Sunday, November 30, 2008

computer deaths are never pretty...

well we got some lovely welcome rain yesterday and we were all about to do the happy dance at sams creek - when I realised...

my dear old computer didn't make it though the storm...

it's cactus

and that means I won't be posting for the next wee while - it may be into january before I replace my dear dead mac (sob) and can get back into posting what's happening both in the studio - and on the farm (on the sams creek farm blog)

it feels like the 'if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?' philosophic question - only in this case it's - 'if I don't blog it - does it really happen?'... and the answer I know is - yep it's life as usual here as sams creek

so I'll 'see' you all again sometime soon... be good!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

30 x 30 x 30 exhibition

A quick update - my little piece blogged earlier has been selected for '30 x 30 x 30' - an exhibition of work from faulty and staff of Monash Uni at the Art & Design faculty gallery


The show opened last night (and as it's in Melbourne - of course I didn't attend) and runs until Dec 6

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

layer it! workshop report


What a weekend!

I've just spent 2 of the most fantastic days any teacher/tutor can spend - nestled amongst enthusiastic, engaging, talented, generous students - this time in the spacious (ok - cavernous..) space of Primrose Park - headquarters of the ASC...

Primrose Park Paperworks

I felt very honoured - and not a little daunted - to be leading such a marvelous group - I've admired the work of many of those lining up to hear my 'words of wisdom'... it made me wonder what on earth I could add to their already extensive knowledge-bank...

'Layer It!' did have an ambitious program - I was hoping to get through 4 distinct areas or 'layers' during the 2 days: layers in lettering, layers in paint, layers in collage and (my particular pet) layers of meaning...

Look at them all - waiting for me to stop taking piccies and get on with the show!

No matter how long a workshop is - it never feels quite long enough... here are some of the workshop participants works in progress at the start of day 2 - backgrounds have been created and a first layer of lettering has been applied - waiting for the magic of glaze applications....

by the end of day 2 the works are only just beginning really - oh how I wish we had another day (or two)... I can only imagine how some works may turn out... here's Bob's piece after it's initial layers of lettering and glaze... I do hope he works on this at home and sends me a finished pic - this is such a promising start...

and I only had just enough time to start to talk about layers of meaning... maybe I'll just have to talk about that on another visit... ('Layer it some more'?)

Thanks to everyone who came - hope you keep on 'layering it!'

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Layer It!

Next weekend I’m off to Primrose Park, headquarters and home-base for the Australian Society of Calligraphers (ASC), in Sydney.

I’m taking participants (victims?) through my 2 workshop - ‘Layer It!’ – I’m thrilled that the 2 day workshop has been booked out (!) months in advance.

I’ve been a Guild Member for the ASC since 1995 – but this is the first time I’m off to teach a workshop in Sydney.

I don’t go away to teach workshops very often – I do have 2 rather young kiddies after all (Sass is 6, EJ is 3) and I’m never all that keen to leave either them or my beloved Sams Creek...
Last year I presented the same workshop for the Coffs Calligraphers as an extension of my stint as their guest artist (for the exhibition ‘Botanical Rhythms’)

'Weight of Words'
Rhonda Ayliffe
from 'Botanical Rhythms' exhibition - Coffs Harbour - 2007

I had such a wonderful time that when I was approached by the ASC to teach, I was keen to repeat the good times… and just like then, I’ll try to keep my homesickness to a minimum…

I’ll hopefully have some nice pics and stories about my time away - and I'll share them when I return (I bet all sorts of things will be going on here in my absence.... I wonder if anyone will be game to record the mischief?)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the debutante series

As hinted in the previous post - I've completed many more portrait works for the debutante series... most I've uploaded to my flickr site (if you click the title of the post it will whip you over there!)

here's a bit of what's there.....

Rhonda Ayliffe
sewn drawing on vellum paper overlay, mixed media collage on canvas

Rhonda Ayliffe
sewn drawing on vellum paper overlay, mixed media collage on canvas

I haven't managed to come up with a more exciting title for these yet... I don't know that I will - I have always been keen to allude to a certain ambiguity - that few issues can be viewed in black or white terms... 'black/white' & 'white/black', isn't terribly poetic... but it does the job

Most of the series doesn't photograph well - I've been interested for some time now in high key and/or low contrast works as well as texture and surface qualities - things that don't translate in digital form - which is a part of my attraction... so yes it is somewhat ironic that here I am attempting to upload and display these in a digital format....

At any rate, I have these and the rest packed in my dear ole dad's car at the moment - they're off to uni tomorrow for end of year marking (one more year of the Masters to go....) - ahhhh the joy of the 14+ hr round trip... fun for all the family (lucky I've got a terrific father - with a nicer car than we've got!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

new work

It's been a while since I've posted what I've been up to... that's the way of an artist - we work and look and think quite removed from the rest of the world...(well that's me anyway) and it's sometimes hard to know when to show what you're up to - especially when you're delving into unknown territory.

I've been working solidly for some months now on a strange and funny series - based on a photo of me at the 1971 Cobargo Debutante Ball (where I was the flowergirl).... I was almost 5 years old at the time and it was the first absolute 'girlie' moment of my life (my mum always cut my hair very very short - girlie moments were few and far between)

this is the latest in that series - it's 30 x 30 cms (and the smallest thus far) - delustred satin quilted/drawn with a vicious pink thread.

In the next wee while I'll uncover a few more from the series - I just need to live with them all for a little longer yet to see how I feel about them

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the studio at sams creek

Here's where I've been over the last while - hard at it in my little studio. I'm extremely fortunate to have a separate space to work in (not that that stops me from sprawling all over the house, the yard.. well the entire farm really is my workplace...)

It looks soooooo tidy with the doors closed... open the doors and it's


and all other times I've been working in the garden - trying to get our vege garden re-established (but I promised not to ramble on about farm and garden things here.... you'll have to check out 'the other half of the story'...)

I'll post some new work pics very soon - I've been very busy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

meroogal exhibition

Today I found out that my work 'My mother's hand's are still/unstill' (posted a bit ago here) was chosen for the full tour of the Meroogal Award...

I didn't say much when I posted the work originally - it is actually a sewn picture of my mother's hands (of course). The theme for the Meroogal this year was 'celebrating the everyday things that women do'..... earlier this year my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I'd rather not give a huge explanation of the work - I think that those two bits of info are enough eh?

The work will now tour to:
Spiral Gallery 3-22 Oct
The Mint 28 Oct - 26 Jan 2009
Goulburn Regional Art Gallery - 30 Jan - 1 March
Tuggeranong Arts Centre - 6-29 March

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

the competition... more art from sams creek

I'm not the only artist living at sams creek - our 6-year-old boyo 'Sass' has been creating some rather fine sculptural wooden pieces....

'ship' by Sass
(complete with liquid amber seed pod cannon ball...)

and the installation piece

'wood road' by sass

I can see some shared aesthetic concerns.... perhaps we may do some collaborative work in the near future...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

a new blog just for sams creek farm and garden bits

after much dithering I've finally decided (mostly on aesthetic grounds I must say) to create a separate blog for all things farm and garden and sams creek related - it's going to live here...

so please be patient as I feel my way through organising my various bits and bobs....

arty bits stay here,

garden, farmy bits go there....

let me know what you think - I might bring it all back together again (like humpty dumpty?)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

running into spider webs

Every morning at this glorious time of year I'm greeted by the amazing spectacle of thousands and thousands and thousands of tiny spider webs in the orchard - well, the webs are there all year but it's winter and spring that the sight is so spectacular that it almost takes your breath away...

mini worlds... that mirror the macrocosm...

each web a unique jewel-encrusted beauty

little wonder I find webs of all kinds so inspiring!

Friday, September 12, 2008

how to teach a wombat

I'm something of a magpie and have strange and ever growing collections of 'things' (read 'junk') - an activity that my family find harmless despite being somewhat unruly (what would I do without sheds?)

One of the largest parts of my 'collection' are my old books - encyclopaedias in particular (just can't resist a Rotary book sale) This week I started to play with some of my old sets.

And with one thing leading to another (as it does at Sams Creek) I decided to share part of my collection with a resident wombat... leaving them a volume of the Britannica (open to the 'wombat' entry of course) for them to peruse and add any wombat thoughts to...

I'll keep you posted of any developments in human/wombat, wombat/human education

Monday, September 1, 2008

the new vegie patch

With tremendous fanfare the Sams Creek crew present their newest addition.....

Yep its our magnificent new vegie garden (to be.... I don't know if you can call it a vegie garden when it hasn't been planted yet)

It started out back in july... when Farmer Phil (FP) took pity on our sad old vegie patch...

and decreed that we would have Raised Garden Beds.... and it seemed that these Beds required a position suiting their elevated status... a nice flat area (for a change....).... there was only one place - right at the edge of our big yard - up against the highway... (oh this will be fun in the future - public vegie gardening - I'll have to wear something more suitable than some of my past outfits - which have included my swimming cosie - hey it's hot work gardening...)

and so it was decided - but FP is not one to take the easy route - there is no nicking down to the local hardware store to pick up some timber.. no no no... FP selected the trees on the farm, dropped them, barked them, then brought in the mobile mill to cut the timber to size (no pics of this in operation - I forgot to pack the camera - trust me its a major undertaking...)

after a small time for seasoning (and no I don't mean with salt and pepper... I mean drying)
FP finalised his plans and started cutting the timber to size....

Placing it in position for all the world to admire (well anyone having a sticky beak from the highway...)

then the real work began... enter THE STRING LINES

FP is a firm believer in the adage 'if a job's worth doing, its worth doing right'
(read - with bloody straight lines - none of this 'artistic' garden business for FP)

Its also worth doing with REALLY BIG EQUIPMENT... (enter really big tractor to make really big holes...)
note the string line still in position.... no hole dare be out of alignment...

note the string line still in position.... no post dare be out of alignment...

as soon as the posts were all in the 'raised' construction could begin...

After more than six weeks of hard work all it needs now is a few tonne of topsoil and compost and then - well then it will be our new vegie garden....

and then I'll post some pics of MY contribution (which to date consists only of taking pics and admiring my long-suffering husband's handiwork... I think I'll keep him on eh?)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

new work

'My mother's hands are still/unstill'
Rhonda Ayliffe
satin, silk organza, paper ephemera, cotton crochet motifs, glass beads, thread


Sunday, August 24, 2008

winter nasties (and better news)

This week we've received some of the coldest weather of this very wintery season - no wonder we are all coughing and sniffing - I've been floored by a nasty little bit of a flu bug - so the garden and the studio (not to mention the house and kiddies) have all been neglected.

Before succumbing to the evil bug I did manage to plant out a new wee strawberry pot (bring on the warm weather!!!!!!) and at looooooong last after waiting patiently - I brought and potted up a kaffir lime (we'll keep it nice and protected under the verandah)

The real garden work at the moment is all farmer phil's doing - He has been creating our new vege garden - a raised bed affair - but I'll tell you all about it (with progress pics of course) when I'm not falling over sideways and wondering if I'm still alive...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I love banksias.... I really do! - I love that they look amazing in flower or as seed pods... even the leaves are wonderful... This is my Banksia menziesii - at the end of winter the small tree still has flowers appearing, as well as previous years seed pods

The B. meziesii I must say is my fav. Banksia - probably because its the most successful in my garden... I also have some ericifolia (incl. dwarf form) , robur, integrifolia, spinulosa (incl. dwarf variety) and baxterii - and hope to squeeze in a few more in the future...

I did a monster load of research last year on banksias as lead up to my stint as guest artist at Coffs Calligraphers 2008 annual exhibition 'Botanical Rhythms' - some of that work ('Words & Meaning' 1 & 2) has headed off to Calligraphy Southscribes show 'Inkspirations' at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery - opening this weekend.

One day I'll have to write the whole story of what I discovered about the banksia story here on the blog - its fascinating (well to me anyway!)

Monday, August 18, 2008


Its cold here at Sams Creek - spring seems a mighty long way away... not a time to be thinking of gardens or preserves you'd think... but it's THE time for lemons - so I've been bottling up lots and lots of lemons from my old faithful Eureka... Preserving lemons is incredibly satisfying and sooooooo simple.

1. prepare bottles (wide neck versions are best - easy to get the wedges in and out of the jar)... and by prepare I don't mean the usual 'sterilise until they drop' - just give the bottles a very thorough clean, I give them a rinse with boiling water and allow to air dry

2. choose lemons with unblemished skins then wash/scrub and cut lemons into wedges - quarters are a tad too large so a bit thinner thank you

3. add lemon wedges and rock salt to prepared bottle (notice how I haven't talked quantities... just a nice solid shake of salt - pack salt as you go - so it's lemons then slat, lemons, salt...)

4. at the same time a add bay leaf (or 2 or 3 or more) and whole cloves (a few) ... and other herbs/spices to suit. This year I'm experimenting with some chilli versions... I'll have to get back to you about the success or otherwise.

5. use some of the lemons with skins less than lovely by juicing them up! add the juice to each jar (I've discovered its best to cover the wedges in juice - so use a clean chopstick or like to poke wedges and herbs into the juice)

6. leave them on the pantry shelf for at least a month

7. the BEST part - open and ENJOY

the salting has a transformative affect on the lemons - make sure you use the whole lemon wedge, skin and all - DELICIOUS!


add to casseroles, stews, tangines - to give a tangy zest - I use them whole stuffed in baked chicken (easy lemon chicken!) - or cut up and added to a seasoning for the bird... great also used to stuff whole baked fish... fabo

don't worry if you notice a small bit of white mould on the skins of the lemons (I never have mind you...) I've read its harmless (from Stephanie Alexander's books)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

split personality

I had a quick look though my blog posts and realised how confusing it must be for anyone other than myself to figure out what the heck is going on... I've got arty bits and wildlife bits then garden bits all mushed together here - I appear to have a split personality (or maybe multiple personalities is more like it..)

soooooo I was thinking maybe I should split all these different areas and arenas into separate blogs.... a nice garden blog... a nice arty blog...

and then I realised - that's not how things happen - I AM all these creatures simultaneously....

As I walk up to my little studio I pass by the orchard and the wistringia hedge and the gardener in me kicks in (must weed, must water)... and then whilst in the studio I hear cars slow along the highway (is there a cow on the road? - must investigate) and my kiddies climb all over my studio fixtures - obviously looking for food (must feed small children).... and even when I am in the studio, 'making stuff', I am doing so for mixed purposes - for exhibitions, for my studies, for teaching....

when I've stated 'artist, teacher, student, mother, gardener, farmer' as a summing up of who I am and what I do, I now see how all those different spheres interact and never sit independently... so I'll just maintain my 'split personality' blog as it is - as a true reflection of how it is to wear many hats simultaneously - an experience I'm sure is familiar to many other artists, teachers, students, mothers, gardeners, farmers out there.....

Hellebores from the winter garden

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

acquisitive artists books award

another of the shows I've got work at presently - the southern cross university's annual acquisitive artists books award this year is hosted by barratt galleries (

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

links in the universe

Networks, systems and cycles - I just find them fascinating - I not only play with network imagery in my artworks - they provide the conceptual basis of much of that work as well - oh and I love the idea of networking (like here in cyberville - goodness only knows who you'll bump into...)

the other day I was approached by another blogger asking permission to post and chat about my piece 'herstory' - and because I was asked so nicely I was happy to have the piece - and fascinated that this work that in some sly way references the manner in which information is transmitted between women (an unrecorded history of feminine endeavours... but that's only part of its story...) was participating and creating its own network...

here's the link to there - and the kind words and interpretation of lee kottner

happy journey 'herstory'

artisan books 'into the fold'

the annual book arts exhibition at artisan books, melbourne, opened a couple of days ago - as posted earlier my little piece 'chaos theory fortune teller' was selected for the show.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

winter garden

Winter in the garden is supposed to be the quiet time.... the deciduous orchard limbs are bare after a very solid pruning this year....

... our main deciduous plot has about 30 trees - apples, peaches, nectarines, a quince, a medlar, cherry, apricot, plums, mulberry... this plot is about 8 years old now and is really producing some fabulous fruit - much of which I preserve as jams, chutney, and sauces... but for now its just pruning and preparing... the whole plot needs a good burgundy spray (an organic fungal control)...

our 'citrus grove' (I like to refer to as 'the orangery') contains about 10 trees - the oldest is a 15 year old eureka lemon (and a wonderful tree it is too!)

these are our newer additions - everything from dwarf japanese mandarin to lemonade with minor diversions to ruby grapefruit and blood oranges.... still many more citrus to plant - but I need to find an area with less frost! against the sheds perhaps.. or (wish wish) in a greenhouse... or fernhouse...or poly tunnel (dream on!)......

the thing I love about the citrus is NOW is the main harvest time for so many of them - the old eureka lemon is laden with fruit - yummmmmo

I give so many of these away - If you're visiting sams creek right now you're bound to leave with an armful of lemons.... I'm also preserving them in quarters - its so simple... just lemons and salt - how hard is that? and the results in about a month of shelf time are truly AMAZING!!!!

and when you think that the deciduous orchard is all asleep - before you know it there are blossoms appearing!

here is the first to break out - the apricot... so although the frost are still huge there's a sure sign that spring is a-coming....

and anyway all around the garden are the most wonderful winter flowers - this is a native hibiscus (this one's latin name I struggle with.... but it's lovely don't you think?)

wandering around the garden - imagining the possibilities for the season to come, weeding, wondering... is my great meditation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the press (kinda) in action

seeeeee - I DO have a go at the press - I'm very much a beginner and will remain an enthusiastic amateur... I don't see me churning out letterpress art publications! but you never know - I might make another round of christmas cards for family and friends... or some labels for my chutneys, pickles and preserves...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

chandler & price letterpress

The lovely story attached to this letterpress is...

I received a phone call spring last year -

Jim W: 'hey Rhonda - do you want a letterpress?'

me: 'um - ok'

Jim: 'ahh good - can you come up and grab it now - the bloke who wanted it in queensland just figured out he can't get it in his shed.... and now it's blocking my driveway.... save us!

me: 'um.... PHILLLL!!!! (enter long suffering husband with the flatbed 1 tonne ute)

(cue rain and broken crane... swearing long-suffering husband and very very steep and slippery driveway)

but we got the beast home

The thing weighs a tonne (I mean seriously - it weighs a tonne - we had to man-handle it into the studio using rolling steel tubes... it's not going anywhere - ever again!

and just before Jim left the district he raced down to Sams Creek to give me a quick run down on how to operate the machine..... I remain a rank amateur - but in the spirit of the term - I love the beastie and the process - and look forward to getting to grips with the whole deal

just in case you were wondering.... its a chandler & price clamshell letterpress - gorgeous isn't it?! and you can't see how messy the studio is from this angle!

see - here's the side of the lovely creature (is it ok to love a machine?....) you still can't see the mess of the studio...

did I mention that along with the press Jim gave me (seriously - GAVE ME - as in FREE!) not only the press - but a glorious chest of type, boxes of bits and bobs and basically everything needed to get the creature going... here's some of the delicious type..... mmmmmmmm - yummy!

and now for a very artistic shot of type...

all pics in the studio today taken by Brian Ayliffe.... yes he's my dad...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'500 handmade books' (and 2 of them are mine!)

Look what turned up in my mailbox today..... after an extraordinarily looooong lead time '500 handmade books' has FINALLY been published by Lark Books. I had 2 pieces selected -

'cells' - a simple concertina booklet I created for my solo exhibition of 2006 (there's a pic on my website) and 'when' - a double pamphlet binding/ concertina hybrid with a hand-beaded cover!

I was quietly chuffed to be included in the publication - amongst a gob-load of american book artists and a couple of internationals... and very pleased to receive a complimentary copy...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

'Into the Fold' artist's books exhibition

'Chaos theory' fortune teller
by Rhonda Ayliffe
mixed media collage 'book'

My whimsy of a 'book' has been chosen for 'Into the Fold' - artist's books exhibition at Artisan Books, Fitzroy 2nd - 30th August (if you're in Melbourne - go see it and play with it in the flesh! )

This is the 3rd year in succession that I'm exhibiting at the annual artist's books show at Artisan... This year's piece is based on the folded paper child's game 'fortune teller' (also known as 'heaven or hell' as well as a few alternatives).

Saturday, June 14, 2008


ok so its running off in the opposite direction and not sitting nicely for a picture - but here is the young wombat I disturbed whilst taking pics of Sams Creek. The creek is a favourite home for wombats (and unfortunately many meet there end crossing the highway)... this little fellow actually has its burrow right beside the road - I mean right beside the road - its only 2m from the tar! So far its figured out how to go under the bridge to cross the road...

Most wombat burrows are on the sides of the creek - that's one there... snuggled under the roots of a she-oak.