Sunday, December 20, 2009

traditions (part two)

Warning warning warning - I'm about to tell you a rather sweet personal Christmas story that contains genuine christmasy sentimentality - it may cause sudden attacks of 'bah-humbug' in the less christmasy minded....

On Christmas Eve the population of our small township of Cobargo and surrounding district will gather in the local park (there is little or no advertising about this – it just always has been – and so everyone figures it always will be...). About 500 or so people just turn up (more than actually live in the town) – kids will scramble over and under the overburdened few playground items. There will be a chocolate wheel and everyone will buy tickets to support the Cobargo Rural Fire Service. Santa will arrive in the local fire tanker (with full lights and siren – which must scare the hell out of poor unknowing tourists and bystanders!) – where he will give out balloons and ice-creams to all the local children. He will then preside over a variety of lolly scrambles before heading off on the back of the fire truck (more lights and siren action). The crowd disperses and all go home with thoughts of the Christmas day to come after the sleep.... Few will be thinking about where this tradition came from or what it is all about..... and few outside our small world will think of this quaint small moment as anything other than a quaint small moment.

This is the 60th year that this has happened – for 60 years my family has been the force behind the tradition.

(here I am with Santa and Nana A - Christmas Eve circa 1967)

Christmas 1949 my father's mother – my Nana Ayliffe - wrapped some little trinkets in Christmas paper, blew up a couple of dozen balloons and invited the local children to come down to the General Store on Christmas Eve for a 'christmas tree' party (I have no idea why it's called this...). My Ayliffe grandparents had moved to the township of Cobargo a few years earlier to take over the general store – they came with my father and his younger sister. I suppose her small gesture might have been seen as a way to ingratiate the family to the community....

But her gesture actually held a very sad tale, rarely retold to happy christmas crowds.

In 1942 my father's elder sister, Frances, suddenly, mysteriously, tragically died at 3 years of age. My Nana Ayliffe was understandably completely devastated – and never really got over her overwhelming loss. The family moved to Cobargo in the mid 1940s to make a new start – and my Nana dispensed little presents, balloons (and then also ice-creams - a rare treat in the early days of refrigeration!) in memory of her lost daughter – my unknown aunt Frances. As she told me when I questioned her sometime in the 1970s: 'well I would have spent this, and so much more on her anyway.....'

So every year since 1949 my family blows up a few hundred balloons, gives out a few hundred ice-creams and throws a few thousand lollies for the local kids to scramble after.

(sorry it's a terrible photo – its also from the late 1960s... and THIS is what Christmas looked like to me as a child – by Christmas Eve my Nana's entire staircase was a mass of balloons – hundreds of them were tied to the rungs. From about 7 years of age my Christmas Eve job was to maintain the balloon supply to Santa – a very responsible position and one I took very seriously - I was even allowed to use a nifty pocket knife to cut the balloon strings free.... I remember once threatening some interloper with that knife when they got too close to my balloons... decades later despite this 'incident' I'm still the balloon girl....)

And each year I think of my Nana who found solace and renewal in a small act of giving.

Through this act and story I've come to understand that traditions don't start with a grand vision (I know my Nana never set out thinking that this was something that would still be happening 60 years down the track) – mostly they are understood retrospectively, when folk look backwards and forwards simultaneously – and realise the significance of a small act that recurs without much fanfare.

(Nana A and Santa and Cobargo kids - 1968 – check out my nan's mini dress....
way to go nana! That'll hold back the hordes of kiddies!)

I hope to continue this Christmas tradition until my final days – and I hope it inspires my children (or dare I even imagine, grandchildren?) to do likewise.

Merry Christmas everyone

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Traditions (part one)

Christmas 2009 - featuring my efforts at hand marbling

Every year since the middle of my teens I've made my own Christmas cards. I can hardly believe that I've been doing this for almost three decades now – as I never set out to create a multi-decade tradition

If 'life is what happens when you're busy making other plans' - then traditions are things that sneak up on you and unexpectedly announce their presence.

Christmas Card circa 1983 (this is one of my earliest - so don't give me a hard time about it!)
I remember making these - it took me about a day to make each one (see subsequent development of rules below...) This card is also significant as it sparked my interest in the craft of calligraphy (mind you I had NO idea how calligraphy was done - these rather pitiful letters were hand-drawn)


these days I hand make around 50ish Christmas cards– and over the years I've developed a set of 'rules' that govern the making of my Christmas card collection

rule 1. each card must be hand made (only minimal mass reproduction techniques may be employed)

rule 2. each year's design must be unique – never before used and never to be used again

rule 3. the materials of each card must be unpretentious and not precious

rule 4. the entire collection of cards must be able to be made in a single day of construction – so only very simple designs and techniques can be considered

rule 5. the card design must capture the 'zeitgeist' of the year ( by this I mostly mean what is happening in my little world....)

Christmas Card of 2004
features my then very pregnant tummy wrapped up with a Christmas bow...
the 'Unwrapped Presence' was of course EJ

Its a fun and delightful challenge and a tradition that I enjoy immensely – In giving a handmade card I feel that I am giving my friends and family a moment of time – a tangible token of our relationship.

This year - I'm adding a new part to my Christmas card tradition – I'm posting a digital version of my 2009 card here, at flickr and on my fb page - a gift of sorts for all my online friends and with it I'm sending everyone a special Christmas greeting –

peace, love and joy to you and your loved ones.

From ronnie by the creek

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


ooooooo such excitement here at the creek – I collected my mail and looky what I picked up.....

it's the latest edition of Artlink magazine – volume 29 edition 4

if you turn to page 21.....

its 'scientia inflammatus' (knowledge on fire) by lil' ole ME

ooooooooh * faint

yes I knew my work had been selected for this edition – but I didn't give myself permission to believe it until I saw it in print ….. now I'm a believer!

Before I dissolve into a gooey puddle of drivel I've got to send out into the blogosphere a very big THANK YOU to my Monash Uni Masters supervisor for the past 2 years - Julian - who made me aware of the call for works relating to climate change and urged me to send something in for possible publication – who'd of thought this would make it through the selection process!

Here is the work (shrunked in size!) when it's not a dodgy photo of a print of a photo.....

Rhonda Ayliffe - scientia inflammatus (knowledge on fire)

Its a part of my 'codex incendium' series of works – to date I've only shown a couple of bits from this series. This was the third of my burning book towers – ephemeral sculptural works documented as digital stills and HD video.... (I know I still haven't shared the video....yet.....I will....eventually... somewhere....)

right now I'm just basking in the glow..... its a nice way to end to my 3 years of MVA study at Monash.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

marbling marvels

I've been trying to gather together a few moments to write a fitting post of my time spent in a marbling workshop with the delightful Joan Ajala last weekend (but it's been one of those weeks....)

(my favourite marbled paper from the w.e. -
joan called this pattern 'flame' - and in margo's pattern book it was named 'wavy dutch cockerel')

I did a quick think and realised that its been almost 15 years since I spent a glorious week studying watercolour marbling with Margo Snape (where HAS that time gone?!!!) I always had visions that I'd hopefully continue to fiddle with marbling from the comforts of my rustic little Sams Creek studio – but the reality has been that I've had difficulty finding the resources, confidence or time to have a go.

So I was peachy-keen to really throw myself at the opportunity to spend a weekend reconnecting with the craft

The workshop has held in the small but sweet headquarters of the NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders which shares space with the NSW Writers Guild in the parkland grounds of Rozelle hospital. It's a funny space – and I was strangely always aware of its past history as a psychiatric hospital (the staircases gave me the heebie-jeebies!)

In the Ralph Lewis Bindery, where we set up our trays, we were surrounded by all the paraphernalia of bookbinding – bookcloth, millboard, presses, type, letterpress.... I wish I could have had a really good look around....

(from my little corner of the room - there were many distractions!)

Oops – mind on the job Ronnie!

Apart from gaining access to specialist equipment the other (and greater) advantage of attending the workshop was gaining access to Joan's wealth of experience – and the first thing I noticed (after I stopped eyeing off all the booky stuff) was a magnificent booklet that had been produced for all the workshop participants – pages and pages of notes (paints, size, patterns, suppliers...) it is without doubt the BEST handout I've ever seen!

(paints and whisks... ready to go!)

Oops get the mind on the job – don't get distracted by the good looking notes

My marbling partner for the weekend was our ASC Guild Secretary, Vicki – and I couldn't have picked a better person to team up with – we rather quickly developed a supportive rhythm

There was only one fly in the ointment of a wonderful weekend of marbling:

The Weather

I've got to tell you right now the weather last weekend in Sydney was appalling – I mean really really really really YUCK! It was horribly hot (in excess of 40 degrees in parts of the city) Marbling in hot weather is NOT ideal – aside from almost dying of dehydration there's all the technical hassles....

our alum water kept evaporating …. our paints kept evaporating... our size kept evaporating.... our alumed papers kept drying out and buckling (despite that they were stacked under boards) and this made them crispy dry (not great for trying to smoothly lay in a marbling tray)... our completed marbled papers dried as we tried to hang them on the line..... whine whine whine...

still, when I watched Joan in action all this seemed also to evaporate!

(laying paint on the size with the whisk)

(using the 1/4" comb - first combing)

(2" bouquet comb pulled in a zig-zag motion)

(behold the results! - rinsing the marbled sheet)

Ooooo and to top off a wonderful w.e. My dear friend Julie (who graciously gave me a bed and delicious food for my visit) sent me home with her marbling tray, rinse board and combs.... I see marbled papers at last being created at Sams Creek.....

stay tuned....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

finding a free moment

Last weekend I finally got to attend the postponed paper marbling workshop with Joan Ajala in Sydney. Despite appalling heat I had a brilliant time reconnecting with the skill of watercolour marbling that I first encountered in a week long workshop with Margo Snape waaaayyyyy back when...

I'm trying to find a few moments to share a highlights of the weekend but life is conspiring to keep me away from the blog at present - so I'll just give the sneak peak of a sample I posted at Book Art Object

(the paper is a stormant design - I've created for the forthcoming book-art-object group project)

and when I can resurface from the mountain of pressing obligations before me I'll show a few more bits and pieces....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

something 'out of the box'

This week I've been making a small something for 'out of the box III' at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery later in the month - and yes I know the photos I'm plonking here are really, really terrible.... my long thin things are a total pain to try to take a quick shot of (and I'm too lazy to take a proper pic at the moment)

Ready Reckoner

The work I'm submitting is a 'book' of sorts - created from the pages of an old Ready Reckoner (and of course I've given the piece that title) - with percentage and interest calculations covering the pages (ahhhhhh remember the days before the pocket calculator - it was such bliss to get a calculator in later high school and hand in forever those dreaded logarithm tables....uggggh!).

The piece is a bit over 3m high/long but folds down neatly to fit into a small Aust Post gift box (which is the whole point of the exhibition!). The pages have been backed with tea dyed muslin (I don't like the harsh white of store bought muslin... by immersing it in a big tea brew the cloth develops a colour similar to the old book paper)

After creating a single long column of old pages and muslin, I collected images from which I carefully cut paper stencils - these were used to put all the images onto my 'book'


It's quite amazing how detailed and resilient a paper stencil can be - well you can see from my dodgy photos that I created stencils of various animals, and bugs, birds and butterflies (these are mostly at the top of the work) - and two focal images: a line of soldiers, and a large beetle.

After the painted images were dry I got out my trusty sewing machine - threaded it with red and then green thread - and sewed up a networking storm! (I DO so love a good network... as an image or an idea..... I've long had a fascination with diagrams of networks - like those explaining ecosystems or computer configurations or DNA sequencing.... )

bugs detail from toward the base

I hope that it gets a sympathetic hanging in the space - I'd like to have it pinned on the walls - with the top of the work as close to the ceiling as I can get someone to climb!.... but as the display will be out of my hands, it will be interesting to see what treatment it receives... not to mention what reception it gets!

ahhh well - that's the lot of the artist isn't it.....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

ars gratia artis

I have one week and one day to go until I'm finished with this Master of Visual Arts – my, it only seems like a couple of months (and a lifetime) ago since I started – these 3 years have passed by in a flash!

One part of me can't believe that I made it through – when I started the journey our boyo was in preschool (for one day per week) and girlie wasn't quite 3 – insane!!!!!! (at times my poor long suffering partner MUST have been tearing his hair out – living with an artist aint much fun...)

Next weekend I'll make the looooong (1400km) round trip to my Uni to deliver my work for marking the following day – I'll be presenting a selection of 'book' works – many of which I've posted here over the last little while (the two 'serpens volumen', 'verbatim' and the recently completed 'hora libri') or uploaded to my flickr account – as well as a folio full to the brim of large scale photographic works – pieces that I view as documentation of ephemeral sculpture/performative works... and with these I've only released a few over the next wee while I'm going to share some more of these – and perhaps will tell a little bit more about the making and thinking behind each....

for now I'll leave you with another of my 'carved' book works that will be making the trip with me -

ars gratia artis (art for arts sake)

this was actually my high school art text that I to return, way back in the 1980s... shhhh don't tell the school or they might ask me for it now!

and although I describe these 'carved' - they are in fact very carefully cut with a scalpel - a few pages at a time... it's a long process...

and talking of process and books - I've recently changed over my 'currently reading' list.... whilst I still have library access at the uni I'll continue to dip into the catalogue and gorge myself on the booky goodness....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

meroogal video

for the truly enthusiastic - the lovely folk of the HHT have released a rather comprehensive (read looooong) video of awarded artists from this years Meroogal award - you can check it out here..... (I'm the second artist to talk - and my chat was recorded in front of an audience - not to camera - so I look a bit shifty!)

and whilst I'm bravely owning up to it - I discovered the 2007 Meroogal video that I'm also in (this video is only short - so I almost survived the wave of EEEEGAD when I've viewed myself...)

you'll find that video here...

enjoy (have a good laugh!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

a book of hours of sorts...

I've just finished another booky object – this time it's a simple concertina arrangement (with 12 pages)

well simple in form does not necessarily mean simple in the making... this one had me tearing my hair out!

The idea was simple enough – 12 pages for 12 photos taken of my work Ex libris (installed on the property on the site of a vanished school – just a few hundreds metres from the house and studio here at sams creek)

Ex Libris (9am)

I took a picture of the work on the hour – every hour - from dawn to dusk... and decided I would create a book from the photos of my books - as a sort of secular book of hours (in fact I'm titling the piece 'hora libri' which can be interpreted as 'hour book' or 'book of hours')

for the uninitiated – Books of Hours were personal prayerbooks of the devout and status-conscious society of the late medieval/early renaissance era – the most stunning examples included lavishly painted miniatures, exquisite calligraphy with illuminated capitals executed on vellum – the covers of some had precious gems embedded – all very bling bling!

(A great resource to read/see more about them is the John Hartman volume 'Books of Hours')

I played around with quite a few ideas for my 'book of hours' but concertina offered the best solution – this format offered a linear arrangement for my photos – and by choosing robust materials I envisaged that the piece may be displayed open – and upright – without support

and so off I set to making the piece

I've utilised old encyclopaedia covers (left over from making serpens volumen) to give the piece rigidity, covered with waxed buckram (all one piece – the hinges are integrated) – getting the very long single piece of buckram attached and smooth and lovely was EEEEEKKKK – and of course I forgot to put the internal buckram pieces on for the hinges before I attached the external cover (of course!) EEEEEEKKKK!! (note to reader – this is NOT the actual words uttered at the time.... I've given you the cleaned up family version of what was uttered) - so of course I had to gingerly remove the turn-over, quickly paste in the inner buckram hinges, then re-paste the covers and re-work.... (those corners were hard enough the first time around!)

finally it was looking good

On the inside of the structure I've used some of last years 'network' ink drawings – which work surprisingly well with the content and colours – and on top of these are the individual photos.

The piece stands wonderfully well without support (success!)

I like it arranged as a star – so that the circularity as opposed to linear nature of time is hinted at.

I'm planning on making another 2 concertina 'hora libri' – so that there's an edition of 3 - but I suspect each in the edition will be a bit different...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

serpens volumen - arcus pluvius

Yesterday I completed the second very long coptic bound book's that I've now titled 'serpens volumen' - the serpent book...

This one is is a few centimetres shorter than the first serpens volumen - it's 2.25m long (or a bit over 7ft) and has been constructed from pages of Encyclopaedia Brittanica Science Year books from the early 1980s (which not coincidentally was also my high school years)

This one is called 'serpens volumen - arcus pluvius' - or the rainbow serpent book - and I think it should be pretty obvious why it carries that name... the pages of the book have been arranged according to spine fold colours - and it's quite amazing (and often a surprise) what a delightful array of colours turn up when you slice and fold about 5 encyclopaedic volumes

as in the first 'serpens volumen', each section of the book has been created from a single page of from the year books - and again I went through almost an entire 100m roll of waxed lined thread (I also broke the eye of one of my bookbinding needles... ) I think it took me almost as long to arrange the pages as it did to bind this creature.

Its quite an unwieldy beast to pick up, carry and arrange - but also so satifying to try it out in numerous arrangements - the rainbow spine really makes for a very different look to the first book - and I can't wait to try them out together in a space....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

alphabet labyrinth soup

I love getting up very early in the morning - just before dawn is my favourite part of the day. With two young kidlins, the farm and garden, work and arty commitments it's the only real 'me' time I have, so I love to grab a cup of milk coffee settle back in bed for a few peaceful precious minutes of reading.

This morning I picked up 'The Alphabetic Labyrinth - the Letters in History and Imagination' by Johanna Drucker and on one of the opening pages was this quote from Henry Noel Humphreys:

" From the invention of letters the machinations of the human heart began to operate; falsity and error daily increased; litigation and prisons had their beginnings, as also specious and artful language, which causes so much confusion in the world. It was on these accounts that the shades of the departed wept at night. But, on the other hand, from the invention of letters all polite intercourse and music proceeded and reason and justice were made manifest; the relations of life were defined, and laws were fixed; governors had a lasting rule to refer to; scholars had authorities to venerate; the historian, the mathmetician, the astronomer, can do nothing without letters. Were there not letters to give proof of passing events, the shades might weep at nooday as well as night and the heavens rain down blood, for tradition might affirm what she pleased, so that the letters have done much more good than evil; and as a token of good, heaven rained down ripe grain the day that they were first invented."

from 'The Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing'
Henry Noel Humphreys

Isn't that just a magic statement to start the day with.....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

meroogal at spiral

As I headed into Bega last night for the opening of the Meroogal Exhibition at Spiral a light drizzle started to fall - and gardener/farmer that I am my spirits began to lift markedly!

(there's my piece 'Fahrenheit 451' by the door - offering a warm entry)

Spiral is quite a small space - so hanging even a small selection of works from the Meroogal Womens Art Award is a big challenge. Most of the works selected to show at Spiral were prize winning pieces and/or works by local artists. The exhibition was opened by local artist Veronica O'Leary with help from Spiral Gallery's indominable Anna Senior (that's her below in the background with magnificent red vest.... interesting outfits are the norm from Anna - before her time here in the valley Anna worked in costumes on films like 'My Brilliant Career' .... and I think she's rather brilliant herself!)

I enjoyed this pared down selection of work - and seeing work by the fellow local artists - the lovely b&w concertina booklet below is by Madeline Meyer one of the 23 local artists selected for the inital exhibition at Shoalhaven (I've been reliably told that Madeline's works has been selected for the full tour... from the tale told, 3 locals have had work selected for the entire tour - and apparently I'm one of them - we'll see...)

One piece of news that is completely reliable is... (drum roll please)... HHT has just acquired an edition of 'Fahrenheit 451' for its collection - WOW. I'm thrilled that the piece is going to a public collection - and the work is an interesting choice for the Historic Houses Trust don't you think?

I'll drop another note or two about coming editions of work in the next while - before that though I want to show you my favourite piece in this exhibition....

... it is also by my absolute favourite person in the whole wide world - this is my bestest friend Margie (she's more like a wonderful big sister really) - I managed to get her to stand in front of her work (it's the one closest to camera) 'In memory of Henry David Thoreau' - an exquisite forged bookstand (Margi is one of the few female traditional blacksmiths in this country - she's an amazing artisan) with a little gem of a booklet (also by M) placed on it. In the booklet are tiny treasures that she has collected and saved or captured in photo form - like curly leaves, feathers, butterfly wings - as well as poems she has penned whilst bushwalking and wool she has spun and dyed from natural materials - it's just a delight.

sooo if you are in Bega over the next couple of weeks - drop into Spiral and catch the show.

Friday, October 2, 2009

artistcareer bloggy bits

I'm always a bit slow on the uptake – I've only just realised that artistcareer has released its latest newsletter with arty type blogs included. And yes my little patch was included – but I was so heartened to see fellow book art object folk sara and amanda had their blogs there too – nice!

I had a quick peruse of the list (as you do...) and found a few gems:

I loved finding prophet of bloom as I really adore what india flint gets up to (I love her book eco colour)

...then I fell over sewn earth with more eco fibre work... but I think my favourite find was jay dee - on the face of it jay dee and I share quite a few interests: Slow movement (snap) eco awareness (snap) booky things (big snap) so I'll have to drop by again and see what she is getting up to

there were oodles of blogs to check out (not all were my cup of tea – but you might LOVE them) drop over to the artistcareer site and have fun.

right now – I'm getting ready for the opening of the Meroogal Award at Spiral Gallery tonight (its first port of call in a long tour) I MUST remember to take my camera this time so I can share some pics!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

nava profile update

Last night I updated my very neglected NAVA profile with a few examples of very recent work – so today of course I'm feeling very vulnerable

aggghhhh who'd be an artist?

Of the works now on the site 'herstory', 'verbatim', 'ex libris' and 'fahrenheit 451' have been out and about – all the others are fresh from the studio, so haven't been seen by anyone other than the crew here at sams creek...


carved 2 volume dictionary - exhibited at 'Books... beyond words' August 2009

and don't get me started on the 'artist statement'..... one day I'm going to somehow cobble together a half decent artist statement.... at least that's the pep talk I'm still giving myself.

At the end of the day though – I'm actually quietly pleased with the works up on NAVA - now I just have to organise a proper outing for them all together...

Friday, September 25, 2009

lifeline books...

That very booky girl Ampersand Duck alerted me to the existence of the Lifeline Book Fair a couple of months ago and my-oh-my am I ever pleased she did! Early this morning my daddy (and his very large ute) and I headed up and over the hills to Canberra and came back with......

....a very large ute load of old books - WHeeeEEE!!!!!

The Lifeline Bookfair is a mammoth event - it's held twice a year over 3 days (today was day one) at the exhibition centre on the outskirts of the city - inside the large pavilion about 150 000 books are organised into general categories, laid out on trestle tables. There seemed to be almost as many people trying to wind their way around the tables - all with that rather distinctive glazed expression worn by the determined book hunter.

I made a beeline for the 'sets' sign.... and claimed the entire table of weird old encyclopaedias, weird newer reference books and a couple of prizes (a 5 volume reference set of art for $30 - bargain!). I then decided this seemed as good a place as any to set up camp - and leaving my daddy in charge of the booty ('guard them dad - growl at any interlopers - grrrrrrr') I made scurried trips to the other tables to bring back more claimed goodies (a monster medical dictionary, well ok 2 of them, a huge atlas, the complete works of shakespeare....) There aren't many times when being a short, determined, fast moving female is an advantage - fortunately trawling the tables of the Lifeline Bookfair is one of them!

In no time at all I had amassed quite a pile - and soon I was given my very own Lifeline volunteer.... who almost as quickly had decided that I was quite possibly absolutely certifiable (I made the mistake of telling him - 'oh no - I don't read them - they're for my ARRRRRRRT')

It took the lovely Lifeline volunteers some time to tally up all my finds - then it was time to load up the ute and head back home - happy in the knowledge that my purchases will go to fund the numerous projects undertaken by Lifeline.... ahhhh I feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside (or maybe it's just residual car sickness...)

***oooh and in case you are worried - these books aren't destined for a fiery end.... and that's all I'm saying about their future fate at this point.....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

binding issues...

Since July I've been binding a very, very, very loooong coptic 'book' and the night before last I finally finished it - wheeeee!

The book is 2.4m long (or 8ft for all you imperialists!) and I used almost 100m of waxed linen thread to bind the un-counted sections together - each section in the book is a single page from Colliers encyclopaedias that has been folded and cut down into 16 leaves - the work contains approx 5-6 volumes from the set of encyclopaedias - so it's a rather heavy and unwieldy 'book'.

From the outset I had in mind that the piece may become part of a installation or exhibition that also contains my book stacks or burnt book images - as the work grew - I started to see how the piece could be arranged in seemingly limitless ways:

Laid out straight - the extreme length can be appreciated - so too can my careful arrangement of tones of the spine pages...

The piece can be easily rolled up to form a spiral - and looks just lovely (and its 'booky' nature is actually quite concealed like this)

but it's all the possibilites of freeform arrangements that has me really excited!

ooooh what fun!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

packers award

Today I travelled all the way up to Nowra (and back - that's 6hrs driving - huff-puff - goodness I'm tired) to give an artist's talk at the Meroogal Womens Art Award at the Shoalhaven City Art Centre

And whilst I was there Meroogal Curator, Barbara Konkolowicz, presented me with the Packer's Prize to go with my Judge's Commendation - how nice! (even nicer when I got home and opened up the envelope! thanks packers and gallery supporters!)

I don't know about you, but public speaking always leaves me lost for words - so to make things even more stress-free (!?!) when it was my turn to discuss my work, the folk of Meroogal wheeled in the video camera and boom - agghhhh!!!!! I had done all my preparation in the car whilst driving up to Nowra - and given that EJ came with me, that preparation was regularly interrupted with the need to give a nice rendition of 'old macdonalds' I had visions that my talk would end up becoming in a general sing-along - 'eee-i-ee-i-oo'

ahhhh well - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - or so I'm told....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

book love

I am such a booky girl!

I love books – I mean I love, love, LOVE books!

I love the contents of books – all the possibilities contained between their covers....

I love the history of books – just think - where would we all be without Gutenberg's development of moveable type?

I love the design of books – is there anything more enticing than a brilliant book jacket design?

I love the structure of books – I love both traditional and unconventional forms - isn't it fascinating how form and function can combine to create something beyond the sum of its parts?…...

I love all the traditional crafts associated with books – calligraphy, bookbinding, printing, paper making, marbling, letterpress....

I love the process of creating books – ooooooh all the possibilities....

I love what books are – I love what they can be

I love books....

A while ago I added 'Library thing' to the sidebar of this blog – so that I could share with everyone some (only some!) of the treasures from my library. Today I decided I would add a list (called 'currently reading') of books and bits that I'm presently reading – (the titles are linked to Amazon for convenience – I've never actually used Amazon....).

Maybe you've read one/some of the titles? – maybe you're reading one of them right now? (wouldn't that be strangely serendipitous!) Maybe you've got a favourite you'd like to introduce me to? (I'm all ears...)

(this was a birthday gift - I'm still nose deep in the pages -
the garden and author are local - so it's a double whammy of wonderful!)

I'll try to add/change the list at the beginning of each month...

ahhhh books – what's not to love?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

meroogal women's art award

I've been so distracted by bushfires and dying modems and the like that I've completely forgotten to tell all and sundry about the news from the meroogal womens art award... duh!

the big (ok - medium sized) news is that the piece I sent in to the meroogal award not only was selected for the exhibition - but actually received a commendation (it seems to be the word that I'm mostly attached to lately... hmmmm.......)

I posted a pic of the artwork in its unmodified manifestation in an earlier post - just as a reminder this is kinda what I sent in....

well - it was a cropped and very enlarged version of this at any rate!

the final printed piece was almost life size - at about 4ft tall and 2ft wide (and mostly the books where in the frame) - block mounted (my framers were in full heart attack mode - 'aggghhhhh you want to block mount this - are you an idiot!?!!') hey what can I say - most art awards demand no glass and 'd' ring fittings and all that..... (up to and almost including the rights to your first born child...)

The theme for this year's award was 'Books and the world of ideas' - and you guys all know I have PLENTY of IDEAS! Originally I was making something totally different for the award (go check out my flickr site...) but at the last moment changed my mind and settled on one if my burning books images instead

This is the brief artist statement I included with the work....

'Fahrenheit 451' refers to the dystopian novel of the same name written by Ray Bradbury in the 1950s. In the novel, books are outlawed and burned 'for the good of humanity' - Fahrneheit 451 is the temperature at which books auto-ignite. Burning books has historically been the means of suppressing ideas and alternate viewpoints… even though the books used in my work were discarded encyclopaedias – destined for landfill, the action of destroying them by fire remains an uncomfortable practice.

With 'Fahrenheit 451' I'm presenting the antithesis of what the Meroogal library represents: the preservation of Books and the World of Ideas...

next weekend (Saturday 19 Sept), all things being equal, I'm hoping to get up to the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre and give a slightly longer chat about the making of the piece et al. whilst the exhibition is still in Nowra... I'll give a confirmation on my fb page before the date - fingers crossed I'll see some friendly familiar faces there!

and right now I'm working on creating a short edition of the work (again I'll let you know both here and at my fb page how those plans are progressing) - so much work - so little time!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

more frustration...

Its been another frustrating week without a modem and working internet (so I'm off 'borrowing' a connection again...thanks oh daddy of mine)

I was expecting to be heading to Sydney this past weekend to attend a marbling workshop with Joan Ajala... but poor Joan had an accident that has caused the workshop to be postponed – bummer! I had visions of creating a stockpile of wonderful marbled papers to use in my various arty projects (including the book-art-object project I've committed myself to).... but it's just not to be.

Many years ago as part of the requirement for my Diploma of Western Calligraphy I was fortunate to spend a week learning marbling and paste paper techniques with the extremely incredible Margo Snape. Margo single-handedly revived the skill of Turkish watercolour marbling in this country (and in the process became internationally regarded). She is also a guild member and life member of the ASC (she has been there from the very beginning – goodness but she is simply a living treasure – and such a funny funny lady!). It was one of the last times she lead workshops in the craft as glaucoma was gradually robbing her sight. I still have a few precious bits of paper left in my drawers as a reminder of that fabulous week...

Ahhh well – I'm consoling myself with the recent arrival of a parcel of delicious coloured and waxed linen thread that I've received from Bibiani....

the mind is ticking over with the possibilities already...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

fire, fire burning bright...

I've been a bit distracted over the past week – my modem died on monday night - so I'm still offline at my place (I'm working on a borrowed computer... thanks oh brother of mine!)

Then later in the week – this was what was going on just over the hill from our place....

whoa mumma!

I took this pic on Thurs night, as the flames descended from the mountain....

Gulaga is an ancient (and of course long extinct) volcano... the vision of flames spewing down the mountain was just freaky, it gave a glimpse of the old girl's past life.

On Friday the fire ringed the base of the mountain – moving towards the communities in Dignams Creek (one creek and one hill over from us here at Sams Creek) and all the farms between there and the small dual townships of Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba to the north. Yesterday (Saturday) the winds really picked up and pressed the fires in my direction and toward my dearest friends living in the creek – all of Dignams Creek was advised to evacuate – then later in the afternoon the winds shifted as a storm moved in and the threat eased for the evening. Today (Sunday) the winds are still coming from the SW – so today the pressure will hopefully ease in the creek and unfortunately intensify in the northern end.

It's somewhat bizarre that I'm witnessing and experiencing the threat of fire up close and personal given the current nature and focus of my arty bits.... (and no, before you pose the question, my burning books of the past post had absolutely nothing to do with this monster blaze!)

It's going to be a very long, hard fire season.