Tuesday, April 27, 2010


And yes, this is hand cut!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Not to most of you, obviously, but instead "Happy Birthday!" to my husband, who will be 50 tomorrow i.e. April 27th. He's the person who takes care of everyone else in the house/family/circle of friends/world and doesn't think a lot of himself, so it was a major miracle that we managed to spring a surprise party on him. He was persuaded to go out for a couple of hours so that I could 'do some work' (which was at least a potentially realistic excuse, given that I have a show opening in two weeks' time). In fact, I raced down to the shed, brought up extra chairs, tied balloons to the verandah supports, made a cheese plate and a fruit plate, put champagne in the freezer and beer in the fridge. Then I watched with some amusement as the weather rolled in, sudden violent winds ripped the balloons off the verandah supports and the special helium 'O' blew into the flight path of the nearest jet...

M's birthday weekend started with a lovely meal at the Pacific Bay Novotel with other friends, and then we had the surprise party here, so I think he's had a great time! It's been fun to pull the wool over his eyes (for a good reason only, you understand) because he's usually pretty sharp and, since we live and work together, it can be hard to keep anything much a secret. All in all I'm now rather tired (no, alcohol is not to blame as I was designated driver on Saturday and too busy organising things yesterday. So there).

Friday, April 16, 2010


At last I'm at home, taking a breath after a busy, busy week.

First stop was Mackay, staying with Dinamow overnight so that I could attend the opening of the Libris Awards. I've spent a week thinking what to say about my experience up there because it really wasn't what I had expected. Perhaps it's because I've spent a lot of time not being an artist and working in business that I get really frustrated with arts administration... but before anyone jumps down my throat I should say that I am trying to deal with my sense of frustration and generally calm down, and also that I'm not pointing at anyone specific here! However, it was deeply disappointing to arrive at the opening to find my book relegated to the shadowy lower back corner of a locked glass cabinet.

Yes, I really do know how difficult it is to please participating artists about the way in which their work is displayed (I have curated several group shows) and yes, I also appreciate that there aren't enough open shelves to go around. But what was the point of asking for display instructions to be included with the work and enquiring whether or not it could be handled only to lock it away in a box where no-one could see it? I'm not just imagining that no-one looked at it: I spent quite a lot of time observing how visitors to the exhibition approached the cabinet and the truth is that they had a brief look at the works that were clearly lit on the upper shelf and I didn't catch a single person looking below at my piece. Not one.

Things weren't helped by the complete lack of any printed information about the show, the participating artists or the work apart from the labels: no catalogue, not even a scrappy piece of photocopied A4 with a list of exhibited works, despite the fact that everything was numbered. I don't know what other people do but I make a point of picking up the catalogue (or scrappy A4 sheet for that matter!) and I use it to make notes about pieces or artists I particularly like, I use it to navigate my way around the show, and I also look up particular artists to see where their work is displayed. Nothing like that here, unfortunately. I thought the choice of winners was, for once, spot-on but I found my overall experience of the show disappointing. I wasn't able to stay for the forum on artists' books which I imagine was very interesting.

It is possible that my overall mood was affected by the significant amount of pain I experienced due to the infection in my jaw after the tooth extraction a few days previously, I don't deny it! I was on whopping antibiotic tablets and mega-pain killers and I felt LOUSY. Luckily for me what made the whole thing worthwhile was the chance to meet people. Diane was absolutely lovely: she picked me up from the airport, gave me a whistle-stop tour of the beachside scenery around Mackay, put me up in a very comfortable bed, and after the opening she and her husband Peter took me out to dinner with their friends! It was absolutely lovely, and so kind. And in addition to being spoiled rotten by Diane and Peter I also got to meet up again with Sue Anderson, Gwen Harrison, Christina Cordeiro, Julie Barratt, dear Duck and was introduced again to Noreen Graham of Graham Galleries and Editions in Brisbane. Wonderful!

I came back from Mackay feeling absolutely flattened but had great fun last Sunday at the annual Rotary Club book sale in Coffs Harbour. Now at first glance you wouldn't say the local population hides a sophisticated readership but apparently the book sale raises about $40,000 a year so perhaps I'm being a little unfair! I came away with a bag of books destined to be experimented upon, remade and possibly even read, for the grand sum of $35. Marvellous. And once I'd got through that I was able to come home and pack up ready to go to Sydney on Monday.

Not brilliant photos of the new arrival, but he is SO CUTE! Couldn't get any closer because of the throng which is why these are slightly out of focus, but you get the idea...

The reason for our trip was that dearest husband had to go and see clients in Sydney but at such short notice that the available flights were around $600 return! So we decided that as we haven't been away at all since our big European trip last year we were entitled to take a few days to drive down, have some fun and drive back - all for much less than the cost of a single plane ticket and we had free hotel accommodation at the Crowne Plaza on Darling Harbour. So darling daughter and I whiled away the time shopping and sightseeing while the other half worked, and in between times we managed to catch up with friends and sample Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine. OK, perhaps it is more accurate to say that we spent more money than we would have done if DH had flown down on his own, but I swear I needed a jacket and a new pair of shoes, and darling daughter certainly needed new shoes and there are no children's shoe shops in Coffs Harbour! That's my excuse, anyway.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The latest book

Another book about family - a bit messy perhaps, in that there are a lot of things all thrown in together, but still. Again, it's a moveable book, and this series of photographs is an attempt to show how it moves.

The imagery is variously taken from my family tree and handwriting from my parents and grandparents, with hand drawn and painted images of feathers and nests. The blocks are hard-edged and regular, folding on themselves with paper hinges, opening and closing to hide and reveal softer cursive lines. Blocks have echoes of bricks and buildings; nests are altogether softer propositions yet all are fragile and temporary. Death takes it all away eventually until what's left is a feather or a name on a family tree. So the book is about permanence and impermanence, family, inheritance, memory.


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