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 have been feeling very dis-organised and overwhelmed in my studio over the last little while. Things have been disappearing under the piles and just generally around the place. My work was getting out of control - what I was doing and all the bits that belonged together were all getting spread thinly and sometimes quite thickly on all surfaces.
It's funny how sometimes the words of others come back to me at the oddest times. Thinking about my studio and my seeming lack of organisation prompted me to think about my friend Julie Coffey, who by the way has also lately had a tidy up. I remembered about having project boxes or containers and labeling them and tidying everything away. Now most of my surfaces are clear and I can find work.
My desk - woohoo. So much easier to work on and find things. And my sewing table. And my project bins. As I went down through the layers I found about six different projects, I decided four was enough at any one time so I have a couple of loose projects still lurking.
Two paper concertina books I found. These are currently waiting for a vacant box. And a silk throw, made from pieces from old kimonos, waiting to be stitched in a plastic bag (next step a project box).
And I was able to complete my piece of work for the Suffrage Project, a bit late but I was very pleased in the end. It was about my Mum who was a well known painter and print maker in Whangarei in the 60's and 70's. She also worked hard to support art in the community and was instrumental in organising Reyburn House as a local art center and gallery. I had a container to keep it all in and I could keep my other work out of the way.
As I look around now it has all got a bit messy again but it shouldn't be too hard to restore some order and a finished project is exciting. I have found that I like to come out here in the morning with something waiting here for me to work on which is not really conducive to tidying each night.
How do you organise your work, with project containers of some sort or do you have one project on the go at a time? How do you keep your work space tidy?
"I paint flowers so they do not die." Frida Kahlo