Friday, February 29, 2008


I've finally managed to finish a post that I started back in January, when Michael and I had a weekend away (courtesy of Patrick, who baby-sat Ella) and we went down to Sydney to overdose on art! Owing to the fact that I started it a while ago, now that it's published it appears way down the page, but if you'd like to read about the exhibitions we went to, and how my views on Callum Innes and Tim Hawkinson chimed with the Sydney Morning Herald art critic John McDonald's views, page down and have a read!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fire Balloon fun at the Tweed River Art Gallery

I'd only been in Australia for a couple of months when I was lucky enough to be invited by Tim Mosely to participate in a Codex event at Southern Cross University in Lismore, which is a 2 - 3 hour drive north of me depending on the weather conditions (we get a lot of weather in northern New South Wales, as I am discovering!). The Codex events are an unfolding series of projects rooted in papermaking, printmaking and artists' books, instigated by Tim and populated by marvellous and varied people he knows of and knows. The group that I worked with were indeed marvellous and varied, and I had such a great time working with them! Louise Irving, Jo Kambourian, Rebekah Evans, Liz Deckers and Darren Bryant plus me and Tim.

The balloons fold down into book format. They look like the boats that bring most refugees to Australia

Suspended from clear threads the boats float along a wall and out into a wider exhibition space. The flotilla moves through the air erratically, as if pushed around by the waves

The project is referenced more fully in a previous entry for January 2007, titled Codex 4. Since then Tim has initiated a conversation with Susi Muddiman whom I met when she was Director at the Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery. Now she's moved back to the Northern Rivers area and is Director at the Tweed River Art Gallery, and so Tim and the project are relatively 'local'. Susi's very interested in works on paper and was able to offer an exhibition space for the work at the gallery. I went up there on Friday night to attend the opening, in Tim's absence, which was also a welcome chance to catch up with Louise.

Samples of the paper we made and printed hangs with the boats in standard frames

The images are, on closer view, harrowing

I hadn't realised that there were, in fact, four exhibitions opening on the same night, and that our fire balloons were in illustrious company! Euan McLeod was there with an exhibition of paintings and etchings; photographer Gilbert Bel-Bachir was showing portraits of the local South Sea Islander community; there were items from the Wagga Wagga national art glass collection and our fire balloons. You might think that we'd all have been a bit crowded, but in fact the different shows worked beautifully in what is a lovely space.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Paper cutting

This should almost be posted on the Complicities blog because it is through cutting text for my artists' book that I'm documenting on that site that I came to these other links, but it has all reminded me of a childhood fascination. When I was little and living in High Wycombe in the UK, my parents would sometimes take me to a place of wonder: a litle book shop in a house that was, I think, called The Red Barn. I remember finding shelves of books tucked away under the stairs, down corridors and in small rooms and I remember the excitement of being allowed to browse for one special paperback that my parents would buy for me... or which might be the fruits of a christmas or birthday book voucher - my favourite kind of present! I still remember some of the evocative titles: Casilda of the Rising Moon, The Wierdstone of Brisingamen and The Red Towers of Granada. But a favourite author was Joan Aiken and although I loved the stories of her Wolves of Willoughby Chase series, I adored her books of strange fairy tales illustrated by Jan Pienkowski. His style in the early 1970s was of silhouettes on beautifully marbled backgrounds, and for years those swirling, magical drawings heavily influenced my love of patterns and of black against white.

I was reminded of all that when I stumbled upon a website through a devious route that I cannot now retrace. It's Cindy's Scherenschnitte blog, which is great. Pienkowski doesn't use papercutting, as far as I'm aware, drawing his illustrations in pen and ink, but the overall effect is similar. I wonder what attracts me to the style. Simplicity is one key, which opens up the possibilities of imagination. Although the castles, undersea worlds or dark forests are presented in black, they become coloured in my imagination with visual references from all the medieval stories I've ever read, Pre-Raphaelite paintings, William Morris, Russian folk art, persian carpets... the list is a long one. What fun!

Through the Scherenschnitte blog I was also directed towards Su Blackwell's amazing sculptural paper, as well as to Peter Callesen, whom I already reference in this blog, and to Tord Boontje, whose lacy paper cutouts have garlanded my walls and my lights ever since he was 'discovered' in the UK interior design market a few years ago.

This meandering path through different blogs and different websites is one of the great pleasures of blogging! Not only do you put your own thoughts and vision and work out there for other people to look at, you're able to take small peeks into other people's worlds and see what they do, and also what interests and influences them. I find it endlessly interesting, not in a voyeuristic way but sometimes just as a reassurance that there are 'others like me' out there, or that in some way there are 'benchmarks' against which I can measure my own work. It isn't competitive, but how else does an artist see what's going on in someone else's mind and/or studio, unless they're lucky enough to be working in a creative environment (group studio, perhaps, or at an art institution) or have an enormous circle of generous and creative friends? Blogging has opened up the inner life of artists in a way that hasn't seemed possible before, and I for one am enjoying it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Daily Trance!

I have been putting up a lot of posts, but not so many to this blog because I've been absorbed in both my Daily Drawing and Complicities blogs, both of which have required me to step up my efforts. The real joy of both has been in the making. I have been able to become absorbed in the act of creation and in the process I've taken myself back to that semi-trance state that I found easier to enter into when I was younger, before I let everything else come between me and making things! 'Trance' sounds like a dangerous word, evoking Sixties hippies getting high on dope and Nineties ravers chilling out on Ecstacy, but it isn't that sort of trance... or at least, I don't think so! It's more akin to serene meditation: the business of my conscious mind is occupied by something else, often an audio book, while my unconscious mind gets on with resolving problems and really looking at what I'm doing. I love it. The hours pass and I am really happy, and I've been able to engross myself like this for at least a very brief time every day, and more recently, all day while I make an artists' book. Lucky me, I have another 11 artists' books to make this year, plus a series of 12 dry point etchings plates, so I won't go cold-turkey until next year!


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