Friday 31 August 2012

Dog Willing and with a Fair Wind

i'm in London now
staying with my friend Sue Pearl
and steering the current class
through gentle waves towards their 'Landskins'

there are still images to share from Hart's Barn
especially this one
sent by Caroline

and these two [also from Caroline]

and here are some more with rather
glorious colour, especially the brilliant yellow
from purple buddleia flowers

Wednesday 29 August 2012

the green and pleasant land

the Dogs Above have rewarded us
the colours of the green and pleasant land are rather wonderful
[all found within a 5 mile radius of the workshop]

and to our delight
they echo the colours in the paintings on the wall
that are our windows to the whirled
from Sally Stafford's studio at Harts Barn

Monday 27 August 2012

open sky/road

yesterday i headed south
in the company of friends
[a Very Good way of travelling]
i want to share this post from Zen Habits
that fluttered into the inbox recently

it's about being open
and i particularly like the advice
to be like the sky
am taking it to heart

playtime today
here in the southwest of the green-and-pleasant land
already we have found ragwort [Senecio jacobaea]
in abundance
i see a golden glow ahead

Sunday 26 August 2012

gibbering happily

i was so excited after the performance last night
which i have to say was utterly magical
that i forgot to wash the conditioner out of my hair this morning
and went down to breakfast wearing
a new and startling version of the 
"surprised parrot" hairstyle i seem to have been perfecting this year.

luckily it was yummy Aesop and so
the fragrance [when it dawned on me]
didn't overpower my bucket of coffee

it was a pretty exciting day yesterday on all counts
including catching up with a friend i hadn't seen or heard from for 8 years
[who now lives mostly in Spain]
doing a trade with a stallholder at the Fringe Craft Market -
i swapped a silk scarf for the big white bead in the image below
and i like it very much indeed

it goes very well with the rest of the collection
which features treasures including work by Roz Hawker

the copper pennies in conjunction with
berberis and local water
produced an unexpected colour
but quite suited to Scotland
Lady Macbeth would love it

but i poured it onto the work anyway
waste not, want not
and after all
it IS a travel journal of sorts

and last but not least [and much less surprising]
the one bunny
had morphed
into two

and the icing on the cupcake
is that i'll be back in Scotland next year
details coming soon

Saturday 25 August 2012

one man's weed

one man's weed is
another woman's dye experiment

spotted Berberis darwinii on one of my perambulations
around delightful Edinburgh Massey University back in 2007
this berry yielded a lovely purple dye
when mashed in hot water
and then turned a rich indigo blue in the presence of copper
[substantive on wool + silk, the samples are still very pretty]

here are some berries crushed into my travel amusement

in local water {from the Novotel tap]
it looks like this

not at all purple or blue

when smooshed over an area
previously anointed with mud from San Francisco Bay
it indicated there are probably alkalis [certainly there are salts]
in that lovely goo
it went blueish on the crossmark
which was stencilled with mud
the splodges at top left
are from the blackberries at Fort Mason [SF]

anyhoo i thought it might be interesting to see if copper made a difference
i'm carrying US pennies
and a handy magnifying glass, necessary in order to sort sheep from goats - in this instance pre1982 pennies from the others [the old ones are copper, the new are some kind of trickery]

i added some pennies to the mix

and a sign to deter over-zealous cleaners
we'll see what tomorrow brings
meanwhile on another note
i made friends with a local resident
while toddling down a set of stairs
[i love cities with hidden stairs]

s/he is bottom right in the bigger picture

sending a quick pigeon from Edinburgh

it's been 29 years since me feet last wandered these cobbles
some things have changed
others not so much

i tramped down the west coast of Scotland
when i wore the clothes of a much younger woman
[it seems i've always liked the lefthand edges of places]
i told the wee man on immigration about it
when he asked if i had been here before

his response..."whatever for?"
clearly not the wandering type

my kitbag [the one containing threads and scissors and stuff]
was momentarily mislaid by British Airways
i had to resort to dyeing thread with coffee
for some costume repairs yesterday
[luckily there is always #5 silk+cotton thread in my pockets]

Europremiere tomorrow evening

Wednesday 22 August 2012

fingers crossed

fingers crossed i'll see you on the other side
then teach two classes
hop the Atlantic
to take part in the New Work
Session at Haystack.
shall drive up the coast from Boston
maybe make a detour into Vermont
for another adventure
we shall see

Sunday 19 August 2012

when NO turns out to mean YES to so much more

some months ago i pulled out all stops
and wrote a grant application
hoping for financial support for an exhibition project
that would allow me to take time out from my busy teaching schedule
so as to immerse myself in country
and undertake a substantial project.

as part of the process i was required to gather letters of support
and be able to give evidence of where the work would be shown.
it also involved rather a lot of photocopying [for which i am planting another tree as soon as it warms up a bit]

on Friday a letter arrived telling me i wasn't successful.
fair enough, this grant involves a single amount of money
that is handed out across all art forms [so applicants may be writers, musicians, artists, actors etc]

initially i was a little despondent
but then i realised that the Dogs Above had once again conspired for the best possible outcome.

let me explain.
to apply for the grant i had to write in clear and concise English exactly what i wanted to achieve.
i also had to approach galleries and museums with my proposal
and as a result the exhibition back country
is confirmed for

The Barossa Regional Gallery [SA] 2014
The University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery [QLD] 2014
Quarter Gallery at the Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota [USA] 2014
The Manning Regional Gallery [NSW] 2015
The Tamworth Regional Gallery [NSW] 2015

which means it will be shown in three states of this wide brown land and in America [and there are five other museums still sitting on the fence]

so it was a truly splendid exercise in getting organised
and making plans
- exactly what i most needed to do [besides do my income tax]

best of all, i have a pile of lovely supporting letters
which have not only affirmed that what i am trying to do makes sense
but will also be very comforting reading if i ever make it to the Shady Glades Home for Retired Bears

Friday 17 August 2012

in which i went to the Big Smoke

i was invited to Sydney
to give a talk [kindly organised by Dr Lim Chye Hong who besides being a noted scholar of Asian Art designs, makes and wears her own clothing with inimitable style]  
and to hold my nearly shortest ever workshop
[the shortest ever was an hour spent sitting in the street with passing children in Hyderabad, India in 2006, helping them beat leaves into their clothes with a small hammer...Hapa Zome on the run]

i came away having with my cup overflowing
having gazed at the Kamisaka Sekka exhibition
had a small taste of the Sydney Biennale
seen my work in a new book [more of that later]
and met the amazing Erin Manning
i use the adjective advisedly
she is a visual artist+dancer+philosopher+author
and very likely more

who is here with a thought-provoking project on Cockatoo Island

and the Book?

Shibori Recreated by Karen Davis and Pepa Martin
a contemporary look at an ancient craft/art
there's very good company in these pages
and i'm honoured to be included

Tuesday 14 August 2012

thank Dog.

a bit of last minute dyeing took place today
so as to have a few props to take
for my talk at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
tomorrow evening

luckily the Dogs were with me
and things turned out ok

and just by way of contrast
[to assure you it is NOT a totally glamorous life]
meet Teddy.
he likes his tucker
and his clean box [smelly job, that one]

Monday 13 August 2012

sailing on [a] high

self portrait at Big Sur

as a parting gesture
i set two boats afloat at San Gregorio
[a paste-up of which appears below]
one turned to the right and floated straight out into the Pacific
the other turned left
and literally went upstream
back into America

and then i drove to the airport
through the redwoods
too big and beautiful to attempt to capture virtually
you will just have to imagine them
and their wonderful fragrance

sadly the connection from SFO to LAX
was over an hour late
but there was a glorious sunset over San Francisco
[though fog obscured my favourite bridge] 
meaning that by the time i scrambled to the Qantas checkin
having covered about 300miles through LAX on foot
getting from one end to the other
there were no window seats left

i'd been hoping to gaze at the Perseids
while floating up on high
[had time permitted, being on the west coast two days later
would have allowed for perfect viewing]

ah well, i'll be looking out for the Draconids in October
they are best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere
and have the advantage of being easy to find
high in the sky as night falls
they aren't usually quite so spectacular as the Perseids
or the Leonids
but have the reputation of being able to put on a surprising display
this will be my lucky year
[certainly has been generally wonderful so far]

Saturday 11 August 2012

deeeelighted to announce

my friend Roz [whose exquisite stitched work many will have spotted in Second Skin]  has been lured to South Australia
to give a workshop near the biggest river in the driest state on the driest continent

[in the Brewery at Goolwa]

it will be fabulous.
i know quite a few folks have been lusting after treasures similar to those lovely pieces of silver that dangle from a string around my neck
this is your chance to make your very own amulet AND do some fabulous stitching [and have your lunch prepared by me every day...i'm cooking!]

here's the link to Roz's blog where you will find sign-up details [and much nicer pictures of the work]

Thursday 9 August 2012



bet you can't guess what that is
[persevere with this post and i shall offer enlightenment]


the journey northward from Goleta begins well
the very nice manager at the rental agency
offers me a ragtop Mustang as an upgrade on
my pre-booked econo-box.

i could have been driving this

sadly the nice man then also noticed there would be a drop off at SFO and with many apologies withdrew the offer as the vehicle needed to come back to Goleta.

ah well.
 just for a moment it was a fabulous prospect.

so singing Mustang Sally
i head north in a Nissan.

much driving and 
stopping to investigate leaves/stones/fabulous views 
i am ensconced in my room at Ragged Point
listening to the ocean far below

night falls and it occurs to me
that there might be stars
i venture out and for the first time in many years [in America] 
it is dark enough and there is no haze or cloud or fog
in fact so velvety black is the sky that the twinkling celestial bodies seem
 a myriad shades from silver to gold to red

from my balcony i espy the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius 
dancing cheek to cheek on the far southern edge of the Pacific
the Bear must be somewhere above but i can't quite make him out past the roof overhang
far below the waves keep tumbling and plashing on the rocks


an hour or so before sunset
i stood on the pier at San Simeon
watching the pelicans soar up high and then plummet from the sky like kamikaze pilots , beaks pointing straight down on hapless fish
only to be bombarded in turn by marauding gulls as they re-emerged from the depths
quite literally a feeding frenzy.
in the midst of this avian/piscine mayhem
  a hatful of seals frolicked about
forming infinity symbols
curving sleekly through the water
like a troupe of cheerful labradors
perfecting a synchronised swimming routine
[but not needing nose-clips]

in the distance
squeakyclean white egrets balanced on the floating kelp beds - bandylegged bleached surfers looking for waves

looking down on  drifting kelp

and that first image? seaweed gathered at Moonstone Beach
wrapped in silk
warming in the bathroom sink
it's what i do.