It’s been a fortnight of finishing

Four deadlines over a couple of weeks in February seemed like a long way off back in the second half of 2017. I put my hand up for them all, and I’m delighted to see the wonderful results produced by the consistent and hard work by myself and others involved in each of these projects .
WAFTA@WAM 2017 is a program I have presented and mentored over the past six months to help artists design, create and enter a garment into the 2018 Wearable Art Mandurah (WAM) competition. We had our final session and photography day last Saturday and after a few rather late nights, the participants have created some amazing garments. Seeing their works completed and come to life on a live model was breathtaking for all of us.
I’ve been working on my own WAM entry since last October and although 99% finished before Christmas, a few final details took several days, and then there was photography, artist statements leading to submission last week.
Sadly, you’ll have to wait until after Judging day to see any of these garments. Instead here is Mannequin Monroe, a new resident in the studio, a gift from our local Buy Nothing group. She has had a long career in Aherns Dept. store, then Behind the Monkey modelling jewellery and most recently has spent six months lonely in a shed. She will be busy modelling Wearable Art garments soon.
My gorgeous niece was our model for all of the WAM garments, and back in June 2017, she decided to make her own gown for the year 12 Ball, which was last Friday night. My mother, sister and I helped her through the processes of creating her stunning lace covered dress, meeting together about once a month. As you can see she looked stunning and rightfully won best dressed on the night.
My latest Down Under Textiles Magazine column was also due among these.
On a very busy day in the middle of all this I visited Annette Nykiel’s beautiful exhibition Meeting Place, which is on at Spectrum Project Space until 17 February 2018.
“…My edginess quietens as my mind wanders to moments in the country walking the ground…”  quoted from the exhibition catalogue.
Yes, this is how I felt, walking into the space, a sense of calm.
Well worth a visit if you can.

Books In My Studio

Beyond the art, fashion and design books with beautiful images I lust over, and the instruction, technique and how to books I’ve learnt so much from, there are other books that have been very beneficial in my art practice.

Here are a few of my favourites, the ones I want to read again and again. I go to these when I get stuck, wonder what on earth I am doing, or lose purpose in my work:-

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

by Austin Kleon 2012

A very easy read, simple steps to getting started and keeping on going. I follow his weekly newsletter, it’s full of great links to all sorts of creative stuff and takes me in directions I wouldn’t otherwise find. Many that I have shared on this blog.

“Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”

Art and Fear, Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking  

by David Bayles and Ted Orlando 1993

The classic book that you see so many quotes from and makes you go yes, yes…yes!

“The seed for your next art work likes embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.  Such imperfections. . . are your guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.  It is precisely this interaction between the ideal and the real that locks your art into the real world, and gives meaning to both.”

“Artmaking involves skills that can be learned. . . In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive. . . Even talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.”

Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert 2015

I never would have considered this book, as I’m not a fan of Eat Pray Love. Only on the recommendation from a friend who opinion I value did I borrow it from the library. It’s good – I went and bought my own copy. Chapters on Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence…

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” 

The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero 2012

Following a link for Austin Kleon’s newsletter I found Frank’s website and this book. You can read it online which I did and then bought my own copy

On the back cover “A clear, strong voice…If you create things, the book’s insights will inform the way you think about your work, regardless of how you make your living”

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done  by Jon Acuff 2017

Another Austin Kleon link. Lots of great counterintuitive strategies for getting things done. Releasing perfectionism, taking the pressure off and having fun!

“Accomplishing a goal is a lot less like taking a train across country and a lot more like driving a bumper car.” 

I re-read some of these over the Christmas break, not because I felt stuck, but simply because I had a gap between finishing my WAM garment and starting a whole new body of work in 2018. New theme, new directions and lots of unknowns. From these books I know that if I start, then keep going, and explore, question and stay open for possibilities along the way, it will work out…with lots of hard work…and NOT necessarily as I had planned 🙂

2017 Review

I set a self imposed Studio ban from the week before Christmas until last  week. I prepared for Christmas in one week without too much stress and then planned to relax for the Boxing Day Cricket Test. A day of so in, after much napping, I was bored…so, I’ve read a few books, sewn some clothes and cleaned out lots of cupboards. (The lady at the op shop sighed when I said “I have a car full of donations”… obviously not an original idea at this time of year!)

At the beginning of a new year, like many of us, I ponder what might have been and make big plans and goals for the new year ahead. I’ve followed Alyson Standfield’s Annual Review Process for the past few years as I find it has really helpful prompts to make me consider all aspects of my art practice. This year I decided to follow Austin Kleon’s 100 things that made my year style of listing all the funny, incidental and delightful stuff, the odd discoveries and the simple pleasures we sometimes take for granted and forget. Combining the two reviews I have created a more balanced and joyful look at my year.

Here are a couple of my 100 things from the end of the year:-

Our dog being the most excited member of the family at Christmas

and my Mum’s yummy Christmas pudding.

My studio supervisor was very keen to get started for the year and I have big plans for 2018. So we have started… One working.One napping. A fairly good indication of how the year will pan out.

It’s Nearly Christmas Time

I made a self imposed deadline of Christmas to finish my wearable art piece for Wearable Art Mandurah (WAM). The garment is not completely finished however it is 95% there and could pass for the photo shoot and entry due in February.  I now have the freedom to relax and enjoy Christmas and (my favourite day) watch the Boxing Day Test and doing NOTHING! This week I will start Christmas preparations. By pushing ahead on my garment, I haven’t done any shopping, nor preparations for Christmas. This week, several trips to the shops and some homemade presents and cooking should bring us to Christmas, which should be a joy rather than a massive stress (which it has been in previous years long ago).There is nothing like a deadline to help you find the time, push through the hard bits, make decisions and go for it. Especially when a new and exciting project is just out of your reach. This garment has felt like a hard slog for a lot of the making time, and I’ve celebrated the achievement of this deadline.Time now to sit back, relax and allow this piece to settle and be tweaked as needed…in January!
Back to Christmas – I love seeing the stunning Western Australian Christmas Tree, Nuytsia floribunda the largest mistletoe in the world! These photos were taken yesterday on an unusually wet and dull December day, in our nearby bushland. If you would like to know more, there’s a rather cutting description of it in Australian Geographic, and more sympathetic description in Australian Native Nursery .
I wish you joy and happiness for this festive season and great things for the New Year.  I have big goals for 2018 and resolutions that can’t be broken. Details soon.

Delightful Distractions

As I slog through the “middle part” (= many, many, many hours at the sewing machine) of my current work with my self imposed deadline fast approaching, procrastination and distractions are extremely tempting. One delightful distraction last weekend was the inaugural exhibition of The December Gallery. Jan Mullen and Annie Shelley present a stunning body of work, Annie’s beautiful tonal drawings, perfectly complement Jan’s work. I’ve been following Jan’s blog on the development of these series’ of works she has on show and I admire them even more knowing the thinking and work behind them.
 My son Callum participated in the Disabled Surfers Association program at Leighton beach on Saturday morning… I need to mention here my great respect for volunteers. The Disabled Surfers Association is a very well run program with loads of volunteers of all ages giving people with disabilities a wonderful opportunity for a safe and successful surfing experience. Callum loves it and looking at the photos so does everyone else.This gave me the chance to see the Fremantle Art Centre Christmas Bazaar.
My afternoon continued with visits to Midland Junction Arts Centre to see Eco Echo by Fibrant group and the Felt West pop up shop.
My work has not progressed as far as I had planned this weekend. There are 100s more of these required before I can proceed to the next step, but my love of why and what I do has been restored.

Open House Perth 2017

Described as “When residents become tourists in their own city” Open House Perth, ran for it’s 6th year last weekend. This year we concentrated on the inner east and north discovering some gems.
 Old Perth Girls School 1936 -1962, and more recently occupied by the Police department until 2002, is now ready for the next phase, a 3 – 5 year use until the developers are ready to start the more permanent project. Cafes, tourism, arts, community involvement  are all considerations for this time frame. I can envisage some wonderful possibility here.
Above- view from the projection room into the assembly hall.
The building itself is a quality build, the original lockers, fire places, bookcases were a delight, as were the anecdotes from past students on our tour.
 I imagine they’ve given up trying to match keys to lockers 🙂
Edward Millen House in Victoria Park is at a similar stage. It was built in 1912 as the first maternity hospital in Western Australia, becoming a repatriation hospital in 1920 – 1960, and until 1995 for various medical purposes. Current owners, the Town of Victoria Park spent over a million dollars in 2007 on  maintenance works. The community visiting over the Open House weekend were invited to share their views on the future of this beautiful heritage listed building. I hope its use will mean it’s available for the public to enjoy.
 Next was The WA Ballet. A beautiful example of new use for a stunning Art Deco building. Government, councils, private donations all coming together to make this work. I loved the tour so much last year, I went again and am now hoping to get an in-depth look at the wardrobe dept 🙂
Lastly, a couple of residential houses. The Triangle House in Mt Lawley that I drive past regularly was a spacious surprise inside that we all loved. The build on this awkward triangle 170m2 block is a great example of what good design can do and the creativity that arises from limitations.

It’s November Already!

This year has gone by so fast. However, it’s not over yet and there are lots of great things happening (AND lots of sewing still to do) in spite of the fact that all the shops/media want us to do is count down to Christmas…and panic!

Two great events are happening this weekend.

Firstly, my friend Liz Arnold has her solo exhibition Reef – A Fine Line opening this weekend. Come and see some of her beautiful intricate pen drawings based on the fragile coral reefs.

It’s on at The Basement Gallery Hay St Subiaco 10 – 25 November

Also on this weekend is Open House Perth  11 – 12 November. This fabulous two day event allows the sticky beak in you to see the city’s historical gems and and nosy around some really interesting new design. I attended this event last year and blogged about it.


The Time of My Life – in review

Canadian independent creative magazine Uppercase asked for submissions recently on the theme Diagram Your Life. If you drew a Venn diagram of your life, how would your life and creativity intersect? What would a data-driven self-portrait look like? 
I am delighted my work “The Time of My Life” was selected for inclusion in issue 35. The work was originally made for the WAFTA InTension exhibition in 2011. In late 2010, I documented my time spent on the activities of the day for 100 days, each with a colour representing a separate activity. At the time of making the work I felt very frustrated about my lack of time in the studio. All the pink areas are studio time. Reviewing this seven years later, with my darling children all now beyond their teen and schooling years and mostly independent (although all still at home) my art practice has significantly changed and developed, and I do have more time available. The mad rush to get everyone out the door early in the morning is much less of a challenge and no longer am I running kids to appointments or after school activities and cooking dinner in spurts between the drop offs and pick ups.
In other ways there are still lots of demands on my time, however my priorities have also moved much more towards making art and art related activities. Sometimes often the housework is at a minimum, my garden is designed to thrive on neglect and I don’t go shopping without a specific purchase in mind.
In hindsight I can see the time spent away from the studio not so much as a frustration, as it can be just as valuable to my art practice as the hands on activities at my desk. That time helps me process ideas, find a solution to design challenge, see new possibilities, and relieve my sometimes aching back and shoulders!

The Studio Reality

I’m working on a place mat sized space of table in my studio at present, surrounded by clutter on every available work surface. The tidy, spacious studio images in Down Under Textile Magazine a few months ago is long gone (some would say they’d never seen it so tidy)
I’ve started sampling for my next project and as I slowly resolve the idea in my head, I am considering all possibilities and have pulled out every thread, fabric, and What If?
 This is a mess that may or may not become part of this work. I suppose what I am saying, is it’s the mess of inspiration, not of lack of storage space nor enthusiasm to tidy up 🙂
 I will be forced to “tidy” as the project progresses, when I need more table space to work and as I narrow down the possibilities of what might go into this project.
 Supporting my mess/clutter = inspiration, Austin Kleon in his newsletter last week talks about The art of finding what you didn’t know you were looking for. By not having everything in your studio filed and organised beautifully allows for the chance discovery as you search for what you thought you were looking for. 

City of Stirling Art Awards

My work Silver Linings #5 Seeds of Hope received an Highly Commended at the City of Stirling Art Awards last night !
 Out of darkness and disaster come seeds of hope, regeneration, new beginnings, an opportunity to do things differently.
The Silver Linings theme began in response to a series of back to back personal challenges in 2015. As the series has progressed, the inspiration for works has trended toward explorations into nature and life cycles. In this work I was inspired by travels along the Forrest Highway after the Yarloop Bush-fires. Amongst the blackened devastation new growth appears, a sign that our Australian bush is tough, resilient and adaptable to the circumstances presented.