Tuesday, January 31, 2012

opinion time...

 (gratuitous pic of sarah-woof trying out the new path to the studio.... )

Fear not!
I'm not going to inflict another one of my (many) opinions on you - 
in fact - I'd like to hear your advice/opinion on something...

Blog Comments
One of the things I like most about blogging is the interactivity that comments foster - I love folk leaving their words on my blog (thank you!) - and I like to drop by other places and leave a word or two (when I feel I can contribute something to the conversation) ... sometimes when I leave comments elsewhere the blog authors go to the trouble of sending me a personal reply via email - and I've always been quite moved by their effort. BUT I'm usually quite shy about doing likewise myself.... so here's where I'd like to hear your opinion.

Would YOU like me to reply personally (eg via email) to your comments left here? Let me know what you think. I WILL reply via email to your comments on this post (if I have/can find an email address for you!) and what's more I'll select one commentee to send a tiny little something-something to (just as a token of my appreciation)


** updated Feb 3 
I have dropped a couple of emailed notes to respondents - and I did a quick 'name in the hat' draw for that promised small 'something' - which I will be popping into the post for Kim H.

Thanks again all for your words


Thursday, January 26, 2012

oztraylya day...

 Australia Day 2012 - Cobargo School of Arts Hall

Cobargo was the first town in the Bega Valley to hold Australia Day celebrations and remains per capita the largest Oz day crowd in the Shire... I suspect this is mostly because we (the good townsfolk) have a different take on what Oz day means:- In a small town it's less about celebrating the 1788 landing of the First Fleet in Botany Bay and of distanced (and potentially problematic) nationalism, rather, it's a chance to acknowledge the contribution of a few special people whose gift of time and energy keeps our community vibrant and viable. Cobargo's Oz day celebration is organised by the town's branch of the CWA, and the highlight of the day is always the announcement of 'Citizen of the Year' (you've got to be there - its an award that draws FAR more attention than any old Oscars...)  Both of my parents have previously been awarded 'Citizen of the Year' - and this year our kidlet's godmother, Helen Schaefer, received the honour. (Yay Helen! what a deserving recipient! and proof positive that you don't need to be born into a community to be considered one of its leading lights...)

So I decided to hold a BIG ozzie barbie - and invited a whole mess of folk to 'come on down to the creek!'

while the kids ran through the sprinkler
(it has been a hot day)

I was cooking up a storm - 
BBQ marinated lamb and snags (you've got to have sausages on the barbie for oz day...)
rice paper vegie rolls, carrot and cheese triangles, mounds of salads, 
and of course


its been a yummy day all around really...


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

dual citizenship...

Yesterday I became the 4453rd citizen of nowhereisland...

"Imagine an Arctic island travelling south - a landscape on the move. After leaving the Kingdom of Norway, the island enters international waters and is declared a new island nation - Nowhereisland. This new nation continues its journey to the south west coast of England, where it opens its embassy and participates in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad."

"Nowhereisland has already come to represent the possibilities for thinking about our values and beliefs as citizens. 52 Resident Thinkers from around the world are contributing to a year-long programme of Letters to Nowhereisland. Over 4000 people have already signed up to become citizens of Nowhereisland and will begin collectively writing the island’s constitution from January 2012.

This is a real place on the move. But it belongs to nowhere. It is an island nation that has come from a place that is deeply implicated by global decisions. It offers us the chance to reflect on where we belong and what nationhood means, and, in a time of global crisis, it opens up an opportunity to debate and consider important global questions that affect us all."*

...so now I can claim I have dual citizenship...

{I'm really interested in thinking about what I could contribute 
to this new island nation's constitution   
and I'm enjoying reading bits from the resident thinkers
and I LIKE that this is essentially an art project...}

don't you think organising dual citizenship 
is a perfect way to celebrate Australia Day?
(Jan 26 - eg tomorrow in oz land)

And talking of oz day
it's time for me to de-rust the bbq and clean out the eskie 
we're having a BIG creek party tomorrow
with a cast of thousands (ok - maybe 30-40)

oh what fun for this new nowhereian!

*image and words from nowhereisland.org 


Sunday, January 22, 2012

art gesture sunday - week 3....

For the last three days I've been out at Brogo Permaculture Gardens learning all about creating permaculture food forests  - I'm too tired after digging and planting and scrambling up and down a 60 degree (plus!) hillside to tell all but I think its more than enough of a (communal) arty gesture for this (and most) weeks....

view to Mumbulla Mountain....

a food forest emerging on a hillside...

  seeking inspiration - we visited a food forest and permy garden in nearby Verona...

building swales is hard dog-gone work!

 it also must be precise dog-gone work!

yep I found a few moments between the action to create a bit of artyness....

a parting gift.... a small arty gesture... 

I wonder if anyone will notice?


Thursday, January 19, 2012

copy? right?

As today (Jan 18 in the USA) is internet strike day* - I'm posting my thoughts on copyright in support of the global anti-SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) strike 

One of the other things art-career-wise that I've been thinking a lot about over the past few months is copyright

(ahhhh THIS little image, created as part of my stint at Byron Bay August 2011
has already been used  - without seeking my permission - to promote a literary prize.....
guys guys guys - all you had to do was ask!

Like many other artists I'm unsure how to respond when folk race off with my images or words or what-nots and re-present them in other places (internet or other) without my knowledge or consent... Oh I'm flattered of course - I mean, how sweet is it that they liked my things enough to want to share them?.....

BUT I've not been so thrilled when my stuff is posted randomly without even acknowledging (or linking) to the source.... and I get totally miffed when folk TAKE my work and then pass it off as their own.... (and no I don't mean they make similar work or works 'inspired by' yours - I mean they STEAL your stuff)...

I've had a variety of experiences where folk have indeed STOLEN my stuff and passed it off as their own.... dating back to the early 1990s (when my work appeared in an Australian 'Vogue Living' magazine - credited to someone else) to present times (about 18 months ago my partner listened, mouth agape, to an ABC radio interview with an artist whose work was featuring in the opening of a regional gallery show in our state - the artist actually submitted one of my artwork statements as theirs, and it soon became apparent they had created a work identical to something of mine and passed it off as their 'original idea and creation' .... I mean - WTF?????????!!!!!)

things don't need to be this dramatic to be just as troublesome....

I'll bet pretty much every visual artist who has entered artwork in a competition or exhibition has signed some sort of form that gives the event organisers the right to reproduce their work in various ways and means (sometimes the fine print can be scary - I have friends who have inadvertently signed away their control on a simple entry form... and unscrupulous event organisers who have subsequently made commercial work for resale as a result... nasty wot?!)

'to the lighthouse' ephemeral installation 
Cape Byron lighthouse

and you have NO idea the trouble I went through last year to create an acceptable 'recording' agreement with Northern Rivers Writers Centre (in a nutshell - NRWC sent me their standard recording agreement designed for writers to be filmed - essentially their standard recording agreement would have stripped me of my rights to even take a picture of my visual artwork undertaken as part of my stint as artist in residence at their Writers Festival - needless to say - changes were made!)

yep copyright can be mighty tricky

On the other side of the copyright coin however is the increasing public loss of access to our shared cultural material with the rise and rise of the corporatisation of EVERYTHING. And of course it's not just (or even primarily) arty things that are at risk... think about the ramifications of one company owning the rights to all our food seeds (this is SCARY and it's happening right now), or another company patenting parts of the human genome (yep - it's happened already), or mon-satan (the misspelling is deliberate) who currently enjoy suing farmers and associated ag businesses for patent infringement when their GM crops (soy beans and canola in particular) spread to non-GM crops (bastards!!! on every level)

As I often repeat - I'm just a small arteest living a long way from anywhere - the issue of copyright infringement must be absolutely overwhelming for big name, big time artists (and I can't imagine the full ramifications of rampant piracy in music/film/literature)....

As we all know - once something is out there on the interweb, there's no controlling where it goes - and there's certainly no getting it back - the internet has made copying/duplication/reblogging/mashing/'collaging'/ sampling of any material super fast and easy... all this sharing and copying and re-creation is good and great and fun... and a bloody copyright nightmare!

what to do? what to do?

Should we visual artists watermark every photo? (Fugg-ly!), upload only itty bitty images? (why bother?), use right click disable? (easy to work around - take a screen shot and share a crappy version of the work instead), use spaceball gifs? (oh if you don't know what a spaceball gif is - its a transparent gif that is placed over your photo - when folk try to right-click-copy your image they get the transparent gif instead.... spaceball gifs are ridiculously easy to work around... hint - there's a 1mm gap at the bottom of the image that the gif doesn't cover....), become paranoid and stop making and sharing things? (now there's an effective idea... not!), resign yourself to rampant copyright incursions and graciously accept piracy? (ummmm????? eeeek - starvation days ahead) make work and make it freely available and rejoice in a new arty world order? (still starving over here...)

And here's where my own little copyright conundrum kicks into high gear...

I like sharing things - I'm happiest when I give things away - I'm not a fan of the corporatisation of art (or the corporatisation of anything...) I have no desire to be a multi-millionaire vacuous art star (puke!) But like you, I DO need to eat and pay my bills (the electricity mob don't take vegetables as payment... more's the pity). And I don't think its right at any point to TAKE something from someone else and call it your own....

I've met wonderful friends via blogging and various social media platforms (SU, facebook, twitter, tumblr, ning-rings etc) without these innovative platforms the internet would be a very different place and without these (free!) services my world would be very different.... I'm not convinced that SOPA will do much to help stop piracy (which was its initial aim) but will instead become a quasi form of censorship, and a tool for corporations to further erode the commons....

So here's my first step in trying a new direction with my web copyright

You may have noticed I've recently adopted a Creative Commons license associated with this blog. For those of you not completely aware of CC licenses - here's the crux of things in one sentence:

"With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit — and only on the conditions you specify"

My decision to go with a CC is an acknowledgment that culture only flourishes when we operate as a cooperative community. True, I've chosen the most rigid CC license (attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives).... but a CC license just reminds folk that its only right to link and attribute things correctly. With CC in place - all I ask is - when you share, please maintain a link to the source... it's the right thing to do.

*as Oz  is on the other side of the international date line, it wasn't really feasible to set my blog site to join the Jan 18 internet black out - if I coulda - I woulda!

follow these links to find out more about SOPA and the strike:

google action
protect the internet for innovators


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


yep - I'm back making small book models for my resources box

I have a couple of potential workshops in the mix AND (drum roll please) I'm FINALLY going to be opening 'sams creek bookworks' in May this year (yes - year behind schedule... but who's counting...)

Yesterday I was making cut-and-fold-only book objects ....

 I find it amazing how many different 'book' structures you can make without even a spot of adhesive or sewing.....

For my box of book models I'm mindful of creating a cohesive group (so I'm sticking to blues and whites and creams for the whole collection). I'm stripping the work of content so that folk can concentrate solely on FORM - I hope this may help all to better be able to analyse how structure may fit content (or visa versa!), and to get folk excited about trying a new structure.  I'm having such fun trying things I've never tried before (this exercise certainly increases my book-making repertoire!)

My studio assistant EJ was inspired to make her own little square pamphlet bound booklet....

  little girl fingers sewing up a storm!

I love watching young people having a blast making things
they feel so proud of their accomplishments

(EJ loves using the bone folder to finish things off 'just so')

oooo and you should see all the other work going on in the garden and around the studio

I promise I'll show you a piccie soon of how everything is shaping up

(so excitement!)


Sunday, January 15, 2012

art gesture sunday - week 2...

encyclopaedia brittanica and raked earth and beach stone

(with cat)


on sunday every week in 2012 I'm posting one small 'art gesture' 
undertaken at some point during the previous week


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

on having an Arty Kareer....

My creek home is far from the centre of the arty world (it's a fair way from the centre of MOST things). Over the decades that I've lived in my funny little house on my funny little farm I've wondered about how to reconcile my connection to this place with being An Artist. (Oh, I don't mean the daily practicalities of making art and of being an arty person - arguably a studio is a studio, wherever/ whatever it is - and I happen to live in a glorious place that I love)... no, I mean what it is to have An Arty Kareer in the Country.

Before I launch into the following spiel - I want to issue a quick codicil and an invitation - This is my simple subjective story - in telling it, I'm not judging others (welllll I AM judging the likes of Damien Hirst and Co...... but not YOU!) oh and I'm ever ready to hear an alternate view of things - so feel free to chime in and tell me where I've got things wrong (I don't bite.... except if you're Damien Hirst and Co.). Are we cool?

Here's what I've seen is the typical country person's Art Kareer path (steps may be completed out of sequence - some steps may be omitted)

step one: leave your home and family, go to a city, complete a visual art qualification (or two... or three...), get yer-self urbanised

step two: schmooze all the right people in all the right places (in some circles this is referred to as 'networking'... )

step three: get commercial gallery representation or join a hip (city) ARI and/or make a critic/ curator/ arts writer fall in love with you (or your work at least!) - get noticed.... become 'someone' (schmoozing ability is a definite advantage here.... as is being in the right [eg city] place at the right time)

step four: win awards and/or receive grants and/or gain residencies and/or have work selected for Big Important art events and/or pedal your wares (including your skills as a tutor/teacher) to far flung places......(schmooze ability and city location in pivotal early stages is unquestionably useful)

Hmmmmmm - I've had a lot of trouble with pretty much everything in this model....

Yes, I've been able to deal in part with the education thing (hello distance education! I love you!)

As for the rest? Wellll they aren't all that conducive to stay-put, grow-your-own, creek-farm-forest living are they?  My attachment to place aside, I have almost zero schmooze-ability, and all sorts of problems reconciling my ideas of what it is to be ecologically and environmentally responsible with most Art Kareer examples.

For the most part, I can't help but notice that the Art World is a city-centric, institutionally bound, capitalist creature - and most Important Art (even when it has its heart and soul in the forest or field) speaks of and to an urban(e) audience.

I can't help but notice that the art(ists) who REALLY get noticed rely (usually in no small part) on 'the cult of personality'  - and just like in Hollywood - it helps to be young and pretty and to smile nice for the cameras (ps also just like Hollywood, the cameras are only in the cities).

I can't help but notice that art success begets art success - receiving an award in one place is the basis for granting a residency to another and a grant for playing the game so well! (and around and around and around we go!) ... ps - have you noticed how few residencies cater for a family unit? (it is a known fact that artists don't have children - or at least you'd think so according to the Art Kareer model...)

I can't help but notice that work is only deemed capital 'A' Art after it has been ratified by institutional power (the gallery or the university or the auction house..... in the city, city city).

I can't help but notice that trends exist in art just as they do in clothes and music.....  at least with music and clothing we can look back and laugh at some of the things we once thought were cool (monster shoulder pads anyone? blue mascara? how about the 'Macarena'? hee hee hee) BUT with Art, no one dares laugh at the $squillions investors and public galleries have forked out for laughably dreadful, once trendy, 'Art' (anyone for Koons 'Michael Jackson and Bubbles'? or how about a nice dead shark in a tank? very smelly stuff indeed!)

Now, I hope I'm not coming off as completely bitter and twisted - because truth is, I have a solid sense of humour about these things (I dare you not to laugh at Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' - the art statement alone is liable to induce uncontrollable laughing spasms that will cause you to snort coffee up your nose....) Of course at times I get a little depressed or a little bit peeved about the citified machinations of the art machine, but every now and then I get quietly and optimistically philosophical (no, not that I'll be the one and only wrinkly, old, country witch who will be plucked from the paddock to the arty pedestal - I'm not THAT optimistic - and I'd rather poke my eyes out with a tomato stake than be deemed the next Damien Hirst) ....

Nooooo, I get optimistic when I see hints that the end of the old art paradigm is nigh

 I recently spied this older article from Jonathon Jones:

"I've tried to resist this fact for a few months, but I'm done with illusion. Art as we know it is finished. It is about to be exposed as nothing more than the decor of an age of mercantile madness. On what bedrock might a new art arise? "

I can certainly list some of the things I want a new art paradigm to embrace-:

I want Art that snubs its nose at post-bloody-modernism and bling-bling art stars;  

I want Art that circumvents the corporatisation of culture and cult of personality;  

I want Art where value is determined by what the art gives rather than what it makes at auction;  

I want Art that engages community and is egalitarian in spirit and execution; 

I want Art that respects and values fine crafting (where appropriate) without falling into the trap of nostalgic connoisseurism; 

I want Art that understands that you don't need to be a Western, white, city boy to make stuff worth paying attention to; 

I want Art that is of and for and from an extended connection to country.....  

How is this to be achieved? (ahhhhhh - that's the crux of the matter and the $64 000 question isn't it) Well, I've just completed the first step by writing out what I see are the problems and conjuring an optimistic future......

As for the rest - well that's going to be a work in progress....

stay tuned.

(I'm not going anywhere!)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I get by with a little help....

Where would we be without friends and community?

(ps this is the latest 'joy of books' stop animation by 'crazedadman'
made with the help of LOTS of friends... watch it - it's cute -
and it was only released about 12hrs ago so you can be amongst the first to view it!) 

I'm very fortunate to have a whole mass of mates: 'I-owe-you-a-vital-organ' mates, long-term mates (yes I'm still friends with my bestie from before primary school),  permaculture mates (these are some of the most genuine and generous folk I know), calligraphy mates, local arty mates (gosh but exhibition openings would be mighty boring without these guys in attendence!), facebook, twitter and bloggy buddies (the BAO group has been a wonderland, and with a big new project kicking off, there's a whole mess more bloggy book artists to meet), and arty uni mates just to name a few mate memes..... and it's my arty uni mates that I'm thinking of right now as I've been working on my HDR project and biting my fingernails and contemplating my navel (again).

Last week one such uni mate dropped into my little creek home (*waves to MP*) and I had the rare opportunity to sit with a cuppa and 'chew the fat'.  As a distance student I only get to briefly press the flesh with fellow students - indeed I have only once a year contact (for a couple of days at winter symposium each June).  As I was completing my MVA I met and subsequently made mates with some fabulous artists (here's links for Tracey Johnson, Linda Fish, Deb Taylor, and Neale Stratford - check 'em out, as each one of these peeps is a real gem - I loves youse guys heaps!).

Now as ALL my uni contacts know (much moreso than my other friends), I have long pondered (and often whinged about) the machinations of the artworld... and over the past couple of months I've been putting to paper a few of my thoughts about copyright, what it is to have an Art Kareer, etc..... Tomorrow I'm going to tentatively post one such elongated thought... I hope I don't frighten you, my bloggy mates, away!

Until then - lets all play nice with everyone else in the sandpit (life's pretty tough without friends and a vibrant community... hmmmm maybe someone should remind some of the world's leaders about this truth?...)


Monday, January 9, 2012

occupy cobargo (gnomes unite)....

 no, this is not my handiwork....

apparently the Bega Valley Shire Council 
- owners of this maganificently manicured and maintained vacant lot - 
are quite up in arms about the 'public hazard' blah blah blah 
and have even called the local constabulary .....

hee hee heee

 you gotta love a small town...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

art gesture sunday - week 1.....

'physics and philosophy' and sand and thyme...


on sunday every week in 2012 I'm posting one small 'art gesture' 
undertaken at some point during the previous week


Saturday, January 7, 2012

a year of arty gestures...

yep - you read right

starting tomorrow I'll be making/posting one arty gesture each week of 2012

My 'an art gesture a day' month-long challenge was a total revelation to me and since completing the month of daily arty gestures I've been keen to return to the process and idea - but in a more manageable form - soooooooo..... each week during 2012 I'm planning to find a few moments to undertake an arty gesture and every sunday for the next 52 weeks (eg all of 2012) I'll (hopefully) post a pic (or series of pics) of the results.  

No promises mind you! (that way there will be no pressure and no disappointment).

I hope you'll drop by tomorrow or some other sundays throughout this year

ps - after a marathon effort FP has completed a lovely path to the studio today so everything is on track for a May bookworks studio opening (fingers very much crossed!)


Friday, January 6, 2012

book fair (summer edition)

Rotary book fair

(I love book fairs!)

Bega's book fair is far more chaotic 
(and subsequesntly more charismatic and charming)
than many of the BIG affairs 

and the folk are used to me

"Hey Ronnie you've got to see the box at the back - 
its sooooo YOU!

(yep - it was)

 (I can't resist a box of encyclopaedias.... and while I like all encyclopaedias 
I must admit to having an ongoing Brittanica crush...)

After I have secured all the encyclopaedias in the hall 
in what you can only call a one-girl-encyclo-tornado
my beady book-eyes start to seek out other booky treasures...

oooooo look - a box of similiar sized somethings 
with curiously attractive mottled page edges...

 something with the word 'art' in the title...

a curious book cover...

 mmmm pretty pages.....


oooo looky a whole pile of books on BIRDS


yep I'll take the lot!
 ahhh then we turn out attention to the eternal problems-

how many books can my car hold before it breaks?.... 
and how many more books can I squeeze into my sheds 
before they simply BURST?!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

living large in a small town...

Cobargo is a really quirky small town..

(for years townsfolk have tried - in vain - to get local council to build disabled-access public toilets.
Peeved that yet another opportunity slid by, one local made an excellent 'statement piece'
on a vacant lot on the highway... hee hee hee....

I love how you can go up town for an ordinary morning's swim training - 
and come home with five extra kids 
(which is just what we did today - this is what community is all about)

on a hot hot day with lots and lots of kids 
 what do you do?
make lemonade/lemon cordial of course!

lemon cordial sams creek style

1 litre water
750g (or a bit less) sugar (raw, white or caster sugar all works)
juice 6-8 lemons (juiced this is about 500ml)
add water and sugar to a saucepan - heat and mix until dissolved  - continue to heat (stir continuously) but don't bring to boil. remove from heat and allow to cool at little, add lemon juice. bottle in sterilised jars.
lemon cordial may be added to still or sparkly water (mmmm FIZZY and refreshing) 

then we played with clay....

(I am totally rubbish with clay - but kids don't care!
they just have a blast squishing and moulding and letting loose with the creative juice!
I only wish I managed to get a piccie of Ivy's submarine with buttons - too cool!)

After a couple of days of hot aussie summer sun beating down
the garden is looking a bit wilted and sad

after dinner we head off to the 'pumpkin patch'

on the back of the ute (natch)

The pumpkin patch is the field about 500m from the house (cucurbita - eg pumpkins/squash are promiscuous little buggers and need an exclusion zone of a good 400m from other cucurbits to ensure no cross-fertilisation.... we are saving pure 'Waltham' butternut squash seeds for Bega Seed Savers so it's important to ensure nothing is going to cross with the heritage variety)  In our pumpkin patch by the bank of Sams Creek we also have mounds of watermelon ('sugar baby' and 'big red') and rockmelons ... they are all just coming up - bless 'em

each little mound is hand watered - by carrying water from the creek

up and down and up and down the hill we go with bucket and watering can in hand

of course one must skip flat stones across the little pools of sams creek  
every time we get to the bottom of the hill...

hard work isn't hard when you're having fun together...

then it's home to bed 
ready to face another wonderful summer's day


Sunday, January 1, 2012

new years day...

a hot, lazy summer's day

EJ is off for a sleep over
Sass is off for the day swimming and kayaking with cousins in a bigger country creek
FP is still slogging away at the studio path (scheeez - someone give him a medal!)

and just in case the superstition is true -
(what you do on the first day of the new year sets the tone for the next twelve months)

I decided to spent quiet time on the verandah

drinking cool tank water


yep - I could manage twelve months of this

(but NOT if our kidlets are missing the whole time!)