Sunday, 26 June 2016

Reluctant to leave Carcassonne .....

We only had a day and a half in Carcassonne and really did not want to leave - not just because of the town itself, old/new and medieval but because the B&B in which we stayed just outside the medieval town was pure delight - the hosts, the room, the position, the enormous breakfasts and the good chats all helped to make us feel more informed and thus more at home.

The first evening we were there we decided to walk into the new/old town, passed the medieval town and see what Carcassonne had to offer.  En route the landscape get almost Van Gogh - Cezanne.  The sun only set about 9.30 pm so this late evening light is gorgeous for photography.  As I mentioned in my last past, I have been so swept up in the atmosphere that I keep forgetting to take photos - which is really as it should be.

As Australia is such a young country I. Am always fascinated by age and the slow decay of buildings.  This boulangerie sign has seen better days though  the fascade still evokes lines of deliciously tempting pastries and breads.

The medieval cite of Carcassonne is really quite something viewed from a distance - from any angle driving back towards this city it is spectacular.  We had been here before and were enchanted by it though this time, did not enjoy sharing it with so many tourists so enjoyed the vista more from a distance (though could not resist buying both almond and pistachio nougat as we wandered through in the direction of home!).

I loved the contrast of this sculpture in the park against the walls of the Beaux Artes Museum.

I overheard our host Eric speaking with other guests at breakfast, suggesting places they might like to visit and as you can imagine as soon as I heard the work 'booktown' I was engaged.  It turns out that jsut up the road from Carcassonne is one of France's 'booktowns' called Montolieu.  As it happened we took a walk along Canal du Midi before heading up there and arrived almost exactly at midday.  We all know that from midday to 2pm (or even later) everything shuts and that was almost true here in Montolieu.  Such an incredible beautiful village up in the hills, with ravines either side and sadly, not many book shops open at the time we were there and a sign on he museum saying it would not be open until 3pm.  We did not want to wait that long but had a lovely wander around and I ended up having a lovely chat with one of the open bookshop owners who spoke beautiful English as he has been an importer of sheepskin 40 years earlier and had spent much time in Brisbane.  He explained that they were the second booktown opening in France, about 50 years ago I think he said, preceded only just, but a booktown in Bordeaux.  Not sure about my spelling here ...

One of the other quaint things in this village, and I have never seen it elsewhere was that around one of the corners we came across a fresh vegetable vendor - filled with produce by local farmers.

On the way to another mountainous area just outside Carcassonne, whose name I forget for the moment, we came across this derelict house.  Without even asking him to, Steve pulled over and we ignored all the signs not to enter and went exploring.  This is one of my great pleasures - poking through forbidden places (mostly because they are not safe) and imagining the life once lived there.  Imagining the splendor before the rot.  I took a number of photographs here and hope to write a short piece about this aging though once stately villa, make some images for an artist's book perhaps ...

Glorious colours inside one of the hallways - not that I would use them in my artwork, or would I?
Certainly I am thinking about it!

These were the 5th century ruins we went to visit - fortifications built precariously in guard positions to protect the gold mines in the area.  Quite a climb up, but glorious views of the valley, or valleys below.

This is L'Orangerie where we stayed and were looking after so well.  We happened to be there on both Saturday and Sunday nights and on Sunday's Jeanette cooks for the guests.  We had such a pleasant evening all sitting around a large table, chatting for some hours and enjoying good food and company.

And of course I had to photograph some of the ivy patterned wall and the wood shed.

As I said, we were loathe to leave this area and feel very sure when we return to France, we will spend a great deal more time in this region.  Both of us are keen to learn more about Cathar HIstory before we return.

Next stop - closer to the Dordogne region.  An area of many small pilgrim towns .... In the next post.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Milan and Aix en Provence .....

It is difficult to write about Milan and Aix en Provence when we have already moved on from there but I am using this blog as my travel blog while away and will write sequentially while my mind is presently absorbed in the glorious sunshine here in Lauzerte, and full of wonderful serendipitous moments from the last couple of days.

Already eight of our precious days are gone and every day has been a wonder - fully of beautiful sights and smells, a different light, different colour spectrum and of course, a delicious meander through the cuisine of different areas.

Just over a week ago we arrived in Milan having flown directly from Brisbane via Dubai.  We staying very centrally and wandered the streets absorbing all the beautiful architecture and enjoying the change of season after leaving behind a very wet and cold Australia.  Mostly I walked without my camera - just soaking in the different cultural flavours.  I did however have my camera when we visited the cathedral and I was very glad.  IThought the sun was shining on a few patches of the huge front dorors but as this photograph above shows .... These beautiful highlights are created by visitors running the sculpural reliefs in just those couple of patches.  I imagine much like rubbing the boar's nose in Florence - for luck, or fortune.

Every detail of the Cathedral bespeaks of artistic ability and grandeur ... I wonder if we could make such marvelous things these days, or if we could afford to build with such attention to detail.

The light in such spaces if mysterious and majestic, adding to the experience as you wander about enthralled.

The bliss .....

And the angst .... Though this seems an emotion much deeper and more heartfelt than angst.

The knowledge of the workings of the body - though I am not sure that the quality of these photos an the mobile blogging sight allows for you to zoom in and look at these musculature details .... Which actually look so out of place in this instance when all other edifices seem more ecclesiastic or poetic.  The realism here seems misplaced even though absorbing in its detail. 

The marble colours seems to be issued from my favourite palette .....

And in Aix en Provence again the deep mystery of the religious or spiritual havens.  And the glorious light .....

The preserve of the ancient .....

And for me the joy of finding so many crosses in the streets and round about, in the architecture, the shutters and so forth.  Way too many to send to this posting!  Though I am tempted.

This perambulator is way past the point of use and yet has plenty of visual appeal ... It is a good attention grabber for the antique store behind.

Not only the colours of spring and summer but everywhere the smell of spring - jasmin covered walls and orange blossom.  Though not in these photographs, peony roses seem to abound in Aix en Provence - almost reason enough to pack one's bags and move.

I take great delight in the colours of the stonework and blue shutters we see everywhere.  This image reminds me of the colours of Morocco as well.

Steve noticed this painting in an alcove by a residential doorway .... A lovely touch of the creative but such a sorrowful image.

And though I am stopping here, as you can imagine I have any number of gorgeous images from these two cities - how could one not when everywhere you look there is something quite remarkable to see.  I am trying very hard on this trip to not take thousands of photographs which is my usual approach when travelling.  Instead, I am more often jsut gettign lost in the moment, enjoying this lovely weather and the privilege of being able to enjoy such memorable moments.

The trip continues with the next posting..... I am hoping I remember how to post this blog, so far it seems easy even though the image quality is poor.  As long as I press all the right buttons ......

Here goes ..

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

studio visits make for a studio bath .....

Like all of us who have played a part in both the Regional Marks exhibition and the other opportunities built around the Opening last Thursday, our heads are still spinning and grinning. The outcomes from the exhibition and supporting activities have been marvellous and are ongoing with printmakers meeting or contacting one another, wanting to meet up and share ideas, emails of congratulations arriving unexpectedly and so forth.  Such a buzz.

The exhibition was a great success and you can see some of the happenings on both the Regional Print blog and Fiona's blog.  

My role in all this was a quiet one, working on the catalogue, attending meetings and being part of the committee and though I couldn't be actively involved in some of the events, one which I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in was the studio visit day.

It was a simply glorious day up here on The Range so for the visitors to our studios, an absolute treat with coffee and a wander in Steph's garden before heading over here to my studio which is under the house but as it on the escarpment, offers lovely views up and down the coast.  After lunch we are wandered along to Fiona and Barry's home and studio which looks over the Glass House Mountains so it felt like a pretty special tour - and not just for our visitors!

Not the highlight, but something of great joy for me was that in order for me to host the studio visit, I had to tidy my studio and bring out some work to be seen.  And the studio is still tidy - probably because there won't be any time for actual work before I head overseas.  It is just waiting for me to come home and make a mess.  So, a little tour of my tidy studio with work placed around for people to examine.  I actually have many etchings in those drawers you see at the back and I forgot to tell anyone to go and have a look!

 Some old favourites open on the table and work standing around on the floor as I don't have walls large enough to hang the work.

And why the nests you may wonder .... just because I love them and they are waiting ever so patiently for me to make their perspex boxes.

Bits of Fiona and Barry all around my studio, and also a work by Adele Outerbridge peeping out and and part of an artist's book by Noela Mills.

It was fun to hang 'wandering' again. Mostly to cover all the mess on the back wall of the studio which is my 'working wall' when images are too large to be accommodated on my tables.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

out of the blue .....

A couple of weeks ago, just before heading off on a short holiday, I received an email which kept me grinning and floating all day.

All I have seen from you... made with your warms hands and a lot of silencie and love,
is simply inspiring... sure more than that for me,
so I must write you to say a big big THANKS

Keep On Susan ! Keep ypur light on !

This arrived from a beautiful man in Spain - Juanan, to whom I wrote and thanked for lifting my day,  asking if he would be happy for me to post on this email which arrived out of the blue.  I have also included his response.

Dear Susan...

Use all the words, put them besides your interior light and keep your interior soul struggling... Day by day, with smiles and stars... What you do i try to do everyday, and when i see your works is not just emotion is also and strongly an impulse... I mean, a motor...
What you create could be that for many many people, i know... And i'm pretty sure of that...
Your feelings and your sensibility is for me and many others a kind of reflection, an example of how to live a creative and happy life.

Your words are also for me, this morning a closer light... A mate how is telling me more than thanks... A warm hug...

So yes... Keep on like water! Flowing!

All the best to you susan... And thanks for your kind response...

Here you will have a small listener forever !

It has been months since I last posted - November last year in fact, and I have really been struggling to get back in the habit.  Truth is I miss it!  But it was receiving this gorgeous email from Juanan which made me realise that we never know who is reading our blogs, who is drawing inspiration from what we do, who has the heart to write and say 'I miss hearing from you' when you stop writing. 

It is a gift, much like receiving other gifts through the mail which delight and thrill, and certainly inspire one to get back down into the studio and do some work.  So here I am, back in the studio, not quite doing my own work as yet though I have been busy down here with bits and pieces.  I have visitors to the Studio on Friday so must have a good clean up and find some work to show them!

These photos are two of the other beautiful gifts that have come my way in the last little while.  They too keep me smiling.

Thank you to those who keep encouraging and inspiring me.  

Saturday, 21 November 2015

a peep at 'branching out' ......

Tracemarks began as a way of keeping a record of what was happening in my studio - in a sense it replaced my 'drawing a day' books which were becoming harder and harder to maintain.  As such I am able to look back through my blog and see what I have been working on over the last few years and it can be such fun.  I also like the fact that because one includes photos in the posts, it has made me mindful to photograph my work.

Over the years I have been remiss and work has sold and I have no record of it at all.  Now I take oodles of photographs from all angles (I guess because books are like that) and have a memory track of the work I make.  This book below, 'Branching Out' is one that sold at the exhibition.  I have chosen a few of the many photos I took.  The book is smaller than my 'Standing on Fishes' book but still quite large as far as artist's books go.  Once again I have used film for the drawings, pen and ink and graphite, and layers of soft tengujo papers in between layers.

The sense I hoped to capture here was that of wandering through the forest and being entranced by the debris of the forest floor - the broken branches and their beautiful markings as they decay.  In fact I often spend my time in the forest/bush looking down rather than upwards!

These last few images are again of my 'Standing on Fishes' - still my favourite - which I finished in time for the exhibition.  I have used graphite and graphite pencils to draw some very simple lines and markings which seemed to tie the pen and ink drawings together.

When I posted on this book I had not in fact sewn it.  I chose a simple Japanese stab binding as it suited the aesthetic of these books and the front cover simply has a few lines embossed into it.  The book has a slip case of perspex and I also made covers for the books under which they sit for display.