Another adventure in the pipeline

Much of my time lately has been taken up with painting our hallway. Our house is an older Victorian terrace, with a loooong hall — over 11 metres — and ceilings of about 3 metres. It has been waiting to be painted for quite a few years now. Why it hasn’t happened is a story not worth telling…sufficient to say that the Fella and I made the decision in October that we would do the work. And work we have.

My job is the fiddly bits — the edges where the wall and ceiling meet, and the architraves and skirting boards. These were painted in gloss paint, which had to be sanded, undercoated and two coats of the top colour applied. While these boards are not the originals, I did choose them many years ago to closely match the originals I had to remove. So they are fancy, with fiddly curves and dips to sand.

Now we have lovely clean, white walls and slightly off white architraves and skirting boards. Well, the latter are almost all done. They are painted in a colour called “Pale Lady”. Fortunately the colour was perfect, as I think I would have bought the paint for the name alone. I am sure there are pale Victorian lady ghosts lurking in the house somewhere!

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I had a friend’s birthday morning tea, which I set up in the hall to celebrate!

You can see that the floor is still to happen, so the skirting boards are loose until we get that sorted. Now to the last few pieces of board to sand and paint.

But that’s not the adventure I am thinking about…..

The Monday before the Melbourne Cup Day holiday the Fella and I took off down the length of the Mornington Peninsular. It is the eastern arm that circles Port Phillip Bay and we went to Portsea, right at the tip of the peninsular.

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Why? Well, the local council has an Artist in Residence Programme down there. You may remember my Artist in Residency stay on Flinders Island a couple of years ago, and how that began my obsession interest with melaleuca trees. I am very attracted to the idea of having weeks away from my normal routine, where all I have to do is practise my art.

And imagine doing that in this cottage!

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And the view of the cottage from the lookout

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The view the other way, across Port Phillip Bay to the Bellarine Peninsular.

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We had a sneak peek in the cottage….

and I can see myself working here.

To top it off, the cottage is at the edge of the Mornington Peninsular National Park. The environment is coastal heathland, with trees and bushes to excite my creativity. Now, to get the application in, and cross my fingers that it is accepted, so that this sign will mean me!

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Naoshima, the Japanese Art Island

Lately I have swapped my little watercolour brushes for a big one, to paint our hallway. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t finished telling you about my adventures in Japan. I have also been doing a workshop to help develop my newsletter. Lots to learn, and lots to put into practice.

Meanwhile, back in Japan…..

Naoshima is a little island in the Seto Inland Sea.

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We (my mother, brother and I) needed to get there from Osaka and the shinkansen was the way to go. The JR office was so efficient. Once the clerk knew our destination she tapped on the computer and out came the tickets we needed to get there. So, armed with our trusty JR rail passes and the tickets we hopped onboard the shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Okayama. There we changed to a middle-sized train to get to Chaymachi, where we changed to a small local train to Uno. Each connection worked smoothly.

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View from the train

I had debated about where we would stay. You can stay on Naoshima Island, but I thought the ferry ride and then getting to the accommodation might have been a couple of steps too many for Mum. It was the correct decision, especially as I made the right choice in Uno Port Inn.

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Its location couldn’t have been better ~ just around the corner from the station, and over the road from the ferry. But it was the Inn itself that made the stay. The staff were welcoming and spoke excellent English. They gave us so much information about the Inn, Naoshima, the ferries, the local area ~ and they made excellent coffee!!

The concept of the Inn is great. Each room had tatami mats but western beds ~ the Japanese vibe without the inconvenience, especially for my elderly Mum. Apparently the upstairs are all Japanese style. Instead of an ensuite each room had a small, private bathroom at the end of the hall. There was a lounge area and cafe for guests. You can see more detail on their website. And a delicious restaurant just around the corner that was still open when we rocked up for a late lunch.

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Naoshima is a small island that was, like country places the world over, languishing. This article explains what happened, 

Naoshima might have been headed for the same relentless decline.

Enter Benesse Holdings, an education and publishing conglomerate based in the nearby city of Okayama. Its best-known brand is Berlitz, the language school company. Benesse’s other claim to fame is its world-class modern art collection, including paintings by Claude Monet, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol, as well as many Japanese artists less famous in the U.S.

The former head of Benesse Holdings, Soichiro Fukutake, wanted a special home for the collection, someplace where it would have a local impact and could also be shared with the wider world.

So, nearly 30 years ago, Benesse bought a big hunk of land on Naoshima’s south side. It hired world-famous architect Tadao Ando, and over the next two decades, he designed museums and adjacent luxury lodgings. The buildings follow the natural contours of the landscape. One museum is mostly underground, with open courtyards and skylights bringing in natural light.

It is not the only Art Island in the area, but is the most well-known.

The photos show that it was a rainy day when we went over, but still warm. And the clouds were spectacular! Unfortunately the rain stopped us from seeing everything, especially the art houses. Not really sure what they are, so I can’t tell you about them. But I will go back the see them….and then you can hear all about it! The article I linked to before details some of the benefits for the locals.

Sculpture is dotted around the island. You may know the images of the pumpkins.

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Spots are the theme of the island, with the bus painted with spots too. The town bus takes you over the island to where the big art galleries are. To get to them you hop on a free shuttle bus (the town bus costs Y100, about $1), which winds up the hill and drops you at the gallery you wish to see.

We went to the Chichu Art Museum. Photos aren’t allowed, but the website gives you a very good feel for the place. It is unlike anything I have been to before. And I loved the Monet paintings displayed there

There was a lot to absorb there, so we decided not to see the two other galleries, and headed to town for another late lunch. Lunch turned out to be one of my favourite moments of the trip.

We hopped off the bus in the drizzle, looked around and down a little alley we saw a doorway with an “Open” sign.

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By now we were quite used being surprised by these small restaurants….and this was no exception. It was larger than it looked from the outside. One room had the traditional tatami mats where you sat on the floor. My brother and I could have managed, but Mum may not have got up again! Fortunately the next room had tables and chairs.

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Can you see the menu? Assorted seafood bowl for Y1500 (roughly $15.00) or roast fish for Y1300 (roughly $13.00). Mum chose the roast fish and said it was the most delicious meal. Andrew and I chose the other. The photo shows my meal; succulent fresh, raw fish on a bed of rice, with miso soup and pickles. The green herb in the little bowl to the right was rather like basil (but it wasn’t), to be sprinkled over the fish. The marshmallow-looking things in the miso soup had normal flavour, but a squishy texture. The meal was delicious.

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At the bottom of the miso soup we found these….

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Mystified, Andrew cracked one open to find a morsel of flesh inside. We later learnt that they are barnacles. Well I never!

So we oohed and aahed our way through lunch, overseen by the two ladies (mother and daughter?) who owned it and cooked for us. Then we braced ourselves for the rain outside and scurried for the shuttle bus, due any minute. Just as we got to the stop one of the ladies ran after us, saying that she would take us over the island to the ferry on the other coast. Such a sweet, thoughtful thing to do.

The last thing to show you is the fish on the esplanade at Uno. I could see it from the Inn, and it looked like a large coloured fish. Imagine my delight when I got up close….

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to find out it was made from detritus, much of it from the sea. (Of course, not delighted by the fact that all that rubbish is in the sea.)

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According to the sign it is “Black Porgy in Uno” by Yodogawa Technique.

And next to it is a smaller fish, created as a children’s slide.

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Would I go back? Yes. I would love to wander the little villages on Naoshima, soaking it all up, finding the unexpected. And I would like to visit the other islands too.

Do you have any tales to tell of unexpected delights on your travels?

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Fabric and fashion in Japan

Before leaving I researched fabric shops in Osaka and Kyoto. My intention was to buy small off-cuts and fabric to use as background for my embroidered trees. How lucky I wasn’t intending to buy dress material – I could have gone mad! My mental shopping list included vintage pieces, especially in indigo, and I would have loved to find boro fabric. (I am becoming interested in boro material/sewing/quilting, and will talk more about it later. If you are interested this link is a good beginning.)

The first shop to track down was Toraya, in Osaka. Japanese addresses are tricky for the uninitiated so my instructions came from another (English speaking) blogger. This is what I wrote in my book, which seemed perfectly doable on my couch in Melbourne:

Ebisubashi, underground shopping arcade running between Shinsaibashi and Namba stations up the Namba end. Take exit 20 at Namba station, turn right in the street, first right; turn right at ABC Mart; on left.

Mum and I negotiated the subway, with the help of a sweet young woman, and got ourselves to Namba station. Underneath every large Japanese station is a web of shopping malls, with exits leading to hotels, department stores and sometimes even to the world above. We were caught up in this maze and realised that looking for exit 20 was beyond us; we were just longing for a way to fresh air. Eventually, with the help of another woman, we popped up above ground.

A much needed coffee was found at Starbucks. (The coffee-snob in me would never drink Starbucks coffee in Melbourne, but we found in very acceptable in Japan. 😉 ) Out came the map, and, once I had oriented myself, I found out we had come up in exactly the right spot. Right at the entrance to Ebisubashi-Suji! It is a long, very long, covered walkway/mall/pedestrian street, which extended for kilometres up to the area around our hotel.

We were ambling along and then Mum said “Is this the place you are looking for?” I would have walked right on past.

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It was material paradise, with the fabric enticingly displayed in lengths. And there was a second floor. The range was extensive, and the prices seemed cheap while the quality good.

 

 

It was hard, but I limited myself to off cuts. I bought this one because it was the colour and weight for my embroidery work.

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It is obvious why I couldn’t resist this, even thought the background is quite vivid lime.

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And this was an impulse buy. Apron maybe?

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In Kyoto Mum and I passed up an opportunity to visit Himeji Castle to go fabric shopping. (Well, we had seen the castle from the train……!) My instructions were more precise but luck still played a part, as we just happened upon Nomura Tailor’s main store. It is another sewer’s paradise and not for the weak-willed! Again, reasonably priced, good quality and extensive range.

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It was here that I found my scraps and off-cuts, and I had a pleasant time rummaging. This is what I came home with

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and…

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Quite restrained, really.

The second Nomura Tailor shop, in another long arcade, was more for quilters, and I can  imagine many of my quilting bloggy friends having a wonderful time there! I was only tempted by some threads.

Mum on the other hand…. I have to take some responsibility here. As you know, I love a project, whether it is mine or someone else’s. So, when Mum said in Osaka “I am going to buy this material for a table cloth” I did not say “Hmmm, is that a good idea?” I was all for it. When she saw material in Kyoto that would make perfect serviettes my reaction was “Perfect!” She doesn’t even have a sewing machine! I finally put on my dutiful daughter hat (once we were back in the hotel room, not in the store!) and said that I would take the material and sew it up.

She also bought one of those pre-package, very tempting kits that you embroider and make up into a bag. She loves embroidering, and I was happy to make it up for her. It never crossed our minds that the instructions might be in Japanese!

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I mentioned ‘fashion’ in the title. I am never up with fashions and trends, so what I saw in Japan may be common knowledge. I loved the clothes women were wearing.

I had expected to see young women in sailor suit tops and Hello Kitty inspired clothes but I hadn’t expected the simplicity and clean lines that I saw in so many outfits. They were often layered, flowing, lots of wide legged pants, berets and hats, very few florals or bright colours. So comfortable but elegant. The colour of the season seemed to be a mustardy orange colour.

The fabulous fabric stores made me wonder whether many women made their own clothes. I was tempted by a Japanese pattern book, but again, it was, naturally, all in Japanese!

This link will give you a taste of the clothes I was seeing.

Only a couple of regrets…

  • I couldn’t find the handcrafted needle shop Misuya-Bari in Kyoto. The instructions told me to look for a pink shop. I can only hope that the pink shop is now another colour and that the needle shop, which has been in the family for 400 years, is still tucked away somewhere in Kyoto.
  • I didn’t see any traditional cloth. That will require more research for the next trip. The closest I came was when a chap sat next to me at a diner. He had jeans mended in the boro tradition. I would have loved a photo, but felt that a stranger asking to photograph his thigh might be taken the wrong way!

More blog posts to come, as I want to tell you about Naoshima, the Art island, as well as tempt you with some of the delicious food we ate. This is a link to my previous post about the cities I traveled to.

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How was your trip?

Well, thank you so much for asking. My trip to Japan was fantastic, and will spawn a number of blog posts! This first one will be a general overview of the cities I visited. There will be lots more traveller’s tales to come.

In Japan I travelled all the time with my mother, most of the time with my younger brother and some of the time with my older brother and his family.

Our first stop was Osaka, which I loved unconditionally. No “this was good but I didn’t like that”. It was a great place to walk around in, narrow streets, something interesting wherever I looked. Every corner showed a street that I wanted to walk along.

And it was quiet, because there seemed to be more bicycles than cars. Not safer though, as the cyclists are rather crazy! It was one of the contradictions of Osaka…..In Melbourne I happily walk against the red light if it is safe; in Japan I waited patiently with all the other pedestrians for the green light . Meanwhile the helmet- less cyclists would ride through red lights, go on the wrong side of the road and meander across the road, often while talking on the phone or holding an umbrella! There were no crashes because they seem to allow for the path the pedestrian is on. The only ‘accident’ we saw was a lady loosing her high-heeled shoe as she cycled!

And the food….a post for another day!

We left Osaka and travelled by train to Uno. Before I tell you about that let me rave about the train system.

Foreign tourists are able to buy a JR Rail Pass. Like a Eurail Pass, it must be bought before you enter the country but it allows unlimited travel for the life of the pass. Rail is the way to get around ~ efficient, frequent, safe, clean and goes to most areas. To get to Uno we needed 3 trains, which would seem, by anyone used to Australia’s rail system, to be rather a nightmare. However we walked into the JR office, told the clerk where we wanted to go and after a few taps on the computer, she gave us tickets for all the legs. The connections were perfect. (You only need to go into the office if you wish to reserve a seat. Otherwise you just flash your pass as you enter the station.)

Our first train was one of the Shinkansen trains. They used to be known as the bullet trains. They are sleek, fast machines.

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The next trains got progressively smaller as we got further into the country. Uno is a ferry port on the Seto Inland Sea, with stunning views over the many islands in the sea.

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We were there to visit Naoshima, aka as the Art Island, which I will tell you more about in a later post. For now let me tell you about the place where we stayed, Uno Port Inn.

It is the brain child of Max, who lived for a while in New York. He has created a welcoming place to stay that has a great vibe, including jazz streaming from a radio station in New York. There are only about half a dozen rooms, all with tatami mats, but western beds; you get the feel for Japan while still being able to get up in the mornings! There aren’t ensuites. Instead each room has its own private, well appointed little  bathroom down the corridor.

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There’s a guest lounge, and they make fabulous coffee!! The ferry is close by and the staff, who speak good English, are happy to help out with visiting Naoshima.

After two nights we were back on the two trains to Okayama and then the Shinkansen to Kyoto, to meet up with the other parts of the travelling family.

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The view from our hotel room

I love Kyoto too, but with not unconditionally.  The main streets are busy and modern, and some leading to the big temples are quite touristy. You have to get off them and, like in Osaka, just wander to find the little delights. We were staying in the Gion area of old Kyoto, so the houses were old and wooden and utterly charming (and probably expensive!) The houses and shops come right to the street, and doorways have lanterns or pot plants or maybe a tree. I was delighted to find an neighbourhood with a car mechanic, a supermarket and a hairdresser who was crocheting between clients!

Kyoto has narrow roads that run alongside canals. They are lovely to walk along during the day and quite enchanting at night.

And how could I resist this photo?!

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Off again on the Shinkansen, all the way from Kyoto to Nagasaki, which is on the western tip of Japan. We changed at Hakata from the Shinkansen to a local train, and had lovely views of the coast and the mountains.

Nagasaki is nestled into valleys, which makes it very picturesque. It also has a tram system that brought a joy to this Melbourne heart! As it’s smaller than the other cities it has a country town feel about it, despite the ship yards!

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Of course the Peace Park was the thing we wanted to see. I was disappointed. It was so busy with Chinese tourists from a cruise ship and school children that it lacked any solemnity. (Although the school groups were very respectful, often with heads bowed, but they were teenagers.)

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There were lots of statues; the one that moved me most was in recognition of atomic survivors world wide, including indigenous Australians, service personnel and civilian workers who were affected by British nuclear testing in Maralinga. This is a world wide issue, and one one that has become so prominent again.

Back on the trains again to our last stop at Hiroshima.

It is a very modern city, as so much of it was wiped out in by the first atomic bomb in 1945. Although many parts of Nagasaki was destroyed, I think a lot of it was saved because of the hills and valleys. Hiroshima, like many Japanese cities is very flat, with the mountains in the background. The blast just radiated out.

The A bomb dome and Peace Park area were more solemn than Nagasaki ~ fewer people and a drizzly rain helped build the atmosphere. There are many memorials discretely through the park, while the A Bomb Dome rightly dominates.

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There is a very moving memorial to the victims of the bombing. Oral accounts were collected in 1950, and those survivor stories are told in this memorial. Stories that world leaders who talk of annihilation should be forced to listen to.

The Children’s Memorial is another place that touched me. You probably know the story of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes. Now children from all over the world fold cranes and some are displayed both at Nagasaki and here in Hiroshima.

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Some cranes have been created into pictures.

Shikkeien is a beautiful old Japanese garden not far from the epicentre of the bomb. It was devastated by the blast, but has since been rebuilt, to provide a serene and restful antidote.

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So that’s the overview. We took the Shinkansen directly from Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka and then the airport train to Kansai airport. So easy!

I still have lots to tell you, but my adventures in fabric shops and restaurants will have to wait for another time.

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10 things that marriage equality won’t do

All Australians will know the background to our current Marriage Equality debate. For non-Australians, I will quickly bring you up-to-date by saying that despite the majority of Australians supporting Marriage Equality, our conservative government would not take the issue to Parliament. Instead they have issued a postal survey that is not compulsory and not binding on our parliamentarians.

I have to reblog Meeks’ latest post, as her ’10 things marriage equality won’t do’ is a great antidote to some of the arguments against giving everyone the chance to marry whomever they want.

Meeka's Mind

A co-worker brought in a pamphlet yesterday. The heading read ‘3 ways gay marriage will change the classroom’. And I quote

More radical gay & lesbian sex ‘education’ programs in schools‘ like Safe Schools which ‘..already teach kids about various forms of sexual activity and encourages sexual experimentation from an early age‘.

Kids will be taught their gender is fluid‘…’something they choose, not something they are born with‘.

Loss of parents’ rights‘. ‘In other countries where gay marriage has been legalised, parents have found themselves in court after trying to pull their kids out of radical gay sex education classes‘.

We were all gobsmacked at the ignorance and blatant disregard for the truth. So here are some things that won’t happen when marriage equality is finally made law:

1.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become gay. Homosexuality is…

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Japlanning

Yes, I am off on an adventure to Japan. I have been Japlanning, a termed coined by a woman in my Pilates group. My Piladies [women who do Pilates!] are my go-to people for so many things. Anyway, my head has been in Japanese hotels and rail passes, and all the things that need to be done before you go away. I apologise that I haven’t been a very good blogger lately, only just keeping up with reading; commenting has been very sporadic.

And there has been no creative work.

I went to Japan about 10 years ago, and am very excited about going back. Last time I went as a delegate of the Australian Teachers’ Union. The AEU was a sister organisation with the Shizuoka teachers’ union, so we had the opportunity to stay with practising teacher.

It was such a fabulous experience to live for a few days with my host in her traditional house in Hamamatsu, getting a glimpse of  her life. I went to school with her for two days. That was an eye-opener, and deserving of a post of its own. There won’t be any of that on this visit. This time I am a tourist, but maybe one with a little more understanding of life below the surface.

I am travelling with family and we fly into Osaka, where I will spend a few days before I go onto the art island of Naoshima. Then back to Kyoto to meet up with more family. We travel to Nagasaki, Hiroshima and then back to Osaka. I know that all the bookings and connections will be fine, but until they are, you always worry a little.

Now I am at the stage of organising all the odds and ends. I am surrounded by lists and every time I cross something off I add another thing!

So I will be off the blogging radar for a while. However, I will be full of Japanese excitement when I get back and I will be raring to tell you all about it. I hope to be posting on Instagram, so you might like to keep up with my travels at @annelawson54

Have any of you been to Japan? Any tips or tricks or must-see places in the cities I will be going to?

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Winter textile work

When I create a post I write, add photos, edit and then press ‘publish’. Most of the writing has happened in my head, so I am usually happy with what I write. This post has been different; this is the third or fourth go. The post is about ‘where to next’ with my fabric art work, and as I wrote I learnt more about where I am going. Let me be more concrete…..

This is how I began, and I am satisfied with it as it is mostly straight forward.

In my last newsletter I was musing about the textile work I do in Winter. I try to keep that story telling part of the newsletter shortish, so I want to use this blog to work through some of the things I am thinking about.

I have always loved hand sewing. My early creative career as a bag maker was begun as a way to use the embroidery I was creating. Embroidery has run parallel to my painting, but since my return a couple of years ago from my artist in residency at Mountain Seas Resort on Flinders Island I have been more conscious about creating. Slowly I have been thinking more about where I want this to go. I will return to this in a moment, but let me show you what I am talking about.

There are two sorts of embroidery I am doing. One is on tapestry canvas. I have found beautiful merino wool from Fibreworks; it is the right weight for the work I am doing and Gill dyes the wool to create colours of the Australian bush. Perfect weight, perfect variegated colours. I use my photos for inspiration, set up some compositional guidelines and then sit on the couch, in the warmth and sew. You can read a tapestry post  here.

This is the sort of work I have been creating, works inspired by Flinders Island

and this from last year’s trip to Menindee

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This is my current work-in-progress, again inspired by the arid, salt-bush environment of Menindee. I think is much better than the earlier one.

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Then came this section, which is a second or third draft. What I wrote made me consider the options I had.

Which brings me to my deeper musings…..what am I going to do with these?  I have written a few drafts about this, and that process has helped resolve the question. I was going to ask “Should I do this [put them in my Etsy shop] or should I do that [exhibit them]”. Thinking it through has made me realise that I want to exhibit them.

Using the E-word (Exhibit) in public is a big one for me. I find it difficult to approach someone to say “My work is so good that you should exhibit it”. There is the risk of rejection, and there is fear of Pride. There is the inner voice telling me I am not ready yet, that I don’t have time, to wait until I have done bigger pieces. You know the reasons, as I am sure we all have that voice which tells similar excuses.

However, there is a council-run gallery that has applications to exhibit in one of their spaces, and that must be the Universe telling me to stop procrastinating and just do it. That universe is made up of everyone I know yelling out to me “Do It Anne!!!!”. I can hear you from here! So, yes, I will.

Which is where I stopped. Something wasn’t right. Then the Universe came up with a weekly newsletter from Sara Genn. This week she was responding to a query about being ready for exhibiting. Her advice shows that you can’t rely on the Universe for any meaningful guide to the way forward, as it was this section that resonated:

Have you got a few hundred paintings?
Select from this year’s production your best 20. If you haven’t got an embarrassment of riches to choose from, go back to your room and paint. Your shortlist should be thematic but varied in ideation and show an evolution of imagination, technique and skill.

That’s what is missing, my body of work. It’s not my inner critic saying “You’re not ready”, it is this true statement ~ I am not ready.

So, now to create those few hundred works…… Realistically that number is not going to happen. However I do need to have a body of work that I can show a gallery, rather than an idea backed up by one or two pieces.

I am (almost) ready to press ‘publish’ for this post and then go back to my creating. But just before I do…..I mentioned above that I am creating two sorts of fabric work, and I only showed you the tapestry-style ones. The others use stitching, organza and other fabric to make trees (no surprise there!). You can see them on my Instagram feed.

Have you had any experience with exhibiting, or preparing a folio? I’d love other from you.

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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 , , , , , , | 53 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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Posted in AnneLawsonArt, Birds, My art work, Texture | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments