Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

It is my birthday and coincidently I wonderful little handmade/hand drawn/hand painted book arrived for me from Sarah Laing.

My full list of inspirational people is/was

  • Tom Waits
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Sam Hunt
  • Jim Baxter
  • Janet Frame
  • Keri Hulme
  • Philip Clairmont
  • Colin McCahon
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Rita Angus

Iggy Pop was on the sidelines


Colin McCahon by Sarah Laing (2013)

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Shelter from the Storm

As you may know, a week ago there was a large and destructive earthquake in Christchurch. Many have written about it and I echo Lysergia’s (and others) sentiment that it’s not about me, and her roundup is excellent.

The shock of it all came on the tail end of a very angsty week for me and it suddenly put my small troubles into perspective. And so, as part of small changes I am trying to make towards larger moves, I hope to be blogging here more often. 

During the ‘counting my blessing process’, I was thinking a lot about comfort and shelter and in my daily housework I came across this label on a blanket.

Haeremai” Blanket. Bruce Woollen Mills, Milton, Otago, New Zealand. (Wartime Label)

I live in Mosgiel – formerly known for its woollen mills. Milton is a 20 minute drive south from here. I think my mother gave me this blanket when we moved to Otago last year and we sure have needed it. The wartime label indicates that it could be 70 years old but it’s in almost perfect nick. To me, it epitomises comfort and for some reason, permanence within an impermanent world.

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Make It Work

School holidays, deadlines, research, plan changes, backlogs of other things piling up, and yes, the blogging suffers…What does one do?

Well because I don’t have Tim Gunn  here to prod me along, I bought these from Emma Makes.

They are also the editing pencils of DOOM. Thanks to the very clever Emma!!!! (I am now coveting one of her ukulele bags)

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My world

Well battling on through the school holidays has taken a bit of energy. I have been confronted with all sorts of dilemmas, including how to get caramel off a guinea pig (basically you can’t) but some interesting things have come my way.

Firstly I have managed to organise a trip to Christchurch for the closing weekend of the Ronnie van Hout exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery and I’ll be able to see their other shows too. This is very exciting and I have to thank FlyBuys, The Airpoints Fairy and Hotel So for making it possible – as well as my partner for taking care of the kids of course. I can’t wait to get there!

Also we are looking at moving to a bigger house – much much bigger and with LAND. While its still all at the “I am dreaming” stage, the way the house and land is positioned strongly reminds me of this – even the mown bit:

Christina’s World(1948) Andrew Wyeth. Collection of MOMA

I have also been thinking about quiet artists. An Aunt of mine who died very recently was an artists but would never call herself that. She had an amazing sense of style and colour, and an incredible eye. She was passionate and had a multitude of enthusiasms which carried you along with her. In the 1970s she became a skilled weaver, often dyeing and spinning wools herself. I remember helping to collect specific lichens and leaves for her dyes. Not very many years ago she quietly told me that the Dowse* had once bought some of her textile work. She moved on from weaving and turned to photography and took stunning pictures. I think she was part of a camera club and exhibited a few pictures there but for the most part, her art simply stayed at home on her walls. I guess she was a ‘hobby artist’ but her output belied that. An author told me a while back, that there are many excellent writers who would never dare publish and I wonder about these quiet artists as well. Not the art society watercolourists, but people just producing quite wonderful art for themselves.

* I really should check if they still have it.

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I got an email today from someone who stumbled across my blog having found themselves mentioned. I re-read the entry and it seems awfully ingenuous now. Oh well. The topics and writing here are fairly uneven.

Due to a ‘series of unfortunate events’ and bloody cold weather I have been somewhat unmotivated to blog. I have seen art, “I was Russia” at DPAG was good. I saw it on the opening day and floundered a bit with it because of the lack of explanatory written material – not even a photocopied page. I will go back , but I particularly liked the collective Factory of Found Clothing, which in part, dealt with artifacts.

Image from FFC.

I have been thinking a lot and writing a lot about the juncture of visual art and literature of late. While making another attempt to tidy up my bookshelves today I came across a book I picked up a while back, mainly because there was Clairmont woodcut print in it (The Birth of the Bomb Aug 1979). A crazy book made by William Millet a B29 pilot who flew over Japan post bomb. Things of iron & things of green, Nucleonic narrative about love and war, Things of iron like war and things of green like love is described as follows:

“Limited ed. of 1000 copies signed and numbered by the author. “The entire books was designed and printed by the author-publisher-designer William Millett using Garamond-Jenola & Caxton type faces on his Arab Letter-press & offset printed on a Heildelberg [sic] offset & part composed on an IBM golf-ball typesetter. The paper used Churston cover paper in the main.”–p. 4. Case bound and sewn in 4 signatures. Central hole in the front cover reveals the words of the title from the half-title page”

It made me think of a conversation I heard on the Kim Hill show last Saturday with Sherman Young. This book is an artifact in itself but also full of ideas and art from Hanley, Brown, Clairmont, Blair, Frizzell and others.  It looks a bit manky in today’s high production value world but I like it. When I pick it up, I am holding something important. Well that’s how it feels. It also makes me feel its from a time when people cared. OK, people still care but maybe not to collectively and widely. Its like we are numbed to the horrors of the world now. Maybe we have been so inundated by words and images but also distanced from wars, famines, diseases by our TV screens. I really don’t know. I am glad I have this book though.

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The universal statement

Having just written elsewhere that certain artists were quite prickly people, I am having a prickly day myself. Lets just say over-reaction would be an understatement. I put it down to this flu I can’t shake and the position of the moon.


I found this a while back and loved it because it raises many many issues that key into my day.

My Heritage is Bigger than “I Am” (2008) Joyce Stalker

The artists writes “Seventeen years after emigrating to New Zealand Aotearoa, I feel more sharply than ever the loss of my Canadian heritage. I have read that McCahon is this country’s greatest artist and been told that all artists here reference him. I remain stubbornly unmoved by his dark and complex works and deeply stirred by the fabric of my family’s lives.”

I personally am moved by McCahon and particularly the “I AM” so it was very interesting for me to consider this from a differing viewpoint. I also liked how the artist used McCahon’s imagery to make the statement “I AM”. Because in the end it is a universal I AM (see Chatwin) and that is all we can say.

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The most beautiful book has come into my hands. Rita: Seven Poems by Colin McCahon.

I found the content intriguing but the book itself and the production leaves me in awe.

This book, a co-production of the Fernbank Studio and The Holloway Press, was designed and printed by Brendan O’Brien at the Studio, Rita Angus Cottage, Wellington…The poems are handset by the printer in 14pt Garamond, and the Afterword & Notes set in 12pt Linotype Granjon by John Denny, Puriri Press, Auckland. The facsimile poems are reproduced by polymer plates printer letterpress. The paper is Zerkall Special edition with Canson Mi-Teintes for the cover.”

I like knowing all this about a book. And this book has a weight about it – although somewhat spoiled by the plastic covering and the University stickers that have been attached. It is simply beautifully crafted, a work of art in itself.


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