and not allow myself to be pressured into trying to go to too much.

As well, there will be three other Book Art Object-ers at the conference, and this is my first time meeting them. I can’t wait!

Number 2:

I’ve enrolled in this four week online course on encaustic which starts in October. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you will know that I’ve dabbled with encaustic work on and off for a few years, but courses are hard to find locally. I’m so looking forward to this chance to learn from an expert and to be able to ask questions.



Number 3:

I am finally biting the bullet, investing in a wall bed for the spare room, which will allow me to maximize the functional space in my studio.

fr the door

This is a shot from the door taken using a panorama app (Dermandar).

There’s a bit more I’d like to say about setting up the space most effectively and I’d really like your input and tips, so I’m going to save that for another post soon.

Have you made any plans for a shot of Spring Spritzer in your life?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New book: sneaky peek



Mia, all tucked up

It’s been a long slow week in our household as we all (IT, me and the cat) spent a lot of time sleeping. IT and I have been trying to recover from our colds and Mia, well she’s usually happy to join us in amongst the blankets whenever she gets the chance.

I was quite pleased with myself for just accepting the situation, not fighting and pushing myself, despite the fact that the deadline for sending our Book Art Object books off to Ronnie is this week.

If you’ve read Michael Nobb’s blog,  Sustainably Creative, you might know his approach to slowly moving creative projects forward, with tiny work periods each day (e.g. 20 minutes). I’ve been keeping this in mind this week and amazingly the book is actually getting there!


So below is the first sneaky peek to give you a hint about my book for round 2 of Book Art Object. When the whole edition is finished (I’m planning 10-12) I’ll write some posts about each step of the process.



But for now, this is all!

(drypoint on archival inkjet background)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Radical Craft!

This is the sort of unexpected juxtaposition that I love to think about.

Sunday before last, ABC2 aired the documentary Making It Handmade. Four Melbourne crafters feature, showing how they’ve “upcycled” the once daggy ladies sewing circle into something with a much more feminist flavour. (I suspect there may always have been a hint of the female power in the old sewing circle).


hoopla_brayfence3Image wantonly stolen from this website:

No malice intended – if you would like it removed, just ask.


Each young woman has employed the crafters’ circle in a different way, from a gentle space for young women to gather, share their skills and be creative, to night-time raids to cross-stitch political messages onto wire fences (above). There’s also the crafter who makes decorative “female parts” with her friends and then flings them up high onto the electricity wires in the street, so if this offends, it’s probably wise to avoid this particular movie.

On the other hand, if you’re interested, the documentary is still available via iView for another 6 days. The link is below:

If you’re visiting here too late to catch iView, this interview with one of the crafters, Rayna

might fill you in a little.


Now back to bed to rest. I’ve caught the annual lurgee that sweeps into Brisbane on the westerlies every August and I’m not going to fight it. Keep warm!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Changing houses hits Hawthorne



Edit 16/08/11: The title of this picture should have been “This Is Not My Home” because it isn’t. Sorry to anyone who I inadvertently misled. It was meant to be a generic house, but I can see why you would think otherwise. I don’t feel that our home is particularly photogenic, but I felt I sort of “owed” you all a pic, so you can now find one right at the bottom of the post (heavily processed to improve its appeal).

No, no, we’re not going to be on TV (thank heavens!) but we are finally going to be making some changes to our home and hopefully putting our own mark on the place.

We bought here (a three bedroom ground floor unit built in 1994) back in 2003, just before moving to Melbourne for two years. It was sort of our safety net. A way to say yes, we are heading south to live and hopefully have some adventures in a “real city”, while knowing we have a home back near our families, where we can return.

When we moved back two years later because the family needed us, there wasn’t really time or money (or energy) to do much other than move in and get on with life. But many years later, the time finally seems right(ish).

At the start of this year, we made grand plans for a renovation that would fine-tune the space we have to our (somewhat unusual) needs and lifestyle. Our “forever home” as Kirsti of Location, Location is so fond of saying.


Then we spent a month in Paris and we realized a few things. We saw that part of the reason we both become a bit disenchanted with the world is that Brisbane doesn’t actually offer us much of the things we love. High on this list for us is a sense of a long, long history and culture (with the appropriate buildings, layers of time, and yes, dirt & grime). On a bad day, I could go on and on about the things that Brisbane doesn’t offer and what it has replaced those things with, but it seems much more reasonable just to say, I’m sure some people love it, but it’s not for me!



At the moment we have “family things” that we want to do, but they won’t take forever, and then we will look to move elsewhere (exactly where is still undecided). In the meantime, it changes the way we think about this unit and the work we will do. Yes, now it’s 17 years old it’s definitely time for a refurb but if it’s a given that we don’t intend to stay here forever, the changes we make need to take that into account.

So you can see that there’s been a lot of thinking, discussing and heart-searching going on here, in this little unit, as well as practical decisions about a new kitchen and new floorboards to replace the horrible carpet. And of course, quite a lot of work in the studio towards the BAO edition with its approaching deadline (which I promise I will post about just as soon as I have time.IMG_0787crop

EDIT: 16/08/11

our-house                                                                      Our Home

We live on the ground floor behind the high fence. I may be a city girl and unit dweller, but I still like to have my feet on the ground.