Thursday, 23 October 2014

what colour is green .....

It takes nature to bring this much colour into my blog ..... big gulps of fresh green after my busy couple of months leading up to the Open studio days which have been and gone.  Two happy and successful days which made the effort worthwhile and so many interested people who have no idea about the practices of printmakers and book artists who were keen to ask questions and learn.

The next day Steve and I headed off to the Bunya Mountains with friends for a few days of walking and resting.  Bliss.  We had perfect weather as you can see from the photographs though part of me was slightly disappointed as I imagine walking through these tangled forests in mist and damp would be incredibly beautiful - or should I say beautiful in a different way.  The sunshine was welcome and though I missed the mystery of the mists, the contrast of light and shade in the forests was sublime.

I am off to New Zealand in the morning with Fiona where she will be speaking at a Book Conference in Auckland about our collaboration and I will be riding on her shirt tails!  How lucky am I to have in her someone who is so competent at both writing articles and speaking in public.  My days for that are thankfully over and yet I will receive kudos from her talents by mere association. 






















































Thursday, 25 September 2014

large landscapes .....

I have been doing some of my large drawing again and enjoying it immensely though I find I am completely drained after I have finished them.  These large works seem to me like giving birth ....

Rarely do I try and photograph these works as there is just too much detail that you cannot see - and I am only doing this because my daughter asked me to.  So, I am beginning with some of the detail of the left hand side of the pair (not sure they qualify as a diptych as they are not joined), and then you will see small images of the two side by side and which show absolutely nothing really.  The works are quite large - 70mm x 1100mm each on Arches Vellum using layers and layers of the creamy French Conte crayons.  I think I will be making perspex box frames for them but will wait and see.  For the Open Days they will be attached by magnets - more tidily that you see here and in our garages which will allow much more light in that I receive in my 'under the house' studio where I tried to photograph these ...











Some details of the right hand side - not sure why that corner is looking yellowish.





And below are the images in full but you just have to imagine all the detail you cannot see in this size of image.  More than ever I now realise why I don't try to show this kind of work on my blog.

left side - with magnets ....

right side - with yellow corner again!   Blame the studio light.










Wednesday, 24 September 2014

bends not stop signs .....

It is not often that Fiona and I find ourselves on different wavelengths but this was one of those times.  We met today to begin the ninth of our collaborative books.  A burnt book.  My understanding was that we would each burn our pages and then swap half of them  Fiona's was that we would each work on our own pages and then after the exchange, we would burn them!   

Both of us were more than willing to scrap our work and start again but really that is contrary to the nature of our collaboration and so in some manner yet to be determined, we will use my burnt pages and Fiona's written pages, to make our books.  We decided to roll along the bends or curves that have been thrown at us and not see them as stop signs.  Actually we are both pretty excited about this one as it has endless possibilities as we have never imposed rules.

I think it is quite an exciting starting point and my challenge will be to get the book looking like 'me' when Fiona's beautifully strong work is so much her.  As Fiona says - burn and deconstruct. The photographs show this readily and without need for elaboration.  The pages are 50cm by 15cms, seven of them each.  Quite large, but who knows how they will rearrange themselves.

Watch this space but not in any rush as we both have a fairly frenetic time ahead.  The books will meet at the end of January though you may have peeks along the way.


















Sunday, 21 September 2014

what is beneath ....

I have always been fascinated by what lies beneath the surface, what lurks in that dark corner or behind that locked door.  The huge draw to find out what is inside - hidden from view.  I can't remember being like this in my childhood but as a teenager this tendency surfaced and I find that these days this is reflected in much of my work.  The slow reveal, that sense of not knowing or not wanting the viewer to know everything at once.

I received a wonderful comment from Mo Crow in my last posting and asked if she would mind my including it in my next post. It is always wonderful when someone leaves a comment but occasionally that comment comes as a doorway to something else .... in this case not just the discovery of an author whose work I know I will thoroughly enjoy, but also to further reflection on 'the page' and what possibilities it holds.  And there is that absolute envy I have for those that are able to express themselves in such a way - to find the words for those things I simply know in my gut but cannot frame sentences around.

I try to find a way with my imagery.  These photographs are early explorations into three larger works which could be a trilogy but need to each have their own story.  The concept began as works based on 'Elephant Rocks' in Western Australia on the coast between Perth and Albany.  A wonderful discovery of immense boulders and rocks along the coast line, not just at this point but in the vicinity.  Areas which open out and allow bathers to soak up the sun and simmers to enjoy the water.  For me, it was the shape and abundance of forms on this stretch of coast ..... at least that is where this work began.  Again I used some of my engravings to give the background marks, the texture.  By rubbing graphite over the greyed areas I unwittingly found that it revealed the 'writing' hidden beneath.  Because I used thin Japanese papers again, the marks under pressure of the press, embossed into the paper and picked up the graphite as I rubbed it in.  I am not quite certain now where this work will lead - I do know I have used blue .... not brave enough for the bold blue tempting me from the sidelines, but Indigo which worked well with the greys in these works rather than the harsh blacks I have used previously.


and from Margaret Atwood ......

5. The question about the page is; what is beneath it? It seems to have two dimensions, you can pick it up and turn it over and the back is the same as the front. Nothing , you say, disappointed.
But you're looking in the wrong place, you were looking on the back instead of beneath. Beneath the page is another story. Beneath the page is everything that has ever happened, most of which you would rather not hear about.
The page is not a pool but a skin, a skin is there to hold in and it can feel you touching it. Did you really think it would just lie there and do nothing?
Touch the page at your peril: it is you who are blank and innocent, not the page. Nevertheless you want to know, nothing will stop you. You touch the page, it's as if you've drawn a knife across it, the page has been hurt now, a sinuous wound opens up, a thin incision. Darkness wells through.










Mo Crow from It's Crow Time was kind enough to send me the whole essay from Margaret Atwood's book.  I immediately bought the book and though not normally a fan of short stories, am absolutely intrigued by hers.  She has been a prolific writer and I would love to read more of her work .... I wonder if there is a particularly good one to start with??

and from Mo,


Here's the whole piece. Margaret Atwood is one of the most brilliant minds on our beautiful planet!
The Page
by Margaret Atwood
from Murder in the Dark Coach House Press 1983

1. The Page waits, pretending to be blank. Is that its appeal, its blankness? What else is this smooth and white, this terrifyingly innocent? A snowfall, a glacier? It's a desert, totally arid, without life. But people venture into such places. Why? To see how much they can endure, how much dry light?

2. I've said the page is white, and it is; white as wedding dresses, rare whales, seagulls, angels, ice & death.Some say like sunlight it contains all colours; others, that it's white because it's hot, it will burn out your optic nerves; that those who stare at the page too long will go blind.

3. The page has no dimensions and no directions. There's no up or down except what you yourself mark, there's no thickness and weight but those you put there, north and south do not exist unless you 're certain of them. The page is without vistas and without sounds, without centres or edges. Because of this you can become lost forever. Have you never seen the look of gratitude, the look of joy, on the faces of those who have managed to return from the page? Despite their faintness, their loss of blood, they fall on their knees, they push their hands into the earth, they clasp the bodies of those they love, or, in a pinch, any bodies they can get, with an urgency unknown to those who have never experienced the full horror of a journey into the page.

4. If you decide to enter the page, take a knife and some matches, and something that will float. Take something you can hold onto, and a prism to split the light and a talisman that works, which should be hung on a chain around your neck; that's for getting back. It doesn't matter what kind of shoes, but your hands should be bare.You should never go into the page with gloves on. Such decisions, needless to say, should not be made lightly.
There are those, of course, who enter the page without deciding, without meaning to. Some of these have charmed lives and no difficulty, but most never make it out a t all. For them the page appears as a well, a lovely pool in which they catch sight of a face, their own but better. These unfortunates do not jump; rather they fall and the page closes over their heads without a sound, without a seam, and is immediately as whole and empty, as glassy, as enticing as before.

5. The question about the page is; what is beneath it? It seems to have two dimensions, you can pick it up and turn it over and the back is the same as the front. Nothing , you say, disappointed.
But you're looking in the wrong place, you were looking on the back instead of beneath. Beneath the page is another story. Beneath the page is everything that has ever happened, most of which you would rather not hear about.
The page is not a pool but a skin, a skin is there to hold in and it can feel you touching it. Did you really think it would just lie there and do nothing?
Touch the page at your peril: it is you who are blank and innocent, not the page. Nevertheless you want to know, nothing will stop you. You touch the page, it's as if you've drawn a knife across it, the page has been hurt now, a sinuous wound opens up, a thin incision. Darkness wells through.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

soft backsides .....

Don't you love those serendipitous moments in the studio ...

I had printed some of my engravings on much thinner paper than I usually do, gozo or goyu, and was planning to work into the front side in greys and ochres.  I turned over the paper and saw such beautiful soft and delicious marks on the backsides I decided to work with those instead.  You can see the end point further down in the photographs. So, though I have not yet been brave with blue, I have at least softened down my palette for some work and am quite excited to see where this softness leads me.  I have not given up on the bright blue either ... just finding my courage.  Think I may have left it in my suitcase.

lovely softness on the backside
this was going to be my starting point until I turned over the paper ....
can't imagine getting this softness and these marks any other way






Two of the completed images using the backside of my work as the starting point.




And these photos below represent great excitement.  A couple of years ago in Paris I walked miles to find a shop that sold such gorgeous letters and then baulked at the price of them - coming home empty handed.  I was so sad that I had not snapped them up and brought some home.  Last week I was in Sydney to visit a very special and unwell friend, and other well and special friends too I might add, and I found this selection in a shop in Balmain.  This time there was not hesitation and the lovely fellow in the shop was kind enough to pour two huge bowls of letters all over the floor in order for me to choose.