dear dear Miss Nina Bagley. About two years ago, I became interested in 'altered' art after scrapbooking quickly got boring. I did a few local classes but there was nothing edge-y, nothing outside the standard beading and floral arrangement classes. (Bbbbbooooorrrrrriiiiiiinnnngggg. Sorry scrappers and beaders but my nature is too crazy and these crafts were toooo limited for me.) Browsing through my favourite part of the library I came upon an altered art book which featured none other than Nina's work.(pronounced Nine-Ah, not Neeenaaa, but like the number 9, which is important even if we are only reading silently, it still is pronounced in our minds properly). I have always loved books, read at least five a week and browse so many more. I love paper, textiles, thrifting, making by hand, writing and photography. Her work encapsulates all the elements I love and then some. I still love the visual stimulation that mixed media gives and where I can, I try and use 'not art product' products to produce my work. She makes the most beautiful necklaces and incorporates poignant narratives that lift each piece to another level. I must own one of these one day.
Here is a piece of Nina's recent work and below is what is stamped onto the back. You can view more of her work and life on her blog at http://ornamental.typepad.com/ or visit her online store at www.ninabagley.etsy.com. I do such a poor job of presenting her work, she is far more poetic so please do drop by her blog and check her out. She would love to come to New Zealand and teach here, so register your interest if you'd love to do that. She has a workshop coming up in Melbourne, Australia including an intensive. I would LOVE to do that.
Below are more examples of her jewellery. I love the dolls. I have one remember. I love people and words in my artwork too.
My heart is always expectant as I visit these ladies via their websites. Every day I travel to the West Island and a wee farm somewhere on that continent with a botanical alchemist, then across to the USA and the small quiet place where Nina lives and works, to peek in on her studio and see what creative object she is fashioning. Sometimes they travel, and then so do I, vicariously through their lives. Funny isn't it, I would slap you for looking into the windows of my house, but via the internet we are all voyeuristic and encourage others to do so. Well, I hope it's inspirational voyeurism anyway.
I intro'd India Flint (website: http://www.indiaflint.com/ ; blog http://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com/) last month. India is a fabulous source of support and inspiration as well, with her wealth of knowledge in the textile department.
I hear regularly from Sandy Webster (website: http://www.sandywebster.com/), another American artist I met last year who works with mixed media creating boxes, books and baskets (some of her wonderful work is in the book "500 baskets").
I am also surrounded by artists at school in the form of my tutors which is one of the benefits of art school. One is immediately dropped into the centre of the art world. I find out what's happening, who's who, and get to be involved in some exciting things. But visiting Nina's and India's pages this morning is almost like being invited to tea and catching up on the latest and greatest. Be it creations, thoughts, events... Well, you get the picture.
Viewing Nina's work was very much a part of the reason why I am where I am today. I wanted to create in a serious manner, to take my crafting off the back element and move it into a more central location in my life alongside my other roles. It's in my blood to create and think and live and reflect. Having had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility (which I have totally cured based on the haphazard nature of my home and life these days) for all those years meant I did not value the role of being an artist, certainly not for myself anyway. It took me a few months before I could even call myself an artist (there is still a slight cringe too sometimes). After a brief chat with the main man in my life, earning a living is not my biggest priority anymore. Well at least not yet. Suffice to say, we live a simple life, do not have a mortgage, and earn a reasonable living. And nothing worse than pressure to kill creativity.
Today I discovered http://www.felt.co.nz/ -oooo, exciting. Like www.etsy.com but based here in Aotearoa. So my goal is to sell some of my handcrafted goods, to help appease the "second income guilt" that appears from time to time; and just a plain excuse to get making smaller pieces for marketing while diminishing my stash and the 'guilt' evoked from all my art stuff lying around.
I am studying Visual Arts & Design at Whitireia Polytech in Porirua. I am in the first year of the degree course which is a total of three years full time. Being a mother is my other full time role. My big creative energy this year is reserved for three major body of work pieces for exhibition.
Last year was my first year, dipping my toes into the water (actually I threw myself into the deep end and scrambled about madly). It was crazy but helped build a foundation of skills including design, drawing, and research.
Some of the areas I want to explore this year include:
* Finish. Getting those products looking a lot more professional. Also being able to articulate my work, process and identity preferably in my own native tongue with song and protocol also moving into the centre of it all.
* Marketing - making a living as an artist. Ideas I want to explore are workshops, marketable small goods, and travel. Maybe group exhibitions from time to time, but I don't like the way galleries dictate - I don't know enough in this area though I do work in a gallery, so I guess that's what I need to find out as well.
* Te Reo Maori, tikanga and waiata. Finally my language. With Wednesday mornings and all day Friday for self-directed learning and studio-based work, I am wanting to develop my ability to communicate in my own language.
*Writing and storytelling, bookmaking.
* soft sculpture, cloth folk, and mixed media weaving. Loving the work of Danny Mansmith here. http://scrap-dannymansmith.squarespace.com/
* a series on prominant Maori figures "Villain or Hero?" including Brian Tamaki, Tame Iti, Te Whiti, Whina Cooper, and other Maori leaders who have fought for their ideals and people, and been demonised for it. Much like Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela and Ghandi - it all depends where you're standing and what you're standing for.
* the Swamp Queen (based on my great grandfathers Yugoslav heritage and his life here in New Zealand as a gumdigger in 1905) - a costume using felting and dye techniques learned from India Flint plus costume construction and deconstruction which is part of my major this year.
* Intensives with Nina and at the Aotearoa Textile Forum.
* Technology: yup, no avoiding it. Using digital media as part of the art making process. I love sound installations. At Pataka, Porirua's city art gallery, there is an exhibition currently showing that has giant photographs of people's face. They were captured using slow exposure so are slightly blurred. They represent the many faiths of the world. The artist photographed them praying and recorded them, so a slide show shifts the face and the voice of each person praying is also heard. It's evocative to say the least. Even if you are not spiritually-minded, it would be near impossible for this art work not to impact. Something intimate about faces and voices. I love taking photos and so am looking forward to learning how to manipulate images even more and the various applications of applying images to various surfaces.
My degree is a Bachelor of Visual Arts and this year I am majoring in Textiles both 2D and 3D. My tutor Deb Donnelly is great. She has a passion for textiles, a background in fashion and continues to enter shows with her wearable art designs.
My school is the local community polytechnic, not the flashest of campus (that would be Massey and Victoria University's) but it's certainly not lacking in flavour. Porirua is polynesian central in the Capital with a high percentage of Maori, Pacific Island folk - it's a melting pot for all cultures. So my school has lots of mum's, young folk who don't meet the criteria yet for university, people who do not want to be dictated to and want freedom to follow their own directions. We also have a writing school, drama and performance school including dance, a music school, architects school, and multi-media school as well as the visual arts department. We also have a strong jewellery department that is part of the art school and is led by reknowned artist Peter Dekker/ I believe Whitireia has the potential to be one of the best art schools in the country due to the diversity of its peoples and it's location in Porirua.
It's make up can be colourful. Sometimes the administration doesn't flow like it could, the staff are vague and the student body frustrated. I seriously came home with head aches and feeling depressed some days last year because frankly, it was a shambles at times. But the upside of that, is FREEDOM to develop in any direction I choose to go. That is what I try to focus on. I am so absorbent sometimes though, and part of my learning is negotiating myself through this process in the most peaceable manner I can. I am not patient but trust me, I am learning. Deb is helpful here. She has a calming nature, as do most of my colleagues.
So I look forward to posting work as it develops. I know some come here to view art works so I should be able to appease that more as time goes on this year. Just right now, life is so much more important. Balancing the kids, home, sanity and responsibilities. Who has time for art?