Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Little iPhone Cheer

Just a brief post to wish everyone, whether regular reader or occasional visitor all the best for the coming holidays.

No matter what you are celebrating, keep safe, have fun, relax and I hope you share some happy times with people you love.

And if you are on your own or this is a challenging time for whatever reason, know that you are also in my thoughts.

All images taken by me with my iPhone and modified in Snapseed and Iris apps.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Book Art Object : edition 4 revealed at last

My title for this edition of BAO is "A Day Just Like Any Other". I finished the "required" eight copies and posted them off to my group members in April, but I still haven't completed the full edition of fifteen. As a result, I didn't get around to sharing the full book here, before I went on "sabbatical". 

Nonetheless, "A Day..." has already been on show with other BAO Edition 4 books at UWE in Bristol, the IMPACT conference in Dundee and most recently at UNSW Canberra. So it is surely time to show it here to you, who have been waiting so patiently.

As a title, "A Day Just Like Any Other" probably suggests a narrative approach, but I pounced on it because I could see it would allow me to explore Time with a capital "T". So there's no narrative at all, just a star chart, a perpetual calendar and my photos of a sunrise, together with transparent pages in a circular book structure.

Take a look through and see what you think.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A return to blogging

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

Thanks for coming back and for being so patient during the four months since my last post.

I think the blog break has been good for me and it has been nice to be free of obligation for a while. That said, I really miss the contact with everyone and I'm hoping to get back to a more regular routine of posting now.

Despite being four months since I last wrote, the work on our unit is still underway. It has started so that's great, but it's been more complicated than expected. Hence the repairs are going to cost more, and we're still living under the same conditions as we have been since February.

Brighton Pavillion

We made the decision to take ourselves out of this environment for a while and so in August, we headed overseas. We spent a month in Brighton in the south of England and one week in Paris. We chose Brighton because it gave us a seaside holiday surrounded by history in a very arty town, without the challenge of managing a foreign language. It's also only 50 minutes by train to London. The holiday worked well for us, and we came back feeling much brighter and with more energy, which is just as well, because as I said, things haven't gone entirely smoothly with the work.

Over the past months, I've also put some energy into trying to understand how I need to pace myself in order to conserve my energy. I've learnt that it's important to build up energy before I spend it, rather than being active first, letting myself become exhausted and then having to rest up and recover. That process takes a lot longer to return to zero, than if I rest before and build a reserve of energy to use. Of course this requires certain amount of planning, a certain amount of knowing what is coming up, and life doesn't always give you that warning, but where possible that's the way I'm trying to organise myself.

Beachy Head - famous "jumping off" spot in Quadrophenia

Also, using a few different assessment mechanisms I've worked out that my energy is about 25% of what might be thought of as "normal". That may seem depressing or disheartening, but in other ways it has been very freeing. Information is power, and just having that 25% figure in my head allows me to be a lot more realistic about what I can expect of myself. It allows me to rest pre-emptively and not feel guilty, which believe it or not isn't something I've really been very able to do before. I've always felt that I have to keep going until I feel exhausted and then, and only then, was it okay to stop and rest. Now I know that that's not the case.

Bex Hill

I think the other thing that it has allowed me to do is to be pretty ruthless when it comes to prioritising, and it's been a bit of a surprise to realise that I hadn't already been being ruthless in this. I have been prioritising for many, many years obviously as you have to when have a chronic  illness but now I am really getting down to that one or two, or maybe three things, that are absolutely essential and give me the most pleasure. Those are the things that I can and will choose to spend my time doing. 

For that reason, I have to say that I probably won't be blogging at the rate that I have been in the past. I've been thinking that perhaps it'll be more of a monthly update, with maybe a smaller post  in between that's mostly images if I'm being productive. I really hope that you'll understand this and that you won't feel let down, or that the blog is diminished by this. I considered actually stopping blogging all together, but I realised that I have made so many great friendships through my blog and that the exchange benefits from being mutual. I could just visit your blogs but sharing something of myself allows you to come and visit here as well and helps the relationship to develop greater depth. 

Book sculptures used in a window display in a clothes shop in Paris

I'm very happy to report that since I returned from overseas I have started being creative again. I've been finishing off some projects that stalled about 12 months ago, so I'll be sharing them in the next couple of posts, and I've also got some things to share with you from the trip overseas. I met up with a book artist in Brighton which was very exciting and saw some great stuff in London, so that's coming up in this space very soon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Blog Sabbatical or Going Into Hibernation

With the lack of activity on this blog, you may have already thought that I had taken a sabbatical from my writing "duties". In a way it's true, but I want to make it "official" so that you don't feel that I have just run off, abandoning the inter-web and never giving this blog or you another thought!

This year seems to be a challenging one for a lot of people, and that has included me. You might remember that in January I blogged about one room in our home being inundated. It might amaze you to hear that the room remains unusable and the repairs have not even been started as yet. Or maybe it wouldn't. That is if you have ever had to deal with insurance companies, bodies corporate and builders.

I don't won't to bore you (or myself) with all the details, but the crux of the problem is that people with ME/CFS just don't have a great reserve to deal with things when life throws a little extra at you. It happens to us all from time to time, and I don't expect to be excluded from those times and events, but I do need to be realistic with how much I can manage.

You may think that after six months we must be nearing some sort of solution to all this, and I am hopeful that some work might start in about four weeks. Or maybe six. Or...who knows?

Ultimately I have had to look even more carefully at my priorities and and I can see I must improve my self-pacing. For some months I haven't really been coping with it all: living under cramped and damp, moldy conditions, trying to move things along with the repairs and running the home. It's been pretty much impossible to find a bit of time to be creative and to see friends, the things that keep me sane! And even more worrying, I haven't really wanted to do those things.
About a month ago I found the Treating CFS and FM website, which has loads of very useful information, particularly in relation to pacing. This is something on which I've never had any professional guidance. I've always had to try to make intuitive judgements about how much energy I had in relation to how much I would need, and I have to admit to being pretty unsuccessful more often than not. 

These past months my energy has been whittled away, and with it my "joie de vivre". It hasn't been a lot of fun, and I really need to find some better ways to manage things. I feel the need to withdraw from "the public eye" for a while, so I can spend my time with as little need for external time-keeping, and see whether I can work out some strategies that work for me.

I did consider sharing that journey here on this blog, but I don't think that is what interests most people who visit me here. Also, I don't really know where I'm heading with this or how I'll be getting there. It could be incredibly tedious filling in of charts and mapping of symptoms. On the other hand, I may decide I could really do with some morale-boosting along the way, and if that is the case, don't worry, I'll raise my arm and you'll know I'm not just waving.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

"The Great Library" selected for "Books Beyond Words"

A new podcast in which Amanda shares some exhibition news and invites you to join her at Impressions7 on Monday afternoon.

Take a look at the "The Great Library" below


Check out Impressions 7 with me on Monday from 1-4pm. Closes Wednesday June 12th.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Untitled (In the woods)

As most of you won't be able to get along to Impressions 7, the Annual Impress Printmakers Exhibition, I thought I'd share my new print which is in the show.

This is probably one of the first, if not the first digital print which has felt satisfying to me.

I took the original photo several years ago using the camera facility on a Sony PSP, which has a  toy camera option.The iPhone was around at the time, but it was just before Instagram. 

About a month or so ago I began working on the photo. I noticed the circle of light on the left and wanted this to be the focus.

And this is  the final result.

Untitled (In the woods) by Amanda Watson-Will

Actually, the final result is a small edition (five) of pigment prints on BFK Rives Digital paper. When I get a chance I will take a photo of the print and post it, because that is why I am so pleased with this print. The blacks have printed beautifully, rich and dark, and there is no sense that anything has been lost by the fact that this is a digital print and not hand pulled.

If you are in Brisbane and able to come along to the show, it opens Friday night. Details in my previous post. Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Taking part in Impressions 7

A month or so ago, I was invited to participate in Impress Printmakers' Annual Exhibition. Works are by members and can inlcude prints, drawings and artists' books. 

I decided that it would be a good opportunity to show a couple of my artists' books to a Brisbane audience. Although my books have traveled to a variety of venues in Australia, to the US and right now one is making its way to Sarah Bodman's next exhibition of Book*Art*Object in England,  they haven't been seen much locally.

I also had one digital print that was almost ready, but I felt that as a collection of work, another was needed. The two books I chose, Judy & the Jacaranda and The Great Library, while quite different aesthetically are linked by their BAO connection. I felt that one completely unrelated print created a disjointed body of work.

So I began to work on another print that I felt would sit well with my first, and after a week or so, I was satisfied and so have submitted the two prints together with the two artists' books for the show.

If you are in Brisbane or close by, it would be terrific to see you at the Opening next Friday night. If you can't make it, I'll share some images in my next post.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Working into Ecoprints: some preliminary sketches

 Last year I made some prints using the 'welcome home' roses our lovely house-sitter Louise left after our trip.

When I took the embroidery course in August I used a couple for machine stitching, which I showed you here. 

Otherwise they have been sitting waiting my attention, while I worked on other commitments. So after finishing the first half of my BAO edition, I took a week off to play.

Having sat for so long, they have acquired rather an air of preciousness, and not being entirely confident in my drawing skills, I began by photographing a few so that I could make some preliminary sketches.

This worked well and I had fun trying out some ideas, which I may use either for "proper drawings" or for stitching. Below are four scans of my results. In the last one I haven't drawn anything, but the shading/colouring has been altered by the processes and I found that an interesting outcome.

I've found I really enjoy having some marks and colour on the paper to respond to in my drawing - must be the result of a childhood love affair with Mr Squiggle!

Nevertheless, I have already returned to my BAO project, printing pages, folding concertina spines etc in readiness for assembling the final copies - which I will soon share with you here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

BAO Group 4 books departing now

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Return to Podcasting

Sunday, March 03, 2013

A trip away

  ......always a chance for some photography.

Took the train to the Gold Coast and saw some of those sights you mostly miss in a car.

 The laid-back beachified approach to safety

and again!

"Red sky at night, Shepherd's delight"

...but it didn't happen that way for once.

Don't let this patch of blue sky fool you

Still some pretty skies and lights, despite the rain

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Some News and Something New

I'm very happy to say that Alicia Bailey of Abecedarian Gallery in Denver has selected one of my books for Photo Book Works, which opened there this Friday February 15th.

If you've been following here for some years you may remember the flag book I made called Like Weather. The book explored the inconstancy of emotions and compared this to the changability of weather. It was in fact the book that drew me in to making artist's books, because the structure expressed my idea so perfectly.

Like Weather (Amanda Watson-Will)

Like Weather has brought me success before, as it was acquired by Southern Cross University for their artist's book collection, and I am really thrilled that it is the second of my works to be selected for exhibition at Abecedarian Gallery. If you head over to the gallery's website, you'll be able to see all the selected work in the online catalogue.

Another piece of good news was the acquisition of my first zine, Looking for Wabi-Sabi in Tokyo, by University of Melbourne Library (Special Collections) . Among other work, I sent off some copies to BAZE which was held in December at Hand Held Gallery in Melbourne. I was fortunate that my zine was among those that Sue Millard selected for the Library.

Detail from Looking for Wabi-Sabi in Tokyo

I can also show you a photo of the first proof for A Day Just Like Any Other, my contribution for Edition 4 of Book*Art*Object.

Apologies for the poor photo, but I didn't want to reveal too much yet!
There are only a few minor tweaks to be made now and I'm ready to start assembling the edition. I've decided to make 15 this time, as last edition I only made 10 plus a proof, and although it fulfilled the requirements, there was only one copy spare.

Soon I'll be able to post more information about the research and process of making the book, but first I'll be heading over to Sarah Bryant's very useful post about assembling an edition. It has some great tips on how to make the process as easy, accurate and speedy as possible. 

And Something New

Finally, I wanted to share a recent acquisition of my own. You all know I love books, but you may not know that I also love jewelry, so what could be better than a book that is a necklace. Or is that a necklace that is a book? It doesn't really matter, it's beautiful whatever way you say it. 

This little treasure is the work of Barry Smith, a very talented sculptor and artist who works with metal. He lives not that far away from me, in Maleny, with his wife Fiona, a fellow BAO-member. 

I read about Barry's Peace Book pendants on Fiona's blog, Paper Ponderings and was immediately captivated. I love the fact this pendant is a little book, it mixes yellow and white metals that are  recycled, it has that superbly ornate second page, followed by the quote from Thich Nhat Hanh. As a person who experiences frequent bouts of anxiety, this reminder that the solution lies in mindfulness could not suit me better. So thank-you Barry, this necklace is already very special and I know it is set to become a favourite.

You can see more of Barry's work, including some Peace Book pendants at the moment, over on his blog Rustnstuff and in his online shop.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Open Studio in New York

No, sadly I am not in New York. Still here in Brisbane, navigating my way amongst the piles of CDs, books and electronic gear while Ian's music studio dries out.

However, the extremely talented Hannah Bertram, who I've introduced to you before from my days at RMIT in Melbourne is in New York. In what is an incredibly competitive arena, Hannah secured a three  month Australia Council residency. Go Hannah!

You may have seen the beautiful ephemeral works she made using stuff we'd normally avoid - dust.  If not, you can take a look on her website.

Her current works are made using a most poignant substance - ash. When I last talked with Hannah about her work, she was using ash that she collected after bushfires in the Gippsland area of Victoria, Australia.

If you are in or near New York City next week-end, I thoroughly recommend you get along to the Studio Open Day that Hannah will be hosting. Below is the invitation with details.

Oh, and if you do go along, don't forget to say hi! from me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

After the rain: Update

No matter where you are reading this, your news service has probably informed you about what's left of Cyclone Oswald and its effects on the eastern coast of Australia.

Here in Brisbane, the sun is shining now, and we've had one flood peak with another to come. This flood is not as bad for us here as the last one in 2011 and we personally have no worries about being inundated.

This time, rather than falling in the dams and river catchment areas, a lot more rain was dumped locally and we have a wall which sprang a leak in one room. (Still not sure exactly what the problem is).

Luckily for me, the room is not my studio, but no so luckily for my husband, it is his music studio. The carpet, which was absolutely sodden is filling our place with its stench, as it begins to dry. The feet and lower shelves of his many bookcases were also soaked. Not being family heirlooms, but modern chipboard pieces, they are bloating and warping. But happily, there are no losses of things he really cared about, like vintage or newer guitars, guitar effects, or any of those mysterious boxes with all those knobs for a-twiddlin'.

Example of box with knobs for a-twiddling

So all-in-all, apart from the smell, there isn't much to complain about. Normal art/book-related posts resuming soon!

P.S. Did I mention the smell?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Looking back: It's review time

 Just like Hilke, the Buechertiger I've been delaying the writing of this post, my annual review. Some of my reasons are the same (not feeling I've accomplished enough) and some are different.

This time last year I was in an optimistic mood, satisfied with the achievements of 2011 and excited at the potential offered by a brand new year, 2012.This time around I have not felt the same at all. 

My dissatisfaction  has come largely from not finishing either of the major projects I've been working on: my Book Art Object edition 4 contribution, and the wedding album for my friend. Both of these are now well-underway, but both also still have quite a long way to go. I'm annoyed with myself and cross that I can't start 2013 with that lovely blank slate, that I wrote about last year. It really feels as if these projects are infringing on 2013.

Summer /Christmas/ New Year is always a challenging time energy-wise. There is such a lot going on socially, people wanting to catch up and in high spirits, and its almost impossible not to over-do things.This year, I mis-managed even more than usual, by pushing myself hard in November and December to try to complete the BAO edition and the album.

Early in January, I soothed my self-disgruntlement by joining Michael Nobbs Month of Reflection and Planning.  (If you don't know Michael Nobbs, he also has ME/CFS and blogs at Sustainably Creative, where he focuses on ways to remain actively creative for people who are low on energy or time.) Taking a whole month may seem a bit of a luxury, but it is our summer here, hot as you-know-where, and I really do need to be taking it easy just now.

I have been using a couple of tools for my annual review for the last few years, and this year I am trying another one as well. That makes three! Hmmm! Lucky I have a month. 

I'm using (in my own fashion, of course):

  1. Alyson B Stanfield's Year End Review 
  2. Chris Guillebeau's Annual Review
  3. Susannah Conway's Unravelling 2013

   Alyson's review is totally focussed on artwork, and I discovered to my pleasure, that my list of works completed was in fact, not too shabby. I also found that when I looked at last year's review, there was an unfinished project then too, and what's more, I still haven't returned to that one! So maybe carrying projects over isn't so bad? At least the review process has shown me I need to consider that.

Chris's review is much broader in its scope. He covers every aspect of his life, and builds in quarterly reviews, which I have realized are a great idea. When I returned to mine, I discovered that in 2012 I had stuck firmly to my vision in some areas, but in others, quite different paths had presented themselves. 

A year is a long time, and while I love to have goals, I think the reason so many New Year resolutions fail is simply because things change. Perhaps Quarterly Resolutions or even Monthly ones would work better for most people. 

Finally, new for me this year is Susannah's Unravelling workbook.  Susannah runs Unravelling e-courses, where participants use photography to dig into their daily lives. I've never done one, but I do enjoy Susannah's photography and her genuine style of blogging. 

She suggests choosing a word for the year, identifying something personal, that you would like to work on in the coming 12 months. Last year, while I didn't complete her workbook, I did choose a word, and to my surprise I found that it really did colour my year.

 So, review is well-underway and looking pretty good after all. There's still nine more days in the month of reflection and planning, so next time I'll share some of the things from 2012 that pleased me most, and hopefully some Plans (note the capital "p").