Tuesday, 26 May 2015

textures of the outback .....

There has been much experimenting again in the studio this week.  For the moment I have put the story of our land on hold though having had some very good ideas from my partner Steve about how I can present the work, I am pretty excited about getting back to it soon.

Another body of work I am working on for our exhibition is drawing on all the outback travels I have had around Australia over the last years.  I am going to let go any specificity regarding the work and where the inspiration for each piece has been drawn, and just present the work as 'the textures of Australia' or something like that.  For the moment I have been working on building texture to give the feel of flying over our land and the marks one sees from above, and also the texture of canyon walls, salt deserts etc.  With this work I am also planning to balance each textural piece with more realistic drawings.  I saw a really lovely artwork in New Zealand where a realistic drawing was presented with an addition of a separate mark making work and it enthralled me ..... am trying to marry the two ways I have of working - the love of the abstract and the mark with my background of drawing.

In April I did a workshop with Noela Mills on textures and had enormous fun, learnt plenty and then worked out how to run with some of those ideas and make them 'mine' or experiment further and see what I could achieve.  I am still trying to push boundaries here but am quite excited by some of the outcomes.

I bought some transparent paper from Sydney and have been working on it, seeing how I can make marks and get some textures.  Playing with different charcoal and graphite tools - generally having fun and making scribbled notes so that I remember what it is I was using.

You can see a little of the textural work here .... some of the pieces will end up in final work.  I just have to keep making lots and lots of pieces and drawings and then see how I want to marry the work together.

No completed pieces yet but heading in the right direction.  I also think I will try and make some artist's books using these textural ideas as well.  So many ideas .... hope there is enough time.  At the end of the day though, one can only exhibit what one has time to make!

Monday, 18 May 2015

growing a story .....

Another busy week in the studio and though the wall is growing and the story of 'here' expanding, it is not moving along as quickly as I hoped.

You learn such a great deal each time you make a book.  Maybe because I am primarily a 2D artist and see images in my head all the time as singles, I find it hard then to make multiples of very different images belong together.  Not sure that made sense ..... if I was just doing a series of artworks which spoke about our land I would be finding this way more easy than working it as a book - even though it will be an unbound book.  Within the book no one image can completely dominate the other and there needs to be a thread which ties the book together.  I am using numerous techniques as well which makes this quite a difficult story to tell but I do hope in the end the tale has a sense of belonging.  For most of course the underlying story will be completely obscure, but for those who are interested and ask me to lead them through the story, I will happily do so.

This first image is the one that was heading for the bin ... and the reason for that was twofold.  Firstly as an image it drowned all the other work and secondly, there was too much information in the one 'page'.  One of the things I love about artists' book work is the slow reveal, the fragments of stories.  Not reading the ending before one has passed through all the pages ... and even then wondering if it has finished, or if indeed you need to read the book again to find more of the story.

One tiny corner of our property.
A for avocado tree and all the circles are there because our next door neighbour has built his garden out of old tyres.

The mountain line over our site plan places us up here near the Glass House Mountains - anchors our land.
I still have a little more to add on this image.

My story board.

I want to bring back my magpie but am searching for the right way to work into the negative space - marks are needed!

Lots of work on the go ...

And another layer on the wall.

A few things I brought here from my parents home were these pots - four incredibly heavy rusted/metal looking pots that were used for pouring molten metal into shapes ..... can't think of their name for the moment.  One is over a metre tall.  They will be sitting at the middle level of our land as an installation - near the picnic shed.

Still working on the top layer here - over our house and shed.  

Finding ways to show all our trees and boulders.  

In a very strange way my book reminds me of 'The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady' though mine is more like 'the contemporary markings of a bush block dweller'!

Still needing lots more images - rope, some of the bush orchids, more steps perhaps and certainly crows, maybe even their nest.  I gave myself May to break the back of this work and I think that will happen but it certainly will not be near completion.  Over the next few months I will be able to refine images and add others.  Once I have an overgrown storyboard, I will ask Fiona to help me decide how this books reads best.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

a map of me and my place ......

Mapping 'my place' - the image is not as yellow as this, just really aged.

I have been working really hard in the studio for the last ten or so days and am only now just starting to work out where I am heading with this very large book.  As I have been working through the planning I have come to realise that I can't divorce my emotions and myself from the land I live on - all are inextricably entwined.  From the onset this book, which will be about six metres of work, was going to be just about this beautiful block of land we live on.  As 'the story' has been evolving for me visually I realise that though the books will contain many fragments of things that have meaning to me around the land, it is starting to contain much more.

I am feeling the need to include some of the pieces missing from my life now, by including marks and images which will represent some of the major happenings in my life since moving here towards the end of April 2010. By pieces I mean incorporating work that reminds me of those recently absent from my life and also the newcomer who has fulfilled my life.  So my story about the land will now be one overlaid with a more personal story - all pretty obscure but it will all mean something to me.

Well, that is the plan .... As we know, work can have a way is leading us off in tangents.  This body of work has already taken a fairly major shift of direction.  

Below are some of the photos of false starts, which may yet lead into other images,  beginnings of ideas, the trying out of technique to make the lines I want to use and so forth.  I have found that I am needing to experiment every single step of the way as I am using layers of different papers left over from my father's architectural practice, various other transparent and fine papers and I have to work out how they all react to various techniques.

Heading for the bin - though some of the ideas I will re use.

A bundle of old, very old, tetra set from my father which will find its way into some of the work .

Blending and bleeding with conte - one of my favourite tools.

I decided my book needed some king of cohesive thread running through the pages to help tie the story together.  Hence an afternoon of printing on numerous papers.

Ideas forming.

Working out how to suggest rather than draw lines.

More possibilities I think.  For me it is like working into already messed up paper which is far less daunting that facing the big blank white.  Only I need to muss up lots of paper and create layers into which I can work and then paste them down onto the papers I am using.  Pasting has proved almost hazardous with may of the film papers and tissues.

Monday, 4 May 2015

healing .....

I have been away - not physically but emotionally.  I am posting on this gap because to give it no space would mean I was not acknowledging the hugeness of a sadness within.

I lost my very best friend on April 12th.  Janie.  Who died from a brain tumour.  We had her many many months longer than I would have thought possible but she fought for those extra months to be with her children, Julia my goddaughter and her sister Alice.  My daughter lost her Godmother. Our friendship and memories go back 35 years - before either of us were married and had children.

This is not meant to be sad 'post' but rather one to say that I am moving on now, glad she is at peace.  A quote that I read in Donna's blog as I came online to write this really touched me as in the last couple of days after a fairly awful spell of weather at the end of last week, I have been wandering around our block of land and have been nurtured by it and am feeling restored.

I go to nature be be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
-- John Burroughs

Nature does have a very generous way of putting our senses in order, giving us perspective.   Another way I find of really cheering myself up is to go and buy books!  Last week I did just that when I visited the Personal Histories Exhibition at Cleveland Art Gallery - part two of a series of International Book Exhibitions  organised and curated by Robyn Foster.

One book really caught my eye and it was a book titled 'Blindspots' by Jack Oudyn of whose work I am a great fan and I am lucky enough to have a few pieces of his work already.  I could only see one open page of this little book but knew straight away I had to have it.  It is very personal to Jack and is his story to tell, but for me it reminded me of a quote by one of my favourite authors Michael Ondaatje who wrote:

'we remember the time around scars'.

I am sure these photos do not do the books justice as I photographed them through glass with my phone but I am very much looking forward to having it home with me to linger over and enjoy.  It will remind me that scars do heal as they are wrapped around by nature and books - not to mention love and the support of friends.

Some would say I have been procrastinating this last few days by wandering about instead of getting down to things in the studio - and there may be truth in that.  However, I am here now and feeling better for the wandering.