Thursday, 21 August 2014

epitaph .....

Book Ideation Cards - Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum - our recipe ..... 
high tech, assymetrical, multiple openings, multiple colours, no text, abstract, muted, photographic, miniature, personal, issue based and simple.

Choosing our cards from each category was fun though I don't think Fiona and I realised at the time just how constraining, or in reality how expanding, this project would be.  It was immediately apparent that for Fiona the challenge would be 'no text' and for me, I think the 'issue based' book was the initial stumbling block.  I think at the end of the day I have to be honest and say that I chose to work with trees before deciding on the 'issue' of trees.  We live on ten gorgeous acres with views up and down the coast but one of the things we have been doing to open up the views, is cut down trees. It is always with great sadness that this happens and of course we still have many many more on this bush block.  Another thing that was a sadness was that one of our huge white gums came down in the cyclone at the beginning of last year.  This will supply us with huge sections of timber for seating around the fire pit but never-the-less, one never wants to see such a gracious tree come down.  

I decided that I would like to record these trees in some manner, remembering them before they were reduced from proud beings to mere stumps and so this book has come about as something personal but also issue based in the act of remembering trees, respecting them, recording them in some manner.  I have also played with the idea that seeds from trees spread and grow into young saplings which will in turn grow into more proud beings. 

Those of you who follow my blog will know I have been exploring new techniques of printmaking in the last couple of months and by employing these new techniques, I think I covered the 'high tech' ingredient from the recipe.  A stumbling block for me was the multiple openings and once I discovered that I could tear open seed like shapes through the fine tengujo paper, revealing the layer beneath, this problem was solved.  The result of many days of pondering is often so simple but it just doesn't appear as quickly as one would hope .... I think it is because as artists we have minds that are open to a myriad of possibilities of direction in which a work could proceed and in order to move forward, we have to decide on just one.  My pencil drawings ended up being very simple marks or lines .... but there again, as I prowled around my book when it was half way through, thinking about all the things I could do, I just had to settle on the one idea and work with that.  I am satisfied that I managed to work to the recipe though I am mindful that with those same ingredients, a number of different books could have been made.

And so, I have named my book Epitaph - I hope my tombstones also look a little like tree stumps.  I do love the fact that by using the marks or relief prints from trees which have lived here on this land, there is a record of their existence. The book is not easy to photograph but I have shown each page and then some of the details.  I have used a number of different weights of Japanese tissue papers for the prints and the book pages are made from Fabriano Tiepolo which is a favourite of mine.

epitaph |ˈɛpɪtɑːf-taf|
nouna phrase or form of words written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone. figurative a poignant epitaph to hiscreative career.• something by which a person, time, or event will be remembered: the storymakes a sorry epitaph to a great career.ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French epitaphe, via Latin fromGreek epitaphion funeral oration, neuter of ephitaphios over or at a tomb, from epi upon + taphos tomb.

I have left 'peep holes' in the perspex cover through which you catch glimpses of page one.
First page
Second page
Third page
Fourth page
Final page.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

two books meet .....

I love every aspect of books .... book covers, book paper and books sounds, sitting curled up with a book by the fire, rows of books on shelves, piles of books on floors, by the bed .... but just at the moment, I pretty much love Fiona's and my 'book meet days' best of all.  The hard work is done, we each know part of the others' book and in some cases have contributed quite largely to the making of that book.  However, the day they meet is the day all our hard work and pushing in different directions becomes evident in the final work.  

I think that is what makes these particular books we make so different (and yet really not so different from the way we normally work) - the fact that we are working to some sort of prescribed or dictated format - a prescription we have decided upon ourselves, or in the case of this last book, one we chose randomly from a set of cards that gave us the ingredients, or recipe for the making of this book.  It means that when you get stuck at a point, you have to work around it as this is a collaborative piece and therefore must be completed.  I know with some of my own work, if the direction in which I am heading becomes too hard, I simply change direction. Problem solved.  For me, the stumbling really came when I had to incorporate 'multiple openings' and realised that I didn't actually want to cut openings in my pages, or have little pockets from which I could bring forth additional work.  My solution will be shown more in the next post when we each show you around our books, but it is a solution which has already opened up another direction for me with my printing and so it is quite exciting.

Today was another happy day with Fiona here in my studio.  The books met and became friends quite quickly, and then Fiona kindly shared her internet skills with me by teaching me how to use 'Mailchimp' and 'Pic Monkey'.  Now that I have acquired this new primate knowledge, I will set about publishing my newsletter in the next week.  Fun.  Or it will be once all those names and addresses are in the address book .....

A glimpse of the two books.

Colours work so well together.

The two books sit well side by side ..... amazing really since we could have worked with completely disparate ideas.
I guess we did inside - our issues are very different.

I tend to be shifting towards a much softer palette these days.  Fiona's crisp colours on the right.

Just a tease .....

You can see my front page through the perspex covers - more detailed glimpses through a few 'openings' in the perspex.

And just a peep at gorgeous deckled paper edges.  Paper love.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

australian stories .....

I have been busy in the studio making little bits and pieces for my Open Studio days in October - works which are indicative of where my mind is these days, and reflecting the work I have been practicing or learning.

These 'Australian Stories' (actually I haven't definitely decided on that name though the bits of images are all suggestive of places I have seen around Australia) have been fun to work with - cutting up bits of etchings to fit in the spaces of my embossing.  They look a bit much all together, but individually, each one tells a different story.

The photographs are not grand ..... it is raining here (and so there is no natural light in which to photograph) which is sheer bliss as we have been in drought conditions.  You can virtually hear the trees smiling broadly - and I certainly am.

detail of story above

I have been working on a few images from my 'Magpie Tidings' book -  eventually I will edition the book but as each one will take a week to make, I just do not have that time available at the moment.  I have made of few of these two dimensional works and though the photo is a little poor in quality and a bit too blue, they have come up quite well I think.
And this ... well this is evidence of my stupidity.  Four efforts at sewing up my next book which goes to meet with Fiona on Wednesday.  Four Times!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

twits .....

Many of you know from a post last year, that I collect white porcelain - translucent vessels in particular.  Last week three fellow artist's and I had a drive to Redcliffe to visit Jo St. Baker in her Studio with a mind to viewing it as a possible exhibition space for a group or individually.

While there I could not resist buying two new little additions for my porcelain collection - 'Twits', by artist Josephine Regan.  You will see them on the bottom shelf and then watch me play as I try to find a resting space for them among their peers.  The truth is, I think 'the twits' will move around the porcelain display often as either I, or visitors, rearrange.


I love how this twit seems to be about to kiss you ....

This is Jo's Gallery and Studio space.  She has a great eye and a contemporary approach which would suit me and my work very well ...... no time to think about it terribly much just yet but I am really interested in seeing if she will stock some of my work there and then maybe organise an exhibition for late next year or the year afterwards - if of course my work is deemed suitable.  It is a 'pop up' gallery at present, but I am sure Jo will move from this to another should this building sell.

If you are in the area, this is a fine place to visit.  You can see from this photo that an exhibition was in the process of coming down but even if you are there in-between exhibitions, there are lovely things to look at and buy.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

hope is a thing with feathers

I am making these small books, and others, for my Open Studio days.  This one however, is heading off to a very special friend of mine who has just come out of hospital.  I do love this poem by Emily Dickinson.....

'Hope' is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

telling stories .....

The process of telling a story in an artist's book form is quite unlike any other art I make which may stand alone and does not have to explain itself from page to page, and as such is an easier process.   I find that birthing a book takes weeks of mind mapping, then working out what techniques will be used to tell that story, finally the work has to be narrowed down from all the possibilities, the 'I coulds' to the 'I will'.

For some this process might come more easily but my experience is that a book which may even look really simple in its completion, takes a great deal of thought and mulling over before it comes together.

Even following a 'recipe' as Fiona explained in her posting is not as simple as it sounds.  In fact I think we have both found the process quite difficult.  Just when you think that you have all twelve dictates covered, you realise that one of the ingredients is missing and you have to think again.  Well, that is the challenge of this book and I am sure I will have more to say about it when our books meet in a couple of weeks.

Here are a few photos to show you where my book is heading....

You might wonder why this photo is here, it is because this was the second attempt to sew up my book (I had to stop my first attempt and go and do a sample of single sheet coptic binding as I had not used it for ages) and already the back cover is loosening from the bundle. Ugh!  Third attempt coming up.

My book is finished.  Of course there is still that third sewing attempt to tackle .....

Thursday, 31 July 2014

valuable days .....

Some days are just spent in a very valuable way and yesterday was one.  Fiona and I began our eighth collaborative artists' books and each time we seem to be confronted with a new set of struggles.  I guess that is really what this collaboration has been about .... pushing ourselves in directions we would otherwise not wander, certainly not alone.  Not that we encounter dark alleys but we do meander off course, through woods and out into the sunshine at various points along the walk.

Fiona posted very thoroughly on the process this collaboration is taking, using the cards designed by Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum so there is no need for me to elaborate further.  Just visit Fiona's blog .....

So, our books will be abstract ones with multiple openings, asymmetrical with multiple muted colours.  They will have no text yet be high tech.  Simultaneously they must be photographic, simple and miniature.  After discussions on all these words and concepts, Fiona and I decided that miniature could also mean macro, detailed.  And as if this is not enough the books must be issue based and yet personal.  Phew.  It think it has taken us the last couple of months just to assimilate and juggle all those ideas and now we are moving forward with our books.

I already know that we will squirm and wriggle about with the ideas and perceived difficulties of using these prescribed parameters, and yet I am sure that we will end up being glad we swallowed and followed the guidelines. Already we are exploring new techniques which will give us the way forward with our thoughts.

borer markings 

some gorgeous wood marks, badly inked ..... I am learning not to leave lines right through the middle

texture marks

a cut slab end piece from one of the huge trees which came down in the cyclone last year

Burning off the beautifully smooth timber brings back all the lovely interesting marks.
The slab was full of chain saw marks and uneven cut marks and my friend Wade who works with wood, worked his magic on both sides of the slab so that I have almost glassy smooth wood from which to print.

A coat of shellac provides the necessary layer between the wood and the ink.
Sublime marks, the second pull is deliciously transparent on fine Japanese paper.

mmmmm - learning to blend ink on wood

I often prefer the subtlety of the back of work done on fine papers.

Now I need to work out how to use these marks and make the work 'mine'.

All these ideas and the last two postings on playing with wood, are leading towards the making of this book marking the memory of trees.