Monday, 17 November 2014

Crockett Cottage Studio, Mansfield

Philadelphus filling the air with fragrance
i loved my time at Crockett Cottage Studio this year
(students came from France and New Zealand; West + South Australia and Queensland as well as Victoria and, for the first time in my visits there...Mansfield itself)
so much so that i've booked it again for 2015
in November the local gardens are awash 
with roses, peonies, philadelphus and magnolias
- even a huge liriodendron in full bloom
and the diversity of eucalyptus species available in the region is quite remarkable

i will offer a couple of workshops
one of which, by popular demand, is going to be about bloomers
and scanties and soft things to wear to bed

and also a retreat to which you can bring your own work
(provided it doesn't require noisy machinery or potentially toxic materials)
and share it with like-minded souls in the joy of the sewing circle 
more details soon but essentially
we'll share stories, i will brew daily dyebaths for you to work with
and be available to offer guidance if you need

i shall also be preparing lunch, as the studio has a fine
centrally positioned kitchen area from which i can answer questions
while i happily chop, stir and season
thus combining two of my (several) passions

Julie Pearson looking fabulous in her gorgeous top

the tray of our ute came in handy
not just for opening bundles but also as a very fine cutting table

local colour

it is very important to be nourishing the inner bear.

in other news, applications to attend the Retreat to Tin Can Bay
in Queensland next year are being received until December 9
Roz Hawker and i will be taking turns at sailing the boat
there'll be dyepots (i nearly wrote dyepoets!)
the opportunity to make small things in metal
or make bigger things in situ from found objects 
some quiet wandering and gentle writing
(i'm thinking that a class book may ensue as a memento for participants)

 if you'd like me to send you the bits to fill in
please drop me a line via the contact page on my website
dates : April 19th - 24th, 2015 (arrive on Sunday evening, depart Friday afternoon)
cost: (including vegetarian gluten-free food, 
twin-share accommodation and some materials) $1300

and ONE place is available in the Bower Bird Blues retreat
in the lovely Lud Valley in New Zealand

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

fieldnotes, revisited

'fieldnotes' has opened at the Quarter Gallery in Minneapolis
sadly I couldn't be there (apologies to my friends in the region but this month I was geographically, temporally and somewhat financially challenged!)
but they've done a fine job of hanging it in my absence 
even included an extra dress (one that had stayed with them from the 'windfall maps' show of 2011)

Howard Oransky, Director, kindly sent me some images

and you can find the catalogue here

Sunday, 2 November 2014

the week that was (and the year that will be)

I returned home yesterday feeling as though I had been away for a month
when really and truly
I had been just two hours or so down the road for six days

working with my friend Roz
to make food for a class led by my friend  Sandra
in conditions that may not have been ideal
but were the source of much hilarity though they sometimes needed a good deal of ingenuity
and thank goodness (and the Dogs Above) for my lovely friends Sam and Janet White who positively encouraged us to raid their beautiful garden for greens, beans, herbs and flowers (and who put up with us staying with them for the duration and singing loudly in the evenings)

we constructed a workstation from a wheelie bin and an old door
luckily Roz had insisted on buying a waxed table cloth which provided a cleanable prep surface (I fought the purchase at the time thinking "no! Not more Chinese rubbish!" but I was very grateful for it I can tell you.)

we drew pictures on the plates. Roz conjured wonderful table decorations. 
and nobody reported any tummy aches despite having dairy, nut and gluten intolerances among our punters. we cooked vegetarian food that met those conditions and had a splendid time doing it

on Wednesday I'm off to the cook and teach for my classes at Mansfield. sadly Roz has retreated to her paradisical Queensland garden and won't be coming with me
fortunately the kitchen at Crockett Cottage studio is well equipped and because I'm staying there as well I'll be able to prep in the evenings (without having to fend off magpies and wattle birds!)

and now to 2015
it looks like it's going to be a pretty full year, which is a jolly fine thing. so just to fill in the dots between what's already been announced :

in March I'm exhibiting in Tasmania for what used to be called Ten Days on the Island but is now to be the Tasmanian International Arts Festival and
teaching an associated masterclass

in April (because we had so much fun together in our camp kitchen) Roz Hawker and I will be offering something we have been musing on for a while now...a retreat to a quiet and beautiful place somewhere in Australia. 

we may well make it an annual event (and we are contemplating one in South Australia) as well but the very first one will be the retreat at Tin Can Bay in Queensland.
(but this time we shall be leaving all the cooking and the table decorating to our hosts)

attendance will be by application only - this doesn't mean we'll be weeding out anyone who doesn't have a PhD, it simply means that we will be doing our level best to gather a peaceful and compatible group with the best chances of having a lovely time together, because it is helpful to have a bit of background on you so that we can fine-tune the program and because we want this event to be nourishing and enriching as well as playful and also FUN.

drop me a line through my contact page if you'd like me to send you the fine print.

in June I shall be at the Observatory in Andamooka, working on the Solace project

and July sees me traveling to lovely Newburgh again
and staying to participate in a class led by Larry Thomas 
after which I shall hop across to France to join Les Soeurs Anglaises for a week
before heading to my beloved New Orleans for a bit and thence to the beautiful Pacific North West
but more of that later.
if you've made it this far it's time for a cup of tea.

I'm getting one myself and reading this wonderful story again

Monday, 20 October 2014

(still) in place

am delighted to say that

my work
will be staying there indefinitely

'elegy' is a poem written in bones
so far wind and weather and passing animals
have not effected any great change

i'll stop in from time to time
to give it a reassuring pat
read it a story
document how it is responding
to being there
in place

Sunday, 19 October 2014

the solace of north

i've been wandering

taking some visitors to country
that is quite unlike the place where they live

it's a long way there

but worth the trek

my role was driver and camp cook
and keeper of the flame
feeding the wood stove in the kitchen 
and the donk that heats the water for the showers
[the visitors very kindly took on the washing up]

but in between i still found time for writing

and for drawing on and with country

on the seventh day
i left the visitors in Port Augusta
to make their way to other things
and went north again
this time a little west
past a lake of crystal salt

for a few days quiet work at the Observatory
where i found
six contributions for the Solace project
already awaiting me
all the way from the UK and the USA
as well as closer to home

Sunday, 5 October 2014

back country, back story

if you click on the image above it should take you to the Moleskine site
where you can read the back story to back country online

when i receive my print copies
of which there will only be three
i will be annotating them in pencil and ink
one for the gallery
one for me
and one to go across the seas

Friday, 3 October 2014

coming soon

i've been working on the booklet
promised to participants in the Second Skin classes
that will take place in lovely Mansfield, Victoria
in November this year

which contains explicit step by step instructions
on how to print on cloth and paper with leaves

string me a story on shapeshifting
will be 32 pages of ideas
jumping off-points
sketches and photographs

i'm hoping Second Skin participants will add to their copies
by writing extra notes in the pages
perhaps even tipping in a few extra ones
adding their own drawings
the odd swatch
other inspirational images
so that it becomes a highly personal working tool

this will be a strictly limited edition
100 copies only
numbered and signed

testing the water for that other publishing idea
that i floated a while ago

and Sidnee?    i owe you a dress [as well as the first copy of the above]
...those pix i shot of you in Portland last year 
have been getting a hammering
i think we need to do another photo-shoot
in New Orleans
now that would make a fabulous publication
just sayin, is all

Saturday, 27 September 2014

on indigo and roses

before y'all get too excited that i'm straying from my windfall path...i'm not using indigo for commercial purposes, just for the luxury of overdyeing my clothes after mending so that the mends will blend in better.

and because i love blue.

it's organically grown and i paid a fair price for it so the grower wasn't exploited.

indigo vats are like people. they need to rest in between working, are not keen on being cold and they get bored eating the same stuff all the time.

it's cold here in the deep deep southern winter so from time to time (when i want to dye) i warm my vat with twigs using this very simple heater. 

although indigo can be boiled when in its blue form, overheating when it has been reduced can destroy the colour. so the heating is something i pay careful attention to

feeding my vat some honey (that had come to the unwelcome attention of some ants) made the indigo flower go bright blue. 

it worked hard yesterday so in the evening (feeding the donkey after work as the indigo master, Michel Garcia suggests) i gave it a treat. boiled bananas strained through an old sleeve. the button at the cuff is handy for attaching the bag to a "dripping stick".

the squeezed contents might look absolutely disgusting but there are people in my family who really enjoy them

more please! it's hard to get a clear pic when Kowhai is wriggling with delight. She loves pignanas especially when they have been boiled to mush

i worked a lot with indigo during my residency in Portland last year. one of the happy side effects of overdyeing ecoprints with indigo is of course that the leaf prints of (particularly) deciduous species are enhanced by the alkali that is a necessary component of every indigo vat. that said, some yellows (such as coreopsis) are quite likely to turn red. and eucalyptus can become quite sulky. you can use almost any alkali to develop ecoprints (ash water, seawater, fermented urine) but you'll find that the prints seem to blur if you haven't bundled tightly enough, as the alkali will develop ALL of the colourant that has bonded with the cloth (not just the bits you can easily see)

i also found to my delight that Persicaria tinctoria literally grows before your eyes. a bag of fresh indigo in the refrigerator had roots from most of the nodes within 48 hours. 

which offers the opportunity for selective propagation if you're into that kind of thing. or just wanting to grow a lot of indigo from a limited seed source. 

speaking of propagating, a few months ago i had to rescue a rose (Francis Dubreuil*) that had been trashed by one of the goats and used a method i had learned from a copy of French Vogue (yes, I was surprised to find it there myself) that someone had left in the pocket of an airplane seat back in 1976

the method is ridiculously simple and works every time.

fill a pot with good quality potting mix (does not necessarily have to be cutting mix, you actually want it to retain a bit of moisture). trim your cuttings in the usual way (i like to have a bit of firm growth, nip back anything that's too soft at the tip and trim the leaves from three sets of nodes at the business end)

poke them into the pot (if the cuttings are firm enough i don't even use a dibbing stick), give it a good water and when the pot finishes dripping put it into a plastic bag (yes, i know some of your will fall into shock at the mention of a plastic bag from this quarter) and tie the top up
then ignore it all until the plants inside are begging to get out

thinking now that a row of really big pickle jars will make very fine miniature greenhouses for this method. just as long as the openings are big enough to admit pots and to allow for easy retrieval of the plants once they grow

* Francis Dubreuil was a tailor from Lyon who became a rose breeder later in life. Among his abundant output was also Perle d'Or, a completely adorable rose that has so far survived our goats (touching woods as i type). He was also father to Claudia Meilland who married Antoine Meilland (who bred the Peace rose which in France was named Madame A.Meilland...but the Peace rose story is a long one and you can find it here).

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

chance is a fine thing

when i consider that i could as easily have been manifested as a morsel of moondust, a custard pie...or a cockroach...i remember [despite the odd dark moment when i reach for a combination of exercise, chocolate and a zinc supplement to drive away depression] just how fortunate i am to have taken the form of a human bean instead.

even if that form was not endowed with the talents of such as Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren or Judi Dench and had its thespian aspirations thoroughly quashed by being cast as a walk-on witch in no less than three successive school productions.

but back to the bean.

it was a matter of chance that two people [both from European families but different countries of origin that had been displaced as a result of the misplaced ambitions of an Austrian housepainter] happened to meet on the other side of the whirled at Melbourne University over half a century ago.

and that despite being ridiculously young at the time they plunged headlong into parenthood.

one of the two has since been re-absorbed by the universe. the other is still with us. she has a birthday on Thursday.
you might like to pop over and wish her a happy one.
i'm pretty sure she'd be quite chuffed [i would].

clicking on the image below will take you there