19 December 2011

Garden Life

What I learned in my garden over the weekend: Goanas are very fast. Frill necked lizards scurry quite noisily through the undergrowth but are well camouflaged and invisible when they stand still. Snakes slither silently... too silently.

07 November 2011

Calendar is ready

The 2012 calendar is ready! All the artwork is from my linocuts: some are new ones which I made especially for the calendar, and others are from my recent series entitled 'The Lost Snail' which was exhibited at Sheffer Gallery in July/August.

The calendar is in a CD-style acrylic case and opens up to sit on your desk. It is a great present as it is unique, useful and arty, as well as being easy to post. You can buy it online at Duck Books :-)

19 October 2011

Summer is coming

...... time flies.

The weather is getting warm again and the sky is beautiful clear blue today.

I got very sick at the end of July and spent most of August in hospital, but now I am recovering well. New art ideas are developing in my imagination. Time to tidy up my studio desk and get to work on the 2012 calendar!

02 July 2011

"Things left behind"

Heather and I have been friends for many years and when we realised that both of our current work relates to traces and memories of childhood, albeit in very different ways, we decided to collaborate with a joint exhibition.

So we are having an exhibition at Sheffer Gallery which opens on 19 July, and we would love YOU to come.

The vernissage will be a bit unusual and hopefully also alot of fun, because guests at the gallery on 19 July (6-8pm) can have a drink and a chat with Heather who will be "attending" via skype from London. I will be at the gallery, so you can have a drink and a chat with me too :-)

Heather is currently working on her Masters in Printmaking at Camberwell in London; I am doing the same at Sydney College of the Arts.

30 June 2011

Narrabeen Printmakers

Last night was the end of term for the "Narrabeen Printmakers", and we celebrated with a print portfolio exchange.

Everyone did such beautiful prints and it was fun to share them. Now each of us has a folder with a suite of linoprints as a souvenir of a group of lovely artists and a fun term.

We also enjoyed with a glass of wine, some soup and a loaf of warm fresh bread, followed by Tara's delicious chocolate cake. A good way to warm up on a cold evening.

Thank you so much Anne, Richard, Tara and Philippa :-)

31 May 2011

Book of Birds

I am working on a small artist book, tentatively titled "Book of Birds".

Meanwhile, there is a man outside in the rain, chopping down some trees.

Poor trees, poor birds. Poor garden now looks ugly and empty.

29 May 2011

Red washing

Today I washed and hung out my red washing, but then the rain came.

Wet red washing.

23 May 2011

Day 26 - The shoebox

On my last day before leaving for Papua New Guinea, the girls at school gave me a present.

It was a shoebox that had pictures of models from glossy magazines cut out and pasted all over it. On a nest of tissue paper inside were lots different make-up things. It must have cost a fortune.

I felt like an imposter, receiving a gift like that. The other girls looked mature and sophisticated when they put on make-up; I just looked like a clown. I liked Pot o'Gloss though, because it tasted like delicious sweet berries. It was usually gone from my lips in about three minutes because that's about how long it took me to lick it all off.

In any event, I never ever used any of it because I would have felt totally out of place wearing make-up in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

It only dawned on me years later that this lavish present had not been bought but that in reality, light fingers must have pocketed the items from department store shelves.

19 May 2011

Day 25 - Pot o'Gloss

In my second year of high school, I felt like I was beginning to fit in. My friends still teased me about my very uncool pigtails hairstyle, but still, we did stuff together on weekends and during the summer holidays, and we talked about which songs and which bands were groovy, and we made ourselves look glamorous with Mary Quant eyeshadow and Yardley Pot o'Gloss on our lips.

When we went back to school after the Christmas holidays, our science teacher handed out text books for the new school year. I told her that I didn't need any because I was going to Papua New Guinea the next week. The teacher laughed and told me not to make up stories. The other kids told her I was telling the truth. She looked dumbfounded because she had never heard of anyone going to Papua New Guinea before.

I was looking forward to this new adventure, but I at the same time, I sort of realised that the fleeting moment of those few months with the cool girls had just slipped through my fingers.

15 May 2011

Day 24 - Brown legs

When I started high school, I saw how important it was too be cool, only I wasn't very good at it.

Most of my friends knew how to be cool and often on weekends, we went to the beach with a transistor radio and we stretched out on our towels in our bikinis, and talked about the surfy boys. Only I didn't know what to say about the surfy boys so I just stayed quiet and listened. My bikini was a hand-me-down from one of my friends.

On school days, we all sat in a row on the concrete outside the classroom in our lunch breaks. Our legs were stretched out in the sun and we smothered them in cocoa butter. It was cool to have very brown legs. That was the only cool thing I was good at.

Day 23 (sort of...) - Artist vanishes (sort of...)

A week of spasmodic posts at best. I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

I realise now that it would have been better to do the "challenge" as two separate 30 day projects with a gap in between, because at the moment, I am a bit exhausted.

One more story will be posted a little later today, and then I will take a couple of days to write and draw new material. I will be back online in a few days, hopefully refreshed, to continue the 60 days.

But for now, here is an elephant tree for you :-)

11 May 2011

Day 22 - The librarian

Our school got a new librarian in February. Her name was Mrs Milton and she was very old fashioned and very proper and she looked strict. But she turned out to be very different from how she looked.

Each week Mrs Milton helped everyone in our class to find just the books she knew they would love. Thanks to her, I became a veritable book worm and I started going to the library about three times a week. Mrs Milton also read unusual books out loud to us in the library lesson.

But on Mrs Milton's first day at our school, we all laughed at her mercilessly. It had been a very hot day but in the afternoon, dark clouds filled the sky. Just as the bell for the end of the school day rang, the clouds burst. Amidst thunder and lightning, and pouring rain, all the students were pouring out of the classrooms to go home.

Mrs Milton stood on the steps of the library, watching the children streaming out of the school gates, with tears rolling down her face.

"The poor poor children! They're getting drenched to the bone. They'll all catch pneumonia!" she cried.

We all laughed at her because we thought she was stupid to think that a little bit of rain would bother us. But when we got to know her better, none of us ever laughed at her again, even if she did think we were all just delicate little flowers, because we realised that she was the most delicate little flower of all.

09 May 2011

Day 21 - Golden dragon

We never went to restaurants. We didn't have enough money and anyway, if there was any extra money, it was better to save it for travel adventures or to buy worthwhile things we needed for the house.

A few times when we did the bus trip to do the weekly grocery shopping, my mother would buy us a finger bun as a treat. That made helping to carry the bags of groceries from the bus stop to our house a little easier. And in summer, my mother sometimes bought us an icecream when we went to the beach. Also there were times when we bought fish and chips, which was a rare treat.

But that was as far as "eating out" went in our family.

And so, when we drove into Dubbo on our way home from one particular camping holiday out in the far west, I could not believe my eyes when my father pulled the car into a parking spot outside the local Chinese restaurant with exotic signage on the glass shop front and lace curtains. My parents told us they were going to order take-away Chinese food for our dinner. I didn't think they even knew how to order food in a restaurant.

But it turned out that they did know, because out they came 15 minutes later with take-away Chinese food for us all. We took it to the park in the centre of Dubbo and ate our exotic meal by the banks of the Macquarie River. We feasted on such delights as spring rolls, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, and some sort of dish with very fine noodles. Dubbo became the international culinary pinnacle of my universe.

Chinese restaurants in country towns still always remind me of my 'introduction to world cuisine' and even though it is a long time since I have been there, I have a soft spot for Dubbo. But I still don't know what prompted my parents to buy Chinese take-away that day.

07 May 2011

Day 20 - Drumming grasslands

On one camping trip in the arid far west of New South Wales, we went for a walk on a very hot day. The dishes had been washed after a long, slow breakfast and my parents decided that it would do us all good to stretch our legs.

We had walked for about half an hour through scrub and hummock grasses and were now approaching a stand of mallee trees. Suddenly we heard a strange drumming sound that was so powerful that the earth seemed to vibrate. With no clue what it was, we were all a bit tense but curiosity got the better of us. Very silently and very carefully we continued on towards the trees.

All at once, the noise stopped and the silence was almost as eery as the drumming sound. Still we walked on toward the trees. What we saw in the grasslands beyond mallee trees, just a bit over a hundred metres away, took my breath away.

The drumming sound had been a mob of more than a hundred kangaroos bounding across the grasslands. And now the silence was the kangaroos at rest. Camouflaged in the shade of the trees, we stood and watched this rare sight for a while before we began our walk back to camp.

I have never seen anything like that again. And I don't think I will ever hear anything like that again.

06 May 2011

Day 19 - Red dust

Each day at work, my father was surrounded by people. So in the holidays, he just wanted to get away from people. And explore the Australian countryside.

While most of my classmates had seaside holidays, my family preferred to head for the desert for the holidays.

While we were at school on the last day of term, my mother busily packed everything we would need for two weeks away from civilisation: sleeping bags, tent, camping cooker, cooking utensils, lots of water, food supplies, cameras, torches and matches. Each of us kids packed our own small bag of clothes and a few toys, books and paints.

The next day, we would be on the road before sunrise. We headed out of Sydney and drove and drove and drove. Many of the roads and even highways were still unsealed then. Gravelly, dusty and pot-holed. If a car or truck came in the opposite direction, we would spend the next few minutes choking on red dust.

It would be close to sunset, after a full day of driving, that we would look for a suitable remote spot to make our camp. The holidays that were the most fun were the ones where we camped near a river. My mother and father worked quickly to get the tent pitched before sunset.

In our own world away from it all, we saw kangaroos, emus, goannas, snakes, galahs and also rabbits and foxes. Some days we went on long bushwalks; other days we stayed at the camp and relaxed by reading or painting. My brother and I scraped elaborate roads into the red dirt to play with our matchbox cars. We also built towns with houses out of sticks and leaves because the roads had to go somewhere. This game could consume days.

The nights were filled with strange bush sounds and all around it was incredibly black but up above there were just millions of stars. And always a shooting star.

05 May 2011

Day 18 - Bandaid princess

So then my youngest sister was born.

Until she was about three, she had almost no hair at all but then when it did grow, it became a wild mop of curls.

When her curls grew, my baby sister became obsessed with her clothing. She usually had at least three complete changes of clothes during the day. I'm not sure why. When we came home from school, my mother would tell us how many times my sister had changed her outfit that day.

She was also obsessed with bandaids. She loved to plaster them all over herself and could very easily 'require' twenty in a day. The weekly shopping list had to include a sufficient supply of bandaids.

I'm not sure whether she outgrew the bandaid obsession, or whether the weekly shopping was just no longer able to accommodate it.

04 May 2011

Day 17 - Going boating

After a few years of working hard, my parents were able to get a bank loan to buy our own home: a little cottage on the northern beaches.

Not only a house. They bought a boat too. It was a 12 foot tinnie with a 6 horsepower outboard motor. For the next few years, we spent most summer Sundays boating on Pittwater, exploring secluded little bays and having picnics on tiny little beaches that we had all to ourselves.

Once in a while, an irresistible urge to flirt with danger impelled my father to steer our tiny boat into the open sea. On one such adventure, the weather changed suddenly and the swell grew monstrous. I think my mother was terrified.

But she needn't have worried. A couple of dolphins suddenly appeared beside our boat, as if they knew that we were in danger and that none of us had life jackets. Gently they guided us back to calmer waters and we got home safely.

03 May 2011

Day 16 - Modern things

Mrs Pearson was our landlady and I think she must have been nearly a hundred years old. She lived downstairs with her stout little dachshund who was the only dog I wasn't terrified of.

She liked modern things but really, it was a long time ago when they were modern.

Mrs Pearson fascinated me and even though I knew I wasn't supposed to disturb her, I loved to go down to visit her sometimes. She didn't actually mind being disturbed, and she would show me her treasures which were very colourful costume jewellery pieces that smelt strongly of stale perfume.

On a pedestal in the hallway, stood a black bakelite telephone with an old silver dial that still had letters as well as numbers on it. A few times, my parents asked if they could use it and Mrs Pearson said they could.

In the laundry out the back of the house, there was a washing copper with a gas boiler underneath to heat the water. Not quite a modern washing machine but I didn't mind because I loved the smell of the soapy boiling water and best of all, I loved it when my mother let me turn the handle to squeeze the clothes through the wringer.

02 May 2011

Day off

Dear Readers, thank you for visiting my blog :-)

I am having a day off today, so I hope you come and visit again tomorrow. I'll have a new story and linoprint for you then.


01 May 2011

Day 15 - Sad moon

One night I couldn't sleep so I got out of bed and went to the bathroom.

There was bright light streaming through the frosted glass of the bathroom window and it didn't seem to be from a street light. I wondered what it was, so I climbed onto the toilet seat and stood on my tippy toes to open the old window to investigate.

I pushed the window open and saw a beautiful big full moon. But the moon looked sad and I thought maybe the moon had a sad face because he knew I should be asleep in bed.

"Please don't be sad, moon. I'll go straight back to bed, I promise." And I did.

But the full moon still always looks sad.

30 April 2011

Day 14 - The baby

Then my sister was born and she was a real Aussie. Now our family had a solid connection to this new country, because no matter where else we might go, my sister's place of birth would always be Australia.

She was just beginning to learn to talk when I started school. Each day when I got home, I proudly showed off the English I had learnt, although I often mixed up the two languages. I was working through my 'David, Sue and Wendy' book at school, and sometimes I cried because Wendy was such a difficult word that I thought I would never in my whole life learn to spell it.

But my baby sister was immersed in two languages from the start and she just absorbed them both with an impish smile.

29 April 2011

Day 13 - Fish in the pan

Our next home was closer to the sea again. Although this neighbourhood lacked all the little 'continental' shops of the inner city, it more than made up for it with beaches and headlands and bushland. It was a lovely suburb for going for walks and we often went to the beach to make sand castles and to play in the waves.

I think we had very little money during that time, so sometimes when my father came home in the afternoon, he would go rock fishing for our dinner. All four of us went on these afternoon fishing excursions. While my father fished, my mother watched my brother and me as we played with toy boats in rock pools or climbed on rocks.

Some days my father caught a big fish, but mostly they were pretty small.

My parents didn't want relatives in the old country to know that things were a struggle for us. To reassure the relatives that life in Australia was simply perfect, my mother and father asked me for my dolls' cooking set. My father had caught three little fish that day. He and my mother artistically arranged one of the fish in the dolls' frying pan, with a few mini tomatoes alongside to give a sense of scale (they were supposed to look like big tomatoes).

When our relatives received the photo in the next letter, they marvelled that my dad caught fish that were too big to even fit in the frying pan!

Day 12 - The old quarry

Berlin and Melbourne are flat cities, but Sydney has lots of steep hills. Each day, my mother took my brother and me on a walk up and down the hilly narrow inner-city streets near our house.

We walked to the post office to buy aerogrammes and to post letters back to family and friends far away.

We walked to the little deli that sold 'continental' groceries which you couldn't buy in 'normal' grocery stores back then: things such as dark rye bread and olives and gherkins and liverwurst and cheeses that weren't cheddar.

We also often walked to the little park with the swing. The little park was at the high end of a street and it had a sort of rock cliff that dropped down to the streets below. I wonder if the area down there may have once been a quarry. My mother didn't like us going close to the edge, but I loved it because from there, the houses down below looked like they were a sort of toyland.

Once my brother rolled a big glass marble over the cliff edge. I hoped that it would bounce all the way down to the miniature-looking houses at the bottom, and knock them all down. But instead the marble just disappeared.

My brother was very sad that he had lost his precious marble. I was sad that I had missed out on seeing the demolition of toyland.

26 April 2011

Day 11 - No noise please

The first place where we lived in Sydney was
an inner-city terrace house on a narrow street.
It was quite a change after having lived close
to the sea in Melbourne.

My family shared the house with a man who
was a student. Although we almost never saw
him, we knew he had a lot of important work
to do because the sign on his door said that
we must be very quiet.

I had a feeling the sign really meant that the
man didn't like children very much. Maybe my
parents had that feeling too because we found
a better place to live before too long.

25 April 2011

Day off

Dear readers,
I have decided that if I am going to do this for 60 days, I need to have one day off each week.
I will have a new story and a new linoprint for you tomorrow.
I hope you understand :-)

24 April 2011

Day 10 - Easter Egg

After a couple of years in Melbourne, we moved to Sydney. Something to do with my father's work but I didn't understand what.

Our old black car had recently been replaced by a new green VW beetle which was very nice even though it was a bit of a squeeze with all our luggage. We headed out on the long road north on Easter Saturday.

The adventure of moving to a new place was so exciting that I almost forgot about Easter. Anyway our usual Easter tradition was to paint hard-boiled eggs, and there wasn't much opportunity for that on the road. We camped in our tent on Saturday night, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

It turned out not to be so bad to be in the middle of nowhere because apparently that is where the Easter bunny lives.

On Sunday morning, my brother and I just could not believe it when we crawled out of the tent and each found a big Easter egg. Beautiful, shiny,colourful and made of chocolate!

23 April 2011

Day 9 - Forest trance

My favourite fairy tale; the one I always asked my mother to read, was Snow White and Rose Red. These sisters were named after rose bushes and they were kind and gentle and so beautiful. I wished I were Rose Red.

I didn't really care for the fairy tale ending of their adventures, but I loved that when Snow White and Rose Red were children, if they should happen to forget to come home from playing in the forest before it got dark, they would just curl up against one another with the moss as their pillow. There they would sleep safely through the night in the forest and go home the next morning. No wild animals harmed them, for the wild animals were their friends.

When we went on family walks in the old forest near Healesville, sometimes the late afternoon sunlight filtering through the enormous trees made me imagine I was in Snow White and Rose Red's forest. I could believe that I had glimpsed a deer or a bear or a dwarf in the distance.

But then a wallaby would hop past and break my trance.

22 April 2011

Day 8 - Raven

We had an old fashioned black car. Sometimes we would go for a drive to the mysterious old forest near Healesville.

One day as we got out of the car at the forest, I saw a big glossy black raven looking down at us from a tree.

It was very hot weather but walking beside the little creek and under the shade of the giant trees was lovely and cool. We saw lots of other bush animals along the track. Lizards, birds, butterflies, wallabies and also a snake.

I noticed that the raven followed us on our walk, appearing every now and again on a nearby tree. Sometimes it would disappear and then I would catch a glimpse of its black wings swooping through the air. Next moment, it would be sitting on a high branch just ahead of us. It patiently stayed with us whilst we had a picnic and stayed as our strange guide all the way until we got back to our car.

I didn't know what it was trying to tell us, but I liked that raven.

21 April 2011

Day 7 - Time changes

My parents had planned that we would
only stay in Australia for a two year
adventure, and then return to the family
and friends left behind.

That was a long time ago now.

Things change.

And so does time itself.

20 April 2011

Day 6 - Lost Snail

On an outing to the city one day, I got lost in the crowd at Flinders Street station and I didn't know enough words to ask for help to find my mother.

My mother searched for me and she asked the ticket collector if he had seen a little girl with green eyes and brown hair in plaits, but he couldn't help.

Well, there are lots of little girls with green eyes and brown hair in plaits, so it was no wonder he couldn't help her. I told my mother she should have asked him if he had seen a little girl with two spots on her nose that looked like retracted little snail tentacles.

But she said that the two little freckles on my nose were not really my most distinguishing feature. I didn't believe her.

Luckily she found me anyway.

19 April 2011

Day 5 - More milk please

After a few months when we had settled into life in the new country, I went to kindergarten three mornings a week.

I liked to sit on the swing there.

When it was morning tea time, all the children sat at a long table and we were given biscuits and milk. Whilst the kindergarten ladies were pouring milk into each child's cup, we had to sit with our hands on our heads. When everyone had their milk, we were allowed to take our hands off our heads and morning tea began.

"Hands on heads" and "More milk please" were the first English sentences I learnt at kindergarten.

18 April 2011

Day 4 - Tropical Paradise

At the beginning, we lived in Melbourne. Above a shop, next to a petrol station.

The entrance to our place was through a back door and up some dark stairs, I remember that. I have forgotten most of what the inside of the house looked like but I remember that on Sunday afternoons, we used to look out of the front windows which overlooked the wide street and the awning of the shop below. From there, we could watch the Salvation Army band as it marched up the street. On very hot summer days, the marching music floated up the street long before we could see the band and it sounded like the heat of the day distorted the music.

Our Christmas tree for our first Christmas in Australia was a palm tree. My father took photos to send to our relatives in the old country, so they would see that we lived in a tropical paradise.

Nothing at all from those times seemed real to me. It all seemed like a hazy, brightly-lit dream which mostly pleasant but always confusing.

17 April 2011

Day 3 - Tall Tales

My father didn't read us bedtime stories when we were little. Instead, he told us very very tall tales.

My father's escapades in dangerous and difficult situations would have made Baron Münchhausen and Till Eulenspiegel blush with envy.

He told us his tales very earnestly and we almost always believed that they were true. Anyway, it seemed to hurt his feelings if we didn't believe them.

16 April 2011

Day 2 - Bedtime stories

Each evening our mother read us a bedtime story.

But a story at bedtime was not enough. So during the day, I spent hours and hours looking at the big old illustrated volumes of Grimms Märchen and other books.

I might have been still too young to read, but I could make my own stories from the pictures.

15 April 2011

Day 1 - Across the sea

Across the sea to a land far away.

Everyone speaking a language that was strange.

I loved the books which we had brought with us because even though I couldn't read yet, I knew they were in the language I understood.

New print challenge begins today

Portfolio with print exchange was finished last night. A nice way to share work with other artists.

And today I begin my 60 day print challenge, in preparation for exhibition at Sheffer Gallery in July/August. Comments and support will be greatly appreciated.

(Artists names in photo of portfolio blurred for privacy)

28 March 2011

Bidding has begun for Red Cross Japan fundraiser auction

The Illustrators Australia fundraiser auction has commenced today and will conclude 3 April.

All the artists are donated 100% of the money raised to the Red Cross Japan and Pacific Appeal 2011 for earthquake and tsunami victims.

This is a great opportunity to buy original art and help a great cause at the same time.

Please take the time to check this out!

25 March 2011

Illustrators for Japan

Illustrators Australia has organised a wonderful fundraiser to support the Japan earthquake victims, with 100% of proceeds being donated to Red Cross Australia's Japan and Pacific disaster Appeal 2011.

Many artists, including me, have donated works which will be auctioned on eBay. The images above and below are only a small sample of the illustrations which are being auctioned.

Have a look at the wonderful works for sale here, and please, bid on your favourite works when the auction goes live on 28 March 2011. You might snap up a bargain, and you will be supporting a great cause.

08 March 2011

Little big prints

I am working on prints for an exhibition in July. I want to exhibit larger prints and yet, the logistics of my small workspace mean that it is difficult for me to work on large linoblocks. Not to mention that I do seem to prefer working on a small scale...

So I have decided to create a series of 'collage prints' where a whole lot of smaller linoblocks are printed together to make a larger print.

Lots of ideas going round in my mind. Hope the prints turn out interesting.

04 March 2011

The Insomniac

The moon is still high when the insomniac wakes. Thoughts and worries churn through her mind, and all efforts to fall back asleep are in vain.

She hears the clock on the mantlepiece go tick, tick, tick, tick. When the sun is almost ready to rise and the morning bird sings its first song, she finally nods off.

But in half an hour, the alarm will wake her to begin another exhausted day.

02 March 2011

Glass Half Empty

Optimists, they say, see their glass as 'half full' because they appreciate what they have.

My sister looks at this quite differently: she says that 'half full' means that a drink has been poured into your glass up to the half-way level and that you are happy about this. Good for you!

But if your glass is half empty, it must be empty of something. Your glass was full, but now half has gone. Where did it go? You drank it, which means that you have had half a glass of something nice and refreshing to drink. And lucky you, you've still got half left!

So the 'half empty' people have double what the 'half full' people do.

She's very clever, my sister.

24 February 2011

Govett Street

It was very late but the party was still in full swing when I decided to leave and walk the short distance home.

The cool night air would clear my head. I had had a little too much to drink and it wasn't agreeing with me.

I turned into Govett Street and looked at the house on the corner. Someone there was feeling even worse than I was. And I think he was having nightmares too.

03 February 2011

29 January 2011

Duck Books in the news!

Noosa Journal has half page article on p11 about Roisin Glynn Jones' book 'Dancing with the Devil'. I am very excited about this as it was published by my company, Duck Books.