Monday, December 5, 2016

Staging a Christmas Party

A couple of months ago I found myself volunteering to host this year's Christmas party for the team at Massey University's School of English and Media Studies (Albany). Staging such an event at Jack's family's eccentric property, with its ancient unpruned fruit trees, rambling and potholed backyard (not to mention two freestanding buildings on either side of the garden), meant that I had to think creatively about the flow of people, providing adequate shade, and making the various "zones" of the site serve different purposes.

First up, I thought it was high-time to paint the shiny lemon coloured walls of the former surgery waiting room to create a more inviting entrance. A couple of coats of "Moscow Snow" later, and some flowers and festive trimmings, and it looked like this.

The stars, paper dove garland and small wreaths adorning the window are from Trade Aid. I removed the squabs from the bench seat and wallpapered it to create an L-shaped servery where people could help themselves to salads and ham and chicken. I decided to elevate the meats on Nood side tables, with the added security of putting the platters inside the mesh covered baskets to protect the meat from a certain greedy cat.

I used the cabinets on either side of the blue room of the surgery for sweets and cups and saucers in case anyone fancied making themselves a cuppa. The sweet treats included homemade Christmas Mince Pies using the glorious recipe from the Little and Friday cookbook.

Kim's fruit-mince recipe is a total winner, with chunks of dark chocolate that perfectly complement the brandy, grated apple and mixed fruit.

From the same book I also made cranberry and pistachio biscotti, and fig and white chocolate panforte, which is so dense and rich that I cut it into little squares. To top it off, I made a double batch of Rocky Road from What Sarah Bakes. Sarah claims that it is the "best ever" and the guests seemed to agree. It's the slight tartness of the dried cranberries that is the key I think, combined with the copious amounts of chocolate, biscuit chunks, macadamia nuts and marshmallows of course. Yum!
Seating and cushions in the garden
a view through the fig and plum trees to the gazebo
Barman Jack getting ready
Zero on the table where I set up the stereo
The old dinghy under the fig tree for kids to play in
Jack came up with the brilliant idea of setting up a display of his father's old books in the storeroom, thinking that our bookish colleagues might find something they wanted to take home.
It worked like a treat. Box loads of books made their way to new homes! Yay

Of course, it's always the way that when the actual event is finally underway Jack and I forget to take photos, so we just have a few from early on in the proceedings. I forgot to take shots of all the gorgeous food people brought along. It was a great feast.

Jo and David
Rand and Brian
Stuart and Catherine
Three of my toys found new homes with the lovely Harris family (Matt, Emma, Cohen and Pearl).

Time for a nice cuppa at the end of all that.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

pictures in jars

Jack and I are hosting our work Christmas party at home in a couple of week's time, so I've been giving the place a spruce up in preparation for the event. I found two big boxes of old jars in the basement and thought I'd use some of them for a decorative feature in the blue room of my studio, which is where the desserts and home made Christmas mince pies will be served.

I cut out black and white illustrations from an old School Journal and a beaten up copy of Grimm's Fairytales and tucked them inside the jars. It creates an appealing 3d kind of effect and the arrangement of different sized jars creates a cute display.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Felt Reliefs

Good news - I resolved the wonkiness issue I was having with my felt compositions by putting them inside frames. Here are a couple of completed "Felt Reliefs".

 From the side you can see the elements in relief.

I love close up shots of felt because you get to see how soft and fuzzy it is.
I'm thinking that my nearest and dearest might well be receiving fuzzy felt reliefs for Christmas. Lucky them!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Felt Reliefs

A weekend of vigorous felting produced eight colourful striped combinations (that's four double-sided pieces) to play around with. Precision isn't possible with felting, so I've had to let go of the desire to produce straight lines and embrace the delights of wonkiness.

Felt Relief 2
Felt Relief 3
Felt Relief 4
Hmmm, I'm not sure why the edges of the reliefs appear curved in the photos because they are cut straight - there must be some kind of distortion that takes place in the act of photographing them. 

The plan is to make loads of striped compositions so that there is the option of putting together duos and trios.

Monday, August 1, 2016

finding your mark

I remember my ex-husband Graham talked a lot about the need for artists to "find their mark." I think he meant by this that an artist needed to experiment with a lot of different techniques until they arrived at a "mark" that they knew was truly their own, and one that would sustain them for many years. 

I've been thinking about this idea lately, and thought that a good way to demonstrate the claim might be to document Graham's painterly marks in a chronological photo-essay of cropped details from the artworks of his that I have at home.

The first two images are details from a painting called Mapusaga (1996) produced when Graham was still at art school Auckland's (Unitec). Marks made with brush and stick.

These two works are from his Mistint series (1998). 
Marks made using a squeeze bottle and letting the paints bleed into each other.

Detail from Jungle Painting series (2002). 
Combination of brush work, dripping and bleeding.

Detail from Wish Landscapes (2005).
Marks exploring the sculptural properties of paint.

Painted sculpture from The Eternals (2007)

Detail from a collage produced during Graham's Doctorate in Fine Arts (circa 2008). 
Marks made with pastel and cut paper.

Detail from Lounge Room Tribalism (2010), Graham's graduate exhibition.
This is the point at which Graham found his mark. 
Look at the duck figurine on the bookshelf.

Now look at it more closely and you'll see that it is made up of a few loose patches of paint.

The same is true of the books on the shelf.

Close up, they almost dissolve into abstractions.

So does the vase of flowers on the table. Gorgeous!

I've found it really interesting to document the circuitous route that Graham took in his painting from the mid-90s to 2010 - that eventually led him back to good old brushwork on canvas. In the process he found his mark (or rediscovered it at least), and the joy of that realisation is present in every painted mark he makes. At least, that's what I think anyway.

I guess the reason I've been thinking about this lately is because I wondered if the same idea about finding your mark could be applied to crafting. I've worked with many different materials and techniques over the years - I've bound books, collaged, paper engineered and hand-printed on fabric and paper. I've baked cakes and bottled fruit. I've embroidered, quilted and appliqued. I've sewn clothes, bags and cushions. But of all the crafting activities I've undertaken, nothing has given me more pleasure than making my own felt.

There's something deeply satisfying about transforming wool into fabric with water, soap and friction.

When I'm playing around with felt I can see infinite possibilities for projects using different colour combinations, shapes, and thicknesses, and I can see art works, accessories and jewellery...

I think that maybe, just maybe, I have finally found my mark!