Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is the time of the year that I am at my creative best. Autumn and Winter in South Africa are my favourite seasons. It is warm carving outside in the courtyard .... unlike the scorching days of Summer. There is snow on the far reaches which means our nights and early mornings are pretty chilly but when the sun is out the days are bliss.

I've been observing the moon with Donna ...... finding my natural creative rhythm ....... and reconnecting with my "creative vision". It has been a wonderful period of experimentation.

"When we allow ourselves to experiment with the moon's timing the stress level is reduced and a sense of being in the flow is elevated." - Donna Drozda.

Between carving totems I have been trying out different ideas on small wood offcuts. Somewhere in the middle of these experiments it occurred to me to create a wooden quilt ..... a slow quilt, inspired by Jude's spirit cloths. Slow, in that I am just going to let it happen when it happens. The little wood samplers will accumulate and when I have enough I will join them somehow. It might just be a matter of glueing them to a board ... or stitching them together like a patchwork quilt ..... I'm playing with ideas and enjoying the dance.

"I really appreciated coming to recognize that there's no place to 'get to' as an artist, as an expressive being, there's simply the dance." - Donna Drozda

I finally managed to locate a copy of Etcetera by Sybella Court and I'm wallowing in the glorious pages. I'm inspired to photograph weathered tools and bits of wood ..... mine ..... and new found treasures.

I was very chuffed to find an old patinaed folk art doll in a junk store.

Meet Jasper, the visiting Burmese from next door. He's taking a chance with Ben and Bella around, but he's pretty wiley and swift on his feet.

I've just completed a totem I've called Prayers for our Daughters in response to Soraya's post about the genocide/gendercide in India.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Wood Stitchery experiment by Robyn Gordon

For the past few months I've been experimenting with stitching wood. It's quite hard on the hands but I love the effects of rusty wire threading through weathered wood.

Recently I stumbled across Tricia North's work. Tricia stitches paper, fabric, canvas and slate.

Slate, gold leaf and stitching by Tricia North. See more on Tricia's website here.

More stitchery by Tricia North. See Tricia's Flickr photostream here.

Regeneration by Sheila Cahn. See more of Sheila's work here.

I discovered Sheila Cahn's work on Jackie's blog.
"I work with translucent natural fabrics, which I hand dye, then layer like a painter working with water colours, before machine stitching. By cutting through, I am able to reveal an infinite variety of subtle colour relationships." - Sheila Cahn
Bits and Pieces 3 byChristina Massey. See more of Christina's work here and here.
" I “kill” my traditionally framed paintings by cutting and tearing them apart, then mend them together by thread, a series of knots or weaving them together again giving them new life as a different form." Christina Massey

Beautiful hand stitched quilts by Judy Martin. See Judy's exhibition blog here.

"I love to stitch. I love the look and power of old quilts. I love the story telling and the many layers of meaning. I love the connection to the bed and all of life's major and minor rituals and passages. I feel that quilts are a woman artist's most honest medium." - Judy Martin

Hummingbird's secret by Jennifer Nerad. See Jennifer's website here.

"I am inspired by the subtleties of grey and colors approaching grey. Where is that edge when blue-grey turns into yellow-grey? I marvel at the power of water when I gaze out at the ocean or turn my windshield wipers on extra high. How can something so soft and gentle turn boulders into sand, mountains into mud? How can the patient, cleansing caresses of the wind carve gashes into stone?" - Jennifer Nerad
Paper, Fabric and Thread by Jade Pegler. See Jade's Flickr photostream here.

Secret Diary 3 by Angela Moll. See more of Angela's work here
"In the Secret Diary series I look inside, into the intimate space where journals are written, where quilts are stitched. The pages of my Secret Diaries are actual journal entries screen printed on fabric. The text records the flow of thoughts and the meandering of attention as I write on the screen with fabric dye. Each fabric page is a layering of different entries, the superimposition of a day onto the next one. I use the collaged and stitched diary fragments to speak about intimacy, communication, as well as privacy and isolation." - Angela Moll

Lake #3 by Nellie Durand . See Nellie's Lake Series here and blog here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I am often asked about the symbolism behind my carved doors so I decided to write a post about it.

This door is called Ancestral Secrets. It is based on the shape and concept of the Dogon granary doors from Mali. It is a door of protection... protecting whoever or whatever lies behind the door, whether it is grain, wealth, information, knowledge, herbs, medicines, healing secrets, survival secrets, household secrets, precious things, people, family etc.

As in the authentic granary doors, I have rows of ancestor figures to stand guard, to watch over the owner of the door. They also stand as a link between man and God.

The central motive is a metal CROSS and carved wooden FACE.

This type of cross is a universal beware, no entry sign to stop unauthorized people from entering. This includes uninvited guests or intruders .... someone who would steal the secrets.

The face within the cross symbolizes the centre of the world, the NAVEL OF THE EARTH. In Africa a large navel is a sign that a powerful spirit has left the womb. The four arms of this cross symbolize the 4 directions, the 4 corners of the earth as well as the 4 elements.

The central face also stands for the SUN which brings light into the darkness and nurtures life. It is ascribed great healing powers. In Africa (and other countries) offerings are often made to the Sun. I have incorporated the offering bowl into the bird which is flying toward the sun.

Birds are messengers of God. They also stand for fertility, love, clairvoyance, power, danger, discipline, prudence .... and laughter. The pigeon is a symbol of reciprocal love.

The Senufo people consider the snake to be a symbol of rebirth as it sheds it's skin annually. It is also a teacher of healing. Healing within the family ... the tribe. Offerings are often brought to snakes. (See the bird offering bowl opposite the snake)

The keeper of tribal secrets. It is protected by its shell and because it can carry its house of secrets wherever it goes it is considered highly intelligent.

* Key and Lock:-
Secrets are kept under lock and key.

* Arrow heads:-
Another sign of protection.

* Small leather packages :-
Hunters will wear little packages of herbs and magic around their necks or sewn onto their hunting jackets. These will give the hunter protection, strength, courage, wisdom as well as making the hunter invisible to the enemy (or animals they are hunting). I have attached these muti packages to the door to give these qualities to the owner of the door.

* Leather Purse:-

* Black and white patterning:-
Represents the contrasts of dark and light,
good and evil,
male and female,
ignorance and knowledge

White also stands for purity and protection.

* Various markings:-
Record births, deaths, livestock etc.

More about the symbolism here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Experimenting with numbers. Detail photo of some of the totems I've been making.

I've been experimenting with numbers in my art for the past month and judging from the artworks I've found for this post there are many artists who love using numbers in their work. These are just the tip of the iceberg.

Numbers in Time. Steel, wood & oil by Randall Reid at the Nuart Gallery

Temperature Rising by Randall Reid at the Nuart Gallery. See website here.

Number 292. Photograph by spiers65 on Flickr. See photostream here.

Old Wood. Photograph by my.third.eye. on Flickr. See photostream here.

Lucky Star by Squeak Carnwath. See more at Danielle Wohl Fine Art here.

Quantum-Placeat by Jylian Gustlin. Website here.

It's all about the numbers by Maura Cluthe. See website here.

"I guess the best way I can describe these pieces is to say that they are kinda like puzzles that I am trying to solve. How they turn out and what they end up being is led by an idea or feeling. Sometimes it's an idea that I've drawn in my sketchbook or something that I've overheard, like a piece of conversation. Once I have the idea, I mix it with whatever elements I have lying around my studio that, when combined, solve that particular puzzle and thought. I usually have no idea how a piece is going to turn out or what it's going to look like until I really get into it -- and even then, it can change. I love that. I love knowing and the surprise that happens in the end." - Maura Cluthe
Dumpster Red by Sue Katz. Found here at P Farrell Artblog

nThe Number Five by Chad Davis. See Flickr photostream here.