Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Time to turn inwards

The wind has bought the cold and I am feeling the draw of the inside rather than the lure of the outdoors. Quick trips to do chores and hastily harvest planned dye bath materials have become the pattern, rushing back inside before the next sheets of rain drive across the garden and onto the decks. Always, inside the fire is constant and the pots are happily holding their magic ingredients. Such a lucky place to be. 

I will be leading botanical dying workshops next autumn that will focus on our particular native plants around Ōpunakē some of which I have never used before. So I rushed to harvest the seed pods from the Harekeke plants that line many parts of my daily dog walks. these pods ripen quite quickly and caste their enormous abundance of seeds far and wide from the long wind tossed shafts of the flower heads. They are magnificent as photographic studies and of course 100% iconic of NZ. The trick for this project was to capture the pods before they did this dispersal. 

close up of the flowers finishing and forming the seed pods

Two different types of Harekeke around my walk. 

I am totally obsessed and in love with these forms and colours. The pods are oily and reflective and the weather here distorts things into curious alignments. If the dogs would allow I would spend hours photographing them. 

Anyway with a back pack stuffed full of these pods before they spilled their seeds I was a happy walker. 

Then came the job of emptying the pods of their goodies. A couple of hours later I had this: 

A big roasting dish full of these luminescent magical seeds. 

Several hours of slow cooking on top of our trusty wood stove yielded a lovely dye colour once the seeds had been strained.

Into this deliciousness went some wool and of course some silk, back onto the wood-stove for an afternoon of gentle slow cooking. 

And was it worth it????


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Finishing up loose ends. February 2023.

 The hardest part of being an active creative person for me is finishing things I have started. 

My mind is a little like the proverbial grasshopper. I see material and immediately have ideas. I think with having such a large and glorious upstairs creating space I have spread out all my bibs and bobs and as I walk through the space for one reason or another I am triggered to pause and do a little on something that captures my eye and then something else calls for my attention and off I go. 

So the pile of nearly done works is getting a little high even for me. It is time to take the matter in hand......This is in no-way connected with the upcoming start of 2023 as I did resolve this after my hip surgery. However in the meantime life has kept rolling over my intentions which get increasingly unfocused. 

It is a very simple target..... finish one thing each day. 

How complicated can that be? 

Apparently >>>>>> quite. 

As I pick this up to finish it and make it go live I realise that more than 45 days into 2023 I am slowly doing this - some days more than others. So a new direction is to finish the things my mind has hopped to - last week it was elderberry dying as the berries were being consumed by the birds. Collected the berries and straight away put in the pot to come to nearly boiling then turned it off. While that was happening I managed to skein some small quantities of silks and wools to put into the dye bath after dinner. that gave me time to bring the pot up to temp for 1 hour and then to leave the yarn in the dye to cool overnight. 

Of course then there is the delay while things dry, are washed to ensure any extra dye is off the surface and then drying again. However I am proud to announce these first round of dyed threads is now carefully wound and labelled ready for use. 
As well as this I have done some more work to use the willow branches that I had soaked before they were past using, so some play with willow has happened. This then reminded me that I love the handmade cordage as the finishing wrap around the baskets/vessels that I form so I spent three nights making some gorgeous cordage.

So how easy is it to get distracted from finishing already started projects.....

I did however manage to decide on and frame up all ready to send to the exhibition a very small triptych that is for a Predator Free exhibition in March. I called it The Colonising Biome. It is made of cast weed and grass paper - evoking the replacement of our former natural biome of coastal native vegetation with the stuff to make the fabulous white gold that dominates our economy in Taranaki.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Absence from the studio and the gallery.........but I'm back.

 One of the occupational hazards of being both a floor loom hand weaver and an organic gardener is that wear and tear on the body accumulates. How thankful I am for medical interventions that have given me a new level of mobility without pain........ NOW it is time to get back into the looms and start making my way through the long dreamed of fabrics. 

There has still been some happy making happening in the studio - a little bit of tapestry weaving and quite a lot of botanical dying because it is that season. 

These new works have been put together with some older makings for The Cupboard Collection 2022. This exhibition will run until the end of the Taranaki Arts Trail. 

I have been, as you all know, exploring my "place"; where I am on the globe and what it offers me to create with and to desire to create about. 

The small work shown above hangs on the glorious piece of driftwood harvested from Middleton Bay, just metres from my home and studio. The frame-loom woven tapestry is created using a commercially over-spun single that I over-dyed with kawakawa plant colour. 

It speaks of how the sky and the land merge across the coastline and the feeling of vastness and my own personal reaction to being able to call such a place home and such an experience as a daily option. 

I am surrounded by this visual richness and cannot help but be inspired by it to find a way to create evidence of my emotional reaction to such an environment. My hope in creating such an intimate work is that someone will find a place to position it so that it can become a recharger, a healer, a dream site for them to see and enter in their imagination often and repeatedly just like I am privileged to be able to do. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

A new space

 I have been in my new studio and gallery space for nearly two years now. So technically it is not really "new" anymore. 

However I am still learning how to use the spaces and, not surprisingly, still setting up equipment and unpacking long stored stashes. 

It has been a slow period of reassessing my practice - what has been urgent for me to get up and going?, what has dragged on a bit?, what do I walk around all the time and not really"see"?  In many ways the arrival into this space has marked the start of a new stage in my practice of 45+years.  Is it the start of moving to an old age practice? It does certainly involve letting go of things that might have excited me in a younger body with a sharper set of eyes and more nimble fingers. I am struggling through this process of letting my expectations embrace the realities of my physical existence.  Alongside that change is the reality that different things capture my mind now and excite my creative juices.  How lucky I am to be experiencing this revitalisation. It is true that something dies to enable new growth and this has been the process in my setting up of my new studio space.  

There is now just the final letting go to happen, perhaps not just yet but gradually and soon. 

What will emerge once the letting go is done? 

That is the great unknown that makes it worthwhile entering the making space every time. 

I am working for the annual Taranaki Arts Trail coming up at the end of the month. The workbenches are covered with botanically dyed elements for bookmaking. I have been busy dying across the winter months when the woodfire could provide a free heat so there are many new pieces of delightful goodness to work with. 

The looms are threaded (nearly) or will be in time for the Arts Trail. I am on a roll to finish the many partial projects I have scattered amongst the chaos, so I can create order for studio visitors. I am trying not to panic too intensely when that task seems overwhelming. Just do one thing at a time, complete it, label it, have it totally ready for the busy time that is coming along. 

The interruption of Covid lockdowns has very mixed impacts on how I feel about spending time in the studio. But I am grateful and consider myself very lucky that my work place is not inaccessible by lockdowns. That would be very hard to handle. 

So slowly and steadily working towards the future. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"This Week" series, "A Fortnight"- Diaristic works.

"This Week III"

"This Week" Series. 
Aspects of the work:
1. Materials used are: 
a. warps -silk that has been dyed in the eco-dye baths used for the picket fence explorations.
b. wefts – cotton fibres ‘unwoven’ from the eco-dyed calico used for the picket fence explorations.
These materials were all in studio stock – ready – at – hand.

2.Weaving is a repetitive activity. The stitching used is based on variations of knot making, drawing through various loops at various frequencies.

3. The pieces are created with one warp sett per day; each sett containing 8 warp ends – referencing the eight hour mundane day (If you sleep eight hours, work eight hours there can be only eight hours left for the everyday). They are built up to a seven day composite or a weekly unit.

4. It is planned to make these on an ongoing series across a period of time.

5. The fineness of the materials used and the unevenness of the subtle colouring is chosen to make the thread work existent but illusive. Shadow created by the mounting of the work amplifies as it masks the actual work. This resonates with mundane work that often only has its visibility in the effect it has of maintaining a functioning existence.

6. The fineness of the materiality and the small scale of the thread work evidences maker commitment or an intensity of emotional investment, reflective of the large part of mundane work being emotional labour.

7. The scale of the created work and the form of presentation are designed to stage an intense viewing experience. The details are incrementally perceived on close inspection. This relates to the micro-detail level of care the mundane is mostly involved with.

8. By creating these works with the concepts behind them I feel I have given a materiality to time.

9. The pieces are inspired by the ephemeral nature of much mundane activity – the tales of the work are loose, often unsecured. The passages of the weaving or stitching are mobile on the warp threads – they are not totally fixed or permanently located on their warp setts.

10. The warps used in these pieces are high value Cambodian raw silk. This is life – valuable, hard to come by. The wefts are recycled threads taken from other projects and reworked in a new nature so instead of being hard packed into a tightly woven pragmatic calico fabric – good for lining curtains but very cheap to purchase – they are treated with delicacy and high regard to create networks of beauty and individuation of each strand.

11. The overall impression created in these pieces is of fragility but they also have a tension and resilience in them with the warps being maintained under tension. This reflects the nature of everyday life – fragile but surprisingly resilient.

12 It is widely believed that the everyday is a set of habituated practices. This description implies things are monotonously repeated identically over and over but in fact that is never the case in the human process – there are always nuances of variation. The weaving and stitching is using a very limited vocab of automatic or habituated activities but every expression is subtly different from all others

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hoarding for the future

Absolutely scrumptious dried grasses, collected at the start of our present drought, hung to keep intact. Waiting now for inclusion in my paper-making and botanical contact printing for the next round of mindfulness books. Excited. 

Establishing the Weavery 01/01/2018

We have been working hard on the new direction for my creative business and the last few days have seen the first stage reaching a conclusion. We have refitted and extended an exisiting structure on our property ready to house some of my weaving equipment and supplies. Here is the grand old lady Sunflower loom that has been my creative mainstay for nearly 40 years. She is a glorious 8 harness Swedish style counterbalance floor loom, 48 inches weaving width, sectional beams - a main and a supplementary. She does the works. This loom was individually made from reclaimed native Kauri timber taken from an old freezing works that was being demolished. I love how this once mighty tree has walked with me so far and through so much adventure of the mind. There have been times when I have felt owned by this loom and the work it empowered me to do. Times I have had to step aside and refresh body and imagination beyond the horizontal and vertical grid. However, I always return to here. The rhythms and the flows of process anchored me in challenging times, focused my fraught body and soul and rewarded my attentiveness.
Now I am preparing to share my beloved Sunflower with others desiring a unique creative encounter. This new space for Sunflower is going to be renamed The Weavery.Included in The Weavery will be a range of tapestry looms as well as Sunflower, and it is also a set up photographic booth ready to record all the creative makings that will be generated here.  It will be the initial focus of our creative retreat campus called Puka Place.
Puka Place will be a creative retreat not just for people wanting to weave. My own making practice is wide ranging and eclectic and anyone who wants to pause their lives in a relaxed, environment close to nature with access to all kinds of making equipment and processes will be most welcome.
The location of Puka Place is Opunake, Taranaki, New Zealand. I record images of this location most days either on my blogpost or on my Facebook posts where I often label the images as Taradise.....a small piece of Taranaki paradise. . We strive to live an organic, mainly self sufficient lifestyle here with a few ducks and chickens and lots of garden for veges, dye plants, herbs, flowers and beautiful trees. Sometimes I post about the garden just really for my nephews and friends.  .
I must admit I am still constructing my portfolio website but this blog does has quite a-lot about my own making practices, including my weaving.

You are welcome to look at any of these links to see why this makes such a fantastic creative locus to offer to other imagination wanderers.