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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Sewing #1

Not a very imaginative title, not one that will make the algorithms sit up and take notice, but the best I can do at the moment.

It is #1 because I hope it to be the first of a weekly series documenting my work.

My intention is to spend time each day on my latest project. To hold me accountable I am going to document my daily progress. I was going to post every day, but realised how tedious that would be for me and for you.

So I am photographing each day, and on Sundays I will post the progress from the previous week.

I love your comments, but please, don’t feel obligated to comment on these posts. I am happy to show you what I am up to, but it is also to keep myself accountable to myself.

Now, to set the scene…..I have begun a new work that is based on the Maribyrnong River, which flows close to me. Melbourne’s main river is the Yarra; the Maribyrnong is rather a forgotten one but equally interesting and diverse. I will tell you about it some time soon.

You can see the flow of the river in this work. However, the green along the banks is my creative licence, as much of the area is built up now. I am hoping the layers of stitching show that layering of time.

Now, the eagle eyed among you will have realised that this is not a full week’s work. Yes, I fell at the first fence. I have spent the last couple of days over at my Mum’s while my brother takes some time for himself. I sewed one day, but forgot to photograph it. After I hit publish on this post, I will add some more stitches to it.


Last post I mentioned recycling my x-rays. The Elsternwick Library has a great e-waste recycling station, that took the x-rays. It is not far from Mum’s, so I had a tiny adventure to Elsternwick ~ a visit to the Library, a delicious coffee and picked up some yummy quiches for lunch.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work Texture

On the other side of the hedge

The world is in a difficult place at the moment. The people of Ukraine are at the forefront of our minds. In Australia many are suffering devastating losses due of the recent floods. The pandemic still rampages about. Behind all our anxiety is climate change.

I wonder about sitting sewing, about writing about my art work. Is there something more profound I should be doing?

Charlotte Wood’s words in “The luminous solution” came at the right time.

To create is to defy emptiness. It is generous, it affirms. To make is to add to the world, not subtract from it. It enlarges, not diminishes.

So, here I am.

Last time I mentioned my work I was still deep in the masterclass with Donna Watson. This last month or so has been a great time of exploration for me. I thank Donna for helping me understand that the deeper you go into your self the more reflective your art is. While the outer world has been shit, my inner world is bright and shiny!

And I am definitely on the other side of the hedge.

I have been exploring lace work. My house, like many others in inner Melbourne, has cast iron lacework on the verandah. It has become a little bit of an obsession, my own “wormhole of fascination” to quote Woods again.

I have been playing with ideas, which started with paper and paint. Doing these collages made me realise that I have trouble with backgrounds, an area that I now know has always been weak for me. Textile works seemed to be a way to dodge the issue, not to solve the problem!

This was the first. Two similar ones followed.

The motif in the middle is an element on my lacework. I cut it out from paper, painted it and sewed (laced) it down.

After more pondering I realised that rather than being three separate art works, there was really one, some sort of quilt. (I know there are some of you now thinking “I knew Anne would come to quilting”! Yes Kate, I’m looking at you!)

More pondering and playing to work out what the other panels would be like.

I crocheted for a few hours until my fingers and brain finally worked together to get a shape that I liked. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work with the other bits. I tried odds and ends of lace, different materials and embroidery.

Then, as I was looking for ribbon to tie up the lace bundles, I found twine that florists use to tie up bouquets. I could tear it and twist it and it would hold its form. Perfect! What I was trying to do was make seed heads of the parsley that grows abundantly in the garden. To me these seed heads are also lacy, and bring the garden element into the work.

There’s a little more embroidery to do on this, but it fits with one of the other block like this.

I am hoping that the finished work will look something like this….only less rumpled and more precise!

One of the things I have loved about this is letting the work take its own time. Rather than rushing through, moving quickly to the next thing that catches my attention, I am allowing each element to evolve.

I am gradually accepting that making art is not about sales and exhibitions, although both are wonderful. It is about the process, not the product. It’s about finding the right way to express my ideas, which means refining those ideas. To think deeply and precisely, rather than being slapdash.

Danny Gregory speaks about how art is seen as a commodity in our society, to be bought and sold. We can be made to feel that our work only has validity through outside measures ~ sales, reviews, opinions etc. As though that’s what makes it a legitimate endeavour. But he goes on to say

Making art is mainly about the making. It’s a process, a game, a state of being. Society may insist on evaluating only the result.

But that’s not your problem.

And that’s what I am learning.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Snipping away at the hedge

My masterclass with Donna Watson, “Essence of Identity” has made me think about a number of things. I had just begun in the last post.

The first thing Donna asked us was to deepen my understanding who I am. I have written lists of personality traits, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses and words to describe my art. It is the beginning, to explore deeper, to find my own voice, my own artistic map.

A side note: One of the exercises was to think about what various words mean to you. One was hope. I realised I didn’t really understand the word. I glibly say “I hope you have a good day”, “I hope you get better”, “I hope the world can become a better place.” I wondered whether hope was another word for wishful thinking.

After some reading I now understand that hope is a powerful treasure. Hope implies that there is the possibility of a better future, a vague glimmer of something better. However, it is more than that. It is not just passive wishing, but motivates positive action. It is optimistic and courageous, and gives us confidence. We have hope, I never gave up hope, implying that hope is something you hold dearly. We loose hope and fall into despair.

It’s not delusional , it isn’t denial or pretending. To have hope is to acknowledge the truth of the situation while working to find the best way to cope. It is something to hold onto at all costs.

Meanwhile, back at the masterclass….. The end of this module was to create a self-portrait. I made a book, which itself was part of the portrait. I am very tactile, and love to be making, love to be using my hands, so folding the paper into the book was another part of who I am. Finding ways to express who I am was a good challenge. What would you put into in a self-portrait?

The next exploration was our sense of place, a place that has figured prominently in our lives. I needed to define what that meant for me, and came up with words like magical, safe, interesting, resonates; a place that expands me and allows me to be who I am meant to be.

My place is my home and garden. It nurtures me; it’s my creative space; it is where I have strong roots; it is my safe, secure space. The garden, while frustrating at times, is also a place to explore plants and to connect with nature.

Again our task was to create a representation of our space. This was hard. I found it so difficult to find a way to express in a physical/creative way all of what I feel. It is too complex to distill down into a few images. So instead of making another book I created a mind map.

My latest exploration has been into the design elements I respond to. Design elements are:

  • Colour
  • Value
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Pattern and mark making

Donna’s exercises and examples have helped me understand and sort through my ideas. Some things become much clearer. For example when I was a botanic artist I would start to understand my subject by doing a tonal drawing of it, and my colour matching was often skimpy. I am an artist who responds to value rather than colour, which is why I loved the tonal drawings and struggled at times with the colour. Looking at my photos I see that I am attracted to the highlights of colour and strong contrasts.

Now I also know that I am an artist who responds to organic shapes, rather than geometric ones. That I love texture, but I have always know that. However I have learnt that I think I prefer texture created within the work by using stitch or marks or lines, rather than added onto the work, like bits of lace. This is something to explore further, as I would like my collage and textile work to merge.

Last post I used the image of a hedge as a barrier in my way. I think I have begun to snip away at that hedge. I have hope that my artistic voice will be clearer on the other side.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.  I also acknowledge that this Wednesday, the anniversary of the day white settlers invaded Aboriginal land, is a traumatic day for many Aboriginal people. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Standing before a hedge

It’s been a funny old time lately. As I have said a few times and in a few different places my creativity/art practice feels stuck. I realised I didn’t like the idea of stuck, with the image of me in mud, unable to move. My mind is happier with the image of a hedge in front of me. It’s a barrier, but even if I can’t chop it all down, I know that I can snip my way through it.

So what’s in the hedge, what’s stopping me?

  • Mess and stuff, which seems to have accumulated around me. I have begun to tidy, clean up and throw out/recycle, and am happy to take this one cupboard/box/basket at a time. (Wasn’t this what lockdown was supposed to be about ~ cleaning out cupboards?!)
  • Having enough finished works. Part of me thinks, why do I want to make more?
  • The lack of inspiration. In my life BC (before covid, of course!) I loved to meander through galleries, along beaches, in new towns and along highways. That came to a halt, and I still feel wary about getting out and about at the moment.
  • and other things that are going on in my life. They aren’t my stories to tell but still demand my time and energy.
  • Maybe too there is the general malaise that many of us are feeling. Weary, uncertain, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Then the perfect online masterclass came along. “The essence of identity” with Donna Watson. The goals of the course seemed to fit me perfectly ~ “This class is ideal for you if you are looking for clear strategies and exercises to move your creativity forward and if you are ready to go deeper, raising your level of creative consciousness.” Yep, that’s me.

Already I have insights, that arose out of Donna’s simple request to write down the strengths and weaknesses of my art. I love doing the collages of reeds, mangroves and rock pools, and I thought I was showing the fragility and importance of those habitats. However I wasn’t sure where to go beyond that. More of the same? Another habitat? I realised I had an interesting technique but that I needed to go deeper with the concept of environmental fragility that lies behind these works. I am not sure what I mean by that, but I want to find out.

At the end of the course I would love to have integrated the different parts of my art. I have a range of techniques in my toolbox. I am excited by collage and I love textile work. I want to learn how to use the different technique/element from my toolbox at the right time and in the right place. I think that will come when I have delved deeper into my art and practice and found my own voice.

As I mentioned in my SAL post, I am not taking on any projects at the moment, either textile or other. I want just play with ideas, bits of paper and stitches, to see what emerges.

However, not having a project is difficult. I am quite outcome driven, and not knowing what I want to do before I sit down can be quite uncomfortable. The mantra “Don’t think, don’t name” is useful. So is remembering that uncomfortable is good if I am prepared to work out the why’s of that feeling.

This exploration coincides with an idea I just found today ~ to go deeper not wider. It comes from David Cain, and the idea is to use whatever you have for a year, a Depth Year. Use the materials, the skills, the books, the musical instrument that you already have, and gain experience and find value in those things.

I like that idea although I am not sure about the books, especially if it includes Library books. I am attracted to the next bright and shiny thing ~ a piece of material that I might need, a pencil that will make my work sing, a new sketchbook, a new technique ~ especially a new technique. Using the skills, knowledge and materials I already have is another way of focussing and limiting my options.

So, I am going exploring. I will be fooling around and playing. I will be thinking and meandering in my own head. Also I am hoping that my thoughts and ideas will come tumbling out onto blog posts.

(I am reminded of the delightful children’s book “How Tom beat Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen” by the wonderful Russell Hoban and illustrated by the irrepressible Quentin Blake.Do you know it?)


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

‘Between Worlds’

“Between Worlds”. That’s the title of my exhibition in Kyneton, at the Old Auction House.

If you read my newsletter* you will know that I have been offered an extension to the exhibition dates. That was such a nice surprise (although not for the artist who was unable to mount theirs after mine). In Melbourne we are back in lockdown, so visiting is out of the question. I felt that maybe my collages would be locked away in the gallery for the time.

It is now running until September 13th at

The Old Auction House

52 ~ 56 Mollison St

Kyneton

Surely in that time this current lockdown will be lifted so that I can get to see it, along with lots of other Melburnians too of course. It is already open for those of you living in regional Victoria. I was delighted to come across this on the Visit Macedon Ranges website.

A taste of some of the collages in the exhibition. These are all in the Reeds series, inspired by my local wetlands.

Reeds #2 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #2 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #3 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #3 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #1 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #1 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #2 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #4 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #6 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021
Reeds #6 Image copyright Anne Lawson 2021

* If you are interested in finding out more detail of my art practice, my newsletter is the thing to read. I publish it monthly, although at the moment, with the two exhibitions on the go, it has been a little more frequent. People tell me that they really enjoy reading it, which is always heartening to hear.


My blog looks different now. You may remember me bemoaning that I couldn’t type/edit/publish posts on WordPress on my laptop. That page was just blank. Advice was to change the theme, so I have, and it worked. I am happily typing with my fingers rather than my thumbs on the WP app on my phone. Bonus is that I quite like the clarity of this theme.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

The Ascot Vale Library Exhibition is up

Last Wednesday I carried my art works into the Library and met MJ, the Community Arts Officer. It was her hard work that enabled this to happen in the Library. And her hard work that made my works look great in the space. She was up and down the ladder quite a few times for each piece.

We decided to group the works thematically. Above the children’s shelves are the reeds and water ribbons.

This photo was taken before they were hung. The little blue postitnotes are gone.

The rock pools and dunes have been hung above the higher adult non-fiction shelves.

I was really delighted at the positive comments staff and library users made as we were hanging them. One staff member remarked on how soothing they were, and they all agreed that it was lovely to have art back on their walls.

I would love to show you how they look now they are hung, but unfortunately Victoria has gone into another lockdown and the Library is closed. I have to make do with peeking through the windows!

As I was walking past one of the librarians hastened to the window and mimed how much she loved the works. That cheered my lockdown heart!

So big thanks to MJ and the others at the Incinerator Art Gallery for giving me this opportunity to show my work to my community, and beyond.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.
I also acknowledge that the rock pools and dunes were inspired by places on lands belonging to the Boon Wurrung people.

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AnneLawsonArt Melbourne My art work

Three more paintings

I am running a little behind with posting my works for the exhibition, so here comes three at once!

They are still in the water ribbons series, although the first one is of reeds more than the water ribbons. I think that’s the one that will be chosen as the hero image for the exhibition.

I love that term ‘hero image’. It is the painting that is used as the image for the exhibition, on promo materials and grand banners, if I was having one of those! Instead I think it will be on the website of the Incinerator Art Gallery website, which is organising the exhibition. Maybe on the Library’s material too.

This one is cropped too tightly. While the water ribbons are close to the left edge, there are more showing than in this photo.

Tomorrow is the big day, when the works will be hung in the Library. I will have photos to show you very soon! Thanks for all the positive support and feedback you have been giving me.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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AnneLawsonArt Melbourne My art work

Water ribbons #2

The second in the water ribbons series. Water ribbons are aquatic plants that appear out of the water, away from the banks.

With this one I was playing about with oil pastel and watercolour, using the oil pastel as a resist. It was fun to move the paint around over the oil pastel, even blowing through a straw. Then I cut out around the shapes to make the thre clumps.

I like the energy in this one, and I think the background adds to it. However, it is not a favourite. In fact I wasn’t going to put it into the exhibition until a friend said it worked for her. Another example of how something appeals to one person and not another.

A reminder about the exhibition:

Ascot Vale Library

Union Rd

Ascot Vale, Melbourne

From 14th July (That’s this week –very exciting!) Until 8th December.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Water ribbons

The more I looked at the wetlands near me, the more I saw. I first saw the reeds and their wonderful reflections, then I looked closer and saw another group of plants, the water ribbons. They have long scrappy leaves that emerge right out of the water.

I was intrigued by the seed pods that appeared, expecting them to flower. Instead, surprisingly, they stayed as berries.

With this collage I wanted to capture the strappy leaves and to show how it grows out of the water. The whole clump was created by scraping paint across the paper, and then carefully cutting out. I like the composition of the clump sitting strongly in the bottom left.

Remember it is one of the collages in the exhibition at the Ascot Vale Library, Union Rd, Ascot Vale, which opens next Wednesday, 14th July.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Another mangrove collage

The theme for my exhibition is habitats that lie between the land and the sea, Between Worlds. They are often habitats that have been disregarded, so drained and built over. We have come to learn, at a high cost, how precious they are.

Mangroves fit in perfectly here. They are muddy and difficult to move through, not glamorous or beautiful, but oh so important. They are natural water filters and breeding grounds for many fish species. Ecosystems are complex.

However all along the coast of Australia–and I am sure many other parts of the world–they have been seen as wasteland, land better used as marinas and development.

The aerial photo that inspired my collages was of mangroves in Westernport Bay, a RAMSAR site. Close to this precious area is a gas terminal, which wanted to expand and have more ships come though the Bay. There was a lot of opposition, which fortunately put enough pressure on the government to stop the expansion. Fortunately we still have this wonderful area for fish and birds and weedy seadragons.

The bush shapes for this collage were created with various papers — tissue paper, photocopy paper, brown paper and the paper florists wrap flowers in. I printed the colours on the gelli plate. After I torn out the shapes I layered them to add interest and extra texture. You can see some of the layers in the photo.

For the background I scraped paint over an A3 sheet of photocopy paper. Then I tore it into strips and glued them back down. I like the sense of movement it gives.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.