Monthly Archives: May 2014

Creating art, being art, wearing art

I am reading and listening to the thoughts of Parker J. Palmer.  Good stuff. Here, he recently wrote:

“Artistry” is not confined to folks who create verbal, visual, or musical forms of beauty. I know people who are artists at parenting, friendship, gardening, manual labor, teaching, leadership, problem-solving, care-giving, peace-making, or just plain living!

(Hear, hear!!!  It’s always nice to read something you have thought so well expressed!)

Therefore ALL of us can heed, he said, these wise words from the wonderful Wendell Berry about the value of obstacles in the creative process:

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

 DSCF0403Oscar Wilde apparently said, and I have regularly quoted him saying, One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art. I took this to heart for my daughter’s wedding. (Yes, funny how that wedding comes up regularly now.  Don’t worry, it will be the baby soon enough.) Until a couple of weeks before the wedding I had not really had a chance to think about my dress.  As luck would have it, on my travels I came across Aventures des Toiles. Each season, they choose seven pieces of art to inspire seven lines of clothing. They talk about the concept for inspiring young designers here. The dress I wore to the wedding was inspired by a painting called Les Almandiers by Isabelle Merlet. And I love wearing it. Thank you Isabelle. Thank you ADT.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, I didn’t decide on jewellery until theExif_JPEG_PICTURE night before (I know…what was I thinking) and at the very last minute selected a piece I made over five years ago in my little studio corner overlooking the jungle in Nepal.  I was inspired by the magnificent colours of the sunsets in the Terai that I witnessed so many times on the bus home from Birtamod.  Intense peaches, Exif_JPEG_PICTUREoranges, pomegranate tones. A dramatic and beautiful sunset gift followed by a magnificent ultramarine night sky.  This necklace was an early outing of the beads that subsequently became the sari beads made by the Samunnat ladies. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. But I guess it wasn’t all about me.

Tomorrow, we start our long drive home.  Aaaaaah. Home.

It was VERY REMISS of me, especially in light of all the gorgeous comments, not  to credit darling Tony Byrt for the great family photo. He gets a proper thank you here! The crappy topper photo was by me!


Here comes the bride

DSCN4698And the toppers would have been very accurate had not the bride decided, the night before the wedding, to wear her hair up! Not a biggie though and it was still recognisably THE BRIDE ANDDSCN4696 GROOM!!!! It was a magnificent day…very relaxed, happy and informal. Truly a celebration of one of life’s great love stories.



The cake lady apparently loved the toppers and asked if I would like to do more but I would have to learn how to be a whole lot faster if I was to do that!!!


Post Eurosynergy

And actually post wedding but written before hand as internet availability expired.  I am nearly caught up!! (How much of an illusion is that eh?)

IMG_2503Having been on the move for several months, and pretty preoccupied with tasks at hand, I am looking forward to some unstructured time in my studio. After the wedding!  Time to integrate all that I was exposed to at Eurosynergy; time to think about the ideas and techniques, themes, discussions and dreams. Time to look through my notebooks of random thoughts and to allow it all to percolate. Time to play.  And Lindly Haunani (L) is a great one to inspire play!

There was discussion about copying and inspiration and I think a very important step in that journey from slavish copying (or just making what you have been taught in a class) to finding your own artistic voice is that of play.  Taking what you’ve learnt and pushing it, experimenting, adding ideas of your own.  Asking yourself what would happen if I…?  Mixing that new information with what you have already discovered and using it to say what YOU want to say.  You could do a million classes with Melanie West (R) and even thoughIMG_2424 she was a generous, skilled gifted teacher, what you made would never look like hers. Nor should it.  I want to explore how using some of the techniques she taught can be adapted to making something that looks like mine!  All the teachers of the workshops and seminars I attended were incredibly generous and giving.  None of them want people to go out and make reproductions of what they do. They want to equip us with resources to find our own voice.

For me, that means experimenting, fiddling, playing, not putting pressure on myself to MAKE something good.  It means looking through my journals and seeing if a sketch I made might happen if I do a bit of this and that that I learnt somewhere.  It means telling myself I do not have to make the perfect piece, the one that totally expresses all I want to say.  I can put an awful lot of pressure on myself which means I am much more likely to start cleaning my desk, or eating, or (less likely unless really overwhelmed with a procrastinatory need) do something domestic.

For a terrific way to see how one design can inspire a whole range of voices, read about Dan Cormier’s Broken Internet Project here.  We are going to share this with the ladies as it powerfully says so much so succinctly!

Pinching myself at Eurosynergy!!!!

There’s a momentary lull in wedding preparation* and I am going to use it to do a couple of posts reflecting on the incredible Eurosynergy experience.  And not hope to capture the excitement of it!!

Attachment-1In the 90’s, when I was discovering polymer, my bible was The New Clay by Nan Roche. I was particularly enamoured with a photo of work by Kathleen Dustin. Polymer odalisques connected to become an amazing necklace. In those pre internet days, the few rare books about polymer that one could find in Australia were highly treasured.  The photos of what people were doing with this amazing material were beacons of possibility. I even made my own version of an odalisque which still hangs on my mum and dad’s wall, learning so much on the way (primarily that it was VERY hard to do and that this woman Kathleen was a genius!!) To actually meet Kathleen Dustin in Malta was wonderful. That she commented on one of the necklaces I wore  BLEW MY TINYIMG_2545 MIND!!!! (And it wasn’t only Sona’s that she liked!!) Here is me with three polymer goddesses: Tracy Holmes, Kathleen and Bettina Welker. I am trying to look vaguely calm.

And this, for me, was a huge part of the joy of Eurosynergy. I met SO MANY of my heroes. And found so many more!!!  The overwhelming sense of generosity, sharing, delight in creativity and possibility was infectious. Artists from 29 nations united by a passion. A passion that was not just for an artistic medium but about the importance of creating.  In many of the workshops and seminars, people spoke about creating being as essential as breathing.  These were people after my own heart!!!

I almost leapt out of my chair and hugged Ronna Sarvas Weltman when she reflected that making her art was about celebrating life. It was about joy and sharing.

I did a lot of holding myself back from leaping out of chairs.

IMG_2503In her clothes, in her art, in her teaching Lindly Haunani, brimming with generosity, celebrated colour, the beauty in food. Angela Garrod was alive with the spirit of gleefulIMG_2540 investigation, again, shared with excitement, generosity and joy.  Here is Angela (R) with the amazing Connie Brockstedt (middle) and help me, I am hopeless with names, two of the gorgeous German artists. Melanie West buzzed with her enthusiasm about nature as a source of inspiration, experimentation as a source of growth.  In this photo with DSCN5017Kopila and Melanie, there was no point trying to look calm. The face says it all: Can you believe I am really here?!!!! (I am wearing the necklace KD touched. Had to pop that in!)

That’s enough for now but there will be more Eurosynergy reminiscing. I am doing a few posts (rather than the traditional bombardment of information) using the the wonders of scheduled posting. Back to the bride.  Bride and groom toppers need reskewering.

*PS: I must say that a pregnant bride-to-be is a very chilled out version of a B-T-B! People suggested that Bridezilla would emerge but even days before the event, BTB is calm, relaxed, happy, and aware that her wedding day is a happy day vs the happiest day of her life. Thank goodness.

Un viaje colorido

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post.  Not too many words…just some pictures.DSCN4926

Loving family mock my repeated comments on the colours of all our trips….the browns (so much more than browns) in Tibet, the greens of the jungles, the reds of the Outback here at home. Oh the colours.

And, Barcelona was no different.  Vibrant, jewel-like, subtle, radiant, natural,DSCN4794 singing….oh the colours!  Look at that fruit mosaic above!

And because if I put pictures with no words they go in funny places, here is a poem I really like (thank you Jen Louden):

Heart on the Mend

You are not here a wise woman said
to fill the hole
in other people’s souls

DSCN4831You are here
to find the joy
in being who you areDSCN4793
and expressing
what you love

You are here to find and Honor
the wisdom of your heart
the knowing of your soul

And in the presence of your living loveDSCN4782
others are more likely to remember
to find and to mend themselves

Nanna Aida Svendsen in Of Water Lilies and Warm Hearts

A card carrying member of the Sona Grigoryan fan club

It has been a long while since I wrote and not surprisingly, I am almost paralysed DSCN4779with indecision about where to start. So much to say!  Two amazing, albeit exhausting months away.  To deal with my paralysis, I will do the writing equivalent of a Skinner blend…I won’t set myself the task of writing a brilliant post that conveys all I want to say but will write several smaller posts that say one or two things. Let alone be brilliant.

Today I write about the kindness of strangers and Barcelona!  And maybe it was the kindness of a not really stranger which is one of the reasons I loved Barcelona so much.

Cynthia Tinapple told me about Sona Grigoryan and Noelia Contreras, two talented w3artist from Barcelona here, here and here. I loved their work and when I knew I was going to be in Barcelona, possibly with some free time while the football was on, I emailed Sona and Noelia to see if we could connect.  To our disappointment, Noelia and I could not get together (but we will!) but Sona and I did.  She was amazingly hospitable, treating us to the most wonderful paella I have had, showing me her workspace (I will NEVER complain about lack of space again!!!) and then giving me an absolutely gob smackingly gorgeous necklace she had made especially! (Sona’s husband took the photos)

wendy3Sona shared about how inspired she was by nature and by the work of Gaudi, so much a part of the feel of Barcelona (and one of the reasons I chose to go to Barcelona en route between Malta and Nepal. Logical to me?!)  Her work is so fearless and organic (look at her latest creations!!!!) and the piece I am now privileged to own reflects this.  She wanted to combine elements of her home, Armenia, with elements of mine. The resulting necklace used an ancient Armenian manuscript juxtaposed with the famous shell shapes of our Sydney Opera House.  I feel like a queen whenever I wear it and the day I wore it at Eurosynergy in Malta (strap yourself down…another breathless post to come!) I never tired of telling the MANY people who asked about my necklace the whole story.  I reckon in five years, I would not be able to afford a Sona Grigoryan original!!!  I will treasure mine because of its great beauty and because of the wonderful memories it brings.