Everything begins with a circle

The circle draws attention to it’s centre and content that it encircles. I am fascinated with circular forms made by either nature or man. We see them everywhere! Its a topic that keeps arising again and again in my creative process and I am still quite sure that I am going to explore this further, if not in this brief then certainly in the future.

Indefinable yet ever present, it is nothing at all. It is the formless from, the imageless image. It can’t be grasped by the imagination. It has no beginning and no end. This is the essence of Tao. Stay in harmony with this ancient presence and you will know the fullness of each present moment – Lao-Tau, Chinese Philosopher (6th Century BC)


French, K.L. (2012). The Hidden Geometry of Life: The science and spirituality of nature. London, UK. Watkins Publishing.


The Sum of Things

Painting of Dancers on stage by Nik Helbig, 2009
20x90cm, acrylic on canvas

To sum up the year of Level 5 Bachelor of Visual Arts & Design at Ideaschool in a few words is tricky. The short story is that I now perceive myself to be a new artisan who has not yet acquired her entire tool kit, as apposed to only being a ‘wanna be’ (Just like I’m a ‘wanna be’ dancer on stage).

Although I thoroughly embraced the briefs of Pattern Universe and Self Portrait, my future steps started to become really clear during the Documenting Arts module, where I found creative possibilities opening up before me. Prior to this, I found myself meeting brief requirements with comparatively little belief in my ability and direction.

I find meaning in the handcrafted and beautiful functional objects combined with philosophical or poetic concepts. Topics of surrealism, fantasy, whimsy and mind/body consciousness intrigue me.  Keeping this in mind, what I intend to create next year are pieces of work that are for purposes of adornment and decoration of home and hearth, and of the person in the context of hard and soft sculpture.

The technologies I plan to apply include; photography, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for digital art and photographic manipulation, print technologies, small object sculptural methods (soldering, enameling, heat treatment of metals), and fibre art. I will be enrolling in a correspondence paper in Photoshop as an additional elective in Semester one 2014, to extend my limited knowledge of digital media. I also plan to continue my blog postings, drawing practices and document my creative ideas and art research over the break.

Although I have many ideas to explore I will be mindful of avoiding any predictable outcomes. I have learnt that unique and interesting works of art always come about as a result of play and exploration. This is my primary focus for level 6, to develop a signature aesthetic that is one of a kind and appealing for customers. Speaking of which, I am looking forward to developing a business model and embarking on the journey of becoming a Mixed media Handcraft Artisan and colleague to many talented artisans in the local and global communities of the Arts.

Thanks to the many at Ideaschool and our wider community who contributed to the success and enjoyment of Level 5  2013! I curtsy to you all in respect and admiration.

The Iron Fey

Julie Kagawa‘s novels about The Iron Fey semi-sparked my fascination with the picture of a natural world that is negatively influenced by the mechanical and technological ages. Sure there is no way to predict what would replace them when all insect species are extinct, but Kagawa’s imaginary insight gives me a very surreal narrative of what could happen.

When Meghan Chase (female main character of the novels), enters the Iron Realm in The Iron King, this land encroached on Faery like a cancerous growth, blasted and barren. The sulfurous sky was raked by rusty winds and choking fumes. Nothing grew but heaps of obsolete junk: twisted metal and discarded silicon rising skyward in an otherwise featureless sea of searing sand.

If the fantastical land of the ‘Iron Realm’ appears as such, you can imagine the type of the creatures that dwell there? Without giving too much away, I describe the land as a place where the natural world struggles to survive, losing life forces and eventually dying as the iron lands proliferate and take over. The insects that I have been creating over the past month are definitely inspired by Kagawa’s Iron Realm concept.


Kagawa, J. (2010). The Iron King.Ontario, Canada. Harlequin Enterprises Limited.

Quote retrieved on 15th November 2013, from http://www.theironfey.com/TheIronFeyWorlds.html.

My Utopian Art Studio – searching for ideas

Following on from my previous post, I have researched more into the topic of Utopia and grasping the concept of an ecological utopia.  This could incorporate concepts such as organic architecture or lifestyles that are both more a kin to living in harmony with nature, and less dependent on western urbanization and into a more traditional way of living. Now this, I can resonate with.

Intentional communities all over the world are generally based on the utopian concept, which is improving the way humans live together. Members of these secular communities consisting of communes, farms, retreats and gypsy travelers of society have intentions of living the ideal lifestyle, in hope of peace and harmony with their neighbours and the land that provides for them.

When asked to imagine my ideal art studio within the sub-brief given in this project, my mind quickly led down a path that resonates with the utopian values of these traditional ways of living.  I considered how I might like to step into my teepee each morning to begin the day’s creative work in meditative communion with my creator, or a tree-house loft where I can retreat completely into the natural surroundings that nourish and sustain me.  However, my creative self preferred the idea of having a gypsy caravan wagon converted into an art studio and parked permanently in my home garden.  This utopian vision is influenced by my love of the bohemian style, colours, textiles and the simple life that gypsies embrace.  After being inspired by the eclectic vintage, rustic and contemporary designs of wagons and small dwellings (my favourite aspects seen above in these examples), I set off to design and build a model of my first visionary structure using wood as the media.

Small rooms or dwellings set the mind on the right path, large ones cause it to go astray – Leonardo de Vinci


Richardson, P. (2007). XS Green: Big Ideas, Small Buildings. London: Thames & Hudson.

Throw the Dice

In response to my research and learnings in previous posts and a month of delving into the topic of ‘Pattern Universe’, I designed my outcome on such musings. I was incredibly provoked by the evidence that nature and the entire universe is so deliberately created in pattern. So these images are the 6 sides of my object design. Using two of technologies that I have been taught over the past month (screen print and Adobe Illustrator), I created a 3D object than combines my passion for pattern, textiles and print, with an Indie Craft flavour complimented by an Einstein inspired philosophical twist (see previous post). I was completely in my element creating this, and I look forward to further exploration with an ink and thread pairing.

Using a found foam cube from my son’s bedroom (and yes he gave me permission to use it), I machine sewed these 6 dice sides together and covered the cube to form the dice. I was challenged by a few logistics in the process. Firstly, deciding how to feature the dice dots as a darker fabric, which was resolved when I found scraps of grey blanket in my fabric stash, before then, I was going to use black acrylic felt. Because the other blankets were pastel colours however, I am pleased with the contrasting result that they grey gives. It is a softer, more complimentary contrast than what black would have been. Secondly, if I had more time and resources to fulfill this brief, I would have preferred to have designed 6 differing patterns, all displaying elements and features of nature that we come across. This way, when the dice is thrown, each side would have featured a distinctly different pattern. In this case, the only thing that really changes from side to side is the colour and layering of inks and the spots of grey representing the numbers in nature. Still, it is a result that I am content with. My last and final challenge occurred when I didn’t think that my fabric prints were going to be large enough to cover the surface area of each dice side. I had underestimated the nature of fabric and it’s tendency to shift and warp out of shape. What began as a square did not always remain a square.  I considered having to slice the foam cube down in size with a sharp knife,  but fortunately, the fabric squares warped back into shape after a little encouragement from myself and the sewing machine.

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My greatest success with this work is the matching up of top and under layers of printed blanket squares, and how when the top layer is cut away, the grey darker print is revealed with the same corresponding detail of the pattern. An alternative option was to applique the grey dots on as a top layer, however the concept of revealing a hidden pattern underneath interested me more so, especially in relation to the project theme that I have discussed prior.

I am proud to have created a piece that is reflective of my values of repurposing and bringing old things back to life in a new form. I have been making crafts in a ‘practical’ sense for many years, and finally I get to label this piece as a work of art as well. I am grateful to all the crafters and artists around the globe for paving the way that has merged the two together, inspiring me to now do the same with confidence.

I also express my gratitude to my research artists Hanna Werning and Kahori Maki, for inspiring me  in this process. Both women are very talented and unique in what they do.

If I were to refine my outcome, I would go back to the stencil making process and make the pattern image an A2 size so that I can be more flexible with the printing stage.  In addition, I would create 6 different patterns representative of more aspects of nature, ensuring that each side had a different outcome in throwing the dice.

Further exploration with pattern in general would follow the concepts of Earth, Fire, Air and Water Elements in nature. Using Illustrator Pen Tool to draw the individual units as I had done in this brief, I am curious to discover the possibilities of patterns to be found, and the various forms that come from combining similar elements in nature with each other.

Survival Skills as a provincial Artist – wise words from Richard Parker

Visit Richard Parkers latest exhibition in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Visit Richard Parkers latest exhibition in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Each week at Ideaschool, where I study Arts and Design, all are welcome to the ‘Friday Lunchbox’. The Friday Lunchbox is an hour of our school day (during lunch) where a speaker from the arts community gives a presentation based on their field of expertise.  This weeks ‘Lunchbox’ featured New Zealand’s acclaimed and influential ceramic artist Richard Parker, and he passed on some very wise words regarding how provincial artists can survive by a list of simple methods that he has developed through his 30 years as a successful practicing artist.

I want to share with you the tips that I felt the strongest response to, and I hope that they also spark something for you in your creative endeavors.



  • Get your hands straight into it at the beginning of the day to avoid procrastination
  • Set 3 small tasks each day to accomplish, rather than an over ambitious ‘to do’ list
  • Start work early, after having attained quality sleep the night before. It is said that the best restorative sleep one can have is before the clock strikes midnight
  • Use simple daily affirmations – morning and night
  • Support your dealers
  • Care for your customers
  • Have professional images taken of your works, as only good images get published
  • Keep CV up to date and looking good
  • Never give up
  • Make little positive changes every day
  • Develop a healthy relationship with money, and be good at asking for it
  • Money sustains us. Develop a healthy relationship with money. Don’t be afraid to state your worth
  • Consider your artist statement carefully, drawing inspiration from your visual diary and keeping words to three paragraphs maximum
  • Think globally!
  • Avoid spending time with people who have negative and self-destructive attitudes or behaviours
  • Avoid overeating. It dulls the mind and spirit. Avoid sugar. Stay sharp.
  • Avoid fear. Face it head on and watch it disappear
  • Develop a technique for handling rejection

The most significant influence that Richard Parker made for me, was the reminder to put my creative life first and foremost. In doing so, I am able to sustain my own life forces and be a better mother and partner as a result. If I am happy, then the family will be happy also. Richard referred to Art as our ‘life blood’, and making art must be a priority in life, not one to be left until you have enough time. So tonight, I happily leave the dishes in the sink knowing that I will sleep easier once I have taken the time to feed my creative soul.

Self-Portrait – Inspired by Marloes Dukyer

I'm all stitched up (2013) Sewing machine with thread on paperIn response to being inspired by my research on Marloes Dukyer, I drew with my sewing machine for the first time. Being a semi industrial machine, I found it very difficult to turn corners fast and smoothly enough. My Bernina 850 is only familiar with going at top speed! However, I am so excited by my results and how I may be able to create in the future using this media. I find the organic nature of the ‘sketch’ has a definite sense of freedom from constraint, enhanced by potential movement of the hanging threads and the lack of contour lines used. Every thing about this self-portrait is suggestive of me: the texture, expression, combination of colours, and unruly curly auburn hair that decides to go in a different direction from one day to the next. A great accomplishment in my books.