Tuesday, December 22, 2009

little things

Here are a couple of new cards I made over the weekend. I have treated myself to a few sheets of commercial patterned papers – I think they’re from Japan. Usually I just use my own hand-printed papers, but it’s nice to work with something different, it keeps me interested.

A new development is that I’m using some old prints that I’d put aside because they were too pale or smudgy. I was about to throw them out, but I hate to throw anything away! So I worked into them with coloured pencil and I’m very excited about the results…it’s a new little path to explore.

Sometimes it feels pointless or ridiculous to be fiddling about with scraps of paper, I tell myself I should be doing something ‘big, serious, important’…maybe if I wasn’t making cards I’d have time to do something big and important…more likely I’d sit and watch tv…big and important work is pretty daunting!

I don’t know if you can make out this photo of my latest attempt at gardening. Radish seedlings, the book I have out of the library says they’re easy to grow, shoot in 3 days (they did) ready to eat in 4 to 6 weeks (we’ll see!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

A quick post...a little outing.

As expected I'm not getting much art done because of the demands of xmas shopping, not to mention now it's school hols so there's a houseful of noisy, distracting, demanding kids!! Also the monsoon has arrived bringing 4 days of torrential rain, luckily it eased for a few hours on Sunday afternoon and we went to let off steam at the local skatepark. And then to the beach to throw rocks into the waves (the boys) and to collect a handful of treasures - beach glass, pebbles and bottle tops (my daughter). I kept myself entertained taking a few photos.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back to normal transmissions!

Poetry month is over, and back to normal art posts for a while. Though I don't suppose anything will be normal over the xmas frenzy.

This is the last tiny painting I made before the craft fair a couple of weeks ago, and it was the first one that sold on the day, I felt a bit sad that I didn't get to hang out with it for long.

All my new paintings sold and these little felt birds and owls, which come with a little gift box. This was before I put strings and beads on the birds for hanging up. Probably I sell them too cheap, but really they are to suck people into my stall and hopefully they'll buy a painting!!

Tomorrow is Friday, but I'm afraid I'll probably be shopping not art-making. I hope you're surviving preparing for the festivities!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

day 30 - last


This is the last poem
it wants to say everything
but it cannot encompass
weeks in a handful of lines.

This is the last poem
and what I remember
is the love, how we were
welcomed with open arms

all we had to do was show up.

Monday, November 30, 2009

day 28 and 29

Here's my day 28 poem

Through this weekend
(remembering London)

My 11-year –old
had to put on my socks
and tie the laces of my running shoes
my back too sore to bend that far.
The box of chocolates I smashed
on the floor of the youth hostel
and couldn’t give to friends we visited
but used instead as a bribe only I
could reach on top of the wardrobe.

Horizontal rain,
and the central line delayed
because of a body on the tracks.
Always somebody needed the loo
waiting outside the toilets
at St James’s Park
the brass band played
and Londoner’s lazed in deck-chairs
or on the grass half dressed
and I wished for a little
of that idyll.

and here's today's poem


Eight years and the guilt
if it hadn’t been for nine-eleven
and the outbreak of bird flu,
if I hadn’t had twins
the kind that scream all the
way to the shopping centre
the kind that run in opposite directions
if I’d got passports organized sooner,
if he’d wanted to come too,
if I wasn’t feeling safe
in the groove of my routines
it might not have taken 8 years
and the guilt.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

day 27 - round

I'm running a day late, but hopefully will catch up tomorrow, I'd hate to blow it right at the end.


Spokes of a cart wheel
turn, white against a grey sky
new eye of London.

Bowls of pumpkin soup
once a week reminder of home
at least they’ll eat it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

day 26 looking forward

I feel as if my brain is mush! I think it's all downhill from here...

Looking forward

At the railway museum
we peered into the Royal Mail carriage
leather seats and wood polished dark with use
row upon row of pigeon holes
a handful of letters slotted in.
Everything in it’s place – Mum notes,
That’s how my house will be,
I hope, dream, kid myself,
Ready for my visit –says Mum.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

day 25 - cousins


Shifting from one hip
to the other, loll on the grass
in St James’s Park.
The cousins are an arm’s length
away, messing with a ball,
he laughs at her attempts to kick,
my kids are a little way off
in the opposite direction.
Eventually, after my brother
gets back with sandwiches
there will be a thaw
and they will all play soccer

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

day 24 - Somebody said

Somebody said don’t go to Covent Garden

not much to see
and it’s all overpriced,
and we nearly didn’t
but somebody else said
you must go, and look out
for the dog-box-man.
We got there early on Sunday
sat on the kerb to watch
the first busker of the day try
drum up a crowd, juggling
heckling passers-by, sword
swallowing, & (drum-roll) the bed of nails
for the price of a coin dropped
into a hat.
Then wandered on
to see the rubix cube up a ladder
against the clock guy.
On the way to the tube
rushing, late to meet my brother
we glimpsed the dog-box-man
setting up, a symbol of
all the things we didn’t see.
In York we bought juggling balls
the kids dreamed one day
of being street performers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

day 23 - muted


Sitting here, louvers open
I can hear our neighbour cough
frogs croak, bats scrabbling in the trees.
Over there shut the door
and the world is shut out
shut the kitchen door
and the kids are muted,
classical music on the radio
while you cook
the chance for conversation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

day 22 - Inconvenience


The morning after the coal mine
something in my back torn
and I could hardly move
hobble in spasms to the bathroom
stand under the hot shower
and wait for something to ease.

It took the indulgence
of two days bed rest, reading
and gazing at the rectangle
of sky, shivering beech leaves,
red tiled roof across the road
(the view from the little bedroom
lined with books I won’t touch
politics, economics, dry history.)

Mum takes the kids to the park
cooks dinner, helps me dress
I worry how will she get downstairs
If anything ever happens.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

day 21 - Airport entertainment

Airport entertainment

long wait
between flights
at Changi airport
so they ride the travelators
pushing their trolleys
up and down
a strange

Saturday, November 21, 2009

day 19 and 20

I didn't manage to post yesterday, I was out in the evening at Off the page, our monthly poetry/spoken word event. I missed the first half getting dinner and the twins to bed, but the second half was great. I was so lucky to catch the performance by Omar Musa - an australian poetry slam winner. Open section poetry was great and I bravely read 3 of my new ones written this month!

my day 20 poem

And then he lost his jacket

could’ve been at the biggest toy shop in the world
where they spent their pocket money
could’ve left it on his seat on the tube,
probably it’s in the cafeteria at the museum
didn’t realize ‘til we were on the bus to the Serpentine.

I got angry and made him cry
and then felt bad, it was the nicest jacket
a hoodie, turquoise, black and cream stripes.
It’s not the worst that could’ve happened,

my nightmare was one of them too close to the edge
slipping off the platform onto electrified rails
as the tube train approaches.

my (teeny) day 19 poem

Nintendo DS

Spend five weeks without
playstation or computer
TV is inescapable,
his DS glued to his hand.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

day 18 - walking pace

Walking pace

People ask – has it changed much?
- not really, except cars,
when I grew up a family was lucky
to have a car, now it’s two or three,
whole suburbs without driveways
roadsides clogged with cars,
one way systems
bus lanes.

After Dad died
Mum sold the car
a neighbor sometimes parks
in the driveway
especially when Mum’s away
the favour works both ways.

We wander to the park and notice
clover and cowparsley
nettles and bumble bees.
How would we have felt the shape of Halifax?
if we hadn’t walked down the valley side
to the museum, and back up again
on weary legs to the bus.
I hope it’s not too late
for my kids to learn
to love walking.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

day 17 - Multitude

At the weekend the poetry was flowing!! but now I'm really struggling, I guess this is where I gave up on previous attempts to do a poem a day for a month. Just have to remind myself these are first drafts, something to work with later... oh well, here is today's effort.


I forced them back on the tube
up escalators and along tunnels
popping out into a flood of humanity,
some with a purpose, marching over the bridge,
others loitering gazing at the river
taking photos, Big Ben at least
made an impression
‘I’ve seen it on Dr Who.’

I remember the years I lived in London
taking the tube each morning
the unbearable closeness of strangers,
some evenings I’d crack, jump off early
walk the last miles home
trying to shake off the crush, the madness.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

day 16 - black clouds

Black clouds

With the energy of anger
she shoves open the gate
crumples into tears
‘they won’t play with me’
We go exploring, dragging
her feet along wet paths
‘this is boring’
even the glass house
flood of flowers
can’t calm the storm.

Monday, November 16, 2009

day 15 - excursion

Excursion (Amsterdam Zoo)

We have always been good at this
hanging out, eating chocolate,
losing a week here and there when we were students,
now there are 4 kids to consider
(3 mine, 1 yours) who need entertaining.

Later than we meant to the tram
it weaves through the city,
all the things we won’t see.

Queue, turnstile, zoo,
I don’t remember what was in the first house
except the smell, the boys couldn’t stay in there.

Then the reptiles, how proud my kids are
of the frill-necked lizard
‘we see them in our school-yard.’

The most alive lions
I’ve ever seen, pacing the enclosure
breaking into a run.

Lunch at a pirate ship playground
a sea-gull stealing our last sandwich
kids and chips and crying.

Butterfly house slows them to a sleepwalk
butterflies land on outstretched hands
her T-shirt, his hair.

We end with ice-cream and photos
the kids pulling faces, insane,
you and me smiling.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

day 14 - almost


You think, bloody amazing, we’ve made it
and step onto English soil
groggy and stiff limbed from the flight.

But then there’s customs,
a maze of barriers, a human train
winding in and out, moving forward an inch,
my son lies on the floor and howls
if the twins come near him
my patience is frayed to the last thread.

But then, a guardian angel,
an official in a turban, directs us to the fast lane
‘families with children this way’
we almost run, embarrassed, leaving the rest behind.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

day 13 - underground


I never imagined I could do this
kitted up with a hard hat and battery pack,
he pulls the cage shut and we descend slowly
nothing to see just the damp rock face.

Descending further into the dark,
our bags and cameras left on the surface
a spark from a battery could ignite
our guide tells us, he was an explosives man,
laugh at his jokes to forget
we’re half a mile underground
the kids stunned into silence.

We all turn off our lamps to experience
dark so dense it presses our eyeballs,
think of kids sent down here age 6
working twelve hour days.

He talks about canaries and poison gas
and ‘snap’ that’s what Dad called a packed lunch.
We crouch through low tunnels
dig some coal to take home in our suitcase.
Back in the cage at last
we’re re-born into the sunlight.

Friday, November 13, 2009

day 12 - if only

If only

I step across the world
from partner to daughter
with three kids as cargo.

They vomit, squabble,
refuse to walk another step
in no particular order.

I will shiver
at playgrounds and forgo
the Van Gogh museum.

It’s enough to be there
at the kitchen table
with Mum.

cards cards cards

A quick post in between the poems, of what I've been up to. Card making is something I can squeeze into half an hour in the evenings, not like painting which needs a decent chunk of time to get all the gear out and sit at it for at least an hour or two.

I'm trying to get another batch of cards done before the craft fair. I must be a glutton for punishment or plain mad to try to do the poem a day for November as well as getting ready for the craft fair next Sunday...xmas shopping is just on hold until next month!

Doing the poetry is a kind of gift to myself, I went back to England on holiday this year, took the twins to meet my Mum for the first time. I didn't write much or draw while I was there, I needed to just experience it and not get too emotional. When we got back I had planned a couple of weeks of painting, and time to think, but instead my son got sick and I spent those weeks up at the hospital (he's completely recovered now). Writing the poetry is a chance to think about the holiday, although the poems aren't turning out quite as I'd envisaged...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

day 11 - kitchen


She’s had the pantry wall
knocked through,
new cooker, cupboards,
and vertical blinds
a dishwasher in honour
of our visit.
I can’t believe we all
used to fit in here
me and my sister squeezed
on a bench against the wall.
Watching a blackbird
hop along the garage roof.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

day 10 old friend

Old friend

I am perching
on the arm of a chair
to see the road
scanning each car
will it slow, will I recognize
hair, face, gesture.

Across the city
her car is jammed
to the tail of another,
inching down
the flyover, past
the evening post clock.

I am expecting
awkwardness, more aggro
from the kids, I had to march
out of the art gallery this afternoon,
past 6 now, I ring
half hoping she’ll cancel.

In a moment she’ll be here
the kids have climbed on the wall
to wave, she’ll drive us back to meet
her family and we’ll talk
as if 20 years never passed
or we grew in step
without knowing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

day 9 - untitled

untitled as yet!

Heart so sore
at leaving Mum,
and within the strangeness
of my brother and best friend
come to meet us
separate parts of life
colliding in a party
at the airport,
and weighted with dread
of the long flight,
I did not take note
of that slip or trip,
shoes off running
(my kids don’t walk)
we blamed his too long jeans
brushed aside pins and needles
blaming too tight socks.
As we smiled, blinked back tears,
waved goodbye,
his body was turning
on itself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

day 8 - should probably maybe

Should, probably, maybe

Should I have made him?

I could have whispered in
his ear while he slept,
honey sweet persuasions.

We could have talked,
wrangled, debated,
struck a bargain.

I could’ve smashed
some plates and screamed
and put my foot down.

I could’ve
I won’t say should’ve.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 7 - stinging nettle

A bit of a rush job today, weekends are probably worse than work days for trying to grab 5 mins to myself...the endless plaintive cry "Mum where are you?..."

Stinging nettle

Have you ever been stung?
What did it feel like?
I daren’t touch them
On the last day of the holidays
I’m going to come and grab one.
(he didn’t)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 6 - At Grandma's

At Grandma’s (fib)

shared a
double bed,
she slept on top of
the blanket, he slept under it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

day 5 - garden memories

Garden Memories

Rhubarb shafts erupted every spring
sour stems for crumble,
cabbages that went to seed
sometimes, before we could eat them,
always mint for sauce
with lamb on Sunday.
In the greenhouse tomatoes,
one year a glut
that ripened on every window-sill
until I sickened of them.

The garden seems shrunken
the hedge we hid in
barely waist high,
veggie garden overgrown
with weeds, empty plant pots
and spiders in the greenhouse.

Home, I plant bok choy
and basil, tend my
compost heap and
remember Dad.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

poem a day - day 4

maybe they'll enjoy it
(day trip to Lake Windermere)

To take a child anywhere
and have them enjoy it - is a gamble.

I dragged them across the world, for this,
"remember when the seagull poo-ed on C...?"
I remember a day of sun and cloud,
my aunt - who turned her back in every photo,
feeding the swans that stupidly
pecked our hands.
Taking the little hire boat on the lake
and letting the oldest steer.
The three of them being together
too much, boiling over
on the crazy golf course,
one cheating, one crying.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November poetry day 2 and 3

Day 2


The train glides
silver rails converging
past the football ground
there should be a brass fanfare
25 years since I lived here.

Someone has unpicked
and re-sewn the city centre
the same landmarks re-adjusted
a half finished face lift,
building abandoned
for the duration of the
economic downturn.

Duration was one of Dad’s words
hinting at life through
war and rationing.

No time to think of this
a sleeping child to shake
cases to heave onto the platform
a taxi to find
I’m going home.

Day 3


I tried to think of everything
what if the plane is late?
what if one of the kids get sick?
of course the kids did get sick
the day we were to fly, I almost
delayed, but couldn't wait another
day for what I'd put off for 8 years.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Poem a day for November -day 1

I'm having a go at the poem a day challenge for Nanowrimo, you can find out more about it at the Poetic asides blog. I've attempted this a couple of times and always crashed and burned mid-month, oh well here goes...


In the airport terminal
she whispered
'I miss Dad already'
and on the first plane.

On the second,
video on demand
distracted them
as we crossed the hemisphere.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Painting under pressure

For the last few years a local framer Don Whyte has run an "off-cut show". He makes small canvases with the offcuts of wood and canvas that have accumulated through the year, he distributes them to local artists, who make a painting and then donate a portion (or all) of the sale price. The opening is a buying frenzy, very exciting! If you take a look at his website there is video footage from one of the earlier years.

This is my third year of contributing work, it's been such an empowering experience in the past so I didn't want to miss out this year even though I'm under pressure of getting ready for the craft fair, doing my tax & dealing with the family.

I suppose part of me feels that making my art is self-indulgent, pointless, it doesn't save lives (except mine). So to beable to do this thing that I love, to have it considered of value, and raise money for a good cause, it really is empowering.

I got prepared through the week by painting a base coat on the canvases and glueing on scraps of patterned fabric (which is my preferred way of working at the moment, they suggest the colour scheme and rythmns of the composition to work with). So yesterday I could just sit down and paint. Here they are pretty much finished - I might do a bit more fiddling with the angel one, I don't like the flowers at the bottom - and then hand them in next Saturday. The opening is Saturday the 14th 6pm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

At last

Oh dear, I can't believe it's taken me a week to load up these photos.

Here is the first purse I made last week. After all my complaints the next ones haven't taken as long (I must be getting the hang of it, but I wouldn't like an expert looking at the way I put the zips in!)

It's just dawned on me this week that it's only a month until the craft fair. Only 4 more Fridays, I'd better get my skates on...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Printing versus sewing

I printed this sheet of lino blocks last Friday, ready to cut up and collage onto cards. They are printed the lazy way with a foam roller and acrylic paint, instead of a rubber roller and printing ink. The print you get with the foam roller is not as clean or as dense - but it's fine for cards where I'm working over them with coloured pencils and cutting and collaging.
On Wednesday I chiselled a new lino that I haven't got round to printing yet. I have to confess that carving lino is kind of therapy for me. I haven't been in a great mood this week for no reason (blame the moon, blame hormones, who knows) but carving the lino is so soothing for me and helped me survive a crabby day!
Today the complete opposite, I've been sewing little purses for the craft fair. Ok, I'm lying, one little purse that I haven't quite finished. Sewing is not one of my strengths. I love printing onto fabric... and then I have to do something with it, something fiddly that takes four times longer than it should. I'm fairly pleased with the result (photos soon), but I didn't really enjoy the process. I wonder if I'll ever become comfortable with sewing the way I am with lino?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On fire!

It's hot and sweaty, and not much hope of a decent bit of rain to cool us down for another month or so, people start to leave town, the ones that stay start to go crazy... But there are some compensations, it's also mango season (yum), and the flame trees come into flower.

This tree is just down the road, it's amazing I haven't crashed the car because I can't keep my eyes off it when I drive past.

Here's a little painting I did yesterday - flame tree and dog.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Last week it was school holidays, so on Friday I was running around with the kids, and no peace and quiet to paint.

Over the weekend I stumbled on the blog the rachel papers, and her wonderful posts about housework. Do read, she's said it a lot better than I can. Personally I swing between doing as little as possible, resenting doing any of it, and very occasionally being inspired by it...a family of 5 creates at least a load of washing a day. In the past I've done a few paintings of washing hanging on the line (long gone and unfortunately no photos of them)...I have the feeling I might have to revisit this subject soon!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Definitely not green thumbs

'Cat in the garden' 5"x7"

'garden at night' 5"x7"

My first two paintings for the craft fair are of gardens.

Gardening is on my mind at the moment, I guess it's because of global warming and the push for people to grow at least some of their veggies. I've been having a try but without much success, my seeds don't grow, and the ones that do look limp and pathetic, and have to survive stray tennis balls etc from the kids.

Down here in the southern hemisphere it's spring, but in Darwin it's the beginning of the steamy build up, soon it'll be the wet season and everything will be battered by storms.

The one thing that grows like crazy is basil. I have to find some other plants that are unkillable!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

lots of little prints

This was what I got up to yesterday (that's our dinner table!) I use these little prints to collage and make cards, like this.
It's a really quick and easy print technique using a styrofoam sheet (you can buy art-foam or recycle packaging foam sheets). Draw into it with a pencil, print up using a foam roller and acrylic paint with a drop of retarder. It has it's limitations, you can't get a fine or very varied line, but it's fast and fun!

In the photo you can also see 2 tiny orange canvases which I've printed onto too. For me a blank canvas is daunting and not very inspiring, so I have to mess it up a bit first. I'm starting on some little canvases ready for a craft fair at the end of November - more on that soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ATC party girl

It was my birthday on the weekend, and I had a lovely day with more presents than usual - my partner outdid himself - now we just have to get around to planting the mango tree and the passionfruit vines. This week it's cake cake and more cake at work, I don't know if I can eat anymore!

I hope you're having a good week too.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Sitting down to paint on a Friday I feel like as breathless and excited as a kid getting on a roller-coaster. It's not always easy to sit down and get started. 'The book show' is on the radio at 10am (ABC Radio National), so I aim to listen to that while I paint. I tell myself I'll just do a couple of base coats or play around in my sketch book. By the time the show's finished I'm usually in my stride and keep painting for a couple of hours.
I wonder what tricks other people use to get down to work...?
This painting is called - a fairytale wolf in Paris. It's for an exhibition on the theme of lost gloves that opens next Friday.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

birds in the grass atc

In the overgrown garden

thimble sized birds

peck seeds in the long grass.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Maybe it's because I live in far off Darwin, or maybe I just haven't been paying attention, but I never heard of ATCs until last year. I love the idea of trading these tiny artworks and making contact with artists around the world through them.This is the first batch I made in May. I'm trying them again, on scraps of cardboard from work (we throw so much away, more than I could ever use). Blogger isn't playing today! (could be something I'm doing wrong) but I'll show you some of the new ones tomorrow!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A drop in the blogging ocean

Over the last year I discovered the world of art and craft blogs. It's been so inspiring and fun. At last I got the courage to have a go too.