Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Community Spirit

My heart was incredibly stirred by a documentary shown on tv here in NZ about poverty and our children. It created a stir in the local community as much of it was based here in Porirua, our home town. You can view it by clicking on the link HERE.
It was a privilege today to come out and support locals from Porirua east as a city. Eighty eight submissions to oppose the licence renewal of a local liquor shop located opposite a primary school were being presented at court today. More information HERE.
Kids deserve to feel safe in their school, on the way to school, at the shop and in their community. We know people drink but let them go to the CBD to purchase their alcohol.

The press were all up in it. I was winking at her as he clamboured up for a better view.

My new friend Kiri and her son, along with a Maori warden. A calm and friendly atmosphere prevailed.

Local principal of Russell School, this woman is a modern day hero who is standing her ground for her students and community.

Lots of placards and community spirit.

Standing together united outside the court house. A community that is finding its own solutions. Incredibly inspiring.
Little Richie aka Knuckles happily plays with his balloon. Wished I'd had the foresight to pull my kids from school. Next time I'll be ready with a placard and t-shirts. Anything to support families in my country. And its lots of fun.
It reminded me of the story about the starfish. A man was walking a beach littered with 1000's of starfish that had washed up in the tide. Every wave brought more. He came across a young boy who was throwing them back, a handful at a time. It seemed futile because they were coming in faster than he could hope to throw them back. The man asked "Why waste your time?! You're not making any difference. Can't you see the ocean is throwing them back at you?". The boy held up a starfish and said "It makes a difference to this one."
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Monday, November 21, 2011

"Second Skin"

She is one of my living heroes. A quiet, unassuming woman who loves Aotearoa as much as I do.

India Flint, Titahi Bay beach 2010.

I'm so proud of my dear friend (and skin sister) India and her latest book "Second Skin".

India's taonga

Just this morning as I was cruising around my favourite blogs seeing what my favourite textile artists were up to, I came across a wonderful article by Natalie Chanin. (Go cruise around her website and see her amazing designs). She wrote a lovely little ditty about Indi's book here.

'skin sisters'

The book is incredible. I'm borrowing my friend Betty-Ann's at the moment. Its on my Christmas wishlist. I'm saving it for summer reading but I delve in to drink in the images which are phenomenal. I've even been credited with discovering a natural dye. Yes, I'm mentioned within these pages. Little old me!

I love reading in bed

Its an honour to be in literary company with some of the world's leading contemporary textile artists. Women who's work and often lives take my breath away.

Christine Mauersberger who does beautiful uncomplicated intriguing work with stitch on cloth. I love her simple palette of black and white, red and white. LOVE it. Go HERE, HERE, and HERE for images of her work. And HERE where she talks about India's book as well.

Dorothy Caldwell who I think echoes the same depth and expanse of NZ's incredible Colin McCahon on cloth. I feel a little breathless when I see it. The same happens when I look at McCahon's work and then look again, and then again because that's what it is, layers and layers. You never get to the bottom of it. Go HERE to here India share about Dorothy Caldwell herself. And if you are ever fortunate to do a workshop with her, lucky lucky you is all I can say!

Anu Tuominen one of my favourite collections artist because I am a bower bird myself. She did THIS amazing collection of pot holders which is one of my favourite things funnily enough for instance.

And definitely not least, Jude Hill whose work year after year stays true but goes deeper. She epitomises the words Slow and Cloth. Her latest workings are always intriguing. She shares so very honestly her process and her inspiration. This was important for me as I started my creative journey. Trying to understand how to put into words why I made what I did. What triggered the use of this object or that mark made. People like Jude, India and the women above keep us honest.

Little old Ahipara Girl

Sometimes in my own small world that revolves around a messy house, childcare and the daily routine of being mama, I get a buzz to think that in a strange way, I'm rubbing shoulders with some amazing people who I've yet to meet.

"Second Skin" is in all the great New Zealand bookshops right now. Try Minerva on Cuba Street if you're in Wellington or online here. (And you will find me on page 265 if you can tear your eyes away from all the visual candy to be found within this incredible book.)

Feeling so clever until helpful husband pointed out its back to front. ;)

Well done Indi. Your mama and your babes must be so proud of you too. I sure am and count it a privilege to be your skin sister. "Second Skin" is an incredible work. x
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Someone took on a new identity a couple of weeks ago. Meet my own little superman. Ask him his name and he'll tell you "Supe-man" and I'm "Superman's mum". He flies and he fights bad guys. Its a whole lot cute.
We were in hospital last week for a few days. An itchy bite became infected, and his leg was swollen. I am very thankful to live in a western country where we get specialised care, great resources (the playroom and individual tv/dvd's for each child are a godsend as is the Ronald McDonald room for parents and whanau) and its all free. I heard a few people moaning and it annoyed me.
However hospital is such a pressure cooker. Everyone is there for something scary and so emotions run high. It broke my heart to see single parents struggling with sometimes several littlies, or children who were failing to thrive due to neglect. I saw angry, frustrated parents and it made me aware once again of how lucky we are to have healthy kids. Ours was just a glitch. Some of these children have life-threatening diseases.
By Saturday, Superman was fighting fit. I've whispered to him to keep away from kryptonite. The world needs all the super heroes it can get.
Pausing to consider

Up, up and away.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

girly things

First thing. My husband's sister (who I have claimed as MY sister too) came to stay this past weekend. She's an artist, a rural primary teacher, the godmother to our sons, and now a Zumba trainer. She's lots of fun. I got them outside on the windiest coldest day for an impromptu photo shoot.
She's inspired me healthwise because she's lost a whomping lot of weight and is looking (and feeling) amazing. I've determined that next year, when our youngest starts kindy (cannot quite believe it!!!), to commit myself to my health. Still on meds 24/7, four times a day for pain, and unable to cope without them, Naomi has given me the inspiration I needed. She did it, really did it for herself, for her quality of life. She's like that. Very gentle and kind, strong and inspiring in a quiet way and lots of fun. She's also similar in nature to my husband, completely inoffensive (that's a rare trait I reckon and worth mentioning) and easygoing. Just goes with the flow. A godly woman in character and life.
Naomi painting Hiapo

She gifted me a painting that I blogged about HERE a couple of years ago. We share a love for Hiapo and art, and making things. She stuck the first glue gun in my hands with a blackboard frame and shells I'd collected when I had my first baby. I was so depressed and overwhelmed with being a mama but she turned me onto crafting big time as an adult and didn't judge me. I'm blessed to have her in my life. Between us, my husband and I have seven brothers and only one sister, so she's precious around here. It was so good to hang out, eat banoffee pie and lemonade scones, and thrift together. My lads adore her. She totally gets 'sons' having two sons herself and being the eldest with four brothers. I'm looking forward to her next visit.
Second thing.
You may or may not know but I live in a male-saturated home as well (three sons and husband) and every now and then, I need to turn left and do something colourful and girly. Recently I posted about how inspired I was by Jane Brocket''s awesome book, The Gentle Art of Knitting. I totally recommend it if you can do the knitting basics and want some vintage inspired projects.
Each of these hangers took me the better half of the day with concentrated knitting (because I'm not fast or flash). I enjoyed following the pattern for the 'bloomer hanger' and choosing colours for the stripey ones. I added my own twist on them with crochet flower blooms that I formed freestyle. I only know about three kinds of crochet stitch but its interesting that if you mix up the colours and add a few extra stitches in a row, it can completely change the shape and form of a thing. Obviously technical speak is not my strength.
Anyway, here's the results of my little foray. I also figured that my time (and my bothersome arms) were too precious to spend-a-day-per-hanger, knitting. So I used an old bit of felted wool from an old jersey, chopped it up, stitched it on, and then added a bloom. Still took me the better part of three hours, but I'm sure I'll streamline the process eventually. Its still 100 percent handmade, the majority is recycled (hangers, yarn) and its something I'm happy to own and use in my own wardrobe although at this rate, I either streamline my wardrobe to ten items or I speed up production.
I did try and sell them at Craft 2.0, surprisingly (or not) there was no stampede for them. I think everyone will want a potholders for their kitchen and a fancy hanger or two to hang a precious vintage dress from eventually. They add a bit of happiness to any room they are in. Who wouldn't want one?! Which reminds me, I must get my online shop up and running.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

signs & symbols

I've been puddling around with various things this year but as always am drawn back to using my low-tech methods of using what I have, what I know and what I love. Handstitching my work takes time. Figuring out which of the bits of wool I've collected will work. Using felt for instance and then regretting it because it doesn't have the same feel. Still, its accessible for most folk. Next year I am running a series of small 'makes' classes for people in Porirua so I have to consider things like this. How to make them affordable, accessible and fun. I also found out that my little workshop proposal for Handmade 2012 was accepted which was a real honour. The calibre of tutors and workshops this year was awesome. I did a class with my favourite kiwi blogger Melissa from Tiny Happy. It was great to sit in a class with her and spend four hours (I did two of her classes). I learn more from people than books or schools. It was ideal for me and being small projects, one gets instant gratification.

This year, I wanted to play with creating my own sign language. I have this idea that before we were all so culturally different, before the continents were separated and during the Gondwana age, we were all one. So from this I draw my own conclusions. And from this, this little series of pendants and wearables was created. I wanted to take from Pacific tapa especially hiapo, a series of designs, remove them from a 2D format and start placing onto 3D objects. Especially because I love collections. A good bout of RSI after the Craft 2.0 market made me rest. I've been drawing in my ideas journal (which also has my notes from church, my shopping lists, my 'must do' lists, etc).

I also got to Wellington City Gallery for its Oceania exhibition which totally blew my mind. All my favourites. John Pule, Mike Tuffery, Fatu, Ani, Ralph Hotere, COLIN MCAHON, etc etc. I noticed this time that my eye is drawn to collections and patterns, and collections of patterns. I stood before Richard Killeen's amazing work and something just clicked. His work is so clever. Its a series of colourful cut outs. No matter how you lay them out, they work! How clever is that. And the cut outs are just shapes. They might reference something but its for you to make of it what you will. I love that. There's a freedom there, giving the viewer respect and dignity, knowing that they can draw conclusions that will end up exactly right anyway. Well, I might not have explained that well, but it was powerful. The whole collection was. And of course there was lots of Pacific tribal inspired designs everywhere and I love that stuff too. So much I wear it on my skin. Love tribal. Unfortunately that exhibition is now finished. I am so grateful I saw it, so thankful to our city for providing us with amazing exhibitions and museums.
Speaking of Killeen and his cut outs reminded of my friend Dagmar and her reference to Matisse's cut outs. I'm on Pinterest. I love it. I have collected lots of images. It started out random but as time goes by, I realise that my eye is drawn to the same things over and over. Tribal, vintage, old things, people, pattern ... and I'm retraining myself as well to look at colour and discover how its used. Pinterest, the best thing since sliced bread. Its saved me a fortune of those fancy magazines as well.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

small moments

There's been lots happening lately. I had a fun time at Craft 2.0 a couple of weeks ago. Its a great handmade market in Wellington and I made lots of new contacts in this friendly community. Thanks to Sue and the amazing group of volunteers who make it possible.

I loved making my small collection of crocheted and recycled potholders. I've had two weeks off resting my arms due to the familiar nag of pain in my shoulder, neck and forearms. RSI is no fun for a maker who depends on her arms and hands for making.
I have a few projects underway. The need to be creative is strong. OCD at a non-disruptive level I think. I've been painting furniture and working on a couple of conceptual pieces. Its times like now that I wish I was with some of my artist friends for feedback and development of my work. However I keep working in the moments of time that I can squeeze in around being a mum, to keep making. Pinterest has also been a great help. I'm on it daily, developing my eye and fine tuning what it really is that draws me in to things. I can't believe that in the past few days 60 people have started following my boards.

I make because I'm passionate about it. I have a busy busy mind and making things is a positive way to channel all that energy that whirls around in there. I'm completely truthful when I say its my prozac, it grounds me and brings me joy.

Plans are underway to open an online shop through Etsy.com and Felt.co.nz. I'm playing with tribal designs and trying to take them from 2D to 3D. I'm drawing and writing a lot more too. And have a textile body of work to develop as well. And of course I have a garage full of vintage retro things I have collected over the past few months to sell off as well in a vintage style market.

I'm not sure where all this is heading but I might as well do something constructive with the time I have on my minds. It makes me happy to make, to create something that wasn't there before.
My youngest son has also started conversing and I enjoy his company immensely. Everything is a source of wonder and humour at the moment. I'm enjoying this last child of mine. He's so much fun. And as much as I'd love to immerse myself more fully into my work, I'm happy to chill with him just as much.

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