I have just come back from a couple of weeks away in Australia, finished by an afternoon walking on Waiinu Beach just north of Whanganui.
Firstly I went to Towoomba which is inland from Brisbane in the mountains. It was very green and quite warm there. I stayed at The Glennie School and went to a collage class taken by Donna Watson. Donna has a very compelling wabsabi aesthetic which I love and I found the class very challenging. It was not about collage as I know it really. I had to cover all the ground paper, use a limited palette (which is what I do anyway) and I chose to experiment with the series of compositions she had listed for us. Phew - the hardest thing was covering all the ground.
The school was beautiful a mixture of old and new put together very sympathetically. This was a very long verandah I had the walk up and down at least eight times a day to get to our classroom or to get food, either way I didn't get any thinner. I slept in a dormitory which was large room with partitions marking the rooms. I got terribly lost at the beginning but then put a strategic arrow with marking tape on the floor and I was right.
We painted Japanese papers to use in our collages and while it was not easy I have thought about how much I learned. As the old saying goes "If I keep on doing what I have been doing , I am going to keep on getting what I have been getting." I don't know yet what will happen to my own work, if anything.
One thing I have decided is to make at least a collage a day. I really believe in this practice but as yet have not put my money where my mouth is. I think it's like a musician practicing the scales etc. Wait and see.
After Towoomba I went to stay with my sister on Coochimudlow Island. The island is about 15 - 20 minutes from Victoria Point, Brisbane by ferry. It was lovely, about two hours to walk around and sort of tropical.
My sister and I walked somewhere everyday while I was there and then retired to the cafe for coffee and lunch, watched the world go by and by then it was time to go home, watch TV and read.
There were so many things to see. I will have to go back one day. The coloured rocks were beautiful. Apparently the Aborigines used the red colour for decoration. There were quite a few old archaeological sites to look at but I did not get to see them all. One I missed was the "stone fish traps". They were out at low tide mark and the tide was never out while we walked. I was most impressed to think that the Aborigines had a way of eating stonefish which are very poisonous. Then my sister pointed out that they were traps made out of stone to catch fish !!!! On the Brisbane side of the island there were mangroves growing with evidence of jetties and steps constructed by the early European settlers. And up one the beach there was a lone fishing boat which had been pulled from it's mooring during a cyclone. It was very tidy and clean and had been stripped of anything of value. Several other boats had been washed up but they had been re-floated.
Once I got back to New Zealand and Masterton I had one last journey; to Waiinu Beach. It is a beautiful place and sort of settled me down to put things away in my studio, clear a space for my collage practice, do my washing and hunker down for winter.
I haven't been to Lake Ferry since the 8 January, a month ago in fact. The weather has been so hot and with the black "sand" I am sure it gets very hot close to the ground. The last time I went MM took off back to the car as soon as I looked like returning and waited in the shade under a ute.
So going today I was really interested to see what had happened to the beach.
As I drive down towards the car park I can see white capes on Lake Onoke and then when I get out of the car the sea is big and the wind is strong. I haven't seen it like this for a long time. Taking off my shoes and putting on my gumboots and staying upright is a bit of a mission.
The wind is blowing from the south onto the beach and pushing the rising tide through the cut and into the lake.
When I walk down to the beach I look across the cutting to Onoke Spit and see the water rushing along the side of the spit and cutting into the sand.
As I walk closer to the beach, the sea gets louder and the waves batter against each other like drunk fighters in a bar room brawl.
Down by the sea the wind batters my ears and I can image that my ears are heavy cloth sails flapping against my head. Suddenly I nearly lose my hat.
Further along the beach I watch the patterns and lines made by the sea as the waves throw themselves against the shore and rush up the beach and then retreat.
Then I remember I had brought some of my pots from the sawdust kiln to photograph among the grey gravel/sand of the beach. So I head for the middle section of the beach where the driftwood is dumped by the tides.
When I made these containers I was mindful of the colours at Lake Ferry and then so excited when I emptied the kiln. I think I will get a selfie stick to see if I can photograph closer to the ground. Getting down and lying on the sand could be maybe a goal. All my pinch bowls just show the upper surface but there are some lovely patterns and marks on the sides.
Debbie Lyddon always photographs her finished work in the relevant environment and this was something I learnt at her workshop in Switzerland. We all took our work down into the paddocks that had inspired it and photographed it there.
When I get back to the car I collect my plastic milk bottle and take it down to Lake Onoke to collect some water to take home to do some dyeing with seaweed on silk and maybe linen. As I take the lid of the bottle off, the wind catches in the mouth of the bottle and vibrates. I twist and turn the bottle in the wind and imagine I am part of a sea orchestra.
When I was walking along the beach I found this piece of kelp tied to a length of nylon fishing line. I wondered what it was for - a pretend kite, a pretend fish? What do you imagine it could have been for?
"I paint flowers so they do not die." Frida Kahlo