Monthly Archives: January 2013

Mutawintji and Monday

Gosh, it got to be Monday again fast.  Saturday was Australia Day and I must confess to mixed feelings about it.  There’s been a lot of flag waving and I don’t DSCN3282like our current flag.  When we are a republic, I look forward to waving one that more clearly reflects our independence.  One without a Union Jack.  I love the Southern Cross though so we can keep that bit.  Australia Day commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the moment of sovereignity of Britain over the country.  Not such a great moment for our indigenous population as it turned out and there have been other names for Australia Day including a Day of Mourning, Invasion Day and Survival Day.  All reflecting elements of truth.  Whatever it is called, and even though there are genuine attempts to include EVERYONE in the celebrations, I am not a flag waver at the best of times. The patriotism can descend into racism and bigotry.  And unfortunately, in the past it sometimes has.

Out here, a spell of cooler weather meant we could head to Mutawintji National Park just under 150 kms away, and spend a couple of days in a place very sacred to the indigenous populaDSCN3246tion.  At Mutawintji, there is evidence of continuous aboriginal settlement for thousands of years. The area was apparently a meeting place for many of the kinship groups around and the spectacular gorges and rock formations are very special.  The Homestead Creek campsite was nearly deserted-this time of year would normally be too hot to contemplate staying-but it was just lovely and I even needed the sleeping bag at one point during the night.  There was a full moon and a lovely Australian version of a trekking guide even helped put up the tent and bought me a cuppa in the morning. What more could a woman want?

DSCN3253The Park is home to emus, wallabies, lizards and four species of kangaroo including the endangered Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby.  Not sure if we saw any of the latter but we saw heaps of the other fauna.  A wonderful wedge tail eagle soared, to the west appropriately, as we started the Western Ridge Trail and flocks of almost luminescent budgerigars snapped past in formation.  Fabulous.

Tragically, the Park is also home to thousands of feral goats.  Trapping them is not even touching the sides of the problem and I do wonder what will happen. On our walk into the Mutawintji Gorge, a really special place with a permanent waterhole, you would not touch the water which is more a goat poo sludge than water I think.

I  love the colours of our Outback and so today’s arrangement (my Monday Mindfulness thing for the new readers)  is a celebration of thoseDSCN3285 fabulous colours. (Observant readers will spot a beloved shaligram in there too!) I found the gumnuts on runs or they are from trees in our garden and I especially love the little yellow ones that look like they have been piped from the icing bag.  (That was a very slow run that morning)  I’DSCN3256ve made earrings from the orange ones in the past and naturally feeling a Mutawintji necklace coming on.  Unfortunately, to be truly authentic, it will HAVE to incorporate polymer goat poo.  But that could still be decorative.  I’ll keep you posted.

And I haven’t forgotten the necklace draw.  Stand by for results! But don’t fear, the winner won’t be getting a faux poo necklace.

Let there be (lead) light

My mindful arrangements of things on Mondays was, in part, inspired by the joy Mal's treewe have had in rediscovering things that have been in storage for over seven years.  I am not the only one with a driven creative energy in the house and it was wonderful to unpack these lovely leadlights and to discover them (relatively) inatct.  A testimony toTibetan men fabulous packaging I must say.  They now hang in their new sun drenched home and we are really enjoying them.

I love the two old Tibetan blokes and we are careful to arrange them so that they can continue there conversation while the young ones ride their horses DSCN3226and practise their archery.

The other wonderful thing is that the leadlight making gear was unpacked and bought over too so the resident glass artist is rediscovering his leadlighting skills. Without too much bloodshed.DSCN3227

The other reason I chose these for the week is that my Training the Elephant practice this week is to expand my awareness of light in all its forms, bright and dim, direct and reflected.  How good are DSCN3229these for prompting me to do that?  Maybe I can enlist the artist to make me a leadlight mindfulness tile….

Updating the Elephant and Shraddha’s Tool box.

Be aware of procrastinationI read my mindfulness book each week when I was in Nepal, attempted the practices and did little sketches of potential tiles but didn’t actually make any. For obvious reasons.  Like I had absolutely NO TIME and no room to make any in!!   So over the last couple of weeks of not going anywhere I have been catching up….mindfully of course…on my project of making a tile for each of mindfulness activities.  AndNotice the movement of air thinking about how to put them all together.  The notion of a wall hanging of brooches on dark fabric held by the hands (and face) of a wise woman is evolving.  Lots of stuff emerging from the depths of my subconscious and I am interested that when I flick through my note books that the seeds of ideas for lots of what is happening now are all there. Just waiting for the gestation to finish!

I have uploaded photos of all the recent tile here on FlickR.  Some may get re-imagined (good word that!) and some already have been!  Can you tell which is Listen Listen like a spongelike a sponge, Become aware of procrastination and Pay attention to the movement of air-like the wind and your breath on this page?  (Hint: Remember all those years ago when people gave one another pictures of round tuits so they could do something when they got a round tuit?  That was the inspiration for one of the tiles.  Kind of corny but it worked for me!)

I am also thrilled and relieved to report that I am finally making progress on pieces I am preparing for an Exhibition in August this year.  When I did Tory Hughes’ Creative Development manual, one of the results was committing myself to this challenge.  Not quite sureDSCN3201 what I was thinking or what particularly confident and brave muse I was channelling at the time but the dates are set and that is a great incentive to work.  Again, it has been fascinating for me to see how seeds of ideas are growing after a long period of enforced dormancy.  In Judy Belcher and Tamara Honaman’s great book Polymer Clay Master ClassRobert Dancik makes the comment that he often has many projects on the go at once. ( He says he usually has 15-25 projects on the go on his workbench which conjured images of a pretty impressive work bench!!!)  He said he finds that when he surrounds himself with projects that utilize [hundreds of various materials, processes and procedures], DSCN3215they start to talk to each other.  On a much smaller scale, I find this to be very true to and find that what happens with one project is enriched by what is going on with another.  I love the organic-ness of this!  How things I might have thought I had all stitched up in my head then grow due to something else I am thinking about.  Shraddha’s Toolbox (pictured in progress here) reflects that.  Ideas I had for a number of things, (none actually a toolbox!) seemed to all hum together when I just started this. I was like a pig in mud making this one and found that many of my motifs, or personal symbols and emerged, begging to be incorporated in a piece that I wanted to be both beautiful and functional!!!  I put a few photos on FlickR too.

In Nepal, I am generally referred to as Wendy didi or merely didi (big sister) but the ladies have given me a proper Nepali name and that is Shraddha.  It is MY toolbox, hence the name. La, back to Shraddha.

Mindful Monday and my steely resolve

I am not going to be distracted from the task at hand by writing a long post.  Lucky for you lot!  But here is the second Monday vignette of composed mindfDSCN3198ulness (for want of a more succinct description) for the year.  They won’t all DSCN3195feature my ladies but, like last week’s, this one does.  She stands in front of a beautiful glass plate by Sheryl Glassmith , one of the TARTS (Textile and Arts Collective) of Rundle Mall,  Adelaide and the scene is completed by two fabulous resin clouds that I love.  Her shield is made from a discarded jug doily I picked up at the tip and she was my first figure in many years.  I wrote about her here. The tip shop has closed (I hope this is a temporary measure) so this scene mindfully acknowledges the contribution of Broken Hill’s tip to past creations.  And I love these blue and coral colours and she seems serene.  And I do think she is listening rather nicely which reminds me of my word this year.

My mindful Mondays also reading the next chapter of Taming the Elephant, but more of that another day.  Now it’s back to the embellished toolbox.DSCN3197

A photo for Ruby and the Word of the Year

Aaaaah.  (That’s a relaxed and contented sigh).  It’s been a good week of being a bit still, starting some things, beginning to finish others and doiDSCN3172ng some planning.  I have a list. (Yes, yes, yes. Some of you are rolling on the floor laughing as you wonder if that needed to be said but my list is a gentle, kind one.  Or three.  Or so.  They are flexible and evolving….like me.  And they are on my Christmas iPad!)

The shawl wearing, tambourine weilding, impressively breasted polymer mermaid to the right was unearthed in PP’s recently relocated leadlight box (of all places!) today!  She must be at least 10 years old, if not older and reveals an early face cane AND my early mermaid efforts!  There’s a kind of bolshie spiritedness about her that I like!  Even if she’s a bit rough around the edges.  Ruby, I hope you like her too!!! (Ruby’s favourite necklace for the year included a later mermaid bead seen here).

It hasn’t all been polymer nostalgia and I have been doing some eDSCN3173njoyable polymer procrastination…making some little tools for myself.  Something I’ve wanted to do for ages and ultimately an activity that was a lot less scary than seriously working on exhibition pieces. I justify this procrastinatory behaviour as it is the weekend and I have been working hard on exhibition stuff (but more of that another day.)

I have chosen my word for the year and what an ironic word it is for me.  Unlike other years, I didn’t select a word from a short list of options.  This one just seemed so abundantly the one when I was pondering the topic on our long driveDSCN3175 home, that it was obviously the one to run with.  There’s some black humour in a seriously deaf woman choosing listen as her word of the year.  But 2013 has a lot happening…and that is not including the many things I don’t know about yet!  Heeding the wisdom of my word will mean that I don’t just rush headfirst into a mad frenzy of doing and worrying and panicking.  It means taking time and making the effort to listen…to my heart, my body, my creativite inner voice, my family and friends, my environment, my world. For me more than most, listening means being still and quiet, very attentive, blocking out other noise, focussing on the voice and watching.  If I am to hear, I have to really listen.  Having a listening attitude will be good practice for this year.

I am intently listening out to see what my friend Cath and her committee will declare as the UN Word/ Thought of the Year. Last year was comfortable knickers (among other things) if you recall.  No pressure Cath….


Packing, unpacking

I calculated that I have spent 12 whole days here in the Hill in the last 4 months.  This explains the exuberance with which I tossed my battered red suitcase up on a high shelf for three months rest.  And it explains a certain sense of needing to get off the bus!

The travelling has been fantastic and it was wonderful to catch up with family on our travelling road show.  Not so many friends as we’d have liked because when we were down south we were engaged in a fascinating archaelogical activity called sorting out stuff that has been in storage under the house for 7 years.  Ah how we laughed.

We culled, culled and reculled. We kept some things, but usually took photos and liberated stuff – often to the tip.  Our lovely Jen said, when I was sad about farewelling some things, Don’t worry, you have the memories for ever.  Not totally confident about that at my age baby!  Still, we are practised at the downsizing and it was a good thing to do.  Some non-culled things will be incorporated into art works and others will inspire revisiting favourite themes!

Here are some photos of some of my early artistic endeavours (my parents saved the painting and drawings) and a few of the earliest polymer ladies.  I hope 2013 will be the year of getting back to making my girls!  With a tad more refinement than these dames.

Even if it only contains the things I know about, 2013 will be a busy year so when I can, I hope to engage in a practice that acknowledges the busyness, enforces some stillness and celebrates the rediscovery of some treasured things.  This will be my Mindful Monday Montage!  Every Monday I hope to arrange some treasured things, some long hidden in boxes, take a photo and do some quiet reflecting.  (Anything that gets me quietly reflecting this year will be a bonus!!!) Here’s last weeks and tomorrow I will post this Monday’s. Already catching up but blame travel!

More soon, including the traditional ponder about my word for the year (but it will be an untraditionally short ponder!)  I will announce the necklace winner in February so you still have until the end of January to make your favourite necklace comment.  Be brave. While it’s fine to email me, why not make it on the post!  See here about that little offer!