Thursday, May 30, 2013

Artist in Residence - out and about

During the past 2 days I have spent a lot of time out and about, though I did manage a few hours in the studio this afternoon.  I find getting out into the local environment is almost as important as the time spent working on my prints and books.

On Wednesday, Sally Campbell took me on an excursion to her cattle property "Clarenden", 40kms north-west of Blackall.  What was most interesting was the differences in the landscape to my visit earlier in the week to "Stratford".

the landscape at Clarenden, more open
than Stratford

Couldn't resist an arty shot of this rusty wire

Travelling around Clarenden

We saw lots of Brolgas at Clarenden, so elegant
and beautiful with the red on their heads
Today I spent some time riding around Blackall checking out plant material and a few of the sculptures around town.   Had a bit of fun with the camera timer shots.....

Roly Poly

Eagle Nest
The Art Exhibition finished today.  I sold 5 of my willy-wag tail prints that I printed last month at Baldessin Studio.  I couldn't resist a photo of the red dots!

This afternoon in the studio I worked on my 'Desert Uplands' book using pre-rusted pages.  I used string, sisal, gum leaves and Athol Pine leaves (to depict the desert oak).  The string reminds me of the wire fences and the sisal hints at the many types of grasses found in the landscape.  Tomorrow I plan to sew it all together with a hard cover using single sheet binding.   I might even make 2 books of it.

The pages of 'Desert Uplands' drying.
I also spent part of today setting up the workshop space.  Tomorrow I've got a group of Distance Education kids coming into the studio to do some printing.  And I've got 12 adults booked in for Monoprinting on the weekend and almost as many for Coptic binding on Monday, so its going to be busy!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Artist in Residence - finding inspiration

Its been a big 2 days since I blogged last.

Yesterday I went on a road trip with Terry and Robyn with their friend and fellow artist Helen to their property 'Stratford', north-east of Blackall.

'Stratford' is a working cattle property in an area known as the 'Desert Uplands', with its red sandy soil.  Robyn and Terry were very generous, sharing their knowledge of the local landscape and gave me an insight to how the land is managed.   I even learnt the difference between a 'cow' and 'cattle'!

We saw a brolga and an Australian Bustard....that was really cool!

I enthusiastically took notes of all the different plants that we saw as we drove around their property.  And of course I came prepared with several plastic bags and the usual yellow pages to carry home all my samples of leaves and grasses for printing. 

I also saw the huge potential of the area for eco-dyeing, I realised how little access I have to interesting plants in South-East Queensland.

Terry and Robyn with one of their many Maremmano dogs

The landscape, so inspiring

Overlooking the escarpment at 'Stratford'

Helen, myself, and Robyn during our drive
around 'Stratford'

Wedgetail Eagle, majestic with a birds-eye view
of the landscape

Today I've been in the studio using some of the plants I collected on my trip yesterday as well as from around town.  Its so nice not to have to work to a timetable.  The battery in my watch has stopped so I'm taking that as a sign!

My Studio at the Blackall Living Arts Centre,
so much space...!

Book in progress....a star book,
 I'm going to sew the edges tonight

This is tomorrow's project, inspired by the Desert Uplands

A sample print for my workshop on the weekend,
using my Willi-Wag Tail stencil.
Yes, they're in Blackall too!

Another sample print

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Artist in Residence - getting into the swing of it

Today is the 4th day of my Artist Residency at Blackall.  And its getting colder! 

Last night was the opening of the art exhibition.  It went really well, over 100 people in attendance and several paintings were sold.  I sold one of my new WillyWag Tail prints that I did at Baldessin last month.  Its off to a good home at Barcaldine, about an hour north of Blackall.  I've been invited to exhibit at the Barcaldine art exhibition in August as well.  I also met up with some other printmakers and paper artists, and had some great conversations about my favourite topics!

Jenny Mace (Botanical Artist and Judge of the Art Exhibition),
Sally Campbell (President, Blackall Cultural Assoc)
and me at lunch at Daisy Cottage, Blackall.
This morning I headed downtown (on my bike of course!) for an interview with ABC Radio Western Queensland, about my role as Artist in Residence.  It felt a bit weird standing on the footpath being interviewed, knowing I had to say the right thing as it was LIVE!

ABC Radio live from Blackall
Then it was off to the Uniting Church Thrift Shop to find some bargains.  I was on the hunt for frames, given that there was no picture framer in town and the pre-made ones available only at the Newsagent were triple the prices in Brisbane.  I found several frames to suit some small monoprints, my intention was to make some pictures to install in my 'flat' at the Living Arts Centre at Blackall.  Surprisingly, for an arts centre there are no pictures on the walls of my flat.  The only creative touch is the beautiful handmade quilt on the bed (I met Margo today, one of the quilters who helped make it).

So after a brief diversion past 'The Black Stump' (very brief!) I settled down to some time in my studio.  I had found some beautiful heart shaped gum leaves in the park next to the Cultural Centre on one of my exploration rides.  I also found a Cotton Tree (my absolute favourite) but I am going to try and avoid it because I want to try some new plants.  A good one for my workshop next weekend though.

On my bike riding down near the Barcoo River

He's been yarn bombed and needs a hug!
The heart shaped gum leaves...beautiful!

Gum leaf print in my repurposed frame,
it will sit on my bedside table tonight.
As well as using my gelli-plates this trip, I am also trialling gelatine plates.  I made one using a silicon mould.  It turned out really well, though I was less than careful getting it out of the mould, so its a bit uneven around the edges. 

Pulling a print from the gelatin plate, the ripples are on the bottom of
the plate from the mould, but would be interesting to use.

Printed perfectly in 20degrees Celsius with humidity at 32%.
I'll make a few up for the workshop at the end of the week, they've got a cold room here at the Living Arts Centre so I can store them in there.  Will have to check out the gelatin supplies in the IGA!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Artist in Residence - the first 2 days

Yesterday I flew into Blackall to start my 2 week Artist Residency.  3 suitcases was only just enough to carry all of my art supplies, exhibition prints, items for sale, as well as my personal gear.  I looked like I was moving house I'm sure, but I must admit that my studio at home looks VERY empty....!

Surprisingly my flight in a small plane (well small by my standards!) was very smooth, although due to rain clouds unfortunately I didn't get a birds eye view of the landscape.

The wheels are in the wings AND there's a very
big propeller.....hmmmm

On arrival at Blackall airport I was met by Sally and Ros, both from Blackall Cultural Association.

at the Blackall Airport, rather casual....
My home for the residency is the Living Arts Centre, I am occupying a very comfy and cosy ensuite room called the 'flat'.  I've moved a small table in so I can work in my room at night (and keep warm!).

Sally has also very kindly provided me with a bike and helmet, so I am very happily cycling around the streets of Blackall, beats walking anytime.

a bit unloved but it'll do the trick!

I've set up my art studio at the Living Arts Centre, but alas, I am yet to spend any time in it!  I have been busy helping out with the setup of the Art Exhibition for the upcoming Heartland Festival.

I'm feature artist so I've got a small display of prints and artists books. I also assisted Jenny with the judging of the prizes today, an opportunity to put my art experience to the test.  The exhibition opening is tomorrow (Friday night), I'm looking forward to it!

The Art Exhibition at the Cultural Centre

My feature artist display

Being a city girl, I've learnt some very interesting things about rural living and Blackall -

1.  The hot water comes from the artesian basin.  One needs to run the hot water tap for a VERY long time before its up to shower temperature, so don't step into the shower until its hot.  Otherwise its rather cold.... and when I mean a long time, I mean both the shower and vanity taps on at full flow for at least 5 minutes or more....!
2.  Peak hour in Blackall equates to the freeway at midnight.
3.  There are no 'real' cappuccino machines in Blackall, just push button ones.  And DECAF?????  I also got a strange look when I asked for quarter strength.   Tasted OK though... will do for me for the next 2 weeks.
4.  Dust = mud when it rains (not often) but lucky for me it rained yesterday.  So there's mud everywhere.  And dust is inside the cars as well as on the outside.
5.  Everyone is excited about rain and how much is a subject of excited conversation, almost a competition to see how many 'points' they got.
6.  Its so true that everyone knows everyone, but seeing it in practice is just amazing!

So tomorrow the plans are…. well pretty casual which is nice change from my home routine!  I’m definitely heading to the studio and starting some art, I’m feeling rather twitchy from carting all that gear and not having time to start working.  The local charity shop is open 3 mornings a week so a visit to them is on the cards, maybe in time to drop into the bakery for my 'coffee'.  And I believe Sally is taking me to lunch at Daisys which is only open 2 days a week for lunch, so it’s a well-timed treat for all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Artist-in-Residence @ Blackall

This week I'm flying out to Blackall (between Longreach and Tambo) to be Artist-in-Residence for 2 weeks, thanks to Flying Arts and Blackall Cultural Association.

I'll be staying at the Blackall Living Arts Centre where I will have my studio. I'm also feature artist at the Heartland Festival.

I'll be running some workshops and school talks, as well as working on my own art practice in response to the rural environment of Blackall.
So keep an eye on my blog, I'll be posting photos and telling you what I'm up to at Blackall, home of the 'black stump'!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Baldessin Press Studio

Last week Craig and I travelled to Melbourne for a holiday.  And the golden rule for me is that every holiday must involve some art!   So this holiday I spent a few days at Baldessin Press Studio at St Andrews, less than an hour from Melbourne Airport.  Tess and Lloyd were my hosts at this very beautiful bushland location.

In a perfect 'happy relationship' arrangement, Craig dropped me off at Baldessin whilst he travelled to compete in a Mountain Bike Orienteering event a few hours away.   I spent 3 days monoprinting at Baldessin, having full access to their facilities.  Its a wonderful space, a stone building with plenty of character, a good layout and plenty of working space, all to myself.

The other great benefit of Baldessin is the onsite accomodation.  I stayed in 'The Garret', attic accomodation above the studio.  It was basic and rustic but the price and location was perfect, with 24 hour studio access included.

The Studio (rear side view), with the windows of
'The Garret' accomodation up the top.
Whilst at Baldessin, I worked on a series of prints based on an image of a Willy Wag Tail, one of my favourite garden birds.  As I worked I reflected that the prints I created connected more with the delightful little wrens that were dancing around in the shrubs near the studio.  I also printed a series of monotypes using leaves and plant materials that I picked up in and around Baldessin on my daily walks.  I plan to make these prints into an artist book as a record of my stay at Baldessin.

Working with the press, monoprinting

View of part of the studio, lots of bench space all for me!
This view is of course before I started spreading my stuff
all over the place......

An 'arty' photo of gorgeous rollers and etching inks!

The press, a good size and easy to work with.
Plenty of space to move all around it.

The leaf prints I'll make into a book.  I printed on
some beautiful fine papers I bought at
Neil Wallace Printmaking Supplies in

Some of my stencils and objects I worked with.
Some finished prints, the photos of course don't do them justice!

For more information about Baldessin, go to  They're also on facebook.