Monthly Archives: June 2012

As seen through the eye of a needle…

I have been thinking about material, fabric, and handmade textiles and how words related to textiles are used in our everyday language. They are familiar yet not. Then I started playing around with some of the words and I made a little image of this in my journal. I liked seeing the connection between common sayings and the possible cloth-related origin of them. But the more I played with the textile related words, other words and sayings started coming into my head so I jotted them down on paper…maybe it’s all for a future art project? Please add any you can think of…I am sure I have missed some obvious ones.

Given that I can barely sew a button on a shirt I am not sure why the interest in material/sewing/textiles but I have always collected vintage bits and bobs and paraphernalia related to sewing, including an ancient singer sewing machine that found its way to me. I collect antique linens, have a collection of tissue paper patterns, jars of old buttons, a few old material cutting scissors, cotton reels..) yet I have no purpose for it all. It is strange.

My mother was a dressmaker & seamstress. So maybe it is a legacy thing?

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A gated community of old…

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These gates are near my home. I drive by them frequently. They are always locked. The land, I understand, is now land banked as part of a treaty settlement/claim. This used to be (I assume) the formal entrance to the old Barrett Road hospital, now also largely abandoned and the once grand buildings in a similar state of disrepair as the gates. The original grandeur and formality of the entrance gates now serving no purpose, just rusted, covered in weeds and abandoned, a legacy of a different time and era. The grand gardens beyond also now neglected, a wilderness in the city bounded by brick walls and old gates. Such a sad state of affairs.


A minor serendipitous moment…over the crossword and coffee

The clue was “Harlequin’s love of a flower”. If you are an avid cryptic crossword follower, or happen to have a good knowledge of harlequins (and flowers) for some peculiar reason, you might know the answer quite easily. I happen to be neither. But, this clue was the cause of a very serendipitous moment today.

This clue was the critical one, the one that could unlock the entire remainder of the puzzle, yet it still did not bother me that I couldn’t get it. It’s not unusual for me to not complete a cryptic crossword, being a relative novice to the genre.

Late that day, a library trip. Completely and utterly nothing to do with harlequins or crossword clues. My literary pile included magazines on Australian contemporary art, textile arts, gorgeous homes, and books as diverse as Italian castles, blogging, Picasso’s complete works and a pile of random childrens picture books. As I sat browsing through my pile of books once I got home and what did I come across almost immediately, not one, but two completely separate references to Harlequins! One of course being Picasso’s famous painting of a lone harlequin (Seated Harlequin, 1905). Then completely separately in the very fabulous and modern UK based textile magazine Selvedge (Nov 2010), what do I find but an entire feature article Pantomime costumes of the past and present” detailing the role and costumes of the Harlequin!

The answer to my crossword clue was Columbine. Harlequin’s beloved. Dearest Columbine. Columbine is also a pretty meadow flower. So now you know too, if (like me) you didn’t before.

Its an odd feeling when a distinctive and unusual word (or a symbol or unknown person or image) keeps popping up in random places in a short time You feel like it must mean something. Like it’s trying to tell you something.

Serendipity is all around us.


On books….and photography of them.

I really like this image. It’s ripped out of a magazine…its actually an advertisement for something travel related, no doubt. I don’t care. Its just a really neat photographic image. I can’t even tell you what magazine it was in, or what product was being promoted, or even who photographed it…

I put it in my journal for several reasons.

Firstly, its just a great photo. It reminds me how effective a simple photo with great composition can be.

Secondly, its a reminder about noticing things, seeking beauty in the everyday and finding inspiration in unexpected places.

Thirdly, I have my own photo’s of books, old penguin paperbacks on a shelf at a music school actually, taken long before I saw this image, so it was interesting to compare them. That also was a moment of seeing beauty in something neglected, gathering dust in a waiting room.

Finally, more personally, I just like looking at it and thinking of the places I have travelled too and also thinking about the places that I have not been too…yet!

Below is one of my own “book” images, some old books noticed and appreciated for the beauty that they have. Enjoy.


dreaming in colour…

june 2012 journal art 024

Sometimes words just come…I don’t know where from. I always just go with it when the words come freely, like they did here.


The hill

I have a view of a hill from my house. It is a hill covered in long grass, with a small track and a lone tree. To the right of the hill is the place where the sea meets the sky in two distinct shades of blue, usually. But the hill changes as much as the sea and the sky, vivid green in winter and turning to swaying, long dry grass in the height of summer. When the wind gets it on just the right angle, the grass seems to move like silk. But the very best thing is in the summer when the sun is low in the sky in the late afternoon, the colour spills onto the grass turning it to a golden sheen. Alas, it’s not summer now, but the other really good thing about my hill is that very occasionally (like yesterday) horses turn up there quite unannounced, for grazing. I can watch them from my home, or if I choose, wander over and offer an apple or carrot and be in awe of their sheer size, beauty and grace.

Occasionally, a person wanders to the top and takes in the sea view. Or the neighbourhood kids take it over and play games involving toi toi flags, sticks, hiding in grass and chasing.

As much as I love the hill, it torments me. I have tried and failed many times to paint it. I have sketched it, scribbled, painted and each time I end up wondering why I even tried. I can never seem to get the colour, the movement, the emotion I want to potray, so I remain dissatisfied at my attempts. Anyway, here is a photo of my ‘hill’ (which is not mine at all), in all its summer glory, and a few of my scribbles/sketches also.

Perhaps it is one of those lessons that you learn…sometimes its best to put down the pen/paint/pencil, and just be in the moment. I enjoy my hill in its current winter-blown state complete with two horses, one tree and a view of where the sea and sky meet in a rainy blur of greys.


A view from the beach.

This is a photo of the mountain (Mount Taranaki), taken about two weeks ago at Sandy Bay, south of New Plymouth, where I live. To be on this sandy stretch of desolate beach on a winters day, and see the mountain looking so majestic is a very special feeling.


Getting sorted finally

I have finally put up on the wall an assortment of my works, a few photo’s, a few mixed media items…they had been gathering dust in various piles left around the house and in my studio, and so I finally got sorted and get them on a blank wall at home. I think it looks pretty good, but more importantly, it gives you a sense of achievement to actually see your own works framed and on a wall, rather than just in a folder, or stuffed in a suitcase, where no one can see them. Most of the frames I used were cheap ones from local discount store or ones I owned already. So for very little outlay, I got a wall of interesting art.

It makes a difference when you frame a work – it says that you value your work. It also makes them look different. There is something about a matt and a frame that changes how a work looks, and also how you view it. I think this is really the amazing thing about presenting your work.

If you haven’t got any of your work out on display in your own home, I urge you to try it.


A burst of colour on the bleakest day…

I received this lovely bunch of flowers a couple of days ago. I ran to the door thinking it was a tradesmen, or of my kids who had forgotten something, or a pesky sales person, but No! It was a lady with a big bunch of flowers just for me. What a surprise that was. So, I am sharing them with you…they are too pretty to keep just to myself.

But here today, it is a rainy, cold, blustery, wet, wild, chilly winters day, so to look at them is like a burst of vibrant colour amongst the grey everywhere and it makes me feel happy. You too, I hope.


The view from the window

I was going to write something about old buildings and why I love them (along with trees and old graveyards apparently!).

I think this photo did not need a comment about appreciating old buildings and trees, or another comment on urban landscapes or the importance of heritage buildings in our city centre, etc …Nope, none of that… I just think it’s a really nice photo actually.


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