Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Nightingale, the Robin and the Lark

I think it's about time I posted an entry that pertains to my work, rather than the gorgeousness of others.

One that didn't make it to the show- at the last minute it stopped talking to me, but now that I've had space and come back to look at it, I think it works pretty much as it is. Maybe a bit of glitter wouldn't go astray. ;) I try not to use glitter much as I feel it's a weeny bit overdone, but sometimes...sometimes you gotta have it. Glitter is your friend.

The poem in the centre is made up of cut-out questions from a vintage set of children's Encyclopaedias:

Is everything a part of Nature?
Are there diamonds in the sky?
Why has a cherry a stone inside?
How far can a butterfly fly?

Is there a reason for everything?
What makes the fire change colour?
Why does a bird not fall to the ground?
Should we like one friend more than another?

Where do bats go in the daytime?
Why is the tongue of a moth so long?
Why are we never satisfied?
Does a bird always sing the same song?

I gleaned the questions from several different volumes, chose the more poetic ones and just re-arranged them till they rhymed. Apparently they were questions asked of the author by real children. I love how deep some of them are, and reading the answers I actually learned things, which is something from a set of books considered to be outdated. Some information never changes.

I've also finally designed my business card:

The design is a close-up of one of my pieces recently exhibited. It includes a handwritten poem from a text book of the 1930s, dried weeds from the village garden, antique buttons, a snippet of military jacket and a snip of a vintage Admit One ticket.

I love everything about it, and it represents my work perfectly- handmade, vintage, salvaged, a little bit antique and a little bit faery. Later tonight I hope to also do my blog banner, Etsy shop banner and matching avatar. (Self-imposed) deadlines are moving closer...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Wishes

It's Midsummer here in Australia, though the weather doesn't reflect it (thank goodness, I can't stand the heat)! Some of you are in Midwinter, with lovely big drifts of snow and hot cider. Whatever you celebrate and however you do it, please enjoy yourselves and keep safe. :)

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I can't believe it's taken me this many posts to rave about these wonderful artists- Gibbous fashions.

Selene Gibbous is the main designer, as is my understanding. I found her just this year, though I can't remember how. I confess to her being one of my internet crushes- she is a tumbleweed raggedy doll, a Dickensian faery of the most intimate and blackberry bramble tangle.

I soak up everything she and her fellow rag dolls do, I just cannot put in to words how inspiring it is. It's a quickening of the heartbeat, as it always is to find someone of a like style and aesthetic to your own. I hope that when I find the headspace to work on my discarded costumes again (outcasts from the exhibition, they still won't talk to me) I can evoke something even a sliver like this.

Read their 'about' page on their website for more details.

All photographs from the Gibbous website

Friday, December 21, 2007

Inspiration- Flickr spotlight

I've decided I'm going to start spotlighting people from Flickr every now and again. There are loads of blogs (some dedicated to that exact purpose) but I find all their photos to be a bit ordinary- though many of them are lovely, none of them have what I really like; that grungy, gritty, well used and long-forgotten feeling. Abandonment and neglect, decay versus survival, The dying soul versus the fighting heart.

Anyway, my first spotlight is on yyellowbird.

I only found her about 48 hours ago and I feel like faving her entire stream! I especially like her abandoned houses sets, especially the ones using models. Usually I hate when people use models in these kinds of environments, because they invariably end up being some sort of fetish goth girl, which does nothing for me at all. But Yyellowbird's girls are pretty and rustic, fragile in summer dresses and loose cardigans, but the occasional solid pair of boots and confronting stares often swing it in a completely opposite direction. They suit their environment perfectly.

I think I like that survivalist nature -like Tank Girl or Red Sonja. I like that aggressive fragility that wild animals have, as if they're saying 'yes I hurt myself, but if you try to help me I'll bite you.' I think I see that in abandoned house too- they've been left alone for so long, but they've not yet given up and fallen down. Motto for life, really. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

This is the thanks I get

I thought you might like to see the little frames I spoke about earlier- the gifts left for me at the gallery.

They're such sweet little things, I just don't know what to do with them yet. I am getting back into illustration, so I'm thinking I might set up a low-tech screenprinting device and print up some drawings, then sell them in antique frames since I have such a collection now. These ones will be staying here for a while though.

I particularly like the back of the Mary frame- that purple is mad! And the sticker is great too, especially the part about the metal being untarnishable! I suppose you can't expect that to be true after 70 plus years. :)

As for shots of the actual work, they're on a friends computer since he was the one who took them- but I forgot to zip the folder and send it to myself when I was there, so I'll have to wait unitl they're back from a weeks holiday. Dear oh dear.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Artist's Statement and an Unexpected Gift

Still life from the work table

Went to take down the exhibition today, and was met with a surprise. No not a sale -something more wonderful.

It seems two ladies had dropped in to see the exhibition and were very taken with my work. So taken in fact that they took my Artist's Statement home with them (there was only one copy- tacked to the wall!) and came back later in the afternoon with a gift- two tin photo frames. One is empty, it's a silver tone with lilies impressed around it and an oval inner. The second one is very tarnished brass with a stunning little greytone postcard of the Virgin Mary.

I was so awed! To me this is so much more lovely that someone buying my work. Anyone can just breeze in and falsh a bit of money for something, but to activley return to the gallery to leave a gift for the artist; that shows sdo much more, the sacrifice of personal belongings in gratitude for what they saw. Especially these worn old things- I see them as such precious things, to give up something as lovely as these is quite a feat in my eyes.

I really feel I have communicated what I wanted to, that at least these two women understood what I was working with. I saw a fragment of this when I set up the installation (photos coming this weekend!) -three people offered me their old wedding gowns. I thought they were just being excited, but just now I remember a woman came up to me on the opening night and told me how much she liked my work, that is was very much like what she would like to do. And the curator's mother was very interested as well. Maybe people do understand what I do, or maybe I can dare to think it's deeper than that. Maybe all these women have seen in my work what it is I want everyone to see. I never try to enforce what my mission is,'s the ultimate to know that people see it wihtout force.

For the precious few that are reading this, here's my Artist's Statement that the ladies' so took a shine to.


What lies behind our interest with antique things? Are we simply attaching ourselves to what we romantically see as simpler age, or is it an inkling of a past life, perhaps; the recognition of an object in this life that was all too common in our last?

As children my brother and I conducted small journeys to unveil the layers of past that no one noticed. We located old rubbish dumps on the town map and dug up fragments of teacups, dolls heads and china animals. We visited abandoned farmhouses- places left to wither and die by those who sought the new and modern.

Some places held a capsule of the lives once lived within- a calendar pinned to the wall, a clock on the mantel, a tortoiseshell comb in the bathroom- all evidence of personal lives, people who existed and conducted personal intimate behaviour in the broken-down house I stood in.

To me the abandoned house became a forgotten slip of time that was never quite sewn to the present; a fragile, unwanted thing, a secret history unrecorded. The unwanted houses eventually became the property of nature and her beasts, and time drew it back to the earth.

In my work I hope to explore the consuming interest I have in both the forgotten houses and the objects within. Using the treasures I have collected over the years I assemble them in groups and layers, or sealed in glass-fronted boxes. To enhance the sense of the forgotten, I combined them with elements of nature that to me echo the lost sense of time- a dried weed, a left nest, an empty seedpod.

My pieces have arisen not from any solid idea, but from a place that lays so deep in my subconscious that not even I know what it means. Perhaps I will never understand why certain objects go together or why I adore the lost and the forgotten; but after many years of the struggle to understand my own work I have simply accepted that what I do is something I may never hope to pin a meaning to beyond the emotions drawn from me by these ghosts of history.

What is it about a shredded dress that has been sleeping in an attic trunk that literally makes my heart skip a beat? Why do i gasp at the stains of age on a living room wall? The feeling is almost unexplainable- something brief flashes through my mind about crooked, falling down houses, secret pathways to places long forgotten, ghosts of happy people lost forever in the larger realm of time. Why do I love these things? Will I ever know?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Inspiration - Gail Rieke, collage artist

The studio of Gail Rieke, collage artist in New Mexico. I love this whole room- my heartbeat actually sped up when I saw this image- especially the little area on the right:

I love the intense textural layers of various tannin and nicotine stain hues, the regimental squares and lines.

An example of her work:

Click to see more.

Gone too long little art blog, I have neglected you already! It was an ill-chosen time to start you really, right at the crux of my first exhibition in ten years. But it's all done- I pulled it off, and now the works are in the gallery being appraised by all eyes. It's my turn to man the show tomorrow, so I can get some shots of my pieces up on white walls. The opening went well, alot of people admired my work and approached me to say how much so. Very heartening.

What have I learned from the experience? That you cannot rush art. That you cannot force it or make it happen, no matter how strong it is inside you. That if you try to do those things, you'll ruin it.

Now that the exhibition is up and the heat of creating enough pieces in time has cooled, I'm finding myself being interested in other people's work again. I've needed a few days break from the cliff-jumping insanity that was the last month and in that time (5 whole days..!) I wasn't interested in art in the slightest. Being sick (a result of the overload) didn't help either. But now things have calmed. A tarot reading I did the other night recommends I not start any projects till next year, but work on sweeping the shells of old ones out the door first.

I wonder if I'll hold to that? You can't force art, but you can't keep it away either.