Friday, December 18, 2009

The Garden

Having been on leave this term one of my aims was to get stuck into the garden.  I took a walk early yesterday morning, camera in hand, hoping to capture the hardwork and ultimate reward of cucumbers and zucchinis and pots of flowers and herbs. 

The beauty, however, seemed to lie in the haphazard arrangement of gardening paraphenalia, ............


raku pots

empty containers

a family of bins and barrows hanging out with the wood.

I know I am accidental gardener...I very rarely remember the names of what I plant ...I plant seeds out of season....I prune to soon or late....forget to feed the citrus and I make it endure weeks(months) of neglect when my focus takes a different turn. 

Maybe that's why the piles of detritus are the truly impressive objects growing amongst the plants...

...appearing amongst the rocks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Film Review - Genova

I watched the film Genova when I was in Sydney and haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  I went into the Denby under the Opera House, really to get out of the dust and smog and into a dark air conditioned space - a bit like a hobbit.

The film that was about to start was one starring Colin Firth and I thought to myself .... 'Gee, lovely, a period drama/romantic/comedy based crudely on a Jane Austen, novel.  This will be nice.' 

So, in other words, I went into the theatre with no background information about the film And that is what made the experience so memorable.  So therefore, not to ruin the experience for anyone else, I am not going to say anything in this review except:
  • it is not like Jane Austen,
  • it is not a comedy
  • Colin Firth has broken out of the Mr Darcy mould and is showing himself as a pretty good actor
  • it is about creating emotions
  • the camera work, editing, mise en scene, sound etc is worth seeing
I keep thinking what a great film to teach technique - and then I kick myself.  Enjoying a text is not about breaking it down into its multude of parts and wringing the life out of them.  It's about sitting in the theatre for 90 minutes and taking everything in. This is a definite downside of being teacher, but I think we are all guilty of it at times.

 (Anyone been to a gallery lately and just loved the piece in front of them and next thing your  looking for colour and form and context and motif and meaning (whatever that is )etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.)

(I just put bracket inside a bracket - is that allowed?)

 Anyway .......a poem by Billy Collins always comes to mind when I start analysing things to death:

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

I enjoy Billy's  poetry because this is the first poem of his that I ever read.  Sort of takes the pressure of doesn't it.  I think he was poet laureate  in the USA a few years back. If you follow the link above you get to a site that has a number of his poems on it. A lot of them have a cheeky feeling, you know not taking themselves too seriously. Check this one out:

Child Development

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads

and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.

Anyway.... If you get a chance to go and see Genova remind yourself of Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins and just waterski across its surface.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

new directions

The honest accounts of the members of bookartobject has been inspirational.  Following the varied responses to Rosemary Dobson's poem, Learning Absences, has been an invaluable experience and is having an important effect on me as an artist.  Reading how others are approaching the text and using it in their books is just a great thing to be participating in. 

It has been interesting to read the various interpretaions of RD's poem.  I  must say I haven't formed an opinion about whether it is a death or separation.  For me the overwhelming aspect has been the huge impact the poem had on my senses.  Mainly visual,  the sight of the clothes on the line and the cumquat tree and Hayley's comet in the dark sky, the milk bottle on the door step,  but also the smell of the bread coming out of the oven, and the deafening silence of no one to talk to. The most significant image for me was the shutting of the windows and doors and these have formed the basis of the motifs used in my book.

I have been developing a folded form...and it has taken a new direction.  But I have finally finished one completely.    When the book is folded shut it actually looks like a house.  This is what prompted the change in direction. Learning Absences, for me,  is all about the domestic world of the house/home.

This is the finished book!

and standing up.

The open book.

I am going to change the size and prints for the exhibition but the format will stay pretty much the same (maybe 2 'pages' instead of three).

 It is based on a turkish map fold - 3 folds - that I have sewn together.  Each 'page' has a series of  lino prints sewn onto them.  Some of the prints have been done on mango paper, some on hemp paper and some on the pages of an old book. 

Here are the individual pages before sewing them together.

I hope you can see the stitching around each print.

These corner prints were done on the pages of an old text book. 

The contrast between the orange mango paper, green silk and the black ink has worked well.

The stitching took ages and was quiet tricky at times but it has been worth it.  I feel inspired to do a whole series of books on windows and doors!