Thursday, July 21, 2016

Otago Optics Chapter: Capture Science 2016- Earth Space and Weather

I was involved in judging this photography competition - a hard the task as many clever people are capturing interesting and dramatic images of earth, space and science. Part of the judging criteria was the scientific explanation behind the photograph - these statements certainly expanded my knowledge. We unfortunately did not have enough prizes to honour all so we put a lot of focus on encouraging young photographers/scientists.

"It is a little cloudy. The water comes from the rain. The rain comes from the cloud. I see the cloud in the puddle. It is a water cycle, recycling." Katiya age 6. 

 Two works that have stayed with me after the exhibition are the Weather Cock by Sharon Cook and A Sun In Love by Eyal Schwartz.  Check them and other great shots out for yourself at

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stewart Island Print Gang

After getting a taste of printmaking at last years SciArt open print workshop weekend some participants asked me back to run a four day, small group workshop. Megan Cowley (Stewart Island Gallery and Gift Shop: )  volunteered her services as technician and Karen was the treasurer which was all invaluable as printmaking requires a lot of 'stuff' and organisation in the buildup to the decisive moment that the print goes through the press. Thank you so much - we made a great team! Megan even made a special trip to Fine Art Papers in Christchurch to get good printing papers. (Just have to do a little plug for these FAP- they have served artists well for years)
Morning view from Shona's house - luxury accommodation #1
At the entrance of Pip's
house Port of Call,
 luxury accommodation #2.

Participants didn't just draw and print. They each focused on self selected projects and collected research which was 'played with' and considered before being made into plates. We then wrote poems, did visualisations and asked ourselves questions - all of which supported the visual art making and helped define choices. A wide variety of plates were made - dry point etching, gelli prints, solar plate (relief and intaglio) and off set printing from a flat of colour. Jill even had some old photographically etched zinc plates from movie advertisements which we printed off for fun.

Creative poetry/thought writing sample
One of Jill's zinc plates
 Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Then came the printing. The clever adaptation of using clothes drying racks as paper flashers nearly kept up with production. Paper and fabric was printed - Jill even produced a gorgeous cushion cover and Shona bound a book.

Our Print Hub - we overtook the Bowling Pavilion.

Drying rack
Coptic bound recipe book.

Megan wiping up an intaglio print
Stretching inks
Busy at the coal face

Sue's printed ferns. Plate made by placing and exposing 4 types
of ferns directly on pre -aquatinted solar plate.

Shona's eel traps

Prints which will later be collaged into different art works.

Sophie joined us for one day - overprinting maps

Detail of Megan's prints (embossed fern in background)
 showing bravery for cutting up and rearranging - great risk taking
Karen's prints for a special dog
On the last afternoon locals were invited along to have a look-what an amazing buzz was going down. The only unfortunate thing is that I was too busy to take as many photos of the work as I would have liked but that just means I have to go back!

Ulva - maps and sketches of Ulva Island

Visitors admiring Pip's prints. These were laid out on
the 'deciding' table where we thought about what
 to collage together

Jill's work - prints of family wedding photos
Aside from the welcoming people, birds, place, accomodation, sea, ferry journey, printmaking  (I could go on) there is another reason I love to visit Rakiura Stewart Island. This small, jam packed interesting museum has big plans for expansion. I Bev assisted me in looking at the Lockerbie collection which contained a beautiful piece of Kokowai (translation: red water) which Maori used for personal adornment and to decorate  artifacts.  I was also fascinated to learn about the tin mining at Port Pegasus - sounds like a future destination via

Kokowai Red Ochre  I would love art to become a way to help the fundraisers reach the required financial goal...ideas are mulling - send me yours if you have one!Maybe the print gang could set up for a weekend and a limited edition print gets printed by many hands and then sold?

telephone exchange

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mixed Media Class at the Wanaka Autumn Arts School 2016

Gelli print by Claire
I was thrilled to return to teach at the  Autumn Arts School in Wanaka for a week of print based mixed media explorations.  The aim was to be involved in pursuing individual artistic vision through reinterpreting traditional methods of working, considering ways to structure a project/theme and seeing ourselves as artist inventors/experimenters. Sometimes it is easier to take a risk and make discoveries in a workshop situation!

One of our first activities was offering up work we had previously made that we considered a 'failure'. Everything was up for grabs and students could take whatever they wanted to create a new artwork. It can be less threatening and easier to be more objective about someone else's work.  Having a wide selection of visual source material makes the reinterpreting/collating/design process hands on and full of choice and the interventions of what was offered combined with what participants brought to the work was very interesting. 

Participants brought art 'fails' with them
Ann's Collage

One of the initial solutions 

Prue's collage relating to her
 quatrefoil research

We did make art journals but rather than aiming to make a finished product over the week we got into a variety of interventions on paper and fabric towards creating a collection of layered surfaces, textures and experimental samples. We used printmaking techniques that lend themselves towards abstract and painterly effects through mono printing, rusting, collagraph and gelli prints. Some collagraph plates were gorgeous in their own right.

Belinda's collagraph plate

Rusting & Gesso

Claire's interventions of rust and print

Gesso texture through plastic lace by Jahn

One of the most fluid ways of working was, rather than making a collagraph plate where materials are glued down and sealed,  to print things directly from an inked up flat of colour.  Janet's threads form a perfect example of this.

plate on left, print on right

We made relief and intaglio solar prints as a way to process  graphic, photographic and text plates. 

Belinda exposing a solar plate in the sun
Kay's relief solar print from a photo

Vic's solar print
The same image which Vic is now stitching into
 the lining of a jacket.
More stitching....

Jahn's beautiful stitched response to a vintage pattern.

A stitched /dyed muslin page in Karen's art journal. 
Printed and stitched leaves by Corry
Reverse of Corry's stitching - the embossing is visible
Ann - printed stitching. India theme.

Here we are at work. Someone came in and described our room as the Industrial Revolution and indeed it was always abuzz. Printing! Stitching! Glueing!  Thinking! I wanted t cry when we had to pack up and finish - we all wanted to keep going .

Karen at her desk
 Sandy re purposing scrapbooking tools 
(We were lucky to have access to Barbara MacKenzie's
Big Shot and Jenny Sutherland's industrial AccuCut and dies.)  

Sandy using the die cut 'negative' as frames over prints

Some more lovely examples from the week....

Kay's moth - print,chine colle and walnut ink

Art journals by Megan
Claire's blue grey palette of gelli prints

Corry's art journal
Corry's solar print of Mt Aspiring

Pam's dressmaking themed work
Pam's work - on her second theme of hiking

Janet's stitching 
Vic's ratty - combining the abject with  beautiful lace
Rolled music - Janet

A clever idea -  don't you love this as a way to store and travel with your paintbrushes.

Somehow we still fitted in time for bubbles and I got treated to a most delicious, memorable breakfast from Megan, Ulva and Janet before driving home on Saturday.

Yum - thank you - loved the pancakes Megan!

Special thanks to The Upper Clutha Community Arts Council, Robyn van Reenen, Dennis and Susan Manson (check out her business Fully Wooly below)