Monthly Archives: January 2021

Just quickly…

….thanks to my darling Cath who sent me this quote from Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files. On receiving her email I took some time to stand still and be astonished. So much. In a post on creating shitty art he says:

Creating art is about growing the world and increasing its reach, and it has more to do with the act of creation itself than what is actually made. Anything that animates us creatively in a positive way — be it the grand design of a great architectural wonder or the Big Bang of a child’s drawing — is a re-enactment of the original creation story. Whether we realise it or not, making art is a religious encounter as it is our attempts to grow beyond ourselves that energise the soul of the universe.

Gosh. Yes. What he said.

And why is this such a short post? Two reasons:

Sometimes I just need to learn to shut up and let others say stuff…even though this is my blog so that won’t happen much;

and I have been having an excellent time doing the courses I mentioned here; truly savouring and learning. Another context for standing still and learning to be astonished!

I attach my reflection on the bark shedding yellowbox trees on Mt. Ainslie and smooth, speckled stones.

Learning to be astonished

I can’t imagine that anyone of a certain age still does New Year’s resolutions. I don’t. Even intentions freak me a out a bit. I have…things that I might do….

But here’s one I REALLY want to do. I was in a bookshop and saw Clive Jame’s Fire of Joy, his final book-a collection of poems to learn by heart and say aloud. Yes! I plan to become that embarrassing relative who recites poems at the dinner table! No. Not quite. Mind you, having been exposed pretty regularly to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as a child, being that embarrassing (but beloved)  old person is in my DNA.

No…I just remembered that there was a time when I learned by heart poems that I loved. And that knowing them might be more helpful and comforting on my death bed (as they were for Clive) than lying there and saying Oh, you know the one. About the woman with the hair. By whatshername. So, each month this year I will might remember and say aloud (to myself unless asked) one poem. And this month’s, remembered from heart, is:

My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird – equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums. Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young and still not half – perfect. Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished. The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are there, which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, and the sleepy dug up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.

Mary Oliver

I love my walks in the hills and I am learning to be astonished. Lately I have been astonished by the bare limbed, bark shed gorgeousness of the yellow boxes…everywhere! And the tiny fringe lilies…hardly anywhere. And dainty mushrooms which I have never seen before but that might be because I’m still learning.

Doing Courses and keeping Calm

Over Christmas, which became disappointingly quiet thanks to the Sydney lockdown,  I compensated by making calm, quiet veneers for some pieces for Trove. Some necklaces to sit calmly in the shop after the frenzy of  the pre Christmas period! But thanks to that frenzy, I am treating myself to some courses!  Strangely enough, I didn’t do many courses last year and apparently that’s what many people did! For an introverted artist, some aspects of lockdown were normal…dare I say enjoyable. I could relate to this!  I know my Victorian friends really suffered though!

One course I did last year was Tracy Holmes’ Breakthrough Colour which continues soon. This is not a specifically polymer course and one of the strengths is the connection with artist from various backgrounds. Tracy turns your basic understanding of colour mixing on its head in a fantastic and practical way. For me anyway. Looking forward to a deeper dive!

I am also doing a course with  Christine Dumont who is, fortunately for me (whose High School French would not cut the moutarde), offering her online Materiality course in English!  It has only just started and already I am buzzing. This is one of the many things I love about this medium. I have been working in it for 30 years and am constantly surprised by how it can be used/ pushed/ treated/ combined. This course is taking me way outside my familiar places and I am loving it!

I am also virtually doing Signals, a Clayathon workshop with Anke Humpert!  I am intrigued to learn how to make a necklace that uses polymer clay for ALL the components. Anke is a master at exploring this kind of constructional stuff!! No need for generic chain, cords or ties! Or even my beloved coloured O rings! I love the ones in the necklaces photographed here. Just so….calm.

Anyway, enough for now. My own classes will start again soon and I have, in a burst of somewhat uncharacteristic organisation drawn up a 6 month program. I know. Incredible. Let me know if you want me to email it to you!!