Friday, November 27, 2009


Wonderful box of paper treasures by Sarah Mitchell. See more of her experiments here.

These are a few of my favourite things. Parcels and books, boxes and bundles, sticks and stones, or stacks and piles of anything for that matter .... all tied up with string. Or tied up with ribbon ....or wire .... or whatever will serve the purpose.

Wraps by Mary Ellen Long. See Flickr photostream here. Blog, here.

Winter Pressings by Mary Ellen Long. These wrapped scroll forms hold gatherings found at the "burial" site.

"Each year before the first snowfall, I lay paper of various sizes and forms on the earth. This paper becomes buried under the winter snows to then be harvested in the spring. This ritual documents the passage of time and the amount of snowfall that particular winter. This method is a little like printmaking with nature - the earth being the plate and the snow being the press." - Mary Ellen Long

Language Bound by Mary Ellen Long
Whilst trying to decide which images to post I asked myself why I was attracted to each piece. What was it about each piece that spoke to me? And then I remembered a poem I had read on Paper and Word by Chris Gray.
What can I know of these things?
Many things appear to me strange and wondrous
Remnants of times past
Yet speaking to my soul
In an unknown language
That I seem to understand.
Chris Gray 2006

Rapt Rocks by Nancy Neva Gagliano. See Neva's blog, here

I was thrilled to find these amazing wrapped rocks by Nancy Neva Gagliano. 

Neva writes, "I began WRAPPING some of the many rocks together that I'd long stacked around our house. I called them RAPT, from enraptured."

" .... some are wrapped with their own sort of fossils, and silk/waxed linen threads, silver or copper wire, various papers. the latest rocks also are wrapped and then waxed." - Nancy Neva Gagliano

Rapt Rocks by Nancy Neva Gagliano

Small sculpture by Jade Pegler. See Jade's photostream on Flickr, here.

Beautiful images of aged papers, stacked, collaged or painted on Linda's blog, here.

Qirky little clay parcel made by Don Madden. Visit Don's blog, here.See post about the parcel inside Peevay's head, here.

Textile art by Chris Gray. See Flickr photostream, here and textile art blog, here.

Package 2 by Jeane Myers. See photostream here. Website, here.

Jeane Myers is a warm and generous artist who shares her process and progressions on her blog. A progression can involve anything from hacking and ripping an old painting in two .... or three, scratching, scraping and wiping off layers of paint, adding this, adding that, stomping on it, throwing it out into the rain, rescueing it after a few days, turning it upside down, reworking it and ..... quite frankly my heart can't  take it, but Jeane has taught me to loosen up and have fun while making art. Go and see for yourself!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The book I've been waiting for has arrived at last. Hot Afro by Craig Fraser .... Hot off the press! This book is packed with distinctly South African energy and flavour. Interiors decorated by some of South Africa's most innovative and creative individuals.

A corner of the studio in the Trickett home.

The Trickett homestead is "defined by its delightfully haphazard character, where roomscapes divulge the couple's fascination with the flotsam and jetsam of various eras, cultures and design, and artistic and scientific disciplines."

The 70-something-year-old Johannesburg home of Gerhard Swart and Anthony Harris.

I was drawn to the home of Gerhard Swart and Anthony Harris, two wildly wacky ceramic artists I have already mentioned, here. Not surprising since they too are voracious magpies who continually need to add to their vaste collections.

"The interior is defined by a sort of satorial madness and Renaissance scientists' curiosity that is suggestive of a Wunderkammer...."

"The veranda is an almost year round place to meet, relax, entertain or even to work on ideas."

"Comfortable furniture, an eating area, a collection of interiors magazines and ornate lighting are evidence that this area is considered as much a room as any inside the house."

Work related paraphernalia and stationery in the home of design consultant Laureen Rossouw

Kitchen in the home of editor and style icon Karen Roos

The Free State home of Werner and Philippa du Toit was once a dilapidated barnlike building used as a church by missionaries.

One of my favourite images in the book is this display of some of Immie Mostert's collections.

As Craig Fraser points out these homes are not decorated to impress or follow fashion trends. "Rather, they are canvasses that reflect the consciousness of those who live in them; they're honest and idiosyncratic spaces that are, above all, forged from the heart."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Many things have made me smile over the past week starting with two lucky finds, one of which was a very old Tikar fertility doll from the Cameroons.

Not much is documented about these dolls except that they are used by the Tikar people for protection, fertility and power. I'm thrilled to be adding this lovely terracotta piece to my collection.

The other lucky find was a second hand book, African Hats and Jewelry by Duncan Clarke. It has huge double spread photographs of African textiles and jewelery which are really beautiful .... and I bought it for a song which certainly put a smile on my face.

We had a spate of hot days last week and I've been rushing to finish christmas orders but yesterday for the first time in months I felt that I was catching up which is quite a relief. I can now slow down and enjoy my work again and also relish the fact that two of the three pieces I carved for a christmas exhibition sold before the opening.
A Black-headed Oriel landed on the wall just above my head this morning. It gave several loud calls before flying off and then a second Oriel started calling from a low branch close by and I stood gawping at it for at least a minute. They are quite common but very shy so we don't often see them except for a quick flash of yellow high in the trees.

The next minute the rain came down so I've been confined to the house most of the day.  Its given me a good excuse to dip into some of the books I've been wanting to re-read at a slower more contemplative pace than when I first read them..

This evening I am catching up with some beadwork which I usually do while watching TV.... like a chameleon with one eye on the screen and the other on the beads.

The highlight of my week has been my interview with Leslie Miller. Leslie has a knack for making people feel good about themselves. I've enjoyed the questions she asked, the emailing back and forth and the sharing of stories.

One of the questions made me stop and think . A question I have often asked myself and I'm still not sure that I've answered it fully.

Q: What is it about your medium of wood that calls your name?

A: I often think of this and can't quite put my finger on it. As a child on the farm I loved the outdoors. I loved to touch and feel nature in my hands. The smoothness of acorns and pebbles, the roughness of bark, the hollowness of a birds nest, the grainyness of river sand.....anything tactile under my hands. When I was allowed to use my mom’s carving chisels at a young age I found that I could create many tactile qualities in the wood myself. Magic!

If you'd like to read the rest of the interview, go here. You might enjoy asking yourself the same questions. I had a few AHA! moments as I thought about my answers. Thanks Leslie for a great interview!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Untitled (Hitchcock series) by Robert Natkin.

Whilst walking along a misty beach early one morning, I realized that it was on the soft grey days that I felt most contemplative and content. The muted colours were somewhat soothing ...... and actually, it was a relief not to have the sun in my eyes as I searched the shoreline for bits and pieces to put into my niche carvings.

Sorting through the flotsam which had collected in the crook of a sand dune I marvelled at the beautiful shades of grey. Mussel shells which had roiled at the bottom of some rock pool, pebbles and driftwood rubbed smooth by the sand, downy feathers dropped by industrious sand pipers and my find of the day, remnants of a weathered fish trap .

Driftwood Assemblage from Hanspeterroersma's Flickr photostream. See more here.

Once home and happily reunited with my computer (though I hate to admit my obsession), I found I was gravitating toward art and photographs in beautiful shades of grey.

Black to White by Robert Natkin.
Robert Natkin is an old favourite of mine.
"He is a visual poet whose apparently abstract images actually exist to enchant us with intimations and evocations of things we can sense but never quite see." - Theodore F Wolff

Kalahari by Nicholas Wilton

Rhythm of the day by Leslie Avon Miller
"Having always lived in the Pacific Northwest very near the rain forest, I often live in an environment of grey and white – white caps on the waves of grey seas, seagulls in their grey and white finery, dark grey sands and rocks contrasted with white sea foam and white sea shells, and grey mists hiding the mountains…..the list is long. I see the beauty in the mists as they lift and reveal part of a decomposing dock, or bits of the mountain tops, or a wind carved tree on a cliff as exquisite as a sculpture of granite. One learns to love the subtleties of the colors and the nearly monochromatic shifts." - Leslie Avon Miller

Haunted by Sarah Giannobile.

My friend Lyle often sends me links to new artists and Sarah Giannobile is one of them.
" I use my imagination as a tool to opening up my experiences that once were forgotten." - Sarah Giannobile

Cloth by textile artist India Flint , who is also author of Eco Colour

India Flint has posted glorious detailed photographs of her new series 'landskins', on her website, here. An exquisite series in which "wool felt is used to bind fragments of silk, wool and other natural fibres together to make a cloth; then dyed using plant dyes."
Desire turns concrete by Shayla Perreault Newcomb

Shayla Perreault Newcomb has filmed an Oil Painting Tutorial where she chats about her process, here.

Transience by Donna Watson.

" Currently, I am interested in the passage of time, and what remains. This may be the physical effects in nature or the psychological effects on memory or identity. With the passage of time there is a transience depicted with traces, layers and recollections. I try to take what is personal to me and make a more universal connection." - Donna Watson (interview with Leslie Avon Miller, here. )
Painting from the Expert Mover series by Laurie Pearsall

Laurie Pearsall exhibited the Expert Mover series at her recent exhibition which you can read about here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


"Ease and inspiration come from experiencing the present moment." - Leo Babauta, creator of zenhabits.

In the build up to christmas, which usually starts with orders for my carvings 3 to 4 months before, I find myself taking on too much work and then stressing about deadlines. Our short trip to Kosi Bay was a welcome respite. It gave me time to straighten my thoughts and I resolved, once back in civilization, to find little pockets of calm to rejuvenate myself each day. Of course, once home my resolve flew south and I was soon back in the cycle of rush, rush, rush.

Yesterday when feeling particularly frazzled I made myself a cup of ginger tea and parked myself in front of my computer to unwind. As often happens when needing a few words of wisdom, I stumbled upon zenhabits, a blog about finding simplicity in our chaotic lives. One of the first articles I read was Take Lots of Breaks to Get More Done.

"By taking a relaxing and regenerative break at least every 90 minutes, you increase your capacity to do more work. Just like your muscles need to relax after they tense up, you need to relax after short bursts of focused work. Obviously you don’t want to only take breaks. There needs to be a balance and a blend of relaxation and focused effort. But it’s amazing how many people forget the relaxation aspect." - Jonathan Mead

Aah .... the pockets of calm, I had pondered about at Kosi Bay ....I had even started a list while sitting on a sand dune gazing out to sea. As I began reading article after article at zenhabits I added to this list.

1. Nature:
Be present and look ..... really look .... at the miracles of nature. Take time out to photograph, sketch or just contemplate..... the latter being the most relaxing.
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." - Lao Tzu

2. A brisk 15 minute walk.

3. Art Books:
Browse and feel inspired.

4. Journal.

5. Create a daily 10 Minute Collage. I highly recommend Shelley Klammer's Free Online Workshop. She also offers a Creative Intuition course which involves choosing one image to meditate upon.

6. Talk to monkeys: They make me laugh!

7. Really taste and enjoy a cup of ginger tea: 5-6 slices fresh ginger steeped in hot water, add lemon juice and honey.

8. Breathe: (See article at zenhabits on Breathe)

9. Three-Breath-Meditation:
(Watch Mary Jaksch's short video clip)

10. Take a Weird Break to clear the head.

"During my break I do something a little weird like take a short walk and hang from a tree branch. I find that it’s tough to worry while hanging from a beautiful tree. Plus, my creativity almost always starts flowing again." - Karl Staib, guest writer on zenhabits. (6 Amazing Techniques to Staying Happy During a Stressful Project)

Other articles I enjoyed:

While contemplating nature in my garden today I discovered this Natal Green Snake sunning herself on the sill of my daughters bedroom window. She glided off into the plants as if moving on air. Quite the most beautiful creature!