Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vessel ...

VESSEL is one of my all-time favourite places in Wellington and with their generous permission, I am able to show you some of the reasons why it's on my list as a must see in our beautiful city.

Vessels are alluring objects. They are functional, decorative and especially here, they are highly desirable objects. I love the way the light played on this window display and the austere interior is gallery like, displaying wares to their best advantage.. My photos are taken from my phone and do not do justice to what one experiences in person. This is just a sampler.
I want a table like this covered with handmade earthenware. Gorgeous! It's no secret I want to learn to make my own wares, how lovely to take something as simple as clay and create beautiful dishes like these. sigh.
Those blue dishes are really striking.
My son takes it all in as I show him what I like and why, and also get his opinion on things. He was happy playing with a gadget in the corner. So funny, just like his dad.
So many temptingly beautiful things.
I love that stack of handmade plates. I have a similar stack but mine came from op shops over the years. I love the blemishes that one finds on these wares. Production made stuff from factories is perfectly (and rather boringly) smooth and symmetrical, these however are beautiful for their blemishes and marks and handcrafted shape. Tea anyone? I love a hot pot of tea, anytime, anywhere. Make mine Earl Grey please?
These would look fantastic on a wall although that old skool mentality of sticking beautiful things away and never using them is a bit nuts. I believe we should enjoy our things now. Use them. Share them with others and allow ourselves the pleasure of usage.

Green is my favourite colour although that striking blue is once again rather eye-catching.

Milk Jug, a nicer alternative to plastic.

Quirky, endearing, lovable pig.

Ceramic brooches in such wonderful colours especially the green ones.


Being a textile loving girl, I couldn't think of a nicer complementary marriage than handmade textiles and earthenware. The contrast of hard and soft, cold and warm always draws me in my own work with raw materials. About twenty years ago, I remember seeing a group of specialists on tv who predicted that people would become more 'nest-like', that their homes would become more nurturing places where people would want to spend more time in rest and recreation, building haven-like homes. This is certainly true when we look at the latest home magazines. People are building homes they can retreat too and of course, filling it with objects that satisfy that instinct to indulge themselves, cover themselves and nurture self. Its definitely become more desirable proportionally as we have also developed as a nation that works long hours, fills in recreation hours with more activities and achievements, and what little time we have for ourselves privately is rather precious.

It all sounds rather hedonistic and selfish but we're more likely to entertain in our homes as well. Decks are built and bbq's are fired up in the summer, and in the winter, dinner parties where food and stories are shared abound. Imagine serving food in these dishes. I have so many foodie friends now, who love to cook for cookings sake. Sadly, I have not succumbed to that passion but I do love owning nice dishes to serve our rather simple fare on. And Vessel has lots of lovely dishes indeed. A nice platter can make anything look good! ;)
I love stitched dolls like these. A lovely handmade dolly is a great improvement from horrid plastic barbies. I was never one for dolls as a child, but as an adult I find these highly desirable. I do enjoy creating my own designs occasionally.

Flower soup anyone? What could be better than a beautiful green bowl of full of cloth stitched flower brooches? I'm excited at a few teaching opportunities to pass on some skills and a request from a group of young women who wish to make their own jewellery. I have visions of unique textile delights they can make by hand affordably and the wonderful comraderie of women gathering to stitch, talk and eat.

A textile lovers corner ... blankets, toys, felted bags. Perfect!

I love this tiki cushion, its in every second fashionable home magazine at the moment as are the other designs. The other work is beautiul too, lovely prints of New Zealand fauna like the red cusion with the kowhaiwhai flower. I'm a proud kiwi. I love my whenua.

Sophie Digard
I love crochet, its no secret and Sophie Digard is an artist who has taken this craft to another level all around the world. I was surprised to find her work here in New Zealand a few years back in Vessel.
Sophie's easily googled and has the best images for yarn lovers. I first read about her in the specialist textile magazine Selvedge . Just one of her scarves on the Selvedge website is 200 quid. Yikes!

Paul Maseyk
Artist, ceramics.
I would take any one of Paul's works home in a heartbeat. I love his sense of form and his use of symbols and motifs. They are also predominantly black and white. Colour is used sparingly if at all, to accentuate but not dominate the work. It definitely resonates with me.

There's that positive and negative almost tribal mark making happening. Nice simple forms.Imagine if my pantry shelves looked like that!

I would like to drink my first cup of coffee in the morning from this mug and my last cup of tea at night. It has the perfect mug-feel. The right weight, it sits flat and secure on the table and its the perfect shape. At around $65 its relatively cheap for a piece of art but really expensive for a cup! What a luxury to own any one of these pieces. Its another thing that if I had more disposable income, I would definitely invest in Maseyk's work. Not only the joy of owning such beautiful objects but I have a feeling these will become highly collectible in the not so distant future.

Here is what is says about Paul on the Vessel website ... "Intricate geometric patterns, repeating symbols – vases, jugs, bowls, beakers – terracotta with a black or white slip. Functional pieces by one of New Zealand's high-profile artists."

VESSEL is one of my favourite stores in Wellington. I love handmade, I love ceramics, I love authentic artistic creations and it oozes all that goodness and more! There are of course many many wonderful creations by many talented artists. Follow the link for a much more comprehensive view of their lovely wares and the artists who make them, as well as details of their location. I also appreciate stores like this that allow small artists like myself to make a living from their goods. Perhaps one day I can have goods sold here too.

Haha, upon rereading this post, I noticed rather alarmingly how many times I wrote "I love ...". Thank you for indulging me.

hidden treasures revealed ...

I spent the day with my eldest son (almost 14) in the city yesterday. We went to the book fair and brought home creeds of wonderful used books for our family. Art books, children's quiz books, teenage reading and adult holiday fiction. The books were crazy affordable for $1-$2 each mostly and the money went to a great city service, Downtown Ministry who do so much social good in our city.
We then went to the art gallery. Viewed John Pule's wonderful exhibition 'Hauaga' (Arrivals). We talked about various aspects of his work together. Some grabbed him, some were just plain 'weird'. It was such a nice thing, being in one of my favourite environments with one of my favourite people in the world. Of course my children are used to galleries, but he's now more one of 'us' then one of 'them'.

His maturity is something others constantly comment on. He is also extremely private and quiet. Very very quiet. I took him around my favourite ceramic shop 'Vessel' (photos to come later) and we finished off with hot drinks on a chilly evening at the Lido cafe. It was a perfect day.

I cannot believe how big he's grown in the past year. I am also quietly humbled by his sensitivity and genuine heart for others. He is very special and I have so much pride in my heart when I watch him with others. There are so many good people in our lives, people who are helping grow our children including our extended families, grandparents and our church community. It does take a village to raise a child.

As a full time parent, there is a price to pay. Living on one income, going without, not getting ahead as quickly or much as our peers, not owning our own home, less opportunities like holidays and passing up career opportunities in order to be available to our family. My husband and I both go without and have often had to turn down offers to a better lifestyle and opportunities for personal advancement in order to be available for our three boys and to protect the well being of our family.

This has been an intentional choice, made willingly because it works for our family. It hasn't been easy and by no means romantic. There is however definite advantages for us as a family. It means here is always one parent available for our sick children (all three have had respiratory problems from infancy). There is constant surveillance that is unbroken. The kids are constantly on our radar should any needs or issues arise in any of the their lives. There is the opportunity to participate in their activities and get involved in their lives at whatever level of commitment is required. There isn't competition with our own activities vs our childrens. There is space for both to happen. I'm sure there are lots of other advantages and disadvantages, those are just the ones that run off the top of my head right now.

I haven't always been like this. Scroll back just a couple of years to my last pregnancy and you will hear a different picture. However as these significant milestones are revealed, like this amazing young man sitting in front of me, those things I thought I was going to lose and did lay down (like further art development, employment and community opportunities) are now dimmed and hushed. They are no longer worth my energy. This young man and his two brothers are, they really really are.

Parenting for fourteen years and I'm finally able to say I embrace the life I chose wholeheartedly. This life that unfolded before me quite unwittingly at times. Is it easy, no it isn't. Saying no to myself is the hardest thing I must do some days. And just because I can do something doesn't mean I should do it. I got wise to the fact that I was my worse enemy. Always looking back at what I had missed out on or looking forward at what I wanted but feeling defeated and denied. And while I was over there thinking about those things, I was missing NOW. Being present and appreciating what was right in front of me. And of course one doesn't have to be a full time parent to come to that bit of understanding. Lets just say I went the long route.

Any regrets? Only one, that I couldn't find peace earlier. I have it now though. In bucketloads. They say that as we get older, we become more comfortable in our own skin. I've found that to be true. And what's nice is that I look at my son and see someone who is comfortable in his own skin. And even though life will not always be smooth for him, at the very least, he didn't end up with the burden of my issues and at the most, he has had two parents who have poured their very best into his well being and up bringing.

And hey, I don't judge working parents because raising a family, being in a relationship, choosing a career pathway and whatever else makes us tick are very personal choices. Each person has to make the choices that are best for them. I know families with two working parents who have great adult kids. At the end of the day, for the most part, we're all trying to do our best by our kids right!

positive and negative ...

Naomi Chase, Hiapo, 2010

Round Up Time 2010

The Stand Off 2010

Black and white have been my colour palette this year mostly. After viewing the John Pule exhibition at Wellington City Art Gallery yesterday, I stumbled across a few black and white pics of my own including one of my sister-in-law (my husband's sister) Naomi Chase painting me my very own hiapo painting. Naomi is an accomplished artist in her own right and we are honoured to have a one of her incredibly detailed hiapo.

May I encourage you to head down to the gallery before September 12 and view his works. He is one of my favourite influences, his work resonates with tribal markings, he shares the same Niuean heritage as my husband and I felt so blessed to view his works. It was hard not to sneak photos in the gallery, I will however save for his book.

I have written about John Pule before here, here and here. Also a link to the current exhibition John Pule Hauaga (Arrivals) is here. And I have waxed lyrically often about the origins and beauty of hiapo because they have always informed my work.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

hidden amongst the rocks ...

A few photos I took of my dear friend Cleo and her creations in our 'backyard'. It was exciting to be a part of this knitted creation, formed with love and excitement with the aid of many able knitters from our community. Just one of five dresses Cleo created. She is a genius. For more pictures and information click on the link to be transported to her blog Wind Between The Stars.

On the day, all the elements lined up beautifully. No posy shots here, just one of my friends standing on a rock wearing a work of art which is now exhibiting in France.

For textile lovers ... this is why we do what we do isn't it? The tactile quality of textiles, the resonance of handiwork our foremothers did and the joy of creating something from raw materials with our own hands.

Stitching is soothing. It calms and quiets a busy mind. Whether it is knitting or sewing or whatever your passion, there's no denying its therapeautic quality. I've heard there are even prayer quilts, where the stitches are made with small prayers. Imagine receiving a quilt made like that!
This is why we do what we do. x
Meanwhile in another part of the world, dear India has launched a fantastic project for folk who feel compelled to stitch cloth (there's a few of us I know already) ... please check it out and follow the link to her new website called Found, Stitched and Dyed. I am so excited by this project. I have a cloth I have been sporadically stitching, it is made up of old cloth from Asia Gallery, random bits of kimono, silk, cotton ... playing with it really.

Sitting under a tree at the beach stitching while on holiday in Auckland last summer.

details of work in progress

I am fortunate to have spent time learning and sharing with India over the past several years. She has influenced the work of many contemporary textile artists in New Zealand and indeed around the world. I will be keen to help people get started on a project if they require a bit of assistance to reciprocate the learning she generously gives.

very slow cloth
silk, cotton, repurposed kimono, silk thread, stitched and pieced
Rachelle Toimata 2010

India also runs workshops frequently throughout the world that I encourage you to participate in if you are able. She has some parcels of cloth and thread available for purchase to help you get started with your stitch project as well should you require a bit of inspiration. You are also encouraged to use what you have. And if there is enough interest from my local community, I am happy to organise some stitching parties to help move us all along here in Aotearoa.

"Kiri" ("skin") dress I made for exhibition last year using cloth coloured
with India's eco-coloured methods.

View of "Kiri" from behind, next to one of Cleo's dresses.

India also has two books published with a third on the way. "Eco-Colour" has been my main reference in all dyed work I've done in the past several years. I can't wait for her new book which I think is to be called Second Skin. Watch this Space.

India Flint

Follow the links to India's website "India Flint" and her blog "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" are just a hop, skip and jump away. If you don't know her yet, you want to!

Mark making on cloth, India Flint 2009.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

thoughts of summer and other things ...

I am reminded by all my American friend's that it is summer there. Here we are in the middle of a classic Wellington winter, grey skies, drizzle, cold and that means lots of days indoors. It's very easy to clock up a whole lot of plans lying here about the things I want to do once my body is back to normal. I was reminded of summers past and how much we all love the sea. It's a no-brainer, we live in a coastal settlement and the beach is my favourite place.

Glimpsing Amanda's children playing by the sea, reminded me that this summer Knuckles will be old enough to join the boys in their beach play. It's great fun and consists of digging the biggest hole right there by the waters edge and letting the sea fill it as it ebbs and recedes. It started with one son, then six years later, another one joined him making those holes by the sea, and this year, six years later, our last little son will join his brothers in this great summer tradition we have.

Of course there are other activities like making wet sand bombs and playing tag, but this is the one I love. While I look for shards of smooth sea glass and stones, the kids play and laugh and the sun warms us.

My other plans include giving my kitchen an overhaul. There was a big sale today so we picked up a new rice cooker (the old one had no lid and wobbled like mad) and a deep fryer.

After the birth of my first son, I lost my mojo in the kitchen. I haven't felt like cooking for a long time. I do so out of obligation when I do and am very thankful that Richard enjoys cooking. Lately I have felt a desire to see my sons eating more substantial meals as they grow. Less processed and more fresh foods. I'm also inspired by all my blogger friends and their efforts in their homes. My challenge has been to discover ways to entice myself back into the kitchen for my kids sakes and to make it more fun and less chore as well.

Yesterday we went to Moore Wilsons to pick up some specialty items like spices so that Rich can extend his curry making skills. We have been avidly watching the Indian cooking programmes on the food channel and are looking forward to eating more dishes like lamb Rogan Josh. I enjoy baking so am challenging myself to keep our baking tins full once again. Hungry boys need lots of carbs and fruit. I'm looking forward to trying the recipe for sourdough bread that Melissa recommends. mmm ... fresh bread rolls.

My other goal, as I lie here thinking, is to start walking for fitness once I get the all clear. Being restricted from time to time always has me thinking about how much more active I could be. The problem is I get bored. I hate walking around streets looking at houses and if I walk along a beach, I do so at a snails pace with my eyes down scouting for sea leavings. I found a solution though. Stephen Fry was on tv and talked about how he had the same problem until he discovered audio books. How could I have been so slow? I love books. So now I get to 'read' some of my favourite books and I'll eat up the miles as I do. Well, that's my plan anyhow.

I have always spurned Playcentre because the truth is I find it rather laborious. However my son went with friends last week and adored it. I really need to up my ante in this area too. We
belong to a great local music group called Bubbacino but he's getting to the stage where he needs more people and activities. So I'm gonna explore some more things for us to do together with others.

I've become a bit of a loner by choice, enjoying my quiet past times and spurning crowds and the demands of others outside my home and our little community. A big shift that was necessary for me to be able to give my family the focus it required and to separate personal life from my professional and public life. However as always, being a parent means that their needs often give me the push I need to make some changes in my life. And because I love them, its not hard.

I just hope the momentum I feel will last long enough for me to achieve some of these things because life's like that isn't it. We can plan but only God knows the future. And I'm ok with that too.

i heart summer.