Tag Archives: Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery

A Desert Love Song

2011_0024_0000.jpg.890x500_q85_crop_upscale

Photo from mgnsw.org.au

The year I arrived in Broken Hill Janine Mackintosh of Kangaroo Island won the Outback Art Prize which is held annually at my beloved Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery.  Her work, Droughts and Flooding Rains, was a mandala composed of stitched twigs. It was one of my favourites as well as the one the judge selected.

Rick Ball

Photograph from rick ball.com.au

Each year artists are invited to submit work in any media which reflects the spirit and diversity of the Australian Outback. Finalists are selected for the exhibition by a committee and three prizewinners are selected by a visiting judge. In 2012 my lovely friend Rick Ball won with his powerful work The Land-Broken Hill and Darling River. Ian Tully’s prize winning entry Personal Mobile Broadband Satellite Receiver in 2013 was

From guild house.org.au

From guild house.org.au

controversial and I would have bought elements of Liz Butler’s Lines of Demarcation in 2014 but couldn’t as it is an acquisitive prize and the work is now owned in its entirety by the Gallery.

In less than 12 months of outback living I was enthralled by the spirit and diversity of the place. Long regular walks in the bush, picnics in creek beds, visits to Mutawintji were all sewing the seeds of my own response to the desert.

In late 2014 we knew we would be leaving the Hill, and I knew that it was now orDSCN1078 never.  The piece that had been gestating for over two years, loitering in notebooks, littering the house with its potential accumulations, had to be made.  And so, over seven months, the Desert Walking Gown emerged. And that meant making hundreds of paper thin polymer gum leaves and stitching them onto a cape by hand.  It meant making and collecting countless bones and pods.  It 88663747000E6C573meant gratefully accepting the offering of a dead emu who no longer needed all her feathers.

It felt like a ritual.  It felt like a reflection on my time here, discovering the beauty and harshness of this country, responding to the depth and dignity of the-19746920664B712B76 landscape.  Learning to love a place that wasn’t Nepal.  As my labour became more intense over the past  last weeks, it has felt more special.

I don’t know whether my Desert Walking Gown has been accepted for the -8316649256D301D7Exhibition. I will be euphoric if it is selected. (And, if I am honest, disappointed if it isn’t) But it has been a wonderful experience making it. It has felt very vulnerable, very congruent, very authentic.  I can’t sing. This is my love song to the outback.

Who Won and What’s Happening?

I have to confess that I have been having way too much fun writing and preparing DSCN5316 this 6 week program to stop and write in the blog!  And the good news is that Creativity and Polymer Clay will be running as we have already got the minimum number of participants* (and bless them, some are coming without having really heard ANYTHING about the course! Gotta love that trust!)

As well as making some gifts** and preparing samples*** for participants, I have loved the process of getting really clear about what I want people to be able to do as a result of having spent the 6 weeks together.  WORD OF THE YEAR ALERT: Clarity was one of the words I selected and for those of you noting them down to get the big prize, here’sDSCN5319 your second one!

I am going to write more very soon about a program called Teach Now but doing this course has really helped me to get clear about what I want to say and how I want to say it.  And I think it contributed enormously to the amount of joy I’m getting from preparing the course.

I have also been revisiting favourite sites and rediscovering some wisdom! I love this one from the Skinny Artist about how to deal with too many ideas and not enough time!

I loved the ideas Emily, Deb and Margaret came up with for a name for the course and so all three will get a pendant. Margie, it won’t be another black and white one for you! Only so many a woman can wear really!  Thank you all for connecting!

*Still room for more!

** Just knew I would eventually find a use for some of the little plastic thingies that came with flowers a daughter got once. Did you know the flower getting gene is not familial?

*** Can you spot monochromatic, analogous, complementary and split complementary colour schemes?

 

Found Objects: Melinda Young

So much to write about but that can wait. Today I just want to rave about Melinda DSCN5198Young’s fabulous workshop yesterday at BHRAG.  Balm to my soul in an inspiring, affirming, joyous way. Melinda is a fabulous teacher, providing thoughtful experiences of the ways to nurture creativity that I already love: self imposed limitations and rules; pushing your creative envelope (like using media/ colours you may not always choose to use!); collaboration (or outrightly* using another’s palette!) and a spirit of play and exploration.

She created an accepting and stimulating environment, provided wonderful resources in addition to things we bought (no coincidence that three participants met at our wonderful Depot shop on Saturday I think!)  People made the most fabulous things but I was so utterly absorbed that IDSCN5196 forgot to photograph them. I have it on reasonable authority that pieces will be exhibited when Mel comes back next year as the second part of her Artist In Residence stint to exhibit.  It will be GREAT!!!! Her work is wonderful and I am really looking forward to seeing more of her exhibition pieces. A range of her production pieces are now available at the BHRAG shop.

I had some lovely pieces made for me and I made several things including a ring, single earring and blingy choker that pushed me out of my comfort zone. The one that I am wearing now (life’s too short not to wear your jewellery even at home on your own) is one inspired by the materials I had and shamanic jewellery.  And to my great delight uses so many of those things I KNEW I WOULD USE ONE DAY!!! In spite of popular perceptions. Like my DSCN5182children’s baby teeth, tiny spindles from my grandmother’s sewing machine, bones, an Inecto vial and seeds collected on local rambles, Nepali rupee and Chinese yuan notes, coins from Nepal, shards of flint. All those things that simply had to be carried from house to house over the years.  And now used for something! Told you I would one day!

The collecting of stuff in a wonderful walk on Thursday galvanised me (no punDSCN5207 intended) to finish a scrap metal collage too! It uses some of my favourite bits of scrap and I like the sense of a door.  And the fabulous blue bit. Nothing like using up stuff eh?

*Is that an actual word? Should be.

Double D-dreaming and doing!

photoIf some one had walked into our class on Sunday, they may have wondered just what was going on.  Occasionally you’d hear They are magnificent boobs or Does this need plastic surgery? All in the name of creating goddesses/ gods/a green man that reflected our inner selves!

The class was created on a bit of a whim after reading a comment made by Cynthia Tinapple in her excellent Studio Mojo about needing to be Double D girls. Dreamers and Doers.  The image that popped into my mind seemed like fun and one thing led to another and there we were, with magnificently brave Ian* to balance the gender imbalance (big call for one bloke with 11 women but he wasphoto up to it), to create to our hearts’ content.

It was a class to follow instincts, to experiment wildly, to learn newphoto techniques and to walk out with more ideas.  I loved the diversity of the creations and the willingness of every participant to really follow their gut, to listen to the little voice within saying Why not give this a go? or I wonder what it would look like if I did this?

With access to inks, powders, Helen Breil’s texture sheets, home made texture tools, words they received on clouds in the beginning of the class, pre made canes (I did have rather a lot in stock!) and pre mixed colours each artist created something unique and gorgeous.  There won’t be any more of my classes until May/ June as I leave in less than two weeks. It will be a while between drinks but will keep us all going I hope!

See more photos here at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery Facebook page.

*Ian may not have been there totally of his own free will but never let that get in the way of having fun!

Promote your Top Shelf!

photoIt possibly sounds like I spend ages reflecting and pondering.  A bit of January pondering does take place, partly due to timing, but also because usually October, November and December are ponder free zones!!!  I am generally in Nepal, and there is precious little reflecting and pontificating time and lots of frantic doing.  Any reflecting or planning is very Samunnat related and I usually come back feeling like I need to regroup at a personal level.  Hence the preponderance of pondering.

Every year, my friend Cath and the Team at UN Headquarters come up with100_0328 their version of the Declaration of the Year.  Readers may recall 2012 when we were to start where we were, revel in our imperfections and wear undies that made us feel great. Some made underpants earrings inspired by the more profound aspects of this great declaration.

DD iconThis year it’s another cracker and spookily synchronous given my amply proportioned iconic goddesses.  (This one pictured even doubles…sorry…as an earring holder!)  This year we are exorted to Do a hobby (old or new), accept yourself as you are right now, yes, now…right now and promote your “top shelf”.  The final part of the Declaration began as Stand up Straight but Promote your Top Shelf does it so much better and ever since receiving the word, so to speak, I have been aware of my posture in a way stand up straight would NOT have inspired!!!

Anyway, it all tied in very nicely and in the spirit of the Declaration and all my pondering (see, it does all come together in the end) and I have created a class called THE DOUBLE D GODDESS ICON CLASS where you can do all three aspects at once!  You can do a hobby; not even just accept yourself but walk out loving yourself sick becauseCanberra polymer clay retreat 2006 027 of your gorgeous creation; and we will be so aware of posture and our top shelves in general the whole time.

Each creator will make a unique icon that reminds her/ him(?) to be a double D girl, a Dreamer and Doer.  We will also create our icon to express a quality we want to take into the year. So much! Gosh.  All in fabulous polymer. To the right, I’ve posted some photos of icons made by students in a similar class I ran in 2006!  Read more details of February’s class here but those here in the Outback in Australia’s stinking hot Summer would be mad not to do it!

Collected Works, Collected Family, Collected Friends

Room opening 1Some of my lovely tolerant friends and family have asked that I include some photos of the BIG EVENT on this blog so I shall!  Bear with us those who may not be so interested!  It felt like a landmark night for me and was so enriched by the physical presence of some very special people who covered vast distances and the messages of love (including a magnificent bunch of flowers!) from other special people who could not physically be there!

Cathy, Darren, Ian and the rest of the gang at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery (BHRAG) are magnificent people for many reasons.  They did a fabulous job and tookW,C and Susan's flowers as much care with presenting the exhibition as I would.  And then they added experience and knowledge.  It’s a bit like when you take your kids to school and just hope that the people there can love them and see the magic in them in spite of all their little faults.  You hope that they will know what to do to help bring out the best in them. Cathy, Darren and Ian did that with my stuff!

PlinthObviously they could have felt very overwhelmed with all those bosoms.  Shadows created by the bountifully endowed did create challenges with label placement.  The variety of colours, varying bust shapes and idiosyncratic hanging methods, meant that the laser precision levelling was time consuming.  Pragmatism meant we did used covered plinths for some more fragile or removable pieces and a strong desire by all of us to highlight the importance of my relationship with the Samunnat ladies guided placement of some pieces.  There were just so many flipping labels to place and spell check’s reaction to Nepali nearly sent Cathy spare!  So to you guys, a huge thank you for doing such a wonderful job. As always. The Art Gallery holds a special place in the hearts of locals and is very much a part of the community.  I felt incredibly lucky to be able to have an exhibition there.

Seeing the pieces up in the room on Monday was great. Seeing that room filled by so many people was overwhelming.  People wereMal address reading those carefully placed labels, talking with friends about pieces, laughing appropriately and….even spending!  I had quite possibly the world’s best opening speaker deliver his speech and am so grateful to him.  For everything.  Not just the speech.

The NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize  was opened by Eddie Harris, a local Barkandji artist, from a talented artistic  family, who is one of the  finalists.  As well as Looking at 52sharing of himself, Eddie did everyone the great favour of introducing us to his amazing niece Chiara who, at the age of only 8 (I think) sang beautifully and spoke with such poise, dignity and assurance that many, myself included, were tearing up!

A few people have asked whether there is a sense of emptiness or a let down having finished this.  It’s funny because in a way there is more a sense that it is all part of the bigger process.  Tory Hughes and I have our Deep Play retreat at Lake Mungo in just a few weeks (Spaces available. We’d love to see you there!)  The Samunnat work continues unabated and I head back to Nepal in just over 6 weeks (and didn’t I get a shock calculating that since I was going to type just over 8 weeks!) Over the next few weeks we have many visitors coming out to say hi and see the show and I suspect I won’t really have time for a sense of emptiness. It feels like a landmark but one that is part of a rich journey, not my last shot at something!

So…thanks for your patience. Next post will be about my Travel Challenge piece and thank you to Erin for getting me started on a surprisingly addictive broken glass collecting habit!

What I’m doing after my VERY BIG WEEK

What a week it has been.  And not just because it included a teapot that I didn’t think I’d have time to finish.  (Aptly entitled: Tea with the Girls)

DSCN4326It began on a whopping great high with my Tsarang Mala being featured here on PCD. I was, as any PCD addict would totally understand, blown out of my tiny mind.  In a really evolved and unattached and calm way, I was beside myself. Yes, indeedy.

Then, as fate would have it, a day later, my copy of Global Perspectives Polymer Clay by the magnificent Cynthia Tinapple arrived and I was even more excited! Hard to imagine!  Obviously there is a degree of bias being a contributing author etc but, casting that aside, I know I would buy this book anyway! I loved reading about the other artists.  This is not a CV/ Galleries/ articles blurb.  Cynthia’s great skill is in drawing out the people behind the stories, capturing the warmth, the journey and then seeing the links, the shared experiences.   The inner busybody really enjoyed reading about the other artists- their motivations, practices, inspirations and lives.  How their landscape, experiences and culture impacted on their work.   I also particularly liked Cynthia’s discussion about categories of motivation.  She said that not everyone fell neatly into oneDSCN4328 category, I know I don’t, but I could certainly recognise myself in some of her descriptions.  And then, there are the projects. So many I want to try.  Perfectly timed to almost coincide with AFTER THE INSTALLATION.

Ah yes….the installation. Well, on Wednesday the last piece for the Exhibition, my triptych, was delivered to the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery and a few minutes ago I pressed SEND on the final bit of paperwork.  It’s DSCN4333over to them now.  It is a weird mix of vulnerability and excitement and for now I am enjoying the sense of relief at getting it done.

I had to really fight the urge to immediately sit down and make a (long) list of all the things I now need to do and to itemise those things I have to catch up on because they didn’t get done during the GREAT EXHIBITION PREPARATION OF 2013.  Those who know me will know just how hard it was not to make that list.  Instead, I spent several hours in lovely Winter sunlight yesterday writing letters.  With pen and on paper.  Until my hand got sore and my writing deteriorated due to loss of hand writing skills.

I shared my sunny space with our boisterous and happy new dogs and marvelled that little old me, who as a child became hysterical with fear at the sight ofDSCN4338 dog poo, let alone an actual dog, can now say that these two beings have improved the quality of my life enormously.

I savoured time with our younger daughter, formerly the primary carer of the aforementioned dogs, who is about to leave Australia for exotic lands.

And…in a more traditional after finishing a big thing task…I cleaned my desk.

But wait, there’s more. And I am loving myself sick about this really.  Following a tradition of up-cycling and domestic organisation (not mine) I made a wonderful thing.  It solves all the desk storage issues I have DSCN4341been battling for years and uses tins and an old (hopeless) dish drainer.  Which may in fact belong to the Flying Doctors but it was truly useless in its intended role and I promise I will replace it with a good one!  Anyway, here is a photo and I only wish I had a BEFORE shot now.  You can imagine though.

And I joined a Challenge! For a while now, I have thought longingly of participating in a swap (like those at Art Bead Scene) or a Challenge and Erin Prais-Hintz’ in particular have appealed.  She has has Challenges based on Music, Art, Literature ans last year in her travel Challenge, she made this piece inspired by Nepal.  Her Travel Challenge for this year appealed at so many levels.  It’s all about creating an art necklace inspired by where you are.  I am very inspired by the incredible scenery here in the Outback and find that my work increasingly reflects this.  It’s time to do it in a more deliberate way so I am very excited about taking this challenge up.  I don’t fully understand what it all entails and have yet to learn what a blog hop is but am looking forward to seeing how over 80 other artists use their home as a source of inspiration.

So, enough for now.  Lots more happening but I’ll save it up for next time.

Dancing around Deadlines

Gosh I love Art Propelled.  Robyn Gordon’s blog is unfailingly inspiring and thought provoking.  I don’t subscribe (mainly as I haven’t Apron and coloursworked out how!) but I have her in my favourites bar and visit regularly.  Today, with two weeks left before Installation Day*, I am feeling a bit vulnerable and exposed.  The comparing critic voices are upping their inner chatter and I am wondering if I have been a bit silly to take this on. Robyn quoted Chogyam Trungpa in a post called Your Own Way of Looking at Things and it really resonated for me:

In order to accomplish an experience, you have to have a chance to dance with it. You have to have a chance to play, to explore. Then each style of exploration that takes place is a different manifestation, we could say. Nevertheless, it is all part of one big game.

I  haven’t been making things easy for myself.  After returning from Nepal, I decided that I would only include polymer necklaces (not those made with beads I had purchased) inBlock the Year of Necklaces installation; and that I would separate necklaces that were a collaboration with Samunnat and display them in their own area.  This meant making several necklaces to replace those that were culled (along with those polymer ones that were made during the Year challenge but not deemed art!   By the way, for some interesting thoughts on art necklaces and examples of her own beautiful work see Erin Prais-Hintz’ blog here.  Erin creates wonderful, almost narrative necklaces, often inspired by themes, or literature, and encourages others to as well. Two of her necklaces are featured in a new book Showcase Art Necklaces which sounds tempting…

Table blogI didn’t want to fall into the trap of making a necklace for the exhibition!  Usually, the creations I like best come from play and exploration, from dancing with ideas, from following through the I wonders and I didn’t want deadlines (read Indigo Kate’s gorgeous quoted deadline quote here) to send me scurrying back into a mindset I work hard to avoid.  I wanted to yield to the I wonders.  The I wonder what would happen if I did this, or pulled that, or scrunched up this.  I wonder how doing this makes a piece work; how will it sit if I do that?  Alice Stroppel is a master at the I wonders. For inspiration read her I wonder if I can combine brass buttons, rubber cord and polymer to make something interesting post and her I wonder if I can makeFloor blog something bigger and more complicated than I usually do post (Titles mine!)

I wanted to use a silk apron (called a pangden) I got in Tsarang in Upper Mustang as a source of inspiration. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to incorporate the fabulously coloured stripes and the technique of lining up the three panels of  fabric in different directions.  I wondered if I could do that in a piece of jewellery.  And again I am not making things easy for myself…16 different colour,s would you believe, and NOT a straightforward repetition, my wordy me no!  Here are photos of the first stages of the I wonders.  More to come!  Still, I’m having fun wondering and hearing that deadline swooshing up!

*Installation Day for my exhibition of Collected Works.  They used my Mutwintji Necklace in the publicity on the website!