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.
Behind "Aratoi" in Bruce Street, Masterton there are a series of brightly coloured containers that have been set up as an art space for Wairarapa artists called "ConArt". There is a gallery, a retail outlet and two insulated working studio spaces. There is a third space but it is not insulated and gets very hot.
I am working in one of the studios for the next month. It is an interesting experience having a clean and tidy space, with just the materials I want there and my work on the walls, plus ongoing inspiration and the resulting work. It has made me think seriously about my studio at home and how I can make it a similar space. What I really don't need and the necessity of tidying up at the end of the day. About my working studio practice.
I get there at 10 am and leave at 4.00 pm. It's like going to work. I know I should do this at home but it is far to easy to go back to the house for a cup of tea, a FB check and a couple of games of Patience or even a peruse of the news. Very quickly an hour has gone by. Being here does keep me focused on my work.
The work I am doing here is called "A Stone's Throw" and is based around what is close by, a stone's throw away. Interestingly this is a biblical quote used to describe a place or situation just outside a city's walls "a stone's throw away" ie not far.
On one of the outside walls of my studio walls this poem has been posted. This is part of the "Outdoor Poems" initiative in Masterton. It is really lovely, there are several around where I am working.
Last week was interesting finding what was close by. We did have quite a bit of rain and there were puddles and reflections in the gutters and it amazing what actually starts to grow in cracks in the pavements.
And it is fun to make up stories about how and when things happen. I can't remember anything in the paper about a minor accident in Queen St.
Monday and Tuesday ConArt is closed and this has been my weekend, phew I have been busy. Working from home has it's advantages but I have been made very aware of how easy it is to loiter.