Wednesday 28 November 2012

riverside [gallery]

yesterday i hung a selection of this month's work in the Riverside Gallery at NOCCA. 
 here are a few pix




 the three textile pieces above are approximately 4' square [1.2m x 1.2m]
the cloth is linen-cotton mix. 'bywater' also has applied additions [silk, wool, cotton]

'the ninth'
dimensions of above work 4' x 8', mixed textiles. 


outside the river rolls on by

i would like to thank NOCCA, particularly Nikki Jackson
for giving me this glorious opportunity
- it is so very rare for me to have an entire month in which to concentrate solely on 

in particular Frank Gleber, Ted Martin and Shelley Boles
who have made me so very welcome
and have given me a "home from home"
in this wonderfilled place, New Orleans


who sleeps across my door

Saturday 24 November 2012

gumbo z'herbes

er, not quite.
more like windfall gumbo 
[minus the roux and the trinity and the rest of the usual suspects]
 it smells quite fragrant but
i'm not planning on eating it

if you're curious about what might be going on in the image
and you happen to be in New Orleans next week
you may like to swing by the Joan Mitchell Center, 2275 Bayou Road
where i shall be telling stories and showing pictures [and also some work]
on Thursday November 29 @ 6pm

in the meantime you might also like to visit with Ted Kooser, Poet Laureate
and listen to him read some of his beautiful poems

Wednesday 21 November 2012

a lack of competitive spirit...

when i received an email from the nice folk at Aichi
a week or so back
inviting me to submit work for their natural dye exhibition
i was quite chuffed
even though
deep in my explorative work here in New Orleans
i would have been hard pressed to find a finished piece to send
other than the work i showed recently in Cleveland
[the reserves at home are far away]

we had an email conversation about whether that work would be appropriate
and they said that would be fine "because the exhibition had not been a competition"
which is when i realised that the Aichi event was a competition

my work is about paying attention, 
not about winning races.
i want to find the quiet space inside
invest in wordlessness and mindfulness
listen to inner stillness and to stories

lining up to be judged doesn't make a deal of sense to me.
so i took the hook out of my mouth, let that one go
and went back to my stitching

Saturday 17 November 2012

polar opposites

if red/orange is the colour synonymous with my island home

violet is definitely the colour of New Orleans, my home for this month.
my little grandmother would have been very pleased.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

BBG [bikes, books and a giveaway]

today has been one of those delicious baby bear's porridge days
[not too hot, not too cold but just right]
ie a Very Good day to be alive
as opposed to the other option

blue skies above and that perfect gentle breeze that makes me contemplate adding jingles to my cowboy boots so i can tap-dance down the sidewalk like Gene Kelly.

fortunately New Orleans is spared this sight because i am riding a bicycle.
and not just any bicycle.

meet Berta
named for my maternal grandmother
and resplendent in the colour she loved best [purple -
a word which does not rhyme with any other]

Berta has big fat tyres to deal with bumpy roads
[Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac played a role here],
a comfy sprung seat and an elegant basket.
all that is missing is Toto.
she is a country kind of bicycle.

a hundred years ago when i was an eager young architecture student with more energy than sense i rode to the University of Adelaide [and back] on my bicycle.  i should mention that home was on Mount Lofty, elevation 727 metres which doesn't sound much until you convert it to feet and it becomes 2385.17.
we lived about 50 of those [vertically] from the summit.

the trip to town took about 40 minutes and the feel of the wind blowing in my hair was divine [this was in the time before our nanny-state government fined anyone not wearing an ice-cream bucket on their head whilst on two wheels. now it will cost you $59]

going back up was another matter entirely and took about 2 and a half hours with the exception of the night i was dashing home to go out to a dance when i set my record of one hour and twenty mintues [NOT on a racing bike i might add]. unfortunately it was a bit of a wasted effort. my date, though cute, was not very keen on dancing so it was a night spent standing about. sigh.

back to bicycling.
i loved it then but in recent years my view of cyclists has been somewhat soured. South Australian cyclists seem to have an unspoken code that requires them to dress like luminous insects in neon coloured skintight lycra. the effect of which as it becomes transparent due to perspiration is frankly mindboggling, especially when the cyclist in front of you rises from his seat in order to attempt a particularly steep hill.

also they insist on riding three abreast on winding roads where passing is impossible due to blind corners and double lines

and adding insult to injury they refuse to use the $1,000,000 [not joking] bicycle track built through the Adelaide Hills [more properly called the Mount Lofty Ranges], preferring to clog the roads instead
[a lovely golden retriever and a nice lady with a pram are making good use of it though]

so with all this in mind i am being especially careful here in New Orleans.
people drive big, unforgiving trucks [yes, i'd like one myself]
- American drivers can make a right hand turn [the equivalent would be left in Oz] on a red light and Louisiana drivers rarely use their indicators. my friend Nikki says that indicators are considered optional extras that most drivers don't recall ordering with their cars]

and did i mention that unlike Oz where you have three seconds grace after the light turns there is an immediate switch and the other lot GOES. fast.

nonetheless it is great fun.

and now to the book [that was in the puddle the other day].

it spent time in the dyebath and then decided it liked the colour so much it wanted to become part of the tree that the leaves [for the dye] came from. Quercus ilex, in case you are wondering.
if you can find the book you can keep it.

clue : Homer Plessy was arrested close by

Sunday 11 November 2012

wade in the water [or maybe not]

i'm here in New Orleans as the happy guest of both NOCCA
and the kindly folk at the Joan Mitchell Center
developing work that i hope to include in my solo exhibition 'muddy waters'
opening at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in March 2013

whilst our mighty Murray is a mere rivulet by whirled standards
it's the most significant river in Australia.
the Mississippi is America's Big Muddy and like the Murray has been used as transport system/water supply/agricultural drain/convenient disposal unit.

and water is of course a vital ingredient in making dyes from plants.
water quality [and i suspect, the invisible presence of substances such as sodium compounds] is one of the reasons it's so difficult to make a natural green dye
[unless your water is rich in either copper or calcium]

so how do i test water before i dye ? [note spelling of that last word]

i take a shower.

if the water feels slippery and makes my hair feel silky it's probably acidic *

if it feels slightly sticky it's probably alkaline *

if it feels itchy on my skin then it certainly contains dissolved salts

and your nose will be able to detect chlorine [a "colour eater"].

these are all useful things to know before you begin dyeing [again, note spelling...according to many writers i have died several times and yet, surprise, here i am still churning this earth]

water quality differs from town to town, whether reticulated as a community supply, harvested from the roof or a river
drawn from a well, which seems to be very common in rural America.
[septic tanks close by are also common. think about it]

anyway what this means is that unless your water supply and your plant supply are identical to those of the authors of all those lovely dye books that contain colour swatches alongside their recipes you are highly unlikely to achieve those exact same colours.

this is not a criticism of those pretty dye books.

merely food for thought.
and if you were wondering whether i am now going to apply my skin+water theories by immersing myself in the Mississippi
the answer is no.

* if my skin begins to dissolve then acidity/alkalinity is probably extreme and it's time to get the hell out of Dodge.

Saturday 10 November 2012

one day [later]

this morning
the water in the puddle had clarified
and receded somewhat
my book was still there
happily basking in the sunshine

i retrieved it and found
its spirits were a little dampened
so it's having a cocktail now
plotting the next adventure

Friday 9 November 2012

some days

some days the thing that makes most sense
is putting a book in a puddle

wonder what it will look like
if it will still be there

Wednesday 7 November 2012


am delighted to be included on Trendtablet
an online collection of images and ideas
by Lidewij Edelkoort

please click here to hop there

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Blue Monday

I  borrowed the title of this post from legendary musician Mr Fats Domino
[born and raised in the 9th ward -
a short crow flight to the east from where i am working now]

after finding a very pleasant surprise in a bundle this morning.

the berries of Solanum nigrum [a "nightshade" but not to be confused with Atropa belladonna, "deadly nightshade" which is distinguished by its mauve striped flowers] yielded a delightful blue print. at home in Australia i've not had such good results, mostly achieving greens or muddy purples, suspect it's something in the water...

a lot of which fell from the skies yesterday, leaving mud to play in

evidence of much higher waters some seven years ago
in the washed out railtracks
that constitute my happy hunting ground

it being such a good Monday i made it even better
by wandering along to one of my favourite eating houses
[Schiro's, corner of StRoch and Royal]
for the traditional New Orleans Monday dish
red beans and rice

 which proved the perfect internal fortification
for cycling home in pleasantly warm rain in the afternoon


those words of wisdom above
found in the window of a metal fabricators
on Royal

Friday 2 November 2012


i've been laying low in the Louisiana woods
like Brer Rabbit in the brier patch
only in far greater comfort, enjoying friendship,
solitude, peace and dog-therapy
far from wild winds
and multitudes

today i began to settle into my workspace[s] at NOCCA


and pinned a few things on the wall

now to see where it takes me.