Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Aussie Bush Project

I have been working on magazine articles these last weeks but have also been thinking about what new project I would embark on when the Medieval Project finishes its travels later this year. There is no doubt the format offers room for lots of creativity- I make the prints and then people embroider/embellish/bead/ do all sorts of stuff to improve my prints. It's been a pleasure to see what people have come up with, and the Medieval project and the Sentinelle Project before it attracted lots of attention and positive comment, and I am amazed at how varied the exhibition looks even though the same prints have been used.The medieval project will be shown at Canberra next week and Newcastle  the following week and then in Hamilton and Wellington in New Zealand in September. The events are organised by Expertise Events and there is further information on their website- just follow the link.

So earlier this year I was playing around and making Babbling Banksia quilts and prints and also did quite a lot of reading of French Botanical books as some of the first images of Australian flora appear in in the book of a French botanist. It made me wonder about  what they thought of the Australian bush with plants so strange and so different to what they would have encountered in Europe, and then I wondered how do Australians themselves view the Aussie bush? What is the first thing that springs to mind when you mention the words The Aussie Bush and how do they envision those things?

So I decided that my next project would be The Aussie Bush. In my minds eye I can see a wall of wonderful stitched panels depicting the Aussie Bush. So I started creating prints with the Aussie Bush in mind. The first two  prints are 30 cm x 30 cm and have been inspired by gumnuts and banksias. I can see lots of opportunity for embellishment of these panels. Panels are for sale for $20 each plus postage- and I have dyed a load of Aussie bush colours ( and some others as well) .I am also making enquiries if there is any interest in exhibiting the Aussie Bush Project - if I can get people to join into the project. Email me if you are interested, and I would love some feedback  on what you think about the project!

I usually do my first trial print on newspaper- not sure how that habit started, probably because I used newspapers as printing mats.I think I will be making these trial prints into some kind of hand made book. These two prints are  hot off the press ( well in my wishing world there might one day be a proper press !) and I will be working on another one over the next few days. As you can see from the last photo I am using an empty wine bottle to roll the backs of the lino when printing as I left my barens that I normally use in France and haven't had a chance to get to a shop to buy some new ones . I love those Japanese bamboo covered barens.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I wanted to share this image of angels  from the Pincoteca in Siena by Sano di Pietro from the Cinqua Cento- I have it as a screen saver and every morning when I open my laptop I take a moment to reflect on its serenity, its beauty and sweetness. And when I look through my recent photos whilst I was in Italy I notice that I am much taken by angels- I seem to have noticed them everywhere I went.

I came across a recent post by Sharon Boggon ( whose inspirational stitching blog I followed for many years) about a new project she is setting up about contemporary Journaling, which I shall be following with interest. And so it has lead to some of my own ruminations about journalling.

I have kept a journal in one way or another since I was about 15 and was a writer on scraps of paper before that. My children grew up journalling, whether it was words or drawing - it didn't matter. I have kept up the habit- not always consistently, sometimes I might go a week without journalling, and then I will get back to it. I even went a few years without journalling at all- mainly whilst I was at university.

And then, just before I left France, I lost my Rhodia Folder journal. I think I left it behind in the church where I was exhibiting at Forca Fil in Mane- if anyone found it I would love it back. I had started this journal  in February after buying the Rhodia folder. I love Rhodia paper- it's so beautiful and smooth to write on with a fountain pen- you barely need apply any pressure. The only paper that offers a challenge is Fabriano- and I love the ivory colour of their paper. The folder is a new product from Rhodia and it has plastic pocket inserts which were so handy for collecting all sorts of bits and bobs, and to boot I lost my new purple Lamy fountain pen. Lamy bring out a new colour every year and this years colour is purple- it's my one extravagance apart from buying lovely journals. But losing that journal has been a bit of a pain- there were so many thoughts, ruminations, ideas and lists, and reflections and descriptions in that journal, I feel as if I have lost 5 months of myself, yet I have a lot of work I made in that time which proves otherwise.

What do I love about journalling?

Well for a start a journal is shaped like a book- I love books- I like the shape of books, I like the paper in books, I like the words , the images,the smell.

I love fountain pens- indeed I particularly love Lamy fountain pens, once in my solicitor days I managed to convert a large part of the office I worked in to use Lamy fountain pens-  they are smooth to write with and draw with. But to draw I use black ink so that does necessitate another Lamy pen. I like the weight of them in my hand.

I love blank pages or dot grid pages or little squares ( which remind me of learning to write as a child)- I don't actually like lined pages at all. I like to be able to go  all over the page without being contained by lines.

I use my journal for all sorts of things- I do record my feelings sometimes, but mostly I record encounters with ideas  and places and food and museums/galleries. I use my journal to research, though if I really want to research something more intensively I will start a separate journal for that. Right now I want to research things about Italy- things I encountered, but I forgot to bring my Fabriano notebook with me - so it's had to go on the back burner for the time being because Italy needs to be explored in a Fabriano journal- nothing else will do.

I do draw in my journal- usually mono-colour and in black  if I can- again if I want to explore something in colour I tend to do that in a separate journal, but my journal also contains a lot of writing- sometimes quotes, ideas. Actually my journals contain a lot of ideas about things I am interested in.

I write recipes into my journals- and then I forget which journal I wrote them in . And I keep all sorts of bits of paper of interest in my journal- cards, tickets- but I don't paste them in- they are usually loose stuck between the pages.

I am often surprised how I will return to subject matter over a period of time- years even and when I look at my thoughts then and now- how things have changed and evolved. Sometimes you refind things that were forgotten with the passing of time, other times it's like meeting an old friend- as if there has been no intervening years.

Sometimes I write stories or beginnings of stories.

I write about books I have read.
I bought a book whilst I was at le Triadou- well actually I bought two books. Letters to a Young Poet  by Rainer Maria Rilke... I wish I could write such letters and how times have changed that we don't write such letters. They are a exploration of his own work , his ruminations on his subject matter, even though he is addressing a young poet. And then such delight to walk the path he walked in Duino several months later.

The other book I bought was Six Drawing Lessons by William Kentridge. I have  been admiring Kentridge's work from afar and bought the book for greater insight ( more of his books will find my shelf no doubt)  as I liked how his ideas worked and the thoughts he put into his work- it's a long and erudite tale. I like how he draws on philosophy, on ideas of others and I even encountered Rilke in the pages of his six lectures on Drawing for Harvard University. Then imagine my unutterable delight to be able to experience some of his work in Milan- I only found there was an exhibition of his work whilst checking a website for things to do in Milan). I wrote about all these things in my lost Rhodia journal. But what surprises me even more, that ,walking the Rilke path in Duino and visiting Kentridge's work in Milan were both unplanned things- things that I only found out about  the minute they were upon me- and I wrote about how strange and serendipitous the universe can be, how these encounters turn up in my life without expecting them to and yet they somehow connect  what I am thinking and trying to understand.

 And so  whilst trying out my new Fude pen which arrived on the same day as the William Kentridge book- the two things are combined somehow, and I am trying to get to the centre of  banksias

And there you have it Rilke and Kentridge on the same page!

And then recent ruminations on Aussie bush-I am trying to feel it not only see it- I want to understand its myths, the people who have written about it. I want to create the  Aussie bush in all its weirdness and wonder- there is no other wilderness like it in the world.

So this ramble is a little of how my journals actually are- a place to explore, discover, test, think, create ideas- and the slowness of the actual writing or drawing creates somehow greater reflection, and your brain has time to evolve  the ideas, because the slowness of your hand dictates the exploration - much like stitching really.