Thursday, 30 July 2009

messages in bottles

there's a little note on blogger-buzz [you'll find that on your blogspot dashboard] suggesting folks might like to write a post on what blogging means to them.

so here goes.

for me, it's quite simply a gentle and [relatively] environmentally friendly way of popping a message in a metaphorical bottle and setting it loose on the imaginary seas
without upsetting
the seals and whales or the whirled oceans
or getting my boots wet

every so often a bottle washes up on some distant shore
every now and then
a message finds its way back again

what i find truly enchanting about the whirled wide web is that what was developed as a communicatory tool for an armed force [the US Army] has become the instrument of friendships around the whirled

and i'm not so innocent that i don't think it's also a handy way of scanning the thoughts of the masses for information

so here's a wave to you too, Big Brother, wherever you are. i know it's not Big Sister watching, she's much too busy collecting up all those socks that get eaten by washing machines each week.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

exhibition opening

raku work by Lyn Reeves

the reason i was invited to Tasmania was to open an exhibition

those who know me well will be aware that i have a speech impediment
i'm not keen on making speeches
however i decided to be brave
and read a prepared text
which some people seemed to think was ok
under the circumstances
i thought perhaps i'd reprint it here...

Words spoken at the opening of ‘wabi-sabi – from rags to rust, the art of imperfection’ July 26, 2009


the older I become and the less time it seems likely I shall have on this beautiful earth the more I realise the importance of taking more time to be slow about the things I do

and to engage with the whirled

to take time to appreciate that string of pearls that is “the moments of now” that scatter like raindrops on a river as we wander our life journey

collections of  “moments of now” make up the works we see here today. We call them artworks but they are only the tips of the metaphorical iceberg that is the

Art   -   Work

the thought, hand, making and shaping that was involved in the realisation of the pieces we see

those “moments of now” cannot be pinned down like beetles in a museum.they slip elusively away shimmering and dancing; swooping like dragonflies on the pond of memory

for me the concept of wabi-sabi is as undefinable.

my wise friend the potter Petrus Spronk says that the spirit of wabi comes about as a result of the work being made with great care and attention

and that the spirit of sabi comes about as a result of equally great care and attention from the user

and that in this way the work becomes complete.

Leonard Koren writes that wabi sabi is

…a beauty of things humble….

ask a Japanese person to define it and the response often implies that the need to ask belies the possibility of understanding.

for me it is the difference between a philosophy that strives to say something with a work


one in which materials from nature are worked with care and respect to find a voice that gives the object meaning

in a similar spirit, as a traveller I find the most satisfying journeys have been those in which I have taken the time to listen to land and place

taken time for life to find me rather than seeking out experience or nailing myself to a timetable

it is a frugal approach that finds joy in small detail.

a wabi-sabi of wanderings, taking gentle walks

stopping to listen and being open to the magic that is all around

the works that are being displayed in this place show that others too have found this magic

the makers have been attentive and have listened to the whirled

they have allowed their materials to find a voice through their hands and hearts.

i have pleasure in welcoming you to enjoy the work and invite you to give it the care and attention the makers have brought to it

thank you


more island life

at dawn on Steele's Island the ground is covered with a thin fur of ice

essentially the island is a midden composed of enormous shells

moss grows almost to the waters' edge

a stitched and felted landskin soaking in the briny rivermouth before baptism in the dyebath

Monday, 27 July 2009

island life

despite being somewhat steam rollered by a Big Year a little voice told me to say 'yes, please' when an invitation came from the South Island [Tasmania]
to visit there and say a few words at the opening of an exhibition
and also
to hold a workshop

i left it all entirely in the hands of Desiree Fitzgibbon,
thinker, poet, painter
and now also friend and skinsister

on arrival she took me to Rosny Farm
where my work was showing as
Nine Patch

from there we wandered on to Steele's Island
a truly magical spot

by some miracle the owners were away and so i played Robinson Crusoe for a night 
marooned [very happily] on the island

taking a lovely walk in the last light

and greeting the day, all by myself on a frost encrusted beach on the morning of the workshop

and yes, i'm aware i live a fortunate life....and i am grateful.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

a marvellous night for a moondance

there's rather a lot of fuss about the moon in recent days...and who left which footprint with what and where.

where were you when it was all going on 40 years ago?

i was at school in Germany. we started our day early at 8am...but by 1300hrs we were home again and sitting down to a lovely hot lunch cooked by my delightful great-aunt. there'd be at least 10 people around the table on any day, often quite a few more as starving students would turn up in the hope of a feed. after lunch we'd disappear into the park across the way or the beech forest just up the hill and play to our hearts content.

that month we watched the moon landing on a crackly black-and-white tv. i skeptically wondered why the flag was fluttering, and what the fuss was about

Woodstock had a much greater impact on me - but only about 10 years later, when i finally realised what it meant...not realising it had happened just down the road from where we lived only a little later that same year

here's a clip from the movie "A Walk in the Moon" filmed at a summer camp much like the one we lived at in the fall and winter of '69...excepting we were at Aloha Manor [Vermont] after summer camp was finished and everyone had gone home and back to school

imagine two children aged 10 and 7, running wild in the red leaf fall. paddling canoes on the lake, playing hide-and-seek in the forest. romping in the snow. good times.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


'winterworks', originally planned as a symposium focussing on sustainability in textile practice; took place last week

a rather less grand event than earlier anticipated, but possibly the better for being smaller and more intimate. who knows?  here's a little of what happened... 

there was lots of showing and telling

making notes

where Dean Nicholle [shown here disappearing into the distance] enlightened us about some of the features of the genus eucalyptus, kindly let us collect windfalls for the dyepots

and generously picked us lots of treasures as well

we broke bread together and spent cosy evenings sewing, bundling and reading books [from our library table]

we managed a few walks despite some serious rain

and hung lines full of dyed samples

towards the end of the week we wandered out again, this time to the South Australian Museum

to study objects in the Aboriginal Cultures Gallery

after lunch at the Art Gallery of South Australia we walked to the Adelaide Botanic Garden where we visited the recently restored Museum of Economic Botany [the last colonial Museum of Economic Botany remaining in the world]

and popped into the new glasshouse built around the Victoria amazonica

before heading back to the hills for more gentle stitching
[this piece by Holly Story]

it was a rewarding five days...thanks to the generous spirits and warm hearts of those who attended

Friday, 17 July 2009

gin might be a safer alternative...

did you say you'd like something to drink?

from the Adelaide Advertiser, July 17th, 2009

Sunday, 12 July 2009


am off to the Winterworks symposium laden with stuffed goodie bags overflowing with nice things.... including silk from Beautiful Silks, chocolate from Green & Blacks and soap from Ovame

the weather is appropriately wintry but the dyepots should keep us warm

there'll be stories when i return... 

Thursday, 9 July 2009

truth, schmuth

i was sent this one by a friend and days later it still has me chortling, 
so i thought i'd better share...

i haven't substantiated the story but let it not be said that i ever got in the way of a good one!

    [allegedly] From last week's Bristol Evening Post [whenever that may have been]
    Outside Bristol Zoo is the car park, with spaces for 150 cars and
    8 coaches.  It has been manned for 23 years by the same charming
    and very polite car park attendant with the ticket machine.  The
    charges are £1 per car and £5 per coach.  On Monday 1st June he
    did not turn up for work.  Bristol Zoo managment phoned Bristol
    City Courncil to ask them to send a replacement parking
    attendant.  The Council said "That car park is your
    responsibility"  The Zoo said "The attendant was employed by the
    City Council ....wasn't he?"  The Council said "What attendant?" 
    Gone missing from his home is a man who has been taking the car
    park fees daily, amounting to about £400 a day for the last 23
    years - tax free.

Monday, 6 July 2009

colder than a polar bear's nose

it's absolutely freezing here - a pleasant change from steamy Ohio - reminding me of the words of Mark Twain [aka Samuel Langhorne Clements] when he memorably said that one of the coldest winters he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco

outside in the [nearly] full moon the magpies are warbling just to keep warm

but in here my feet are lovely and toasty, thanks to my delightful friend Jo whose parcel arrived today all the way from Nelson NZ

inside the parcel were a pair of absolutely gorgeous hand-knitted socks in exactly my hoof size.

i suspect they may be staying on overnight...

Friday, 3 July 2009

Tall tales and true in Ohio

Regular readers of these pages will know that I have been in Ohio, which can kinda be described as the eastern central mid-west. It’s not quite in the middle and the eastern states won’t have it in their club.

 Anyhow I wander out one evening, thinking to take a little air. I go through that cemetery where the headstones indicate that good, lust and music are all interred. The path takes me over the Olentangy River and through leafy suburbs. After a while I reach the high street. I walk on.

Spotting a sign across the road that says ‘Phoenix Bookstore’. On a whim I venture in…to be greeted in whispers as there is a meditation session happening. I ask for the ‘green guide for artists’ but they don’t stock it. However the very friendly lady sitting at the front desk offers to telephone other bookstores in the district to see if they have it.

It takes a while and while the wheels are grinding we sit out on the porch so as not to intrude upon the meditating ones. Actually they all look as though they are asleep.

Eventually one of the local stores finds a copy and nice lady offers to drive me there. I find this extraordinarily helpful and say so. Off we go. I strap myself into the back seat [the front is full of stuff] where there is also a doggy food dish and bowl and quite a bit of canine fluff as well. Nice lady drives like a bat out of hell. I am grateful for the back seat and mutter a prayer or three under my breath. She can’t hear anyway having cranked the volume on her spiritual music so high that cows in the next county will be producing curdled milk for a week.

At the bookstore where they have kindly reserved the one and only copy of this book for me she talks to everyone she meets in very familiar terms. Mothers cluck “stay close by me honey” at their small children. We pay for the book and when the young man behind the counter complains of weariness she brightly points to her cap which advertises some guru’s latest brand of yoga and brightly tells him she’s running on energy and hasn’t needed more than an hour’s nap in the last 48 hours.

I think to myself this is not good. Anyone with so little sleep should not be operating machinery because their body will have better reaction time had they scoffed a bottle of tequila followed by a few schnapps chasers. But nice lady is keen to go for ice cream, which she says is not far from the helltell. Given she has been so helpful I feel she deserves a treat. Twenty minutes later I’m thanking the Powers that Be that my grandmother predicted a long future for me and hoping to heaven that the warranty on that prediction hasn’t lapsed.

I am also reminded that ideas of  "not far" relate to "how long is a piece of string"

Eventually we arrive at Graet’s Ice Creamery.  Nice lady who by now has been identified as Dena is delighted and skips about extolling the aesthetic delights of the [frankly hideous] glass-walled child captivity centre in which the infants can romp inside a giant plastic ice cream whilst their parents gorge themselves on chocolate chip everything.

We order refreshments. My single scoop of peanut butter flavoured stuff is big enough to feed a small Hungarian family. Dena’s blackberry ice-cream conceals an enormous submerged lump of solid chocolate big enough to sink the Titanic. Mildly fearful of the possible consequences of her driving with ice-cream and spoon in hand [having already seen her simultaneously juggle pen and paper as well as CDs] I suggest we sit on the lawn outside to consume our frozen fatty treats. Dena tells me that people in America don’t sit on the verge.

I insist and so we do anyway. 

As we eat more fascinating facts are revealed. Dena is not, in fact, an employee of the Phoenix bookstore but was merely amusing herself by sitting behind the desk having herself decided that the meditation class was not for her. She reveals a history of clinical depression. I wonder privately just how much of her medication she has consumed today. She goes on to tell me her brother is bi-polar and that she keeps house for him. I wonder whether the brother is real or a mere figment. I also wonder how I will get myself out of this situation having observed the rear door has a child safety lock.

At that moment I see dancing lights across the lawn of the houses across the street. Fireflies. I haven’t seen such fireflies for years. They flit and boogie and burn and glow and I am utterly delighted.

Despite the mad ride home later at speeds roughly double those advised on roadside signage it is all worth it. I have the book I wanted, I’ve heard a ripping story and I’ve seen fireflies.  

Oh, and I seem to have eaten rather a lot of ice-cream.