Saturday, August 25, 2007

Older work

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon with a photographer friend and had some work photographed (thanks Jo!). I pulled out a collection of some of my favourite pieces and had them properly documented; the resulting photos are a vast improvement on my own!
Last year, I attended a seminar at Craft Queensland 'Best Foot Forward' which provided some strategies for documenting and presenting artworks and I have been having a go at photographing my own work. The results haven't been bad but time constraints (the demands of my teaching work and 2 young sons) meant that it always seemed a rushed job.
So, what a treat it was to drop Jonah and Ollie at mums and spend the afternoon with Jo, being bossy about what I wanted and enjoying spending time handling and looking at works that had been stored away for some time. I felt all soppy and nostalgic as each work held memories of the landscape that the fibres were collected from (we have arrived home from many road trips with the back of the car full to overflowing with an assortment of treasures found on the side of the road - much to my excitment and Noo's frustration). Anyway here's a few of the results.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Natural Pigments

Process is an important part of artmaking for any artist. I often find I gain more enjoyment from sourcing, gathering and preparing materials, than I do from actually creating works. An artist who really interests me in terms of his process is Yanawit Kungchaethong.

Yanawit, who currently teaches at Silpakorn University in Bangkok, trained as a printmaker but grew concerned about the chemcials which prevail in printmaking studios and began investigating ways of making coloured pigments from a wide variety of plant species (among them pandanus, mangosteen and kum-ngo) found in Thailand. This painting above was produced from pigments derived from mango, chrysanthenum and butterfly pea plants.

A few months ago I had a chance to hear him speak about his research into plants and pigments at a talk he gave at Chiang Mai University as part of The Mekong Art and Culture Project.

What I found particularly interesting about his work was that Yanawit's father is a horticulturalist who grows plants for use in herbal medicine on the family's property at Petchaburi. Through his research into pigments, Yanawit has been able to inherit family knowledge of local resources that perhaps would otherwise have been lost. I was also interested to hear that he found the same plant produces different hues depending on the season in which it is harvested, which is what I have found when working with natural fibres. Working directly from the natural environment, seasonal cycles have a direct effect on what materials are available and how they appear and can be used.

Anyway, I found these works refreshing and have found a kum ngo tree growing near my office. My husband told me that his mother and grandmother used to squeeze the red berries to make lipstick and nail colour. I snuck out of my office one day recently to experiment with the kum ngo tree and had to get around the whole day looking and feeling ridiculous with bright reddish-orange lips that didn't wear off until much later that day.

Friday, August 17, 2007

First Time Ever!

This is my first ever blog so it's all very exciting! I've been inspired by late night wanderings on the net and have started this blog to document my visual arts practice and humble observations of the world around me.

I have been working as a visual artist since graduating from the Bachelor of Fine Arts at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia in 1992 and my work has evolved through a variety of media, across a number of countries and despite a succession of 'day jobs'.

For the past 4 years I have been working predominantly with natural fibres and have posted this coiled piece made from Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) and stitched with waxed linen. The colours of Kangaroo Grass can be awesome and the long, resilient fibres make it an ideal material for coiling.