Artists, Exhibitions, workshops

A workshop with the floral sculpture queen – Tracey Deep

I spent a sublime morning playing around with native flora at Tracey Deep’s floral sculpture workshop at Penrith Regional Gallery recently. Mixing flowers, sticks, bark, foliage, burnt banksias and other fire-branded natural flora we created enormous delicious compositions before having a guided tour of her exhibition Desert Song.

I was keen to do the workshop because of my interest in natural dyeing. The geometry of the compositions and the diverse specimens were a delight, and it was a real treat to be surrounded by so much native bush while we worked. You can see for yourself how abundant it was! The fragrances were so subtle and lovely.

Desert Song runs until 22 November. I highly recommend you catch it before it closes. A beautiful collection of sculptures with natural and found bits and pieces.

Penrith Regional Gallery


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Here are a few of Tracey’s sculptures. The exhibition shows work from the past ten years of her practice. Beautiful, don’t you think?

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Artists, Exhibitions

Jane Theau: Sunbaking in Oslo

I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented Jane Theau at her exhibition at Incinerator Art Space  last week. A staggering amount of beautiful stitching (that must have taken an even more staggering amount of time to execute) as well as a decent quantity of wit thrown in. Well worth a visit if you’re in the Willoughby vicinity.

Sunbaking in Oslo – Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small St Willoughby, NSW – until November 8.

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Books

A bit of insight never goes astray

Creativity books

Sometimes I find I’m drawn to analysing why I do (or don’t do) things. Over the past few months I’ve been reading, amongst other books, some real crackers on the processes of creativity. I thought I’d share them with you, as they’re bound to resonate with you other creative folk out there.

If you haven’t already read it, Austin Kleon‘s most recent book Show Your Work is a deceptively simple, practical encouragement guide to getting out of your shell. He has a nice, friendly, in-your-face way of getting the message across.

(Workman Publishing Company, New York, 2014)

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Art & Fear: observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking really probes into what’s behind your work, identifying your fears, artist’s block, and the processes of making art and generally leading a creative life. David Bayles and Ted Orland have put together a study in the psychology of being an artist that is reassuring, insightful, and at times a little confronting. My copy is the 14th printing, so what more can I say?

(Image Continuum Press Edition, Santa Cruz CA & Eugene OR, 14th printing 2014)

Right now I’m reading Twyla Tharp‘s The Creative Habit: learn it and use it for life. It has lots of insights into her creative process and career hiccups, exercises to challenge your creative thinking, and some sound advice thrown in too. Not to mention the roles of generosity and valuing yourself and others. So far I’m only a quarter of the way through but it’s obvious already it’s a winner.

(Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2006)

They’re well worth hunting down if you’re not familiar with these titles. I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve read any of them. Have they raised questions for you about your work or the way you practice? Have you found them of value?

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Residencies

Gunyah artist residency

I’ve just returned from a wonderful short residency at Gunyah (Port Stephens, NSW) – a peaceful, serene environment for working, thinking, and re-evaluating.

Sunset from the balcony

Sunset from the balcony

A wonderful, if too short, residency that was a real delight. Pluto the dog was very impressed too, what with all those intriguing bush smells to check out. The family came to visit for the weekend and we took off to the sand dunes (which had moved so much closer to the road than we remembered – no doubt due to the recent storms), had morning tea at Tillerman’s in Tea Gardens, and lazed around the Gunyah living room, enjoying the fireside, world map jigsaw puzzle, art magazines and the views. We had a great time checking out the jetty (Pluto does love a swim), discovering charming little beaches, and walking around exploring – and baking bread.

Wet day activities

Wet day activities

I used the time to play around with the local flora (luckily readily available because of those storms) and making dyes for the silk lengths I brought with me. Pluto and I went on daily walks collecting interesting bits and pieces to include in the process.

Pluto eyeing off our collection

Pluto eyeing off our collection

We washed the cloth down by the jetty before and after the dyeing – a serene and meditative process at Gunyah (it is so quiet). The lovely golden colour of the water no doubt contributed to the final results. Photographing the fabrics in the water was fascinating for me – I couldn’t get enough of it. The colour of the water, the rocks beneath, the swirling cloth, beautiful light….

Clockwise from top left: washing the silk by the jetty; bundled with petals & foliage; finished cloth; dyepot with bark, flower petals & orange fungi

Clockwise from top left: washing the silk by the jetty; bundled with petals & foliage; finished cloth; dyepot with bark, flower petals & orange fungi

Washing dyed silk

Washing dyed silk

I also used up some of the waste threads and string to make experimental ‘lace’ samples.

Hand stitched 'lace' experiments using waste string and frayed silk threads from the dye bundles

Hand stitched ‘lace’ experiments using waste string and frayed silk threads from the dye bundles

Evaluating some work

Evaluating some work

A big thank you to Kath Fries and the Gunyah team! What a peaceful and laid back thinking/working environment! And the house is sooooo charming…

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