Saturday, 30 August 2008
twas indeed a pleasant surprise to be pinged a sticker of approval from the kindly Annette at Fairy Shoes . this now means i am faced with the tricky challenge of trying to decide to whom i should pass the baton. there are squillions of interesting reads out there!
so here goes. i'm nominating Ahipara Girl, my friend from across the ditch; Silver Solo and Free Falling from the land of Uncle Sam, maple syrup and margaritas; Little Brown Sparrow and Uniform Studio for their posts about Things Wearable; Million Little Stitches for her reports from the sub-continent and the Hoarder's Daughter for her lovely post about Mirka Mora, one of my favourite Melbourne artists.
Oh, and for something completely different, the blog of Unnecessary "Quotation" Marks...
and here's the deal. for those named above, please
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2.Link to the person who gave you the award.
3.Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4.Put links to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on those blogs.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I reach Havelock well after dark in pouring rain. The fuel gauge is hovering near dreg position and the only petrol station in the town has a sign on it reading ‘closed until further notice’. Not promising. My search for a cabin or something similarly cheap has thus far proved fruitless and guzzled fuel I could ill spare whilst making detours following promising-looking signs (and roads that seem to have been incidentally designed by the local soothsayer using cast intestines) to places enticingly labelled ‘Cable Bay Cabins’ and ‘Mount Richmond Chalets’…all as echoing and empty as the Marie Celeste.
I settle for the Havelock Motel that promises cooking facilities. The receptionist confirms this as I hand over the plastic fantastic but yet again I am doomed to disappointment. The room boasts a microwave. Zapping something briefly with radiation does not, in my mind, constitute cooking. Nor is a microwave oven remotely useful for what I have in mind…dyeing several articles with an armful of Nothofagus obliqua, the windfall treasure harvested roadside in the Lewis Pass earlier in the day. Nonetheless I nuke a test-bundle and am at least reassured that this particular tree, one of my favourites, is very likely to impart some colour to cloth. Finding somewhere to do the cooking before I attempt to take said bundle on an international journey is the tricky thing and also vital if I am to clear Customs with it.
I depart Havelock with some trepidation as the fuel situation hasn’t magically rectified itself overnight. The rain is thumping down in sheets making visibility intermittent at best. Despite this I take Queen Charlotte Drive as it is rather shorter than the main highway and likely to be considerably more interesting. My expectations are exceeded. The road is partially missing in several places and liberally adorned with rocks, mud and trees in piles ranging from barrow loads to truck-sized. Negotiating these is mildly exciting especially when they jump out from corners and surprise one. I stick to the middle of the road where possible in order to prevent accidental disappearance over the edge or into a bottomless pit. After 35 minutes I arrive on the outskirts of Picton to find a bunch of sodden gentlemen attired in glo-vests attempting to make a ‘road closed’ sign stand up on the bitumen with the help of a tyre and two sandbags. I wonder briefly how the semi-trailer that passed me got past the motor home I passed earlier. Tight fit, I imagine.
Much later in the day I arrive in Wellytown on the ferry. It makes slow progress against big waves and torrential rain. Being blessed with a cast-iron tummy I simply enjoy the ride. In Wellington it continues to rain and on observing the evening news I discover that the roads around the south island have literally been closing behind me on my journey. Beginning to feel more than a little Frodo-like.
I spend the morning packing up my dye samples in the hope that I can convince Quarantine and Customs on Oz that my intentions are pure. Alas, they are deeply suspicious and confiscate all my beautiful Nothofagus obliqua leaves. Tempting as it is to have a serious hissy fit I take it as a sign that the Universe has plans for me to return some other time…
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Sunday, 17 August 2008
so i bought it.
and when i opened my pirate chest at home, i discovered that the newspaper (The Adelaide Advertiser) lining the inside was dated September 14th, 1938. here are some snippets from Alexander von Humboldt's birthday nearly 70 years ago.
Friday, 15 August 2008
Thursday, 14 August 2008
inside was a delicious silk shawl, handwoven especially for me by a weaver working with the Avani project (AVANI is a voluntary organization working in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal, located in the middle ranges of the Central Himalayan region). the 'eri' silk, soft and light as a feather; is gathered from the wild.
why was i so blessed? twas a lovely swap in exchange for a copy of my book, sent to them earlier this year.
i had the good fortune to meet Rashmi Bharti (one of the organisers of the Avani craft project) at the UNESCO Symposium on Natural Dyes in Hyderabad a couple of years ago and we've been corresponding from time to time since then. the craft project helps establish sustainable practices in textile production so that participating villagers can earn an income (and plan for the future) and alongside this they've also been developing simple solar-powered technology to make life a little more comfortable.
it's a long way from anywhere. my little parcel had to be carried for some distance on foot before it was able to join the postal system, thence hitch a ride on a train and eventually wing its way across the ocean.
click here to see more about Avani
the difficulty facing me now is deciding what colours to dye my lovely shawl....
Saturday, 9 August 2008
in hidden corners i discovered beautiful old brickwork (English Garden wall bond, I believe...)
then i spotted a famous coathanger (and did silly things to it in Photoshop)
standing underneath i made a portrait of my shadow-friend...
who very nearly fell into the water, but luckily i stepped away from the edge in time, so she was able to catch herself
in time to see these lovely freesias adorning a post
later there was a huge rainstorm...and much, much later i was back on the farm, business completed (in between box brownie snaps).
modern broomsticks beat the hell out of the old ones, on which it was tricksy to carry parcels and which didn't have on-board refreshments...
Friday, 8 August 2008
it's well worth visiting and great company to be in...lots of interesting designers to read about (scroll down and look at Mary Grant's delicious fashions mmmm)
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
I chopped wood, fed the poddy, screwed the door handle back on again, sharpened the gardening tools, played relatively harmonious noises on the saxophone and cut grass for the chooks and bunnies…and, oh yes, I spent an hour carefully cutting leaf shapes from Spanish onion skins.
Yup, it’s true. And why?
Blame Adelaide’s reticulated water supply, folks. One of the costumes I’d made for Leigh Warren & Dancers’ recent production “Seven” had changed colour suddenly after a recent laundering. It had been ecoprinted with purple prunus leaves and was holding up very nicely until now. My suspicion is that the reservoirs may just have received their annual dose of copper sulphate (about 40 tonnes per pond) and that this, along with increased levels of salt in the water (concentrated due to evaporative activity) may have tipped the little apron over the brink. The leaf prints had, for whatever reason, turned a deep tan.
August is not a good month for finding purple prunus leaves in the southern hemisphere, so what’s a girl to do? Yep, sit down and trim a bag of saved purple Spanish onion skins to the right shape. A true labour of love happily undertaken for my favourite dance company; all in all quite a productive day, I thought.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
they are mine.
so of course i sent them a mildly surprised (but friendly) missile. mind you they were fully within their rights to reuse the material...the text i had written for them had been signed over for a flat fee-per-word giving them full book and film rights. i was happy with the contract then and the contentment holds good...as the proceeds from that book 'handmade style: felt' funded the purchase of the camera with which i shot for Eco Colour.
today at the post office i found myself in receipt of a lovely parcel...a copy of said weighty tome, sent to me with compliments by Murdoch, bless them. it's a nice book. i can confidently recommend it as a useful starting point for those who wish granny had taught them how to '_________' (fill in blank space as required.
and it has a sturdy set of brown farmer's hands on the cover.
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Sometimes I have occasion to wander into the wild. In 2007 an urge to see some more glaciers before the world turns into a giant sauna drew me to the West Coast of New Zealand. Here in a nutshell are a few places to look out for as well as a couple to avoid at all costs. None of this is in particular order…it appears as various memorable moments bubbled out of the stygian gloom presently enveloping the grey cells…travel in summer if you are sensitive to coal smoke!
Both the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers offer walks through beautiful rainforests, past and through streams and waterfalls, across spectacular moraine areas. The Franz Josef Country Retreat provides a cosy haven and a fabulous deep bath in which to contemplate all this extravagant geography. They also have a welcoming and hospitable cat and will let you play at barista with their gleaming coffee machine.
The Greymouth Working Men’s Club deserve sparkling gold stars for their warm and friendly welcome, offers of tea and invitations to play pool. I’ll be back.
Keep walking past the Frauenreisehaus in Christchurch if you are sensitive to battery operated stuffed sleeping puppies with simulated breathing. There is one in the office. It was probably a beloved pet before Mr.G.Reaper handed it untimely to the taxidermist. Avoid also the Admiral’s Court at Kaikoura. It is a depressing and dismal establishment which illustrates the sort of pit a person unfamiliar with the location (me) can fall into when booking on the internet.
In Wellington make a bee-line for the Wellington Trawling Sea Market on Cuba Street (just up from Roger’s Tattoo Art). The fish and chips are unrivalled for freshness and flavour. Still on Cuba take your coffee at Midnight Espresso. In fact, have breakfast there too. Whatever you do, don’t risk your teeth on the offerings at Dorothy’s Patisserie a few doors down. The croissants would have made handy paperweights, but proved disappointing when offered slightly nuked as an accompaniment to the lukewarm brown substance masquerading as coffee in that establishment.
Visit Moore Wilson across town to stock up on Whitestone Farmhouse cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables and other comestible delights. Wander up the hill to the Botanic Gardens (where the Magnolias are magnificent) and adjacent historic graveyard. Take your left-over bread for the denizens of the duck pond. Back on Cuba the Irish Bar is good for a game of pool (free for as long as you can stretch a drink!) and the house band is brilliant at churning out old favourites.