Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Getting creative on Lord Howe Island

I've just returned from a blissful week on Lord Howe Island, off the NSW Coast of Australia.

Lord Howe Island is a small volcanic island, dominated by two mountains, and rich with bird life and tropical plants.  Mobile phones don't work on the island and there's very limited internet access, so as well as being a beautiful place to be, its also a rare opportunity to step away from electronic gadgetry and take a breath of fresh air.

And of course, being the eager artist, I packed my 2kg of art supplies, no mean feat given our check-in luggage was limited to 14 kgs (and my empty bag weighed 4kgs).

For this trip I completed a travel journal, opting for a blank book that I had already made.  

Other items in my art kit:
- small gelli plate (3"x5")
- 3 tubes of paint (blue, black, brown)
- rubber roller
- watercolour travel set & brush
- washi tape, brads, sewing thread & needle
- pens and pencils
- awl, small scissors
- glue stick & glue tape
- various small pieces of paper to print on
- small plastic bags for plant 'samples'.

All of this was packed into a clear plastic clip box that I bought from Officeworks, and fit snugly into the bottom of my suitcase.

On our hikes and daily outings, I gathered small plant samples.  I didn't have access to a microwave oven so I couldn't dry my samples to take home, but opted for printing to record them.

Some of the prints were done on postcard blanks, which I wrote on and posted home.  These will go into my travel journal when they arrive.

Each afternoon, I wrote of the day's events in my travel journal.  I also wrote of list of birds and plants observed, using small guides I bought at the museum to help with identification.  And a favourite of mine is to write a 'Likes' and 'Dislikes' list of my trip, a summary of the more 'memorable' parts of the trip.

During the trip, I collected brochures, maps, postcards, and cards. These all have been attached into the journal using various means - glued, taped, or sewn.

After I get home, I print a selection of my favourite photos to put into the journal, printing them half size so I can fit more in.

And I always aim to have my journal finished within a week of returning from my holiday, otherwise it all gets forgotten in the return to daily routines.....!

The text, photos and other attachments together with my small 'on the spot' artworks provide a multi-faceted approach, leaving me with a lasting tactile memory to refer back to after the adventure has ended.

A view over the Eastern side of the Island

I'm writing some 'on the track' impressions
 on a hand printed postcard.
Not poetry, not sentences....just words,
that's all that's needed.

A Heart Urchin Shell, washed up.
It inspires so much, an object of beauty.
The live urchin is less exciting, the lovely design
hidden beneath small furry spines.

The lines and colours of the Kentia Palm trunks
make an interesting visual arrangement.

The intense aqua blue of the ocean will keep inspiring
artworks when I'm in my studio.

Selfie - printing in the kitchen area of our accommodation.
There's nothing more liberating than having a limited
range of art materials to work with.

Gelli plate printing in progress

Gelli Plate prints of local plants,
printed onto postcard blanks, japanese papers and tags

Ghost prints on Japanese papers -
these ones will go in my travel journal.
An alternative to putting the actual plant material
into my journal.  Much more fun!


  1. This is so cool! Love your "art box." I do my travel journals much the same way as you however I haven't included any printing of leaves. I must next time! I do wonder about collecting leaves from plants - wouldn't want to break any rules. Thanks ever so much for sharing. Your prints have always inspired me!

  2. Hi Diane, yes collecting plant samples in a National Park or protected reserve isn't legally correct, but I only take a few leaves of what I need to print with of plants that aren't rare, so I don't think I make much of an impact. I always think that as an artist I'm bringing people's awareness back to nature and its beauty so in the long term am doing good rather than bad...... :-)

  3. Just discovered your blog via the FB post by Gelli Arts. I always make travel journals when I travel but it never occurred to me to pack a small Gelli plate -- next time I will! Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Just starting to gelli print myself and this caught my eye. I usually keep a travel journal and sometimes include "live" samples but never thought of using for prints (other than the school-child process of placing the leaf under the page and coloring over with the side of a pencil). Going to try this next time. Thanks.