Friday 30 January 2015

blue notes and life lessons

life lessons. 

learn to expect the unexpected. 
you'd think that by now i would have that firmly tattooed inside my left eyelid. 

I have to confess I was humbled by the indigo vat last week...which for the first time since 1991 (the year I first dabbled in the blues) decided to behave like a bit of princess and consequently was a little slow to reveal the magic. 
pale blue instead of brilliant blue.

With the wisdom of hindsight I should have put the freshly prepared vat to bed overnight wrapped in quilts and blankets but foolishly (possibly thinking hey, it's summer) left it out under the stars overnight. 

An extra 24 hours and a bit more warmth yielded truly lovely results, sadly too late for my forgiving students (and me) who had already dispersed with the four winds - but very happily for Judy (see blue hand below). It certainly reinforced the rules of indigo, which likes to be warm and wellfed, just like the rest of us. Didn't do a great deal for my self-esteem, but I'm sure the Dogs Above had their reasons. I sure hope they did. The inner bear took a bit of a pummelling.

At least all present were very happy with their metalwork (guided by Roz Hawker), received the magic of string (learned originally from Nalda Searles), loved the fabulous food (thank you Chloe Keylock), revelled in the gorgeous surroundings (thank you Michael and Judy Keylock) and enjoyed the dog therapy provided by the ever joyful Molly.

photo by Michael Keylock
I'm taking my lesson in the spirit of the wisdom below 
(thank you Michael for bringing it to my attention)

and have come home to more wise words from another Michael 
(image borrowed from the Michael Leunig appreciation page)

the teapot of constancy is filled with Lady Grey tea, 
the dog of sanity (who slept on my bed last night) is by my side. 

Admittedly the armchair of philosophy needs serious re-upholstering and the rug of constancy could do with a vacuum and possibly a good beating but the vase of tranquility is full of jasmine

and happily every day is a new beginning.


Thursday 15 January 2015

to Sweden, from the Deep South

back home on the farm with a few days to finish dyeing a collection of dresses that are going to Sweden tomorrow


yes indeed.

when Li Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano ask you to put together a few things to take part in an exhibition at short don't say no.

so of course I said yes please, how many pieces would you like?

the answer came back : seven dresses with big skirts

dresses with big wild skirts are my favourite things to make.

Kubbi lent a paw and in between supervising me pootled off for a swim with Uncle Boston and Auntie Molly

Willow [also known as Mrs Poo] prefers to take her baths without water.

so now i have seven dresses in the cauldron. Kubbi helps me gather sticks to feed the fire.
then they need to cool and dry before sending off tomorrow. i'd have preferred to leave them bundled for longer but as i'm hopping on a flying sardine can headed for my beloved Aotearoa early next week it's not practical : they need to be photographed for the catalogue before they go in the mail

although it's a group exhibition [there are twelve of us] this is a big event for me...
because it will also be the first time that a series of my photographs will be exhibited in Europe [as a backdrop to the dresses].

the show is at Artipelag, a museum on an island near Stockholm and runs February 6 - May 3, 2015

Tuesday 13 January 2015

rhapsodies in blue

it was easy planning my clothes for this trip
all i had to do was throw anything blue into the suitcase
and then at the other end
take a daily lucky dip and wriggle into it
[too hot and steamy for boots]
packing the materials was another thing
handstitching indigo-dyed ecoprint bags
and stuffing them with selections from my cloth collection
was fun
[though i will say counting beads can be confusing for a bear]
and happily the baggage-mishandlers did not play football with my suitcase
because the blue-and-white teacups that were to stop the beads rolling off the tables all happily arrived intact.
Roz and i both brought fabrics from our homes and had a glorious time decorating the workroom on the afternoon before class
our wonderful host Tarla had grown all sorts of indigo-bearing plants
as well as madder [which is most useful in reducing an organic vat]
 you could almost think you were in Japan, with such fields
Tarla and her daughters prepared delicious food for us
with fresh ingredients sourced from the garden
where a Satin Bower Bird had busily gathered blues
from the surrounding district
 we looked at ways in which we could bring our blues together
sharing stories about the meaning of this beautiful colour
reading a little poetry
considering what the colour meant to us as individuals
 we stitched, experimented with fresh indigo
worked with the metals that Roz had brought
made string
and at the very end
overdyed the finished pieces in the gloriously rich vat
that Tarla had prepared earlier
thank you, all of you, for making it such a splendid three days

not yet saturated with the blues?
here are more stories
a few more links via our shared blue bower

Thursday 8 January 2015



thank you John Hopper for including me.

inspired to read?
it's available here
from January 14

Thursday 1 January 2015

out (t)here

 New Year, New Ideas...

photo by Dorothy Caldwell

you may have heard that i have a new friend

photo by my Ma

already we are getting into the habit of doing things together.

i have a hefty overseas itinerary for this year [planned before Kubbi's surprise arrival in my life] but once we've weathered it, i will be shortening my foreign excursions and spending more time in the Deep South.

having a roadtrip companion opens new doors. sleeping out in the desert on my way home from Tamworth was lovely but it will be so much more delightful to be sharing supper and my swag [that's a bedroll for those of you not familiar with the term] with my dog.

how satisfying it is to be able to write that..."my dog". [who is snoozing beside me on the sofa as i write]

Kubbi will be joining me at dog-friendly places including the lovely Crockett Cottage Studio at Mansfield in November and on a journey to the Flinders Ranges, a region that has inspired many artists including Hans Heysen, Imants Tillers, Antony Hamilton, Kay Lawrence, Dorothy Caldwell, a host of 19th century explorers gifted with drawing skills...and of course yours truly.

Barbara and Warren Fargher, the owners of beautiful Wirrealpa Station have several times suggested that they'd be keen to host a workshop group and even floated the possibility of holding an exhibition of work derived from being "in place" there.

so between us we have come up with an idea.

a journey to the heartlands.

the adventure will begin at Port Augusta, South Australia, where participants will board a mini-bus for the spectacular drive to Wirrealpa where we shall be staying in the historic shearer's quarters [which means i will be up at dawn chopping wood for the donkey that heats the shower water].

during the week we will have time to wander; to stitch, paint and draw, to construct sculpture from found objects, to write and to take photographs. there'll be a dyepot or two going. you'll be well fed. the week won't have a formal workshop structure, but is planned more as a rich opportunity to be nourished by this remarkable region.

we will begin in the mornings with discussion about possibilities and then you'll be free to explore these at your own pace. in the evenings we will gather about the long table in the cookhouse with a glass of wine and share the doings of the day. there will be excursions to view ancient petroglyphs and also a spectacular ochre valley, both sites of great cultural significance.

i'm so excited to be able to share this beautiful country with you!

the dates will be around October 19-23, 2015 and i'm still working out the budget and other details [there are no local supermarkets...everything will need to be brought in with us] but i am taking expressions of interest. please drop me a line if you think this might be for you.