Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red skirts and red studios

Here's a new painting - about 2 weeks old, called Ginger cat in the red room.

I seem to associate red with creativity, Matisse has a red studio painting doesn't he? Twenty odd years ago when I was an art student I bought a red paisley skirt at a jumble sale for 2p!!! And then wore it to the studios everyday for the next 3 years. I called it my painting skirt and somehow putting it on put me in the right frame of mind to be creative. Eventually it wore thin and fell apart - I wish I'd known I was going to end up gluing fabric to my paintings and I'd have saved the scraps to turn into art!

Here's a photo of one of the pineapples, also about two weeks ago, growing bigger and with tiny purple flowers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

About the birds

I think this is the first painting I made where there are birds on people's heads. It's from about 4 years ago, and is a kind of a family portrait of myself and the twins who were 3 or 4 back then. The birds are ones that we see in the parks or beaches in Darwin - from left to right - plover, wedge tailed eagle and ibis. (Neither the birds or the people are very realistic, but that's a whole other discussion.)
A while ago someone on flickr asked me if there was a story about the bird in this picture,
this was my reply. 'I do a lot of paintings of women and birds, I think the birds can express something about the woman's character, also that it can explore the tension between freedom and duty. Also I like the humour of the image if you take it literally. I don't have an exact story for the paintings and I hope the viewer will bring their own ideas to it too.'

I'm completely submerged in the book 'The Time Traveler's Wife' (about 3/4 of the way through and dreading a tragic ending.) in it there is a scene in an art gallery where a ten year old girl is talking about the artworks 'bird boxes' of Joseph Cornell. She says... 'He made the boxes because he was lonely. He didn't have anyone to love, and he made the boxes so he could love them, and so people would know that he existed, and because birds are free and the boxes are hiding places for the birds so they will feel safe, and he wanted to be free and be safe. The boxes are for him so he can be a bird.'

Joseph Cornell is a real artist although the book is fiction, you can see a slide show of his works here. It's funny that he was mentioned by an artist in the last issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine though it didn't make much of an impression until I read that scene above and some kind of little alarm bells went off!!

Here are a couple more bird quotes;

Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson

Hope your weekend is going well, I'm trying to have a quiet one - though the kids have other ideas!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I'm sure no-one else in the world is interested in this photo, but here it is anyway, my compost heap!!
I'm ridiculously pleased with it- a mountain of palmfronds and kitchen scraps. At the weekend I squeezed on the last few leaves and sweepings, watered it and topped it off with some flattened boxeds and a brick - to stop the whole lot from blowing away. It will moulder and rot through the wet season and hopefully be useful compost by the early dry (April/May) next year. I have a second bay to fill in the meantime!

My whole weekend seemed to be spent breaking up squabbles with the kids...and filing. We just got a second hand filing cabinet, and now I have no excuse not to organise 15 years worth of papers. I did manage to do this little painting.
And today this possible - first draft - poem.


When I come out
from the bedroom
where I've been drawing
or reading poetry,
you're watching tv
and want me to be enraged
about something you've seen
on the news or perhaps
on youtube.
I don't have the strength
to take on the world,
I need to save it
for the daily tussles
over showers and readers.
I make my declarations
for hope, with paint on canvas
with seeds planted
in warm soil.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

(The title of this blog post shows I'm an Ian Dury fan from way back.)

First reason to be cheerful, is we have two pineapple plants flowering. Growing pineapples in the tropics is easy, but only for the patient! You just cut off the top of a pineapple, plant it in the garden, water it now and again, and wait...a couple of years...

Here are the plants, about thigh high,

and the beautiful spiky flowers nestled inside that should be fruit by christmas. I'm also waiting with bated breath for 3 eggplant flowers to open. Fingers crossed they won't just drop off like the tomato flowers did.

The second reason is these gorgeous embroidery threads that I couldn't resist at the dollar shop. I don't do much sewing, even less embroidery... I'll probably sit and look at them for a while, maybe steal the colour combinations for some of my paintings.

The third reason is this inspiring new book I picked up at the library - Eco books by Terry Taylor, it shows you how to make books from recycled materials, there are 40 projects to try, some simple, some too complicated for my limited bookbinding experience! I'm having a go at a fabric covered one and I'll let you know how I get on.