Thursday, December 1, 2016

Investigating the Gorge

Artist in Residence, Cataract Gorge, Launceston

I've been here now for 4 days and have started to settle into a routine, where I'm exploring the gorge and nearby Launceston.

Tourist boats regularly pass by the cottage on their way up the Gorge.
I've discovered I'm quite camera-shy, as everyone on board is armed
with carmeras aimed at the cottage.
I wonder what they would think if I gave them a 'queen' wave
from the balcony.....

Peacocks are one of the introduced species in the gorge around the
Basin area.  They're a big tourist drawcard - I wonder if they're
'heritage' listed due to their historical links to the gardens?

I thought the rear view was just as impressive!

I'm getting around town on my bike,
here I am at the Art Gallery.
 
The awesome display of birds and mammals at the Museum.
I love that the taxidermied fauna aren't locked away in a
glass cabinet.  They're displayed on multiple levels, making
a very vibrant and active display.
One of my projects during the residency is documenting the gorge
and cottage with my mini polaroid camera.  It's a different mode of working,
as there's no zoom, no digital displays, and I have to wait for my
photo to develop. The photos are awesomely moody and a bit unpredictable.

This is my 'inspiration' wall (on the old fireplace) where
I'm gathering objects, photos, postcards, artwork so far etc.
'

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Artist in Residence @ Cataract Gorge, Tasmania

For the next two weeks, I'm Artist in Residence at Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania.

I'm staying in the historical Kings Bridge Cottage, built in 1890 for the gorge Caretaker. The cottage is situated at one end of the gorge, clinging to the side of steep cliffs, close to the busy Kings Bridge that its named after.

After the last caretaker left in 1980, the cottage was used for educational purposes but during periods of unoccupation it was neglected.  The cottage was converted for use for the Launceston City Council's Artist in Residence program in the 1990's, and has been in use as such ever since.

I did some research at the Launceston Library (LINC) today and learnt that the first Artist in Residence in 1993 was landscape and environmental artist John Wolseley.  This was a real surprise and pleased me to know that I'm following in his footsteps!

This arts residency is a mix of urban and natural environments.  Cataract Gorge is located within a few kilometres of the centre of town, and the gorge itself has been heavily modified by humans since the late 1800's.  The dramatic natural gorge elements of river, cliffs and basin have been modified with exotic plants and fauna, as well as buildings, chairlift, pool, bridges and concrete paths.

On my walks through the gorge,  I've been able to spend time examining the landscape around me, trying to discover what is 'natural' or the original vegetation and what is exotic or 'feral'. This is the basis of the artwork I'll be working on during my stay, which fits with my themes of the urbanisation of natural spaces.

My suitcase of art materials weighed just over 20kgs and includes supplies for making collagraphs, drypoint etchings and monoprints.  I flew with Virgin Airlines and pre-bought the extra luggage allowance for $70 return, worth every cent!

I'll be blogging a few times in the next couple of weeks about my AIR progress and artworks I'm working on.  I've only been here one day and I'm relaxing into a routine that takes me away from the daily grind (and heat) of my home studio.  I'm excited to see what happens with my artwork with plenty of time and space to focus on my creativity, with the added discipline of limited art materials...!

 Kings Bridge Cottage in Cataract Gorge.

The pedestrian walkway passes directly under the patio of
the cottage.  The proximity of people to where I'm working reminds me
of my AIR in the Valley Mall earlier this year, except this time
I can see people and they don't see me unless they look up!
The very un-ergonomic stairs that I had to drag my
suitcases up to the cottage.  

Walking the Zig-Zag track, lots of she-oaks.

The historical Suspension Bridge.

These are the concrete paths along the gorge edge,
built in the early 1900's when they
were less environmentally conscious than today,
but it does provide good access to the gorge for everyone.





Thursday, November 17, 2016

But wait.... there's more......wren monoprints

Yesterday I was playing around with my little wren stencil, this time printing on postcard sized papers.  Simple and fun to print, these wren monoprints will make great Christmas presents and stock for my outlets.

I used four colours - black, aqua, brown, and dark purple.  The process of printing the monotypes mixes these colours to create hybrids and plenty of interest.  Some of the printmaking papers I used were beige coloured which also tones the ink colours in the print.

All papers were soaked for 10 seconds and worked with damp.

When I have a printing session, I like to stick with the same colours and objects for the whole day.  I just play around with composition and the order of colours, letting the objects and plate mix the ink to create complexity of marks and colour.  That's where the magic happens, even in something as simple as this wren series.

Some of these wren prints will be framed in cute aqua frames I found at a home decorating store, others in basic beige frames.  I bought the frames first, then sized the print papers to fit.  I find that's the most economical way to work as framing can be so expensive.

An afternoon of printing...lots of little wren prints

One of my favourites... I love the whispy effect of the
Kangaroo Grass

This one is pretty interesting too....

One of the first prints, not as much detail,
but a greater intensity of colour

This one will need more work - I think the wren blends into
the background too much.  When the print is dry,  I'll use a fine coloured
marker to trace around the wren to bring him back into focus.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kamikoya - making paper the traditional japanese way

I've just returned from 2 weeks in Japan (my 6th trip!).  This trip was focussing on paper, paper, and more paper.......

I engaged Phil and Kazuko from the boutique tour company ShumiStay (on facebook 'Shumi Stay Japan') to take myself and fellow Papermakers to explore traditional Japanese hand papermaking techniques.

The highlight of our trip was a 2 day workshop at Kamikoya (http://kamikoya-washi.com/english) with Rogier Uitenboogaart and his family.  During the trip we also visited paper museums and shops and villages specialising in papermaking.

We returned home with hand made papers of Kozo and Mitsumata fibers, and a firm resolve to incorporate more traditional and more organic processes into our papermaking practices.

All decked out in our papermaking uniforms -
heavy plastic aprons and gum boots.

Beating the fibres by hand -
its all about rhythm and trying not to
splatter your fellow papermakers with fibre!

Stirring the vat, there's a special technique for that too.

Rogier guiding me through forming a sheet.
It was challenging but a great experience.
The happy group at the end of the workshop, with
Rogier and his wife and son.

Rogier with his assistant Michael.
Thanks guys!

Papers drying on boards.  It rained most of the time we were at Kamikoya
so the papers had to be posted to us a week later.

My futon bed at our traditional accommodation
onsite at Kamikoya.
Some of the local scenery, misty with rain.  The bright
green area in the foreground is rice ready to harvest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wren Monoprints

Last weekend, I had the luxury of spending a few hours monoprinting at the Toowoomba Art Society with members of the Saturday Printmakers.

Using some wren stencils from a previous series, I created a small series of monoprints with a circle shaped plate and a few plant materials including some Shephards's Purse weed.

I titled the works 'In My Garden'.  Its a bit of wishful thinking, as I unfortunately don't have wrens in my garden, but really wish I did!

Below are photos of a selection of the series of 9 prints.











Monday, September 5, 2016

Replicating a Monoprint

Back in January, I blogged about a series of monoprints for an exhibition "Women of Substance", see my post here.  The seven monoprints that I created for the exhibition and folio boxes are all sold or accounted for, the remaining print was a gift to my mother, who was the subject of the print.

I was recently asked whether I had any more of these prints, perhaps an artists proof. Sadly with monoprints, there are no artists proofs (or test prints or the first prints in an edition). Every print is a unique print, some work and some don't.  And the variable 'edition' is as many prints as I wish to make in that series.

Hence, to fulfil the commission, for the first time I needed to replicate my monoprint.

Luckily I found where I had stored my stencils, and because I blogged about the print, I had great documentation about my colours and what objects I used.

But the process was still a challenge, and the monoprints that I've produced in this second run are different from the first run.  There are subtle differences in how I mixed the colours and how I applied the ink and the objects.

The mysterious and free process of monoprinting has many rewards and I never know what the outcome will be even when I'm repeating a print process like this.  Below are 3 of the 10 prints in this new series.  There are another six that I rejected...maybe they will be the content for an artist book someday....nothing is ever wasted!







Thursday, September 1, 2016

Artist in Residence at The Pod

During the month of August, I was given the opportunity by Brisbane City Council to be artist in residence in 'The Pod' in the Brunswick Street Mall in Brisbane's valley area.

The Pod is an open studio space in a refurbished shipping container, designed for occupation by artists etc, to help activate the mall.

The busy, noisy urban environment was a big change from my home studio in my backyard, but I enjoyed the constant stimulation of watching the various types of people in the mall.  There were tourists casually walking, school girls passing through at 3.15pm, swearing teenagers eating McDonalds, office people and of course, many people who looked like they'd had a hard and difficult life.

During my residency I started work on a series of drawings of urban birds on takeaway brown paper bags.  The patterns of the drawings were directly sourced from the mall buildings and infrastructure, such as pipes, facades, pit covers, seats, and sculptures.

I also ran daily free activities for the public, making a stab bound notebook and carving an easy relief block.  These were very popular, I had approximately 80 participants over the 15 days.  As the activities were free, I was able to share my art with a broader audience than usual, which I really enjoyed.


Patterns on a sculpture, this pattern
was incorporated into my drawings

My favourite pattern on a roof in nearby Chinatown Mall

Drawing onto my paper bags

Drawing in progress

Here I am outside The Pod, as Artist in Residence

Activity time, lots of keen participants

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tunnel Book

A tunnel book has been on my 'to do' list for some time.  I've made models and played around but never constructed a finished work.

The opportunity to make a 'real' tunnel book finally presented itself in the form of excess monoprints from a print run that I created for a group exhibition 'Elements'.

I intrepreted the theme 'Elements' into the 5 elements of Japanese Buddhism.  Japanese stone lanterns are one of the most common representations of these five elements, known as 'Godai', "five great". Each section of the lantern represents one of the five elements - earth, wind, fire, wind and void.

I've visited Japan a few times (5 times plus another trip planned this year) and my tunnel book was inspired by my love of Japanese culture and the beauty of their gardens.  Using the tunnel format, I have creatively reimagined the layered viewpoints of a garden, looking through ginkgo trees across the pond to the stone lantern, the koi swimming in the water below.

I started the process by making a prototype out of photocopy paper, then set to work cutting out elements of my rejected prints.  I used strong black card to make the framework of the book.

To house the book and protect it, I created a black cover secured with a Japanese bone clasp.

Tunnel books are interesting as they're like little
theatres, where each panel makes up the final layered image.
The final 3D image is like looking across a vista in a
Japanese garden.

Looking into the book from the side front.

The closed cover, made of box board and mulberry paper,
with the bone clasp

Looking down into the book

You can see I've attached the monoprint images onto each panel.








Sunday, July 24, 2016

Screen Monoprinting

One of the first monoprinting techniques I explored before I got my etching press Thumper was using a silk-screen.  The process involved painting a design on the screen using acrylic paints, then squeeging onto paper using Print Paste.  I then worked back into the dried print using oil crayons to add detail and highlights.  Below are a couple of my prints, probably produced around 2006.



I love their colour and movement.  Using the silk screen to monoprint is very expressive process where the initial image is created without first drawing or tracing.

Today I used some mini-silk screens to try water soluble crayons using this screen monoprinting process.  I drew on the screen using the crayons, then experimented with Print Paste as well as Gloss Gel Medium.  The results were interesting, and it's a very quick spontaneous process - just what I love about monoprinting.  Its definitely a technique that I would be able to take travelling with me.

The screens, squeege and mediums I used

Test print

One of the ghost prints, showing some colour stuck in
the screen

Another test print