Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Round and around...

We have gone around the world and back, and the sense of circling and encompassing and wrapping around sits with me on return.

I have been trying to loosely organise my photos - very loosely - and once again am intrigued by the circles I see as we wander the world...

I don't think I use circles that much in my work, yet I am drawn to them in the world around me. They offer a sense of wholeness, or of a void; they seem to be complete, and rather calming.  No doubt there is a world of writing on "The Meaning of The Circle" but sometimes I just like to look at them.

In Scotland, this beautiful work at Dovecot (Caroline Dear, Moss circle/square)

At Cullen Bay, a wreath of guinea fowl feathers

In Stockholm, a rusted ring

A gold record by ABBA! at the ABBA Museum in Stockholm

And colourful balls of braid in Stockholm as well.

To Krakow, candles at a cemetery on All Saints Day.

Outside Krakow, a salt chandelier in the salt mine.

Part of an assemblage artwork in Krakow, outside the National Museum.

Remnant of horror, Auschwitz.  So sinister in its barbed electricity.

We saw a lot, enjoyed a lot and were forced to think, consider, probe and try to understand a lot.  For whatever reason I am a person affected by place, by being, sitting, standing, walking in a place. I get a different experience from it, a different understanding. By no means the same understanding of being in a place for a long time, following the seasons and the years; but I think differently when I am in a place rather than just reading about it or looking at it thru a book or a screen.  I am grateful for the opportunities to travel.

I am more grateful to be able to circle home.

To the coaster where I rest my mug...

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Apologies for the lengthy absence.  We were away for a few weeks and despite my best intentions, what was needed in the end was an almost total silence.  For the first time since I began blogging I didn't keep it up as we travelled; I apologise too for not commenting much on others blogs.

But here we are back home, safe and well and a little bit more relaxed.

One of our first stops was Edinburgh - a city that constantly delights and where we love to wander and explore and re-visit fabulous places.  One of these is the Dovecot Tapestry Workshop. It produces beautiful work, puts on stunning exhibitions and for the first time we got to see behind the scenes from the viewing balcony.

It was so impressive.

The scale is astonishing. You can see the humans in amongst the frames and the number of large scale projects underway...at least five I think.

So much work goes into one of these - the design, the matching of colours, the hundreds of threads for weft and warps, then the weaving of the threads.

The front of one underway


The back...

 Details of another including the words to be woven.

Hard at work.

We were both in awe of the amount of work and time these massive projects take - the patience required!  Apologies too because none of the projects were named so can't be attributed - works in progress still.

Fragments from the exhibition that was on at the time.

Detail - Caroline Dear Moss circle/square

Detail - Joanne Soroka For Irene Sendler

Detail - Aino Kajaniemi Shadow Series 1-18

Life is definitely a tapestry, a gathering of threads, designs emerging...woven into layers and creating order and beauty out of simple things.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

Some days it storms 
Some days it shines
This is how flowers grow. 


Occasionally my Thursday Thoughts are erudite. Sometimes they are complex and deep and extremely thought-provoking; at others, they suggest a truism I simply need reminding of.

This is one of those.

When things get heavy and tough and you feel overloaded, it can be easy to lose sight of the knowledge that life has, and needs, cycles.  That both sides of the coin hold value and many things in this world need a little bit of this; and a little bit of that.

We have had a hard and heavy year and I need to remind myself that the up side of some of this is the benefits that are flowing to others; that a lot of the hard work will be making someone else's life better and easier and happier.

I also know that we will come out the the other side and that over there, the sun will be shining.

Sun and storms, above the clouds...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” 

Henry David Thoreau

This captures so perfectly what happens when we slow down and pay attention to the small wonders in the world.  To those moments and places and objects that may appear unattractive and worn, or those which are generally overlooked.

I know I am not alone in thinking of the many photographs I and others take - where I have noticed something small and insignificant, yet beautiful and encouraging or full of wonder.

It's what you can see within it; or what you can see of its story, its history, its value and meaning.

Remnants of string from peace flags past..they are so beautiful to me; so full of reminders of sharing peace.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

"Words are Life" 

 Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief

Oh my, this book remains one of my favourites. So beautifully written, such details about the power and beauty of books and writing and recording and memory...

I know that as humans we need food and shelter and air and so many things to keep a life going; but I can hardly imagine my life without words; without books.

Books and words carry and contain such meaning: they guide; steer; educate; celebrate; empathise...so many elements of life are contained within them and by them and made available for us to share and explore.

What more can I say? Words definitely help make a life.

A quote from a woman who was helped by McAuley Community Services in Melbourne - words I traced and hand-stitched. Words.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

"Silence is something more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands".

Pico Ayer 

Oh yes, here we are again with the idea of silence and quiet, and solitude. 

Pico Ayer has helped me think about silence in different ways; and to find different ways to accommodate it in my life. To explore what I think I mean when I use the word, and how it can be applied to parts of my life. 

I love this description of silence as an enchanted place where space and time are set aside and the horizon itself expands...it feels like silence enables growth and increase; that silence enables us to see more and to see further, that silence is a huge enabler. 
I think it is.

And deserts. Arizona 2013 - that horizon expanding in the silence...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

"I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of quiet life stimulates the creative mind" 

 Albert Einstein

These words seem so apt when we live in the time of fake news and opinions being weighted equally with expertise or facts.

Part of this made me smile and think -monotony?!??! And part of it made me think oh yes, the solitude of the country can really and truly stimulate the creative mind.

With regards monotony I am not so sure I can agree - life where we are hardly seems monotonous; but I can empathise with the notion of solitude and quiet encouraging creativity.

I find my best creative times come not when I am full of buzz and energy and fast moving; but rather when I am sitting quietly with my thoughts and my space around me and things are able to emerge - gently, quietly and flowingly.

Insights can appear from nowhere and appear not as the result of any process that I am conscious of; but I tend to only hear those ones when I am quiet and calm.  Solitude also feels right for creativity for me - no distractions, a sense of withdrawal from the world of others for a bit to spend time with the inner workings...

Who knew? Me and Einstein almost at one (or at least at a half!).

A different kind of solitude to our country solitude, but still, a glorious solitude...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tweed Gallery

Travel time is upon us again and I was reminded of a recent trip to the Tweed Regional Gallery. Stunning gallery.

The main reason for our visit was to see Australian painter Margaret Olley's interior of her terrace house, recreated in the gallery space where it now has a new home.

I love this idea - of painstakingly and carefully removing every item of Margaret's rooms, building a replica house and then re-placing each and every time as it was in her house in Sydney on the day she died.  What a remarkable memorial and gift.

This wouldn't necessarily work or be of great interest if it was just some run of the mill person's house with average this and that. Margaret's home was a veritable jungle of art and flowers and still life and paints.

It wasn't possible to get brilliant photos but I am sure you will get the idea of just what her home must have been like. Astonishing!

This pair of photos is a bit blurry - but what caught my eye was the kitchen - the sink, the oven, jam, fruit an apron and ...several paint palettes and tubes of paint. As you do.


I've been thinking of collective nouns for the rooms - a glory of chaos? an overwhelming of gorgeousness?

I loved the chest of drawers - clearly type drawers or paper drawers - the perfect piece of bedroom furniture.

And then to a few other pieces in other parts of the gallery that caught my eye.

White Owl by Joshua Yeldham

 A detail of a piece Interior with Poppies (Margaret Olley's house) by Cressida Campbell.

Michael Cusack Archive (13) Curragh

And on the way back to the car - these guys. Pursuit by John Petrie.

I immediately wanted to go home and see if we could find a couple of great boulders and make some of them. We haven't but I'd love to have a few roaming the block!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday Thoughts...

“The books we read answer questions we didn’t even know we had” 

 Axel Marazzi

Well ain't that the truth? I am often surprised that a book I have read has taught me stuff I didn't even know I needed to know.

I can sometimes be spooked by the timing of a book- that somehow this book fell into my hands; or that it had been sitting on the shelf for ages and I gathered it up to read at just the right moment.

It makes me smile to think there might be book-whisperering fairies somewhere who sit on my shoulder and say "this one, you need to read this one, now..."

Maybe they left this sign in a garden in Tyalgum as well.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

White on white workshop

On Sunday I taught my Quietly and Gently workshop to the Calligraphers of South East Queensland.  They are such a talented bunch and always so open and enthusiastic that it is always a pleasure to head down to Brisbane and spend a day with them.

They very enthusiastically engaged with the ideas of white on white, the possibilities and the messages the techniques convey.

They all made loads of samples and we all decided that a pouch was the way to go to store them.  The book would have ended up eating into our time to make, experiment and create!

With thanks to Susan, Marg, Donnie, Desma, Ally, Christine, Barb, Lynne, Robin, Jo, Kay, Sandra and Jennie; here are some of the beautiful samples they created...

And samples alongside pouches...

At the beginning of the workshop we spent some time talking about the vocabulary of white, what it says, how it makes you feel and so on.  Here is the list we came up with in pretty quick time.  

We worked on themes that reflected these types of words, and if we had had another day; we might have gone on to write a verse or poem, inspired by these words, and then created a finished piece of it.  That could be the two day version of the original 5 day version of this workshop - so many options!

Here is the small verse I came up with based on these words.

clean, cool light
purity of shadows;
absence is clear,
uplifting, spiritual serenity.

Thanks once again to CSEQ for having me - it was grand.