Saturday, February 9, 2019

icons and masks of memory

"Sticky Beak"

I haven't blogged for a while but have been very busy in this new year. 
Just taking a break from the artist books while I explore another of my favourite 3D areas. I like to use materials that have a history, hopefully one that has left marks and traces of earlier times. I'm currently trying to declutter and get rid of stuff I've had for decades. But I can't get rid of things I've saved as it would be admitting that keeping things for all these years was a total waste of time.

So, I'm giving things a new life while thinking of the old original use  long ago. I think it helps me establish some sort of continuous thread that links it all together.

The main materials that sparked this latest burst of activity have been bits of timber from old school desks that were being discarded from schools I worked in. Most have scratches on both sides, engravings and scribbles, the odd obscenity and lots of initials.

"side winder"

"so long"

These mainly chunky iconic wooden pieces gradually changed when I started deconstructing one of my mother's old excercise books she used for her dressmaking subject at school.

"personal baggage"

The shallower low relief masks used some of my oldest ephemera such as a luggage tag from the ship we went overseas in the 70's and one newspaper add from 1900's of the ship we came to Australia in the "Esperance Bay"
esperance bay

The "nose" is the original spine inside out of mum's exercise book. The base is the book cover. Army blankets and bitumen paint are powerful reminders of my youth.

"gold eyes"

The masks ended up more painterly and complex texturally - a long way from the original starting point of the simple wooden blocks. I think both approaches work well in very different ways. 

I just love the accidental scratches and marks that seem to come from nowhere.

A close up allows you to get a glimpse of the surfaces both old and new on the masks.

The test tube has dutch instructions from my mother's dressmaking notebook. Collage on another lid with original nails from Sri Lanka used very old envelopes and book spines. Some of the board came from an old cabin trunk we brought with us on board the Esperance Bay when we migrated. 
In a way I probably haven't strayed very far conceptually from the artist book. 

"George from Brisbane"

"George from Brisbane" utilises old school desk and part of an old envelope and mount board for a low relief. George is an imaginary man from Cooroy whose correspondence I found in an antique shop years ago.  


lid mask

This mask refers to my childhood in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The board is from a small box of tea which my father sent us when we first came to Australia.
I have transformed some of my clutter which is now more compact but will be even harder to finally dispose of (unless I give them away to a worthy cause.)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

on last legs

I trust you all had a great festive season and are looking forward to a very creative and enjoyable 2019. 
No, "last legs" is not a Billy Connolly about my life but rather one of the last of 2018's little books stimulated by my own restless legs which are now behaving themselves. It is also a swinger designed to move from a single hanging hole at the middle top of each page.

on last legs”  is a small loose-leaved artist book of 8 sheets,  (147 x 208 mm)  in a folder.

The drawings use graphite, pencil and turmeric on 180gsm Tiziano paper.

Pages are displayed, hung from a hole at the centre-top of each page, with a pin to form an array which can move gently in a breeze.

1   2   3  4 
5  6  7  8 

The book is unique .

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

festive greetings

Hoping you all have a very relaxing, peaceful and enjoyable festive period and that 2019 is a very healthy, happy and creative year for us all.
(This year's card is of the poicianna (christmas flower), lino printed on Chinese Joss paper)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"double EE"

Continuing on from "restless legs", this is a larger book of 24, A5 sized loose pages which are housed in a little box covered in turmeric stained paper. PVA medium was added to the stain to make it less soluble and give the box a faint sheen.
page 1

The mixed media images flow across the pages to make a large mosaic of 24 pages which hang loosely on the wall for display. They are encouraged to move with the air currents in the room.
page 2

page 4

The images use things from my garden ie the turmeric for yellow staining and smudging and pomegranate ink for drawing organic shapes that find other lives. Also, a little recently dug beetroot has made its way into these drawings - the warm pinkish tones. Not sure at this stage how permanent the colour will be or if it turns to another colour but I have been trialling it for a few years and it seems just fine.
 I have yet to make a book dealing specifically with my garden but hope to do so in the future.


page 8

Once again, the pages evolve with no preconceived idea of what will eventuate, giving chance and intuition free reign. Obviously the images are not totally random but follow certain rules that help them work together to make a whole piece. My fresh turmeric has run out for another year so no more yellow drawings but I have got a bottle of pomegranate ink left so don't be surprised if it comes back in other work.
page 12

You may have noticed some dark, organic,  'meaty' shapes floating around (some with clothes on). These were drawn using a soft carbon (graphite) putty not unlike a piece of clay. You can do so many new things with it rolled into balls or stretched out it is worth trying if you see it around. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

"restless legs"

I have just have just finished some little exploratory drawings for a little book "jumpy legs 2" to share with you. It is about my own restless legs, a subject very dear to my heart. 

I started doing small drawings on flights when my legs became unbearable. After my other books "jumpy legs" and "double sided" several years ago, I continue to use drawing as one way to take my mind to a better place not only on planes. I usually finish these little portable drawings back in the studio.
For my legs, I started making a new little folded book which moved when you opened it but decided I wanted a more involuntary type of movement for this one.
"jumpy legs 2"  only has 6 pages which are loose and pinned to a wall from a little hole in the top centre. This allows a little cluster of pages to move gently in the breeze or aided by a fan. They are housed in a little A5 folder.

 They appear to move by themselves. The images are rather "meaty" and organic, not very leggy. But the affliction feels totally like an out of body function, and largely uncontrollable so these mutant limbs seem appropriate. They must belong to someone else.

[I think they look a bit like clothed, green ginger, put together by instructions from Simplicity or Butterick.]

Saturday, September 8, 2018

floor talk

I don't usually post photos of my family but this is an exception. My daughter was so thrilled to see some of the special artwork I had made for her on public display. And I think she looks as proud of her Dad as I am of her.

Since the artist books were covered in a perspex box on a raised plinth, I had made digital images of details of each book so that the audience could still get a good idea of what was in the books without physically interacting with the book.

It was a small and intimate group of participants in the floor talk so a question and answer format seemed more appropriate than "speeches". This seemed to work well and everyone seemed to be very interested in what the work was about and how it was done.

As most of my work is generally fairly small, this gives a better idea of the drawing's size.

It was a very supportive evening.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Father's an Artist

A small exhibition by Redland Art Gallery of work by a handful of local artists including myself will be held at the Capalaba annex of the Redland Art Gallery. It runs from 25August - 9th October so if you happen to be in the vicinity, you are most welcome to come and have a look. I will only have 6 pieces there including two artist books I have made for each of my daughters.
"A road less travelled" and "RUB" the two books for my daughters will make their first gallery appearances. There will also be some other pieces of my work from the RAG collection which they have acquired over the years. I'll post more photos of the show later once it's opened.

Monday, July 23, 2018

the translation

About the size of a playing card "the translation" is the latest little work to fly to Finland. Although Carina and I, both speak several languages, English is our common one. The book is made from different kinds of papers, of different sizes and textures. It includes text in different languages and is an attempt to show the differences and similarities in translating.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

"carbon trails"

Just finished another book using the Tewantin Tree rubbings from burnt trees. (Giant sticks of charcoal). The previous book was completely abstract and relied entirely on the quality of the marks. This one is more like a map and has textual references to the trails and early maps showing local trees as well as soil types as well as the topographical details of the terrain.
The card cover is painted to refer to the fires as well as the burnt bark.

There are not as many folds and the book is easier to read in a conventional way but can't be viewed in as many different ways. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Bush -Fire Rubbings"

While bushwalking in Tewantin National Park recently, I was impressed with the rich black trunks of the trees after a bush-fire. Each tree was burnt in a different way and their bark had its own individual surface texture like its own fingerprint.

We shared the track with mountain bike riders who would give you a fright as they came around the corners so quickly. Some had time to ring their bell but being a bit deaf, I was still caught unawares. I decided to return on my own with blank paper to capture some of the carbon from the trunks to take home and process somehow.

The soft cloud-like marks from a burnt string bark were so different from the marks left by the knobbly cabbage tree palms. I was able to get off the track to take my rubbings in relative privacy but did get a few stares from cyclists wondering what I was up to.

I used A4 sheets of 210 gsm white, smooth rag watercolour paper as well as larger sheets of brown 90gsm Kraft paper. The silky blacks worked better on the white paper but the larger drawings also had a special presence which doesn't photograph very well. I made quite a few drawings but will probably need to return for more after I finish exploring how I can develop them further by making some artist books.

I was interested in presenting the surface texture of the burnt trees but also refer to the speeding cyclists and the view they may have experienced from their bike. The fold I used for this first exploratory book is a simple flower fold done to three drawings which are glued together. The cover is hand-made grass paper to keep with the natural feel of the book. It can be unfolded in a few different ways in the hand but can also stand in several positions.