Saturday, 30 January 2010

fun with photoshop

yesterday i pootled southward to inspect a venue
near Strathalbyn
for a South Australian stitch and dye retreat
to be held early in September

it will be the first 5 day workshop i've held in my
[for now] home state
since 2005
quite a while

and then i pottered about the village for a bit
and in an antique shop i found an old printing plate
in German
which needed to come and live on my shelf

i could decipher the biggest word
and something about bells and ravens and trees and time

but the rest was trickier until
i took a happy snap
flipped it vertically to reverse the text
enhanced it in photoshop


Von Oddo Weichardt

Allerseelen ist’s, vom Tal her klingen Glocken

Ein regen schauer ueber graeber geht

Im alten Baum zwei Raben hocken

Nachdenklich ich zu diesen Zweien seh

Wenn Raben kraechzen gibt’s einen Toten

ImVolksmund es im allgemeinem heisst

Ich horch – sie schreien nicht

Ganz still sitzen sie da oben

Ich laechle – also nicht

Ich hab noch Zeit

and here's my [not exactly brilliant] translation


All Souls Eve, bells sound from the valley

Rain scatters over the graves

Two ravens roosting in the ancient tree

I ponder them

When ravens croak there’ll be a death

So goes the saying

I listen, they are quiet

They sit in silence

I smile – so not today

I still have time

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

die Verwandlung [or back through the looking glass]

i have departed the land of mountain rainbows
and swirling snowflakes
where at certain times of the year it is possible to walk on water
[irrespective of when your birthday is]
and returned to Oz
to shrug off my mantle of European-ness
and hide it in the loft like a selkie-skin
to daily life in my second language

Frankfurt airport dusted with icing sugar snow
felt like an exit from a faerietale

Friday, 22 January 2010

blood is thicker than water...

whatever my feelings about world history
the fact remains that a smallish university town
in Niedersachsen, Germany
is critical to mine

some of my great-grandparents
and great-great grandparents
are buried here

my grandparents met
at afternoon coffee
in the house of a mathematics professor here
it is also the house in which i am staying

my father was born here
for a very short time
i attended school here

my feet know the way around the town
where the market is
the nice walks along the old town wall
the path up into the forest
and the way to the botanic garden
[to which my great-great grandmother had a private key to a small gate hidden in the town wall]

the pond where i sailed paper boats
aged ten
still ripples in the park

sadly great-great grandfather's house

along with beautiful rose garden and enormous Linden tree

was demolished by the University in the early sixties
it seems they urgently needed the space
for a carpark.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

dog therapy

it's been a long day
trekking from Copenhagen
down to Göttingen

delays in planes and trains seem to be the norm at present
[so much for setting one's watch by them]

getting a bit of dog therapy tonight
looking after an old friend
while his folks are out to dinner
[dogs are more fun than polite conversation]

but too tired to deal with downloading camera pix
photobooth [yay for Mac]
will just have to do

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Mit luftpudefartøj er fyldt med ål

the artist house at Tranum is in a magical spot

with a view on a wonderful red barn
that constantly changes colour with the light

we take long walks by the frozen sea

pondering whether the waves were so cold that they might have had the consistency of honey at the moment they suddenly froze

and in case anyone is wondering what the Yeti wears under its coat
the answer is
a LOT more than a Scotsman wears under his kilt
and [close up] it looks like this

but even in the snowyness
there's treasure to be found for a wandering dyer
at this moment the Yeti
turns into a Bear
and begins to dig and scratch

revealing seaweed, rich in colour

old habits die hard

at the end of our week of walking and working we pack our things and begin the trek back to Copenhagen
a taxi collects us from Tranum Strand for the short trip to Brovst. the driver, a cheerful and gregarious chap, looks as if he could be a cousin of Viggo Mortensen, complete with gap-toothed and charming smile

he's pleased to hear that i live in the Hundred of Jutland on the fringe of the Barossa Valley
and tells me something i know already, that the best Shiraz in the whirled comes from there as well
we are in complete agreement
he's also very keen on Crocodile Dundee who has just been shown on TV, again.
i resist the momentary temptation to tell him that I'm Crocodile Dundee's sister.

at Brovst we board a bus to Aalborg
after consuming the mandatory railway station hot chocolate
something one has to do once in ten years
but not more frequently
we find our train back to Copenhagen
refreshed in spirit
and still a little light-headed
after a splendid week
full of plans for what we are now calling
'The Planeta Project'
which [after our two Planeta exhibitions, the one in Ararat, Australia
and the other here in Copenhagen]
is taking a tip from the landscape
and beginning to snowball...

ps the title of this post translates as
"my hovercraft is full of eels"
because i can

Sunday, 17 January 2010

what were they thinking??

sometimes it's a tad embarrassing to be part German.
it's all very well that my grandparents left the country in 1936
when Pa was a babe in arms
one is still guilty by association

on the beach at Tranum there are two bunkers
built by the German armed forces
more probably
built by Danish farmers pressed firmly into service
by German armed forces

imagine Feldwebel Utting, aged 19, cowering in this dark and sinister hole
does he wonder what he's doing here?
why he's not at home brushing the cows
and raking the hay?
does he miss his mother?

viewed up close the walls are quite beautiful in their own way
calcium from the water has made marks
and visiting artists made a few others

and how many Viking arrowheads, flint pebbles and cowl stones are lost in the aggregate added to the concrete mix?

there's something odd, though

the bunkers appear to have been built using timber formwork
but at the back and on one other side
there are marks like runes
made from the attachment of some fibre object to the formwork
was it some enterprising Danish soul
adding a permanent message to the outside of this monstrous construction?

if it was a subversive act
did Obersturmbannführer Bielefeld order retaliation?

the only thing known for certain is that these bunkers were built to last
nothing short of blowing them up will remove them
and this violent act
is shunned by the Danes

a pretty awful thing to do to a country
take over by force
and then leave a lasting monument
like a big stinking pile of dog poo
on the beach

and yet, in an odd way, they have a strange beauty.
it's a curious whirled.

ps thanks for all your friendly visits and comments, they're much appreciated.
i'll drop in and visit when i'm back home and have more time

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

in the land of ice and snow

just quickly
cos i'm checking my emails in a gallery space
in Jutland
that is a re-purposed cow shed
but has no nice warm cows to cuddle up with

hanging Planeta at the Mostings Hus in Copenhagen

the Carlsberg brewery pavement

the Danes know how to do colour

park residents

the Yeti, spotted on the coast of Jutland

Thursday, 7 January 2010

still following that lucky star

i departed the land of Oz on a clear blue day
and landed in Britain on a less clear one

i was one of the lucky ones
after queuing for 9 hours to retrieve my bags
i was given a hotel room

with an icing-sugar dusted view
others missed out and slept at Heathrow

for some reason i cut lucky
the gods were smiling
delays sometimes lead to interesting opportunities
amusing conversations
and laughter
despite frustrations
and somebody wanted to buy my coat
[sorry, not for sale]

i found my digs at dusk
and went for a quick snowy walk

where i found old friends
Choisya ternata [foreground]
and a eucalyptus of some sort
[at the back]

now i'm back at Heathrow
and after another 4 hours queuing
am in the BA lounge
hopefully awaiting departure for Copenhagen

under the circumstances
a breakfast of Glenlivet may be excused...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

alert, not alarmed

Google offer various entertaining gadgets and amusements to those who want to romp joyfully through the ether hand in hand with the interpixies
one of these things is the 'google alert'
which can be set to any subject that interests you
and will cast up all sorts of useful stuff

i have google alerts for dyes, and paper folding and sustainable textiles
i blush slightly to admit it
india flint

yup, the latter subject DOES interest me
and i'm curious as to where my name pops up

at very least it tells me where i've been
handy in the event of memory failure

earlier today, sitting happily in the Qantas lounge on my way to Denmark
i had to take an extra sip of bubble when i discovered what my alert had gathered up

a person i have never met [but on whose blog i once left what i thought was a helpful comment about eucalypts] has apparently taken me in severe dislike and published a less than friendly review of my book Eco Colour

however much i am pricked by what she's written and mystified as to why she hates me so much
i do support freedom of speech
and so have pasted her words below
so you can share the love too, dear readers

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
2.0 out of 5 stars heavy coffee table book, 31 Oct 2009
I was very disappointed in this book. I felt it was strongly self-promotional (her family history is not of interest to me) and it is the type of book you'd expect to find accompanying an exhibition of the artist's work.

I had thought it was going to be was a book of dyeing technique and instruction - it isn't.

She does include some information about techniques, but it is not set out for you to follow through a set of instruction. If you are an experienced dyer that may not be a problem. It is though she is selling a book on the basis that she will reveal her techniques, but has then backed off and tells you as little as possible and tucks it in the middle where it is hard to find.

I also found that the the dyeing is for garments, not yarns, and the garments all look very much the same, which is fine if it is a style that appeals to you. To me, her style would make 70s hippy clothes look smart by comparison. I find the prints unappealingly confused and untidy.

It is a big, heavy book, full of photographs, and with a strange paper dust cover that is purely for decoration and does not protect the book - the beige piece with picture of a garment is a band that wraps around the cloth hardback cover, leaving 1/3rd of the cover exposed (the green bit) and the book's corners unprotected. I found all this - weight, excessive photos, lack of useful instruction, much waffle and puff in the writing - at odds with the author's environmental concerns because it is wasteful of paper and large and heavy for transport (this book has travelled half way around the world from Australia).

This is a book which will appeal to the collector of coffee table picture books (of which I am not one) and to the fans of India Flint who want to own a piece of her work. It may be relevant to anyone interested in textile design. For dyers concerned about the environment I recommend authors Jenny Dean and Gill Dalby, who have written modest, small and information packed books.
and be warned my friends, the next book [called 'second skin'] has family stories in it as well, so if you don't want to read any more about my grandmother, avoid it
on the other hand, if you're interested in techniques that can take you back to Haight Ashbury and into the Wild Wood
stay tuned

Monday, 4 January 2010

Planeta in Denmark

for those of you whose Danish is a little rusty,
Lars Pryds has expanded on the above here

Saturday, 2 January 2010

sometimes i just wanna dance

and then dance some more

i'm dancing in the kitchen because this year we won.

we picked the plums before the rosellas ate them [or rather, took single bites before hurling the plums to the ground in disgust]
and in our short summer night [nowhere near as bright as the White Nights of the North] we stirred a cauldron full of bubbling red deliciousness

so now we have twenty jars of gloopy satsuma jam. it's gloopy because that's exactly the right consistency for eating with winter porridge

The Dog thinks we're silly. she prefers to eat her plums warm from the sun
and properly ripened [don't worry, we've set some aside for her]

dye notes
those of my students who wander past these pages might wonder about dyeing with plums...
they oxidise to brown if left exposed to air
the colour changes as they're heated
and they react quite strongly to hidden things dissolved in water
the trick is to use the parts that aren't affected by air [avoid the flesh]
and be careful with heat

Friday, 1 January 2010

work for idle hands

while most folks are having a bit of a rest i'm enjoying being at home for a change
which means spending time with my family
and also
making a few things for Planet
the design store in Sydney that stocks my work

this year i seem to have been on the road teaching for much of my time
it's satisfying work
and keeps body and soul together
but sometimes it seems as though everyone else is having all the fun of making

so between Saturnalia and the Gregorian New Year
i hemmed, stitched and dyed cloth [yes there's a difference between hemming and stitching...the former requires a bit of discipline, the latter is more akin to drawing and play]

this nice piece of vintage wool crepe is much more useful hemmed and dyed than stored at the bottom of a box

this piece of milkymerino now looks as though a leopard might have taken a snooze on it

and the smaller piece [centre of photo] is wool "nun's cloth" available from Beautiful Silks. i highly recommend it as it just loves plant dyes of all sorts

bright sunlight isn't recommended for textile photography
but it's either that
here in Oz

Kip is never far away and from time to time tells me to "put the needle down, please" as she needs a pat.

in the event that any of these pieces interest you, they should arrive at Planet in about 5 days from now and if you like you can email them via their contact page to make an enquiry

have a splendid and peaceful New Year, with satisfying work as well as quiet moments
weeds as well as flowers
good books, kind friends and pleasant walks
enough to eat and a warm bed at night