The Sketchbook in all its glory!

The other day the Fella brought in a box left by the postie. Immediately I knew it was the Sketchbook. Normally I dive right into things, but this was one parcel I wanted to savour. I sat down with a cup of tea, marvelling at the journey it had made. Then I carefully opened the box, and again, just took my time to enjoy looking. There was a card from Trish that I opened and read.

Then it was time to slowly take the sketchbook out of the bubble wrap and hold it in my hands. Oh it felt good! Deliciously fat, full of all the creativity that the Sisters had put in.

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And more delights……Alys had attached some ladybird stickers, to be added next to each Sister’s address before sending on.

Jan had crocheted a pouch with Cambrian wool, “from the flocks of Wales”. The Sketchbook sat snuggly in there.

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Now was the moment to take it out and hold this treasure, that has journeyed around the world, making connections across the lands.

To the pages……and the link to each Sister is her explanation of her contribution.

The front cover is a sketch of sprouting garlic bulb, and it always reminded me of a flying garlic ~ a symbol of the Sketchbook flying around the world.

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Kate’s beautiful quilting and calligraphy is on the first page. The blues in the feather are so rich and strong.

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Then Lyn has done freeform machine stitching and appliqué to create some very cute Sisters holding hands. (Can I be the one with the polka dot bow in her hair?!)

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Sandi, the next contributor, is a very talented poet, and her contribution ‘The Explorer’ continues the sewing theme.

I chose my poem, well before the book began its journey. I watched, via a computer screen, as each creative page was added. I had chosen my poem for its light-heartedness, and reference to embroidery. Little did I know, I would join the small boy in his experience of discovery, when the travelling sketchbook arrived in the mail. The tingle of awe I felt was unexpected. I had reality, wrapped up, in my hands, and I couldn’t wait to touch it.

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M.L. Kappa’s work is on the next spread. The colours of her picture just glow, and the writing is the story of the naming of Athens.

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Then came Chas’s contribution, a map which needed to be unfolded. The first part was her sketch of a painting in the National Gallery of Victoria, honouring women as growers and nurturers.

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Then I unfolded the map of bicycle journey from her home to the National Gallery of Victoria. Such detail, and many of the places I know (but not from riding a bike 😉).

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We leave the bike paths of Melbourne and head to the Welsh hills. (One of the many things I love about this Sketchbook is that the Sisters felt free to add their contribution wherever they wanted to. They are not in the order of the journey.) Jan crocheted tactile, warm spirals out of Cambrian wool. You may not be able to read the message that circles around……

“Encircling the Earth: the skill of our hands, the love in our hearts. Brought together by our creativity and kindness, although we are separated by hundreds of miles….our shared passions bind us together. One sisterhood, representing one world, united in love.”

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Alys’s contribution was another creative one. She used photos of all the contributions so far and made them into a miniature quilt, with one patch saying, “Sisterhood Quilt: Stitching together art and friendship around the globe”.

Sandra’s passion is cooking, so naturally her’s was a recipe, for ratatouille. On the page she has drawn big lush eggplants and a chilli, and it is all on thick paper with deckled edges.

Margaret has added to the quilting theme, again in a different way. She has embroidered nine little squares, each representing an aspect of her favourite walk ~ and the detail needs to be seen in real life. On the other page is an embroidered landscape of Catcalls on Derwentwater. (Lots of inspiration for me here!)

The Sketchbook arrived with Constanze during Winter, as she says “A real one, with snow crunching under my feet and temperatures below freezing.”! Her contribution captures that Winter, with the snow and bare branched trees. (Again, more inspiration for me!)

Turn some pages and there are Sue’s vibrant patchworks. Like all the others, there is so much detail to look at and admire ~ and so tactile! Photos don’t do these pages justice.

Rich is not how much you have, or even where you are going

Rich is who you have beside you

writes Trish. Thoughts that resonate with us all. She has added a rich red, woven shawl to go with her words.

The last contribution is from Ushasree. Her work is another patchwork of nine creative, colourful paintings, each one using a different technique. Read about them here, including why the portrait of her son has a special place.

The very last page shows just how peripatetic the Sketchbook has been. It’s a map of its travels, and the special places it has stopped at.

It is a truly wonderful thing, more amazing than I thought it would be. So creative, so tactile, it is warm and full of love. It has created a bond that has encircled the globe, and has become more than just pages in a sketchbook.

Where’s it off to next? And where will it settle down? We don’t know! Discussions are ongoing, but more urgent now that it has come the full circle. We are looking for an appropriate permanent, but special, home for it, so any ideas are welcome.

Meanwhile I am proudly showing this wonderful treasure to anyone who wants to see it!

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Posted in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook | Tagged , , , , , , | 47 Comments

The Sketchbook has completed its journey!

Just a very short post to let you know that the Sketchbook has come back to me. It left about April of last year and travelled safely around the world.

And it is BEAUTIFUL!

I will show you pictures and let you enjoy it too, but for the moment I am just savouring the joy and creativity on each page.

 

Posted in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook | Tagged | 13 Comments

Now, here’s the nest

Last post I put the nest in the title, and made no more mention of it! So, here’s the nest.

Kate from Tall tales from Chiconia had the joy of watching a sun bird build and raise a family in her nest, hanging just outside Kate’s back door. There’s a photo of it here. I was delighted when Kate sent the nest to me.

It is a beautiful little thing, delicate, and yet so strong. There are feathers tucked into the dried grasses.

 

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But, because it hangs rather than sits on a branch, it is not the usual nest shape. That’s the basic issue, I think.

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I have had a few attempts at creating it….with pencil

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and with ink and pencil.

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And one with only oil pastels

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These were studies to learn about the shape and tones.

Then I went to Mark’s workshop in Bendigo, and thought that I would use the technique he taught me with the nest.

First step was to lay down the watercolour.

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Then to go over it with oil pastels.

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Does it work? Well, I think the basic problem is the shape of the nest. I love it, but, as it is not a classic nest shape, it is hard for the viewer to understand what it is, hard to read visually. So other parts of, such as the materials it is made of, need to be very clear. I like the texture in the oil pastel only, and it comes closest to the grasses, feathers and seeds woven into it, but still doesn’t explain it to the viewer.

I would love to know what you think. Do you think “nest” when you look at any of the studies? Does one work better for you than others?

[It may be hard to see all the versions at a large size, so this gallery may make it easier.]

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A workshop and a nest

Way back in May I did a workshop at Bendigo Art Gallery with Mark Dober.

Bendigo is a regional Victorian town, with a very good gallery. I had only been up there for special exhibitions, so I was pleased to have time to wander. I thought I had taken more photos, however, this one shows how spacious and pleasing the rooms are.

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Mark is a landscape artist who works en plein air. He uses a mix of watercolour and oil pastel, and is soon to have an exhibition of his work created in the You Yangs at the Geelong Art Gallery. [The You Yangs are mountains between Melbourne and Geelong, that rise up from the flat volcanic plains around them.] He says of the work he is exhibiting:

This body of new work made at the You Yangs consists of 6 multi-sheet watercolours. Four of these are 112 x 380 cm. These were made at Fawcett’s Gully, around the back of the You Yangs, accessible by the unsealed circuit road.

His exhibition is running from 12th to 16th October. It will be alongside an exhibition by Fred Williams, one of Australia’s foremost landscape artists.

So, you can imagine my interest in his workshop to learn to work with watercolour and oil pastels!

We set up in one of the galleries, and had the choice of two paintings to work with ~ a Fred Williams:

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Fred Williams: The Yarra at Kew 11 (1972)

or a traditional watercolour by Ernest Waterlow’s ‘Gathering fuel, Cornish Coast’, c.1887. You can see the painting in the photo below.

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My first step was to loosely draw in the figures and landscape features. Then I had to lay in large watercolour washes over the main features. I think this was the most difficult thing for me. I am not a confident colour mixer, and often don’t mix enough paint to cover the area which is a problem when working on such large areas. Even with enough paint I have trouble manipulating the paint over large areas. It dries before I can work into it. Washes in botanic art work are little things, the size of a leaf or a petal, not vast areas of sky or beach!

I tried to suppress my panic, to just let it flow. After all, it was purely for my pleasure. Embrace the wonky!

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Then there was the fun part of going over the (dried) wash with oil pastel.

Some areas worked, some didn’t. I think I put too much oil pastel on some areas, and didn’t have time to get to others. Of course, I thought I would finish it off at home……

My drawing strengths are tone and fabrics, so I was very happy with the work I did on the woman’s dress.

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And a closer look….

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It was quite a complex painting to work on over a day, but I enjoyed the challenge and it has given me a new way of working.

 

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Posted in AnneLawsonArt, Artists, My art work | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

An update on the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project

If you have been following my blog for a while you will remember the annual trips that the Fella and I make up to Menindee, a little country town about an hour out of Broken Hill. If you are new to the blog, or have forgotten let me briefly explain.

I am part of a group of botanic artists who go up to the semi-arid area of Outback New South Wales to collect and paint the plants that were found on the Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860. Dr Hermann Beckler was the collector as well as the doctor on the Expedition. Our Project began in 2010, and the Fella and I have gone up since 2011.

You can read my posts, which will give you more detail of the Project.

The Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project means many things to me, such as a chance to explore a very unfamiliar environment, an invaluable learning opportunity, a great way to spend time with likeminded artists, as well as being an interesting holiday!

But I know that the Project is much more than that, We have always been aware that it has a place in history. It has brought Dr Beckler’s contribution to Australian plant knowledge to the fore. We collect specimens of the plants to sit alongside Beckler’s in the National Herbarium of Victoria, and each specimen has detailed records of habitat, soil conditions, GPS location and so on. This provides current data on plants that exist in the Menindee Lakes/Kinchega National Park area, data that, when combined with Beckler’s collection, could be very useful for longitudinal studies. It is a great example of how citizen scientists can contribute to scientific knowledge.

As well, it was always our intention to have an exhibition of our paintings. That is happening in February/March/April 2018 at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Organisation for that is currently ‘full steam ahead’.

My paintings from the Cullen genus:

And my painting of Pimelea trichostaycha:

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Now I am asking you to consider donating to the Project. All expenses, such as the travel to and accommodation in Menindee and art supplies, have been met by individual artists, something we have been very proud to do. The Gallery is very generously helping us with expenses for the exhibition, including the catalogue, curation and scanning. However, there are some things that we would like to find some extra money for, such as future publications to put the Project in its place in Australian botanical history.

We have set up a crowd funding campaign, that will run for another 50 days. If you would be able to help us, any amount will be appreciated. To find out more jump over to the Australian Cultural Fund page. If you email me at annebags@optusnet.com.au I can send you a PDF of the campaign.

https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/becklers-botanical-bounty-of-menindee/

Thanks for taking the time to think about this.

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I would like to find out more about Anne’s art.

Posted in AnneLawsonArt, Artists, Beckler's Botanical Bounty, Botanic Art, My art work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A trip into town

I live about 10 kms from the centre of Melbourne. Today I had to go into town to change a ballet ticket, and I thought I would ask you along for the ride. [When I came home there was a blog post from Margaret, describing a walk with her dogs, through lovely lush English countryside. Isn’t serendipity a wonderful thing!]

Our first steps take us up to the tram stop, about 5 minutes away from the house, past the Little Free Library

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to the shopping strip and the tram stop.

We will travel on the #57 tram, which wanders its way through Flemington and then North Melbourne. Ascot Vale is 10 kms from the city as the crow flies, not as the tram travels, so sit back and enjoy the half hour ride. Actually the tram is very full today, as we pick up the RMIT students who have just poured out of their exams at the Showgrounds. We also rumble past the Flemington Racecourse, where the Melbourne Cup is held, and later, the Victoria Market, home to great fresh produce.

Eventually we get to the end of Elizabeth Street, at Flinders St, right at Flinders Street Station. The station is not looking its best, as it is covered up while some work is done on it. So out we get and cross the road. (Sorry the second photo is blurry ~ I was in danger of getting run over!)

[BTW, a little piece of esoterica…..the streets in Melbourne are built on a grid layout. I still remember how delighted I was to realise that the streets that ran north/south were named King, William, Queen, Elizabeth. That pleased me no end!]

There is a walking tunnel under the tracks. It is rather grungy and in need of a good clean, but this sign made me smile, as there are not many options, only forward or back the way you have come!

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Out into the sunshine, right on the bank of the Yarra River.

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We are going to walk across that bridge, and stop in the middle to look down stream. That bridge you can see used to be for trains. I remember travelling across it in the old red rattlers, as the old trains were called. Those silver things are sculptures that now adorn the bridge.

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And then look upstream to Princes Bridge, which links Swanston St and St Kilda Road. If you look closely you can see the mighty MCG in the background. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is not only where cricket games are held, but is the heartland of Australian rules Football…..now there’s a good game! At the foot of the MCG is Melbourne Park, a tennis complex where the Australian Open in played each January.

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You have probably noticed the rowers on the river, but if you look on the other side you will see a group of canoeists as well. I wonder if the pair of ducks in the fore ground are have a little laugh at the antics of the humans on water!

Let’s walk on, to Southbank, the promenade that runs beside the river. It is full of cafes and restaurants and food courts, and if you can’t get something you like here, you are not trying!

Up the steps alongside Princes Bridge

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and stop to admire the fancy lettering on the foundation stone.

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Then take a breather at the top of the steps….Hamer Hall, a recital centre, is on our left. I must take you on a tour inside one day. The Arts Centre is straight ahead, with the National Gallery of Victoria further along St. Kilda Road.

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To get to the ballet box office we need to go around the back of the Arts Centre, and we get some great angles of the spire. In the original design the spire was meant to be coated in bronze; it turned out that the budget didn’t stretch that far.

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Past some interesting ballet sculptures, just to let us know we are on the right path

and then to the box office. No photos of that, as it wasn’t very interesting!

To make the return journey a little different we are going back to St Kilda Rd between the Arts Centre and the Gallery, then back to the river.

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Now, we deserve some lunch. Let’s walk back along Southbank

to the Blue Train, where we can sit in the Winter sunshine and admire the view.

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Then it is back on the tram, which, fortunately, is a lot less crowded on the home journey!

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Thanks for taking this walk with me. Perhaps you would like to tell us about a favourite walk around your home town.

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A newsletter update:

I have given up on trying to get a button on the side bar. However, I can insert a link to the sign up form on the post itself. So that is what I am going to do. At the end of each post you will see the link. I hope it will be prominent enough for new people click on, but not so prominent that it annoys those of you who have made the decision about the newsletter. It has got to be better than one of those wretched pop-up screens that appear whenever you open up a page.

So, if you are interested in keeping up with my art doings, click on this link.

I would like to receive your fortnightly newsletter

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Farewell to a man of grace and dignity

I was going to write a different  post. However, today I listened to the broadcast of the state funeral for Anthony Foster, and wanted to acknowledge him and his work. I never met him, but I know that our society is better because he was in the world.

Most of you have probably not heard of him, but if you have, you will know that he was a man of incredible courage and dignity.

Anthony and his wife Chrissie had three daughters, Emma, Aimee and Katie. Emma and Katie were repeatedly raped as young children by a paedophile Catholic priest. Both young women were traumatised by the abuse:

Emma Foster suffered from eating disorders, drug addition and self-harm after the abuse, and in 2008 she overdosed on medication and died at the age of 26.

Katie Foster developed problems with alcohol after her experiences, and was left with physical and mental disabilities after being hit by a drunk driver in 1999.

Anthony and Chrissie became tireless fighters for justice for victims of abuse. Their work brought about the formation of a Victorian inquiry into abuse and the federal Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This Royal Commission has uncovered grievous abuse of children in a range of institutions, especially the Catholic Church, where the coverups of paedophile priests seem to go very high up the hierarchy.

The elegies at the funeral spoke of Anthony Foster as a man who not only had the courage to overcome his own trauma and grief to fight for justice, but also gave unstinting support and friendship to abuse survivors in their fight for justice.

As his daughter, Aimee said, “We will be OK because you showed us the way. We will continue to love, laugh and share. We are thoroughly better human beings for having had you in our lives.”

And that goes for all of us.

But there has to be more. As Joanne McCarthy says:

Anthony Foster deserves a state funeral. More than that, his death requires us to honour his memory by demanding governments act on the royal commission’s recommendations.

Most certainly.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-07/tributes-paid-for-anthony-foster-at-state-funeral/8589872

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4691002/the-man-who-was-integrity-personified/

Posted in I would like to thank...., Kindness, Uncategorized | Tagged | 5 Comments

Newsletter time ~ take 2

Well, the first newsletter came out last Thursday ~ phew!

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The opening section of the newsletter

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A little article about split complementary colours

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Some links that I added (NB this is only a photo, so the links won’t work!)

I still haven’t found a way of attaching the sign-up button to my blog. (Anybody out there know how to do it? Or know if it can be done?)

And I think I may have mucked up with sending the newsletter to blog readers who wanted to be on the list. So, if you didn’t receive it, and would like to, you can click on the link; you should go to the sign-up form. (Let me know if there are any gremlins here.)

Sign up for the newsletter

The next edition will be out on Thursday. Hurray!!

 

Posted in AnneLawsonArt, My art work, Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

It’s newsletter time

The idea of sending out a newsletter has been floating around at the back of my brain for quite a while. Sometimes it surfaces and then gently floats down again. But for some reason, this week it has surfaced, and become a rock that all other thoughts are scattered against.

An overblown metaphor? Maybe, but it has been like that. My compulsion to get moving on a newsletter has overtaken everything else. I am even thinking about it in my sleep! It is only 6:30 in the morning, but here I am, with my cup of tea, telling you about my grand plans.

I have set up a Mail Chimp account, which seems to be the platform that everyone uses. It is NOT an easy process, and I have been surprised by that. It is not Mail Chimp’s fault; they have excellent information, with links to helpful articles. Maybe I am overloaded by all the information. But, their terminology is odd. It took me a while to realise that what they call a ‘campaign’ was where I was to write the newsletter. I am only writing a humble, fortnightly newsletter, not creating a marketing campaign.

I have written the first newsletter (hopefully in the right spot), which was okay, once I worked out how to upload photos, change there size, add in fields for writing etc. Bloggers are used to doing that sort of work.

What I am confused about is the behind the scenes things. I need sign-up forms, and then forms to thank people for signing up, and then opting out forms, and a whole list of others. I think (hope!) that by doing one I have done the others. I am encouraged to make sure that codes are embedded, and I have codes that I can embed in other sites. I can connect with my Facebook page (natch!), which I thought I had done, but can’t see anything on the page.  It seems to have vanished into the ether. Hopefully the ‘sign-up’ button on this blog will work.

At some point next week I am just going to press publish and hope that the first newsletter gets to someone who has asked for it! All the other things can be tweaked because one of the big things I have learnt in this internet world is that there is very little that can’t be changed or added further down the track. (Unless you have signed up for a Nigerian Bank offering you a million dollars and a Russian bride!)

On rereading this I notice that I have used ‘hopefully’ quite a few times. That sums up my attitude at the moment ~ hopefully it will all work out!

Enough grumbling…..

Why am I writing a newsletter? When we sign up for a newsletter we are making a conscious decision to know more about the product and the person behind it. We are not just saying “Yes, I give you permission to tell me more”, but “I want you to tell me more”. That permission means that I can send an email about my art right to someone’s inbox. I don’t have to fight past all the cat videos, ads and happy snaps to get their attention.

I love telling people about my art work, and of course, love selling my art. Why not talk about it to people who are engaged audience and want to hear more?

So, why not do this with the blog? There will be overlap, and I am going to be linking back to articles I have written. If you read this blog regularly the newsletter will seem very familiar. And I certainly have a very engaged audience here! However, what I love about my blog is that I can chat to you about a whole range of things ~ books, my garden, travels, the Little Free Library, whatever takes my fancy. The newsletter will be targeted to my art work, more of an “In my studio” focus, as well as a focus on selling through my Etsy shop.

It will have a section linking to other people, articles, exhibitions and the like, because I am a great believer in Passing It On. People give me so much support and encouragement; I want to do my bit to help others. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to share/promote.

Let me tell you about Ann Wood. She makes the most amazing creatures, crafted out of vintage fabrics. As well, she has an elegant newsletter that is one of my models.

My main task at the moment is to build the list. So….if you are interested in receiving my fortnightly newsletter click on the button, which hopefully(!) is on the side bar. If that is not working send me an email to annebags@optusnet.com.au with your email address and I will sign you up. (Mail Chimp is very particular about making sure people give permission to receive the newsletter, which is good to know.)

I would love to know your thoughts on newsletters. What do you like about them? Or don’t like? I hate those pop up notices that ask you to sign up before you have even had a chance to look at the site. What advice do you have for my fledgling newsletter?

 

Posted in AnneLawsonArt, My art work, Odds and Ends | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Little Free Library

I first came across the idea of the Little Free Library on Alys’ blog. When I read her post Little Free Library Debut I was smitten, just like she was when she saw her first one. (Alys is renovating her Library at the moment, which you can read about, as well as the fairy garden that sits next to it, and her peaceful Buddha gardens.) I thought the idea of having a neighbourhood book swap was the most wonderful thing. However, I never quite got to creating one outside our home. So imagine my delight when I saw this, only a street away.

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The Little Free Library in Ascot Vale

Yes, a Little Free Library of our own! We have much loved and well used public library just up the street, but this is a bonus.

It was begun by a group of young girls. You can read their full story in this article in the local paper.

A GROUP of Ascot Vale girls have set up a community street library to encourage more people to get to know their neighbours.

Group founder Sophia, 10, felt the need to reach out to neighbours after hearing stories of her Dad’s childhood spent with friends.

And that story makes my smile just a little broader.

With the Little Free Library they have created a little neighbourhood oasis. It has three library boxes ~ for Grown Ups, Young People and Little Ones ~ each at the right height. There’s a sign post and a notice board, and a night light! As well there is a little seating area under the shade of the tree. All this hosted by the Church of Christ.

I visited today, taking a book and leaving one. It’s a simple idea with deep roots, helping to build community and connections.

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Now, which book will I choose? Which one would you take home?

Posted in Melbourne, Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments